Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 19 The Sabbath

Soup in the crock pot made a welcome lunch. This tasted good even though it lacked fresh frozen green peas for more color.

Day 18 Saturday A Work day - Cinnamon

On the ranch in Wyoming our work ethic included that we do the work without pay cheerfully before we sever received compensation for our efforts. That meant that if we wanted a job we should volunteer to work for a week or two until we were well enough trained to be an asset and not a liability to whomever we might be offering our services. This may seem old fashioned and I have rarely seen it in "city kids." The city kids that would come to work on the ranch and only make it for two weeks before they washed out but still had the audacity to demanded compensation got paid but it was with a sad distain. It is like the scene in the movie the Jungle Book in the city of monkeys when the greedy soldiers are grabbing gold and silver, diamonds and pearls to make their fortune when they got home and the monkeys are cheering and chattering. Suddenly the monkeys quiet. A erie silence canvases the room. As a faint awareness dawnes that the soldier has met his end a huge python rears out of the river flowing through the treasure room. Shocked, he falls into the water where he struggles in vain to free himself from the treasure he had strapped to his packs. The gold draggs him to the bottom where his grave is shared by skeletons of men gone before.

Greed and a lack of awareness of where the money comes from will destroy a man and a nation. On the ranch if a man works for two weeks and does no more, the crop dies and there is no profit. If a hundred hired hands started and quit, then demanded pay the small cash reserves that are only replenished after harvest would be depleted leaving not only the hired hands but the land owner and his family destitute.

It is wise to limit expectation that work always brings monetary compensation. It is more important for children to feel the internal satisfaction of a job well done. Then when we have worked hard, we play hard and have treats when we can but the fun is just a natural consequence not a reward. We are happy when we work.

On the meal front Breakfast : Oatmeal with cinamon and sugar as a topping. Cinnamon is a good source of calcium and a great source of dietary fiber. This makes it a good choice for weight control and also is a good spice to help management of blood sugars because it is a "sweet" spice meaning that the total amount of sugar can be decreased if cinnamon is added.

Lunch: Tuna, macaroni and lettuce salad. I did not have fresh frozen green peas that I usually put in this salad but everyon e ate it anyway.

Late afternoon: Macaroni and cheese - I was tied up cleaning carpets and going to graduation parties. The children mixed a large pot and along with fresh fruit and milk fed themselves.

Late at night several of the children were still hungry. To everyone's delight, gracious friend brought 3 pizzas leftover from a birthday party. While we enjoyed the pizza, I fried hamburger patties and heated steamed potatoes in the drippings. Even after eating 3-4 slices of pizza, the big boys were glad to have the meat and potatoes before retiring. The evening lingered on with pleasant conversation around the dinner table for 2 hours. This is the best of times.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 17 Winning the Battle

Today was pay day for us so I feel like a real accountant starting a new month two days early but the finances will all work out. Today I bought hot dogs and hamburger. I'm delighted to have more variety to plan in the menu. We still have all the basics - rice, flour, wheat, salt, yeast, (macaroni, and spaghetti added on Wednesday), tuna, peanut butter, 7 dozen eggs, and 100 pounds of potatoes. We covered all the basics with shampoo, diapers, garbage sacks, ketchup (added Wednesday), tin foil and plastic wrap toilet paper and feminine supplies for just at $500.00 for May. This was over budget if I prorated from the time we started the challenge, nevertheless I feel victorious. I made some poor choices but caught some really good sales as well. (Feminine supplies were cheaper at the grocery store sale than the bulk I bought at Sams and the 8 ounce container of minced garlic I bought is the same price as the 48 ounce container at Sams. Garlic will store well in the refrigerator for a year or longer. For the same money, I wish I had a years supply! Oh well, I won't make the same mistake next month). Building a supply that is continually rotating basics that last for 10-30 or more years, maximizes the dollar spent because very little will waste. Items like white rice, wheat, corn, pasta, sugar, dehydrated apples, and dehydrated carrots if sealed in a number 10 can will last for 30 years. I feel it is best to buy these items first when starting to build a supply because they are cheap, they have great versatility, they take very little space per meal compared to a boxed prepared meal, and if you make it a point to use them regularly it is part of what a family will "normally eat." Our family normally eats rice in a dozen different dishes so rice is a natural item to store. We eat a lot of homemade bread. Storing wheat is a long term storage item that also fits into the everyday category. One the other hand a family may decide to buy 6 packages of taco shells because they eat tacos regularly. The taco shells have a limited shelf life, will taste stale in just a few months and can be used as taco shells, as taco chips but not much else. The money is in a short term investment. The Long term investment pays greater dividends if one is using the food. (Often people have no idea how to use wheat, but they buy it as just "food insurance." They are willing to let the money spent on wheat be a complete waste if they never use what they store. They feel good that at least they have something stored.) I would agree. Store something! but ideally learning to use the long term storage items on a daily basis maximizes both long term and short term returns.

