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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Frugal Fun Birthday Party for My Boys


I like making my children birthday parties, to show them that we celebrate their presence in our lives, and I always have fun coming up with ideas of how to do it frugally but not sacrifice on the fun. Often I have themes for birthday parties, but this time I didn't stick with a theme- my only "theme" was trying to keep down the cost as much as possible, and without too much of a headache for me to make it or run it.
I think I did a successful job- all the kids that came to the party really enjoyed themselves and my boys said that it ranked as one of their top days this summer. My boys have birthdays September 4 and 8, with my boys Lee turning 10 and Ike turning 8. I would make them separate parties, in theory, but I know myself and my limits, and if I tried doing it perfectly I knew it would end up not happening at all (I never ended up making birthday parties for any of my kids last year, because I was too overwhelmed with everything going on) so I made it together and the boys were fine with that, because they share friends anyhow. I crowd sourced for ideas for their birthday party and ran a lot of ideas by them, and settled on this in the end.

The entire party ended up costing me only $30, and that included a full supper for the 12 kids who were there (including my 4), and everyone had a blast.

When should you be opening a savings account for your child?

Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This post was written by reader, Ben, and reminds me- maybe I should open a bank account for my children, because they're saving up quite a bit of money and they currently keep it all in cash...

There is no right or wrong time for you to open a savings account on your child’s behalf. For some families, it will be when the child is an infant. For others, it could mean waiting until they’re in school or earning small amounts of money of their own. It is essentially when the time is right for you but sooner is usually better, as you will accumulate more money over time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Creamy Zucchini Soup Recipe- Hot or Chilled, Paleo, Vegan, and Delicious



If I had to pick my two all time favorite ingredients to use in cooking, they'd probably be zucchini and cashews. I find the two of them are so versatile and can be used in so many different types of recipes and in so many different ways; how not to fall in love with them?
This soup, not surprisingly, based on those two ingredients is one of my favorite soups of all times, if not the favorite- it is absolutely divine, even though it is relatively simple.
Vegan and paleo, gluten free and just all around healthy, not to mention relatively low carb, this soup is creamy, delicious, goes down smoothly, and my son, a self professed zucchini hater, absolutely loves this soup and devours it.
Oh, and did I mention that it is awesome both hot and chilled?
Cashews aren't the cheapest ingredient, but I've gotten them relatively cheaply by buying them already broken, and end up paying around $2 for the cashews in this recipe, but I've also made it with around half the amount of cashews, and it was also great, so if you're looking to cut costs, feel free to play around and adjust the other ingredients as needed.

Lastly, while the ingredients in here are simple, it is not super easy if you want to make it perfect. This soup really is best when pressed through a food mill, or if you're like me and don't have a food mill, a large holed mesh strainer. You can eat it without pushing it through, but doing so makes it creamier and smoother and lifts it up to a whole new level, so I'd highly recommend not skipping that step.

Creamy Zucchini Soup Recipe- Hot or Chilled, Paleo, Vegan, and Delicious

Friday, October 6, 2017

Cantaloupe Salsa Recipe- Vegan, Paleo, and Frugal


The last time I was at the market, one of the vendors who sells past prime produce had a melon very similar to cantaloupe on sale for 13 cents a pound, and though I only wanted one or two, he gave them to me for much less than 13 cents a pound, and I ended up going home with about 10 melons. Now 10 melons is a lot for me on a regular day, but these melons weren't the yummiest in the world. 
They weren't bad, but they were rather bland and not very sweet, which meant that just eating them plain didn't appeal to me. (My kids, on the other hand, appreciated the melon, even not so sweet.)
But it got me wanting to be creative with the melon, finding different ways to use it- perhaps in savory dishes instead of sweet. I made a chilled cantaloupe based gazpacho (much like this recipe) and then decided to see how it would work in salsa.
Cantaloupe salsa was so delicious and enjoyed by the whole family that I've already made a second batch. You've got to try out this recipe!
I've tried it with cantaloupe mixed with cucumbers, and have seen cantaloupe mixed with tomatoes, but this recipe is without either. Feel free to add one or another or maybe even bell peppers to this recipe, adjusting seasonings to taste. This recipe works just as well with sweeter cantaloupes, and probably would work just as well with honeydew melon.

