Monthly Archives: January 2011

Frugal February

The word budget is one of those words that lands very flat…similar to other words like taxes, debt, morgue, etc. And when I think about budgeting, I feel trapped or fenced in…not good for someone who is claustrophobic!

So, when I think about a budget and when I think about grocery shopping for the best, fresh, local, organic ingredients, I get a little gloomy. But in every cloud, there is a silver lining!

We have decided to cut our normal $1100 per month grocery budget down to $400 for the month of February. As you pick your chin up, let me explain. Yes, $1100. I know that is a lot of money, but it includes all food, supplements, cleaning supplies, toiletries, AND eating out. Does that make the large figure in italics more palatable?? Since we don’t eat out often, most days we cook all of our meals and pack lunches. And since we believe in a traditional whole foods diet, we make most of our meals from scratch instead of using processed versions that have a shelf life that equals the age of my son.

So you ask, “How in the world are you going to cut your grocery budget in more than half and still eat?” I don’t know yet, but I know we can do it. I am thankful February is the shortest month of the year! I will continue to use coupons when I can and I will buy in bulk when I can to save money later. Any ideas or suggestions are welcome!

In preparation for the next 28 days, I have planned 28 dinner meals. Ironically, we already have most of the ingredients for each of these meals, including the proteins. I will have to buy fresh produce and dairy products like yogurt and kefir.

I am excited about the possibilities for Frugal February. I know I will grow and learn new things. And yes, we will save some money along this journey, but I hope I gain something much more powerful…to be content with all that I have because God has given me and will continue to give me all that I need.

I am blessed beyond measure. My cup is full and running over. I have never known hunger and not been able to meet that desire. My prayer is that instead of feeling trapped or fenced in, I will feel an overwhelming sense of peace and freedom as I trust my God to meet my needs.

As a side note, I will blog each week about our progress and our meals for the week. For starters, tonight we had quinoa as a side dish to compliment our chicken and broccoli entrée and my kids loved it! I think we are off to a good start!!

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Giddy

I can feel it in my spirit…spring is coming!! And with spring comes life and newness and growth.  AND ordering heirloom seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com)!! Oh what fun! You should see their annual catalog. It is amazing! Filled with pictures and hundreds of varieties of seeds to choose from. I feel like a 5-year-old on Christmas morning! I have to give myself a monetary limit on how much I can spend. Otherwise, it could get ugly!

A friend of mine, Dr. Jennifer Greenfield (www.carolinachirowellness.com), introduced me to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds several years ago. It can be difficult to find heirloom, non-hybrid, non-genetically modified (non-GMO) seeds. Baker Creek sources all of the above and they are my favorite seed company. I encourage you to give them a try and let me know what you think.  

So what is with all this seed talk? It is more about real food, slow food, and nourishing food. I have been following and adhering to the real food movement for about 4 years. It all started when we discovered that my daughter (who was 18 months old at the time) has a strong sensitivity to food dyes. We started eliminating all products in our home that contained synthetic food dyes. When we finished, our cupboards were nearly empty.

As I learned more and more about the food we eat, we eliminated any food or product with MSG and other nasty chemicals. And then we got another curve ball. I was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity in December of 2008, you can imagine what I did next. Yes, another elimination round and a whole new level of education was required. I learned to use and I am still learning to use ingredients that I had never purchased, like arrowroot powder. Almond flour became my best friend. I have had many teachers along the way, like Dr. Jennifer Greenfield, and have tried many recipes…most of which were fabulous and then there are a few that went from oven to garbage can…hey, the best teacher is experience, right?? 

So, it is probably easier to tell you what we do eat instead of what we don’t eat. My husband and I strictly adhere to a gluten free lifestyle. My kids eat mostly gluten free, probably 80% of the time. We eat 90% of our meals at home, and cook from scratch. My pantry is full of quart and half-gallon mason jars instead of boxes of shelf stable non-food items that used to be in my pantry. We grow some of our food, are members of 2 coops, and shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joes (where you have to read labels as well…MSG has many pseudonyms). We usually buy our meat in bulk and bake most of our own bread. That brings me to another question I am often asked…how much is your grocery budget each month? Great question! And before you drop your jaw, you might be surprised to know that it is about the same as it was before we started changing our habits and eating real food. Since we don’t eat out very often, our combined eating out and grocery budget is almost the same as it was before. Our grocery bill went up, but our eating out tab went down. Surprised? I was, too!

Whew! I just stopped typing and read the last paragraph and had to stop and take a deep breath!! It is a bit daunting…it was VERY daunting in the beginning for me, especially when I was thrown the gluten curve ball. As a runner, I ate tons of gluten for fuel. I felt angry and overwhelmed. I had to learn so many new things all at the same time. I read thousands of pages of research and many books. As a result, I ping-ponged from clueless to neurotic to somewhere in the middle…I like being in the middle! But, it took about 2 years to get here. In the end, I had to make choices that worked not only for me, but for my family. I made my choice…

I chose health and wholeness. And health and wholeness for me looks a little different than it does for most people. Instead of being bitter, I count it a joy to be able to cook and try new recipes and have enjoyed learning so many new things. Do I get tired of washing dishes and wish I could go through a drive through? Of course, but when I think about where I was a little over two years ago, I fire up the oven! To me, the benefits of health and wholeness far outweigh the costs of washing dishes and spending time in the kitchen. I have learned that planning our meals ahead of time and cooking in bulk eases the burden tremendously.

It works for me, for my family. It may not work for you. That’s okay. I leave you with a coach’s challenge. What does work for you? What is one small change you could make today or tomorrow that would lead you to health and wholeness…whatever that looks like for you?

 ”You can avoid having ulcers by adapting to the situation: if you fall in the mud puddle, check your pockets for fish.” ~ Author Unknown

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Learning as I Go

I am still learning. I learn something new everyday. I pray that I have the eyes of my five year old filled with awe, curiosity, and wonder. There is a quote that says something like “knowledge is power”. I disagree. All the knowledge in the world is powerless unless you act upon it. Knowledge is like the kindling for a fire and the match that ignites the flame is choosing to act upon that knowledge. 

Think about it for a minute. We know lots of things…when we act upon just one of those things, we create energy. The energy that is created is like a snowball rolling down a hill. As it gains momentum, it gets larger and has a much bigger impact than a single snowflake by itself.

So, what are you learning and how are you acting upon it? Or, what do you want to learn and how are you going to act upon it?  

Here are some random things I learned this week:

1. Coffee and cell phones are a bad combination.

2. Hairdryers have many purposes…like drying out cell phones that were dropped in coffee…

3. Never leave a 2 year old unattended with markers.

4. Magic Erasers work very well…

5. I forgot how painful the first week is on a detox. Day 7 today…

6. It is very helpful to have a partner to detox with.

7. I am very proud of and thankful for my husband who has done very well this week without ANY sugar or bread or potatoes!!

8. Kindergartners sometimes know best…I always thought it was “mom knows best”!

9. Sight words are not my friend…’nuff said.

and last but not least…

10. Never give up on people or yourself…you never know what tomorrow might bring.

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. ”  Confucius

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