On another front, with the wave of an Executive Order (which it is reported that Obama used today mandating that all the oil rigs- exploratory or producing- in the Gulf of Mexico be shut down for 6 months in the aftermath of the oil spill) thousands can lose their jobs over night. When such political power is being used, it is good for the common man to be prepared. I urge everyone to prepare as quickly as possible. Buying basics - white rice, flour, wheat, dried milk, etc... then living off the basics and using the savings to pay debt, build a reserve and put more food on the storage shelf is the whole goal of this 90 day challenge. How quickly can it be done? Can we buy a grain mill too?

Breakfast was also a success. I had a ham bone and cooked pinto beans as protein sources. I did not want to serve more eggs. I boiled the ham until I could cut chunks off the bone. Then I mixd the ham, cooked pintos, minced garlic and salt. We served it in small ramekins. The presentation made it seem more tasty. Two or three of the children commented that they loved the combo.

Lunch: Sandwiches made with tuna and some with peanut butter, fresh fruit.

Dinner: Spaghetti with hamburger, steamed cauliflower and broccoli, with lettuce salad.

Day 16 One more meal - Life's Best Moments

This morning as I fried onions and baked bread, filling the house with enticing aromas starting at 5:30 a.m., I wondered again, what exactly was I doing? Mixing white bread by hand seems a little foolish when I have a 24 quart Hobart Mixer sitting in my garage and tons of wheat and a wheat grinder sitting unused. I found myself admitting that no one would probably do this unless they were compelled to through budget constrains or unemployment. It is humbling. I feel so dependent on God to create a miracle every morning so that there is bread for lunches and food for children. Quickly on the heels of that thought came the realization that God will have a humble people in this great country that He has birthed and preserved. We will all be compelled to be humble sooner or later. It will be easier to humble myself and use the time I have to learn and teach my children.

Preparing satisfying meals with a wealth of supplies seemed easy compared to preparing satisfying meals with very little on the shelves. It doesn't change the absolutes though. Children thrive when families unite. The mealtime is a great place and time to be together. Husbands like food that is filling and tastes good - not necessarily fancy just home cooking. Self esteem, good physical health, psychological well being, family finances, and personal independence are all benefited by preparing one more meal. Maybe in times of trial when unemployment or budget constrains pull the hardest it is more than critical to protect the family individually and collectively with some home cooking.

As my son come home from after grueling work hours he chimed, "My companian today smelled the bread on my sandwich and commented that he hadn't smelled that kind of bread before. He replied, 'Yep, It's my Mom's.'"

I'm grateful for every small oasis in his life even if it is only a fresh slice of bread. 5:30 a.m. is a small price to pay.

Breakfast: Fried potatoes with onions and chicken, whole wheat blender pancakes, leftover rice pudding, milk and fresh fruit.
Lunch: Macaroni and cheese with coleslaw (shredded cabbage, grated carrots, 2 TBS salad dressing, with 2 tsp sugar 1 TBS vinegar and pinch of salt)
Dinner: Garlic pasta with sugared carrots.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 15 Bottling Water

On our trip to Boston between grocery challenges, we saw the signs posted to boil water before use. Upon our return, several friends have reported unsafe water in their communities. I decided that bottling water should be a priority. A few jars of clean ready to use water brings immense peace of mind.

Clean Jars
Boil lids
Fill Jars with sterile water. Set the lid tightly.
Process in steamer or hot water bath for 10-15 minutes

Jars can be handed down, purchased at garage sales, or in the store.

Lids can be purchased for the best price at end of season in fall. Right now it cost me $______ for 12 lids.

Current monthly expenditure: $456.00. We have potatoes, rice, formula, feminine supplies, toilet paper, shampoo, and all kitchen items. This week I will buy chicken quarters for $.39/pound and supplies for Grilling on Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 14 Managing time

5:4I thought today might be interesting just to see where the time goes and how we feed the crew.