Cantaloupe Salsa Recipe- Vegan, Paleo, and Frugal

Friday, September 29, 2017

Frugal Kitchen Things I've Made Lately

Chicken fat, chicken broth, and deboned chicken, all free.
Though I haven't updated this blog so much lately, that doesn't mean that I haven't been up to my usual frugal self lately.
I'm a little busy and have a lot on my plate lately but I've made a bunch of things lately that save us money and/or help my family keep healthy that I wanted to share with you.

I finally made it back to the market where I stocked up on blocks of jaggery, and boiled three down in one go to make jaggery syrup, the cheapest non refined sweetener I can get my hands on.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Our Brand New Pergola


Mike has been working crazy hours lately at his new job and in his few hours of down-time he managed to build this pergola in our front yard. All for under $80- and this is despite buying the wood from an overpriced local place since we don't have a car to use to transport wood from cheaper places.

Mike wanted to do a pergola for the entire yard, front and back, but it wasn't something that particularly appealed to me (since I didn't really grow up with them the way he did), until I saw what the one in the front looks like and it makes me really happy.

Eventually (when Mike has a few minutes breathing room) he'll be building another one in the backyard, probably even bigger than this one.

Cheap and Compact Hydroponic Garden Options

I found hydroponics to be fascinating from the first time I heard about it. As someone interested in DIY and self-sufficiency, I have wanted to grow my own food for a long time but until recently lived in a place with no yard. Hydroponic gardening would have been very helpful to me in my previous apartment, and hopefully this post by M, a mother of 3 from the  Philippines will help those of you who would like to garden but don't have the space.

Gone are the days of only being able to grow things if you have the right resources, such as space and access to good soil. Today, hydroponics gardening has made home growing a veritable reality for every one of us, whether for commercial purposes or for our own hobbies. So if you have always wanted to prove to yourself that you can grow something - even if you have never had a green thumb - now is your chance to do so.

What is Hydroponics
In the simplest terms, hydroponics is the growing of plants without soil. What it instead uses is mineral nutrient solutions, which are fed to the plants along with water. As a result, you can grow anything in virtually any medium, even on sand or gravel.

There are different forms of hydroponic gardening, and these are:


  • Aeroponic System. One of the most advanced forms of hydroponics gardening, the aeroponic system uses air as the primary growing medium. In this system, the roots of the plants hang in the air - which are misted with a nutrient solution every few seconds.
  • Drip System. In a drip system, a timer will control a pump which will deliver water and the Growth Technology nutrient solution to the plants by virtue of a network of elevated water jets. And then a recovery system will collect the excess solution back to the reservoir. The pH level of this reservoir should be constantly monitored to ensure that it is right for the healthy growth of the plants.
  • Ebb and Flow System. Also called flood and drain, an ebb and flow system temporarily floods the grow tray with the nutrient solution before draining it back. A water pump that is run by a timer controls these mechanisms.
  • NFT System. This is the first thing that comes to people’s mind when hydroponics is mentioned. The Nutrient Film Technique system continually pumps the Growth Technology nutrient solution into the growing tray, where the roots are suspended. The excess solution travels back down the system to the reservoir. What makes this amazing is that there is no timer that automates the process, but it requires constant maintenance of the pump and the electrical system to ensure constant operation.
  • Water Culture. In a water culture, the roots of the plants are immersed in the water, which contains the nutrient solution that is necessary for growth. It comes with an air pump that helps facilitate oxygenation of the water, which will allow the plants to breathe. It is necessary to note that it does not work well for most plants, except for lettuce.
  • Wicks System. The Wicks system is the simplest hydroponics gardening system. By virtue of its name, the nutrient solution is taken to the growing tray through wicks. There are various growing mediums for this type of hydroponics, including coco and perlite.


