Tag Archives: budget

Surviving School Vacation, Low waste, Gluten free, and Vegan

Ack the kids are home. It’s an endless cycle of “I am bored!” and “what’s to eat?”.

When you eat gluten free, mostly dairy free and no processed food unless its unavoidable that last bit seems challenging. You can’t just throw them a bag of Cheetos and a juice box. ( not that I would, ever!)  So what’s a Mom to do?

Every morning I have a simple routine that takes care of the basics. It makes easy healthy snacks within reach for the kids and keeps me from answering the “what do we have to eat?” question 12 times before lunch.  Believe it or not, its a lot cheaper to eat bulk healthy foods.  I’ll put my cart of fruits, veggies, and grains against your cart of single serve processed food-like groceries.

My routine goes something like this, every morning.

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I make cold brew coffee every morning for my coffee drinkers.  Half a cup of ground coffee covered with warm water and then let sit on the counter until bedtime. It’s that easy.

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Place two teabags ( or loose tea if I have it) into a 2 quart jar of warm water. Let the sun brew it until lunch. Unsweetened iced tea is ready for drinks. I do let my kids drink the decaffeinated kind.  Its kind of amazing to have them picking out teas at the store and comparing flavors.

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It’s been a process to get the kids to drink water. First we did the cute little plastic disposable bottles. Kids size reusable bottles were next. Now they have adult sized bottles( BPA free, of course). I just invested in some stainless steel bottles for them to take when they leave the house but they still use these everyday at home. I refill them in the morning and stick them in the fridge so they can grab one whenever they are thirsty.

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I cut up a bowl of snack size veggies for them to nibble on. Whatever has come from the garden that morning or what ever we have on hand.  It’s amazing but if its easy they WILL eat it. Or at least its the first stop before they grab something else. I do not give them dip and they don’t like it anyway. It hides the taste of the veggies. What law says you have to anyway? My only exception to that is hummus, We use it on everything you would use dip or mayo on.

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Same principal applies to the never ending fruit salad bowl. I fill a large bowl every morning with whatever fruits we have on hand that are seasonal or on sale. A sweet snack craving gets stopped in its tracks, for the kids or me.  For an extra treat I will whip some coconut cream to have with it.

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I eat zucchini noodles every day. One of my sons eats them almost as often. Its an almost instant gratification grain free noodle dish. I like canned diced Italian tomatoes and olives, he likes Go Veggie lactose free Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. To help keep them from getting too soggy when cooked, I spiral a few zucchinis in the morning and let them dry out on a plate.

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Last but not least I make a fast batch of bread dough to hang out for 24 hours.  It enables me to instantly make a pizza crust, bread sticks, rolls or flatbread. For some good gluten free recipes for dough, Glutenfreeonashoestring.com has some recipes on their site as well as some awesome recipes books available on kindle or Amazon.

For a little bit of time and effort, these substitutions can help you get off of the processed food train and save you some money in the bargain.  Happy Summer!

 

 

 

 

Handmade Christmas 2016 Part 2

To look at my last post you would think I only knit these days. I am cranking out more fiber goods but still manage to hand make many other things as well.

I have always done food gifts but tried to stay away from too much baking this year. I think its a bit hypocritical to preach plant based healthy food then give away cookies and cakes…..In keeping with our simpler lives  I did a few new things.

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The boys and I saved a boatload of seeds from our favorite varieties this year. We packaged them up in envelopes, labeled them, tied them with ribbon, and gave them to some of our gardening friends. They were excited to have some tried and true seeds and helped them plan for the next year. My boys got a lesson in stewardship and sustainability too, always a bonus.

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We also gave away some pesto that we had made from basil we grew. While I maintain that things like homemade jam have a place in our diet as a sometimes treat, I think the pesto was much more appreciated. One friend had requested a pizza sauce from our herbs and organic tomatoes. Next year I will have to keep in mind how much we gave away and try to grow a bit extra.

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Instead of gift cards for the bus drivers, mailman, and neighbors I made a huge batch of fresh crusty bread that we gave in brown paper lunch bags tied with ribbon. Judging from the looks of delight I think that may need to be repeated as well. How many of us remember that smell from Grams house of fresh bread? Not something many of us get anymore.

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A couple of brave friends got 6 packs of our own apple kombucha, non alcoholic, of course. I just started doing this last summer and it was a success once I got the hang of it. A cold kombucha in the summer was heavenly. Some day I may try my hand at brewing wine but that’s low on the priority list at the moment.

So we managed to stay true to our homemade Christmas and Holiday gifts and keep the budget to a minimum. I think the lesson I learned was to be creative but keep it simple.

I also played with the idea of handmade coupons for produce from our garden this spring and summer. I may think about that more and try it next year.

 

 

Gluten Free Eating in Our House

I am not a photographer nor a writer for a glitzy magazine. I won’t have carefully posed food pictures nor 4 paragraph descriptions of TOAST. I am a single mom of three kids, two with Autistic disorder and two with gluten issues. This blog is my way of documenting how we get by on a limited income. Maybe some of you will be helped by this.
Realistically it is possible to eat gluten free on a relatively normal budget. Here’s the catch though.
You will have to cook. A lot. There’s no way around it. No more prepackaged conveniences, no grabbing a pizza on the way home. It is what it is.
The good news is you will be healthier. If you have been eating a ton of premade processed foods you may even lose weight. I am not going to have the low carb/ low fat/ paleo discussion here. I don’t have the budget nor time to deal with that can of worms. We eat a whole food diet. I cut out chemicals wherever I can. Sometimes I can’t but I am doing the best I can. Stay awhile and see if anything will work for you.

A meal plan is Essential.

Seriously. It IS essential.  But you know that. At 5 o’clock when dinner is not even started and you have to head out the door in an hour for soccer practice or the library or whatever, you always say to yourself ” I wish I had a meal plan”.

I don’t plan every meal every day of the week. In fact I have three “OMG I need a fast dinner on the table” dinners. We eat those dinners regularly believe me.  If I have learned nothing else on our gluten free journey it’s that you have to rethink meals.

Go to meal #1 is tacos, fast customizable and a crowd pleaser. I always have chicken breasts, beans, and rice in the freezer in freezer bags I can microwave in a few minutes to throw together a Mexican feast. A sliced cucumber and some carrot sticks and we are happily munching away.

Go to meal #2 is dinner salads and garlic toast.  My stash of chicken comes in handy here too. I also buy produce twice a week and wash and cut everything so we can grabs snacks and make salads quickly. The kids make their own salads and put what they want on them while I butter and smear some garlic on bread to be toasted. Salad night is always a dessert night so no-one complains. Lately its been homemade vanilla ice cream.

Last but not least for go to meal #3 is pizza. I make the shells up ahead of time and just have to top them and put them in the toaster oven for 10 minutes. This is seriously fast eats people. Apple slices and chocolate coconut milk round out the meal.

Yes I cheat by cooking ahead. That’s the plan part of menu plan. I know we will be stretched some nights and I make sure I have something to feed everyone. Half my week is done with just these three fast meals. All healthy, relatively inexpensive,  and  gluten free as well to suit my family.

What three meals are your go-to’s?