5:30 to 5:45 Personal Devotions
5:45 to 6:40 Blog
6:40 to 6:46 Rice Pudding - No need to measure, simply poor milk over the cooked rice to cover the rice. Add 3- 4 eggs, sugar (about 1 cup per 4 cups rice) and sprinkle cinnamon over top of baking dish.
6:46 to 6:54 Mix up bread
7:00 to7:05 See son off to work
7:05 to 7:10 Visit with brother on phone
7:10 to 7:30 Shower/dressed
7:30 to 8:15 Find out the Rice pudding is not baking the oven has not been turned on. Start over and weed front for 45 minutes.
8:15 to 8:30 Breakfast Rice puuding
8:35 Start school
8:45 to 8:50 Phone
8:50 to 9:20 School
9:20 to 9:50 Trip to High School to deliver lunch
9:50 to 10:45 School
10 :45 to 11:00 Lunch prep/ laundry
11:00 to 11:30 Lunch/laundry
11:30 to 12:10 School
12:10 to 2:15 School
2:15 to 2:30 Dinner prep Jumbayala with leftover BBQ chicken, 1 cup of ham, 2 cups rice, 2 onions, cumin, chili powder, salt, basil, and cinammon instead of cloves. Good food.
2:30 to 3:30 School
3:30 to 4:00 Clean up
4:00 to 4:20 Laundry
4:20 to 4 :40 deliver newspaper route
4:40 to 4:50 Dinner
4:50 to 5:10 check emails
5:10 to 5:30 dress and load little one for evening concert
5:35 get Friends for concert
6:00 to 6:45 Concert
6:45 to 7:00 Drive
7:00 to 8:00 Evening cleaning
8:00 to 8:15Story Books
8:15 to 8:45 Famly Scripture time
8:45 to 9:00 Snack to have cinammon toast for bed time
9:00 to 9:14 Children to bed.
10:00 to 10:30 blog Painfully sleepy :)

I spent about 45 minutes in the kitchen cooking for the day. The rest of the food preparation time, the food was boiling stove top or in the oven

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 13 The family copes - Saving Money

Several have asked how the children are feeling about the new challenge. One daughter replied "I guess pretty well because I haven't really noticed." At home though, I field requests for macaroni and cheese or pork lo mein and I have to say "Sorry, we don't have any pasta in our virtual pantry yet, If you can just be patient for one more week, I'll fix those dishes for you." The whole exercise is developing a self control through self denial.

Our family could easily finish off a gallon of ice cream every day if permitted. One weekend several years ago I purchased over $100 of fruit from Sams on Friday (not the cheapest prices but fair). By Monday all of it was gone. So to stay on budget and stay healthy I have to limit the free for all consumption of fruits and sweets. Which is okay!

There are several reasons we are saving money besides using lower cost recipes. Being frugal these first few weeks allows us to expand our shelf stable items more quickly. Ways to save: 1) Eliminate all "extra' food like juice, potato chips, ice cream, yogurts, fruit snacks, cookies, cake mixes, raisins, nuts, granola bars, etc.. 2) Change brands from a private label to a generic brand - from the $3.00 hot dogs to the $.75 brand - at least for everyday use. 3) Eliminating the use of box mixes or prepackaged items to cook from scratch. 4) Eliminating all fast food or dine out restaurants. Applying just one of these would yield yeild a significant savings but all together we are yeilding substancial savings. The children are used to cooking from scratch through so the only trick for me is to stay ahead of them. If food is ready, they don't complain. If food is not ready they start rumaging and ususally pull something off my well stocked real pantry. Saturday was a busy and I was not home. Four or five packs of ramen noodles left over from my son's college survival food served as a snack. My family doesn't really care what the food is as long as there is food that I am preparing. if I am not cooking though, then they tell me repeatedly "Get rid of this blog."

This "experiment" is exactly what I have been voicing then past three months in various posts. Not only children but adults are seriously spoiled and self centered. We are a "welfare" nation if we insist on a particular brand, or on eating at a fast food joint, or on an pricey cut of meat at every meal at the expense of food on our shelves. In other words, if too much money is being spent on pricey tastes and we can't afford $8.00 worth of rice, we are enacting an entitlement mentality. We are living in a welfare state even if we are not going to the government. When I refer to receiving welfare, it is often assumed that I am talking about the poorest of the poor who have no transportation etc... I am not. I am talking about the houses on my circle. All of them have 2-3 modes of transportation. Only one or two have food to last more that one week. They would be relying on the government in a very short time for assistance. They think they are providing well by giving them the "best" of everything. That is living a lie. The "best of everything" does not include survival skills. To many do not know how to boil rice if the directions are not on a box in front of them. They will be unable to feed their children. The government will not have food nor money. Look at Greece. I think it is naive to think "that will never happen here." I hope not - because we will learn from their failures. If people will sacrifice and put their homes in order, as a people we can demand the government to put it's finances in order.

This is not just a fun game. I do not have time for games.

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Snack apples
Lunch: Refried beans:

2 pounds pintos sorted and rinsed
placed in a pressure cooker with water to cover them plus about one inch above
Turn pressure cooker on full heat without the weight let boil for at least 10 minutes when a full head of steam is venting. put the weight on and bring up to 15# pressure. Turn the heat off and let it cool on it's own. When at zero degreese preasure, take the lid off and the beans are soft. (It takes 30-45 minutes to cook beans this way!)

Add 1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 TBS cumin
1 TBS chilli powder
2 tsp salt
Mash with a potato masher.

(I'll pretend we got a preasure cooker for our wedding. Soaking the beans for 8 hours, then changing the water and boiling them until soft is the method I used for 20 of the 21 years we've been married.)
Snack after lunch: ice cream. I enjoyed sitting around the table visisting with the children while they ate their ice cream. We talked about how our imagination doesn't make as scary monsters as the movies do. One child piped "I imagine very scary monsters. The three year old said, "I imagine Spider Man."

Dinner: Grilled chicken coated in oil, cumin, basil, salt, and the mesquite grill flavoring. Good! Sides were a vegetable medley in a vinegret and steamed rice. Birthday cake

Plain cake: (this recipe my mother made regularly. It is a "high altitude cake" that works nicely at elevations even in WY.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil (Crisco is called for)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder

Mix. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes depending on the size pan (rounds, flat, cupcakes, etc...) or until when lightly touched the cake springs back.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day 12 Faith - a Grand Circle

This week it dawned more clearly on me that God has great love for His children. He wants us to be healthy and happy. He offers us the tools that will make us strong and fortify us against the difficulties we will encounter while alive. I was struck by the arching connections between 1) Physical health and the 2) the strength required to eat bread from the "sweat of thy face," 3) the familial bonds forged working together and 4) Joy that comes as we harvest a life well lived in the service of our neighbors. Each of these reasons are significant enough for me to want to live providently by learning to cook and eat from the basics. The benefits automatically come in all four areas. For example, we may want to eat healthier so we start using whole grains and baking our own bread. As we persist in this goal, our strength increases and we feel more energy to serve our family (to get up and bake bread again day after day), this service sweetens family dynamics. The family as a whole is empowered to serve one another and others because everyone is healthier, has more energy, feels like going the extra mile to help.... The Circle continues. Our challenge is to find a place to start the circle and change our lives.

I am a Christian. In many areas we as humans fall short. Christians believe that God makes up the difference when we try and ask for help. We may not care about health but we do want to improve family bonds and reach out to wayward children or grandchildren. "Working by the sweat of our brows" to cook at home is one of the tools God has given us. Exercising faith we pray and seek God's help, He gives us answers. For each individual and family the answer will be different but I know God wants us to be happy and He wants to help us provide. When we refuse to follow His counsel we are ungrateful for all He has given including the sacrifice of His Son. Perhaps, this is the main intent behind this bog -- that we try because God will help.

Breakfast: Potato soup, a small 10 ounce bag of frosted mini wheats as a treat (on sale), toast and cottage cheese
Lunch: Baked potato bar with ham and broccoli with cheese sauce (generic cheese whiz thinned with milk)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day 11 The will to prepare

Our family just read about the industrial revolution that simultaneously brought about the market revolution in America. The market revolution refers the trend that took people away from a totally self sufficient farm environment where all goods were grown and produced to a market economy where people had to go to market to buy supplies to make a product. Buying supplies from mass producers was more economical than making the product oneself. As a leader in the forefront of the Market revolution, America rose to be a major World power. I feel like today we have swung totally to the opposite end of the spectrum so that there is very little that is produced in our homes. We buy almost all our clothes, we can buy all our food at restaurants, and most of the jobs we do are only a small part of the finished product.

To remain a world leader today, we are in need of a market revolution back toward center that encourages people to be more independent and self reliant instead of relying on others for all our clothes, food, and industry. We can be industrious of our own free will (not because the job depends on it.)

We had family from out of town visiting today. We made ham sandwiches with a ham from the freezer, served on fresh homemade rolls, made potato salad with olives and a cake with chocolate covered strawberries. We drew from my real reserves and not the "virtual pantry" but it was worth it. Grandma as well as all my children were together. We laughed and visited and ate and visited more.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 10 Fear of Large Quantities

Buying large quantities is for some intimidating. I think that buying a larger quantity helps the household run more smoothly on several fronts. 1) A large quantity in one jar decreases clutter. For example one 90 ounce dish washing soap under the sink and one on the shelf is all that we need to store for a year or more. For a smaller family, one jar of dish washing soap in one purchase is sufficient. 2) Buying in bulk allows easier tracking because the total number of containers is smaller: 100 - 15 oz cans of tomato sauce versus 14 number 10 cans. Rotation and inventory is manageable. 3) Bulk prices save money most of the time. I was tickled to find the toilet paper on sale took 3 rolls and was 19 cents more per 450 sheets that the one roll at Sam's. I don't have to start buying 4 rolls at a time to save money. I can keep buying 40 rolls at a time only once a month. (I suspect this is not always the case and coupons may further reduce the cost.) $) There are fewer items on the grocery list so shopping is easier.

Breakfast fried eggs and toast
Lunch: apples oranges, fresh bread and margarine
Dinner: grilled cheese fresh apples and oranges.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day 9 Time to be Responsible- Time to be Honest

In 10 short days we have stocked our pantry. Imagining that we had nothing, I have purchased duplicate toothbrushes, deodorant, diapers, cloth diapers to help me feel more secure, sandwich bags, garbage bags, toilet paper, feminie supplies and food. I have carefully planned to buy items that would feed the family - then added sale items than would make life enjoyable. We have not compromised the fresh produce, the milk nor eggs for which the children have asked. After all this, I can safely say I could feed my family for 4 weeks on the little we have purchased in 10 days.

Too many people do not have food to last a week in their homes. It is midnight and I am blogging because I am perplexed. It is time for Americans to wake up and die right - starting with our own homes. There is no excuse. I shop at a discount grocery store that accepts cash and food stamps. Most canned goods, beans, and even fresh produce can be purchased there at very reasonable prices. If anyone is receiving food stamps, their shelves should be full within weeks with enough food to feed their family for months. Money is not the issue. Rice is only $8.00 for 25 pounds that will yield 252 servings. For one person that would provide something to eat for 70% of the year - for $8.00!!

Too many families find it too easy to buy a fast food meal - easily dropping $5-6.00 rather than cook. Some families have been unemployed, had to ask for welfare within three days, received aid and still have an attitude that "I don't know how to cook rice and I don't want to know."

Hello! The world's financial markets are in total disarray. Even the top financial advisors are asking "What good is gold when this world economy crashes?" There are only two things worth having - land and FOOD. People have relinquished personal power to big government which has a welfare state. Governments cannot support a welfare state for long without going in debt. America's 7 trillion dollar debt is minute compared to the 700 trillion derivative debt that is pushing international instability. It doesn't take a financial expert to tell us debt is bad, unpaid debt is dishonest and unsastainable, depending on a welfare check is risky, and choosing to feed your family with a welfare check when one could have prepared is living a lie.

Breakfast: Footballs with milk and orange juice.
Lunch: Raviolis leftover from a church cookout. We served them over rice to help extend the meal.
Dinner: Boiled potatoes, mesquite fried chicken, with a tomato sauce.
Snacks: apples
(Half my battle is trying to keep the children away from our real pantry - "No you can't have peaches, I haven't bought any yet for our experiment with the blog!")

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 8 Cloth Diapers and Settlers of Catan

I feel like I'm playing Settlers of Catan or a reality TV game in which the object is to buy the resources that will yield the most meals for the cheapest price to reach the finish line with the most plentifully stocked pantry. This requires pricing every item per serving, knowing the best prices of the year, and buying hen using what one has until the next sale.

Peanut Butter is on sale for $.88. This food makes sandwiches, cookies and a Thai dip for flat bread (any other uses?). It is a good product for our three month storage goal because we could eat PB sandwiches everyday.

Potatoes are also on sale for $.13/pound. This is lower than the sale in January and almost as low as the annual low of $.09/pound. Will they keep in the cool of the basement? Do I stock enough for the summer? The versatility of the potato makes it an excellent choice for a food staple. The cost is less than $.05/serving at this price finishing a close second to rice that is $.03/serving. Each week the list of foods in our virtual pantry expands. With a little discipline and planning, we will hopefully feed the family, meet nutritional needs and fill our shelves.

To help manage the financial challenge I invested in plastic pants, pins and bleach so I could use the 12 cloth diapers on my shelf. My children have no idea what to do. They are asking if I throw the diapers away and how they are pinned, why the plastic pants etc... I plan to use disposable when we go out and at night but the cloth when we are home and able to manage cloth diapers. It will be good exposure for the children. Today I saved the equivalent of two disposable diapers.

This is building "Intestinal Fortitude" -One day at a time.

Breakfast: Rice Pudding
Lunch: Leftovers about one- two servings each dish: fried potatoes, shirred eggs, vegetable pot pie, rice pudding, carrot pudding
Dinner: Mesquite chicken (a free bottle of spice with the purchase of frozen chicken breasts at $1.69/pound, rice adn steamed cauliflower. Dessert: snickerdoodle cookies
Snack: Watermelon

Week Two Menu Plans and What Really Happens

One the shelf: Starch: We added 60 pounds potatoes , restocked 25# flour, Protein: 8 jars Peanut butter, chicken, 5 #/s cheddar cheese, 5# cottage cheese Produce: 8 # apples watermelon

Receipts: Sams -$ 23.21, SS -$ 8.16, B& S - $31.32

Menu Plan:

Breakfasts: footballs, rice with milk and sugar, french toast, omlets and toast, rice pudding, Fried potatoes, blender wheat pancakes
Lunches: Sandwiches - PB, tuna, egg, cheese, leftovers
Dinner: Potato Soup, baked potatoes. Garden Cafe style potato plater, Creamed tuna over toast, tuna salad pita pockets, rice and beans, Refried beans topped with cheese and Mesquite flavoring,

Menu Summary Week One

Brain Storm Possible Meals:

(Meals that can be made with these basic ingredients: Starch - Rice, Wheat, Bread/flour, #10 potatoes; Proteins - Chicken, Tuna, Eggs, 4# Pinto Beans, Peanut Butter; Spices - Salt, Basil, Chili Powder, Cumin, Cinnamon, fresh minced Garlic; Fresh Produce - Carrots, apples, onions, oranges, bananas, cauliflower, broccoli

Receipts: HyVee: $10.00, Sams: $23.77, $19.38, Aldi: $78.71, $23.78, $14.33, $28.61, No Frills - $19.88 SS: .56, $.56, $5.20, $1.00, $.56, $.56, $.56, $1.54, $.56 Walmart: $25.68 Omaha Home Storage: $5.80

Breakfasts: blender wheat pancakes, white flour pancakes, eggs/toast, quiche, crepes, muffins, cold rice with milk and sugar, rice pudding, Christmas carrot pudding with fresh carrots and potatoes, breakfast casseroles (layered bread and eggs)

Lunches: sandwiches - peanut butter and jelly, tuna, egg salad/ fresh fruit, milk or leftovers

Dinner: Rice with chicken dishes (Divan with broccoli), Chicken Soup with Rice, Chicken pot pie with potatoes, chicken and dumplings, Chicken soup with egg drop noodles, Beans and Rice, Refried Beans, Burritos, Bean soup, baked potatoes, creamed tuna over toast


Breakfasts: Fried eggs and toast, Blender wheat pancakes (2X), Scrambled eggs and toast (2x), Shirred Eggs over toast, Rice pudding and carrot pudding, Fried diced potatoes with onions

Lunch: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, PB on leftover wheat pancakes, Tuna sandwiches plain, Tuna sandwiches with grated green apple, Chicken Soup with Rice (Served by itself and with tuna sandwiches), Chicken Divan - leftover, Creamed tuna over Toast

Dinner: Chicken Soup with Rice, Baked Potatoes with margarine, Beans with chili and cumin over Rice, Pinto Bean Toastadas with lettuce, tomatoes and green onions, Chicken Divan, Vegetable pot Pie with garlic and Onions, Quiche with milk (no cheese) and broccoli

Snacks: Celery with peanut butter, snickerdoodle cookies (2X), oatmeal cookies (no raisins nor chocolate chips), coffee cake (2X), fresh apples, fresh oranges, carrot sticks and fresh cauliflower with salad dressing dip

Bread - Basic Ingredients


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 7 Renting or Investing in Security

There are different approaches to buying groceries. One common way to make the dollar stretch and cover the bases is to make a menu, list the ingredients, and buy for seven breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. One can save on sales, buy extra of canned goods, and use "extra money" to buy bulk items like 100 pounds of rice, wheat and beans.

A menu that may be eaten in an American home for a family of 5: (Approximate cost are in parentheses). frozen pizza($5.00), tacos (2.5# hamburger- $5.00, shells $1.00, lettuce $.70, olives $1.00, tomatoes $1.40, cheese$2.00) hamburgers ( meat from the taco purchase, buns $.90), rice a roni with a chicken breast (2 boxes - $2.00, chicken breasts - $6.00), spaghetti ($2.00) with a prepared sauce($1.00) and french bread($1.00) on the side, pork chops($8.00) with baked potatoes(5 # for $1.50) and green beans(2 cans $1.00), and mac and cheese(3 boxes $2.00) with hot dogs (1 package $1.00). This menu will cost $42.60 if I've added correctly. The exact prices don't matter, neither does getting the best deal. All this food will be gone in by the end of the week. Nothing will remain on the shelf.

Another approach is to buy basics 25 # rice ($7.80), 25 # flour ($5.60), 25 # salt ($3.60), 20 pounds potatoes ($6.00), 2 dozen eggs ($2.00), 4 # Pinto beans ($2.60), 4 # yeast ($4.40), 2 #oil ($2.00), 10 pounds sugar ($5.00) 4 pounds of chicken ($4.50), 1 small jar of peanut butter ($1.40) and/or another flavoring (meat, spice, boullion,etc) for $3.00). Total cost is a little less that $45.50. At the end of a week, feeding 10 people, leftovers will be 20# rice, 24 pounds salt, 1 pound pinto beans, 3.5 pounds of yeast, 1 pound of oil, and the garlic. In one week we have a substantial start on our shelf stable menu.

Does it help if the menu changes to include split peas instead of frozen pizza? Yes and no. Split peas are shelf stable, cheap and a great source of protein. But if only enough is purchased to prepare one meal, the families' health is maintained or preserved, but there is nothing to show for long term storage. The Rent is paid but no tability has been built with long term investments of food.

Picking items with the greatest versatility is the trick. The basics of flour, salt, sugar, baking powder/yeast and oil can make hundreds of baked goods: french bread, tortillas, cookies, pie dough, egg drop noodles, thickening agent, pita bread, english muffins, etc... There are countless ways to serve rice including stir fry, rice with chicken, rice with beans, rice pudding, as a pizza crust, just plain with milk and sugar, etc... Pinto beans are also very versatile: refried, chili and other soups, in fudge, as an appetizer, in a meatless burger, etc... The more versatile the first basic ingredients one chooses to buy, the longer the food will last.

The gamble is how much can I invest on this "long term" foods while meeting other basic needs and stay in the budget until the end of the month. After all adding garlic and cumin and basil and jelly and sandwich bags on top of 13 gallons of milk/week ... has brought my total expenditure to date to $222.40. How long will those supplies last while feeding ten? We have already (in 5 days of baking) gone through 25 pounds of flour making 15 loaves of bread, 3 batches of snickerdooldes, 1 batch of oatmeal cookies, 2 coffee cakes, and one batch of tortillas. I'm in suspense to find out how to play the next 13 days.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 6 What are we cooking?

We began this new challenge as if we had nothing on our shelves. We have been shopping 2-3 times each day Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Each time we've run any errand, we have purchased 2 more dozen eggs. They are on a loss leader sale for $.28 per dozen. So far we have purchased 12 dozen. Because eggs are the cheapest protein source this week, we have had lots of egg dishes: German pancakes, scrambled eggs for breakfast, fried eggs for breakfast, boiled eggs for snack and shirred eggs over toast.

The other great sale that I could not pass up was tuna for .$40 a can. The case contained 48 cans making the total on the case $18.72. We have eaten tuna dishes: Creamed tuna over toast after church, tuna sandwiches plain and with tuna with apple.

Rice is the cheapest starch with the longest shelf life. So this is a great first purchase for building home reserves. To add flavor I bought chicken. The cheapest price on any meat I could find was $.76 per pound. Two small packages of leg quarters were boiled and deboned to provide a little protein in a chicken and rice combo. I made a chicken divan (rice boiled in the leftover water from boiling the chicken, one head of broccoli cut into pieced and added when the rice was almost finished cooking and s little sour cream added with salt to flavor. This made 2 large casserole dishes stretching the meat half the meat between four meals. (We ate half of each casserole at each meal. There is still one of the four meals left.) The other half of the chicken was added to a big pot of chicken soup with rice. Which I served as a main meal twice and twice with sandwiches to make it interesting.

We needed a more substantial source of protein! I was hungry. So I bought 4 pounds of pinto beans. I cooked up two pounds and flavored them with chili powder, salt and cumin. One meal was simply rice with beans; then Sunday evening we I made tortillas and layered beans, lettuce, tomatoes and green onions.

This approach to grocery shopping requires that one buys in bulk and then eats the same basic ingreadients for a while (week or more) slowly building variety. I have not done this for 20 years. I have not started from scratch with 10 children - we are using one of the most expensive ways to provide garbage sacks because of budget restraints. I can not afford to buy everything in bulk this first week. It is driving me crazy. I am not sure we can pull off this challenge. This is a real dilemma. All of my poignant lectures on saying "No" and exercising discipline are coming into application. It is requiring Preparation- a Day at a Time. Pictures coming....

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 4 Obesity in America

Over 30% of Americans are obese. It is hard to store enough food to support undisciplined eating habits that make us fat. In order to plan an adequate amount of food, to balance food groups, to ensure I am providing good nutrition to my children and in some cases limit caloric intake, the meal plan I am using for each meal is 2 servings carbohydrate (breads, pasta, potatoes), 2 oz proteins (eggs, meat, tuna), 1 cup milk, 2 serving fruit (1/2 banana, 1 small apple), 2 fat exchanges (1 tsp butter, or about 5 grams of fat each), finally, vegetables are free. Calories will range from 1800 to 2400 depending on fat content of the meat and milk. For a lower caloric intake 1 carbohydrate, 1 protein, 1 cup milk, 1 fruit, 1 fat and free vegetables served for all three meals and a snack. Calories range from 1100 to 1500. This is a rough guide not a diet. The whole goal of learning how to use whole grains, legumes, and cook from scratch is to help us build a healthy lifestyle physically, emotionally, and socially.

As I prepared lunch of tuna sandwiches with grated Granny Smith apple added and a lettuce leaf on home made white bread toasted, my 12 year old told me about the campout last night. After thirty minutes of fluent description, I had to smile. I am so glad the kitchen captured me so that he could share his adventures. I do not know if grabbing lunch at McDonald's would have created the same intimate setting to tell Mom all about his life.

There would be less obesity if more people enjoyed nurturing emotional care at home while nourishing their bodies with healthy food.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day 3 Greeting the Day

If our children do not wake up to the smell of bacon, what do they wake to? I wonder how many mothers sacrifice a half hour of sleep to get up and prepare a hot breakfast to welcome their children to another day? I wonder how many children who have the opportunity to sit at breakfast with a parent and discuss the day, have the desire to experiment with drugs or alcohol? How can parents who are unwilling to sacrifice to provide a hot meal for their children expect children to sacrifice to stay away from addictive substances?

We baked bread this afternoon. As the wonderful aroma filled the house, I wanted my children to wake to that subtle message every morning. To me fresh bread speaks of love, safety, and security. (I do not fry bacon for breakfast. Eating a fat exchange with no nutritional value is not a habit I encourage.) Without using a bread mixer, I have to knead the bread by hand and a batch of three loaves is a small enough to handle comfortably but that means we have to make bread several times a week. We are also constrained with no sausage, or savory meat to cook for breakfast so the smell of baking bread will supply the atmosphere other breakfast foods would have. The children will not feel jipped by a limited grocery list.

I loved waking to hear the wheat grinder and the "Songs of the Cowboys" when I was a young child. I knew that my Mom was home and cooking for me. I was important. What more could we want for our children than to know that they are someone unique: royalty in their own home.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

DAY 2 Sharing

The transition to watching every add, counting every cent, and ignoring all the food already on the shelves is a shock after going three months eating everything off the shelves without any reservation, never opening an add, and spending no grocery money! We have spent $150 so far out of our allotment of $500. With that we have acquired a 3 month's supply of laundry detergent, salt, yeast and spices; and a one month's supply of rice, flour, eggs ( on a loss leader sale). We have produce to last a week or more and all the fresh milk we can drink. The children accompanied me shopping. They asked for items and I gratefully had a reason to say "No." The younger children are a bit more spoiled than the older ones. I have become much more liberal in my old age, I'm too tired and money is not as tight and so they get more things for which they ask. I didn't realize how many things they were asking for until we went shopping this time under tight constraints. This exercise is developing the intestinal fortitude that will sustain my children throughout their life.

I also know that we will not make the challenge unless I share with other people. I need to learn to use coupons. One of my friends saved over $3000.00 last year by getting many personal care items for free. I will also need to co-opt and share goods to reduce the price. Finally, simply sharing information will be a great help to aid us in staying in budget and reaching our goal.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Eliminating Excuses

A few years ago I left my 14 year old son home alone while I took a quick 3 day trip. We were delayed so he was alone longer than anticipated. When we finally drove within 30 minutes of home, I called him. He said he was listening to Dr. Laura on the radio to help fill the "mother" void. I chuckled. One of the key qualities of a good mother is to provide safety for her family by holding absolutes, and Dr. Laura is absolute.

The most common responses that I received during our 90 days of "no trips to the grocery store" were 1) I couldn't do that, I don't have time. 2) I don't know how to cook or bake. 3) I make a trip every day for fresh produce. 4) It is too expensive. I would use all the precious food we have struggled to put away. I can't afford to use "food storage."

I must conceed that I am more than a little distraught over the increasing welfare state of our citizenry. Accepting this second challenge is a small attempt of my 'Mother's Heart" to establish some absolutes. The shelf stable basics of grains and legumes are the cheapest ways to feed a family; they are healthy because they are whole grains and provide a nearly fat free complex carbohydrate with a good source of protein; and finally, convenience can be built into a cooking routine that maximizes use of time with our family while teaching valuable skills of self reliance. Beyond personal health and well being, there is a responsibility to our communities to live within our means and if we have extra to live modestly so we can freely give and lift others out of a welfare state.

Sales for the week are advertised on Wednesdays. Tomorrow will be the first day of our three month challenge.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Rest of the Story - Accepting "No"

It is Mother's Day, I appreciate the work of mothers. It is even more poignant after meeting the challenge to not go to the grocery store for 90 days. When we finally did go shopping (a couple of days after the finish line), the commercialism was shocking. The thousands of products in every flavor and numerous packages called from countless shelves. All of it was superfluous. We did not have to buy anything. We knew we could do without. The children were more reserved in their pleadings for this or that and I felt more power to simply say, "No."

We bought a case of cauliflower to support the case lot sales that had been instituted in our absence and splurged on a preseason watermelon. As we left the store, we passed an overweight child of eight or nine eating a candy bar on his way to the car. I was saddened. His mother lacked the power to say "No." No wonder we have a spoiled society with an entitlement mentality.

In pondering, it dawned on me that God himself is trying to teach us to accept "No" for an answer. In the Garden of Eden, He offered to Adam and Eve all the fruits of the garden except one. In reaping the consequences of failing to accept "No," we find ourselves in a world that offers all kinds of indulgences. Food is a tool that God used and we can use too.

A mother is on the front lines teaching her children to deny themselves. It is often a lonely battle. I am grateful for the sacrifices my mother made for me and our family. I am grateful for power I feel having brothers and sisters of strength to help me through the day to day. Strong families are powerful.