Whichever particular form appeals more to you, hydroponics gardening is considered to be more advantageous than growing on ordinary soil. First, you do not need a lot of space to be able to make it work. So if you live in a residential building that does not have a backyard, you can get away with growing some vegetables along, say, your windowsill. Even closets are used for this purpose!

You also get to save on water, as well as time. In terms of resource management alone, this is great news. Furthermore, there is no weeding to be done, especially if you are keeping your plants away from the worst of the environmental conditions. There are also less chances for pests. And finally, everything can be under your control, provided that necessary maintenance is carried out when it needs to be carried out.

Some of these forms of hydroponics, however, fetch quite a pretty penny. Aeroponics, in particular, can get very, very expensive. Even the simplest of these forms, if they incorporate a lot of accessories and technologies, can get cumbersome on the pockets.

So if you do not have a lot of budget but you still have a lot of hopes in growing your own plants, what can you do? Consider these cheap and compact hydroponic garden options that are all less than a hundred dollars each.

Hydroponic Garden Options For Less Than $100
Home Aquaponics Garden. This hydroponics kit is perfect for those who want to combine two hobbies: growing plants and having a pet fish! In this model, a fish tank comes equipped with a small hydroponics system, where waste from the fish is converted into fertilizer for the plants. Back to the Roots offers one of these for only $60.

Water Farm. The Water Farm from General Hydroponics comes with a two-gallon planter that is filled with clay pebbles, a four-gallon reservoir and an air pump. The pump transports water and the nutrient solution in this drip hydroponics system. It can also be customized to fit your needs. The WaterFarm Module, for example, allows you to create a multiple unit system with the right accessories. The kit is available for around $50.

Click & Grow. If you are looking for something even more space-smart and a tad techie, Click&Grow is perfect for you. Known as an “electronic smartpot”, this kit is designed with Smart Soil, which reportedly releases nutrients in sync with the life cycle of the plant, provides breathing room even when it is wet, and self-manages its pH balance. In addition, it has specialized sensors that monitor garden vitals like light and water to keep the plants in optimal health. This kit is priced at $80, including the starter plant cartridge.

What about DIY hydroponics systems?
If you want to create your own hydroponics system, there are a variety of ways that you can do so - and they can range from basic to complex. Similarly, going DIY does not automatically mean that you will save up on money and time. In fact, certain systems require daily (and frequent!) monitoring and management so that the plants are ensured to be in good condition.








Sources:


http://www.gyostuff.com/Why_Hydroponics_.html
http://www.growthtechnology.com/growtorial/what-is-hydroponic-growing/
http://www.epicgardening.com/hydroponics-vs-soil/
https://www.entitymag.com/hydroponics-gardening-system-agriculture/
http://www.instructables.com/id/Compact-Cheap-and-Expandable-Hydroponics-System/
https://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/gadgets/12-plug-and-play-home-hydroponics-systems/
http://www.farmxchange.org/top-5-home-aquaponics-kits/
http://generalhydroponics.com/waterfarm-1/

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sending (Most of) My Kids to School... Again

Happy Rose after her second day of school
I talk about homeschooling a lot. In person but especially here on my blog. I've written about why I homeschool, how I homeschool, what unschooling is, how it works, corrected misconceptions about unschooling and homeschooling. In short, other than frugality and gluten free, homeschooling is one of those things I'm most well known for...
So imagine people's surprise when they heard that starting September 1 of this school year, I only have one kid being homeschooled - my other three are in school. I've gotten a lot of shocked reactions and questions from friends in person and on Facebook about my decision to send kids to school, and while others are telling me I don't owe anyone explanations, as someone who is pretty vocal about the unconventional schooling choices I've made I can understand people wanting to know what made me change my mind so I don't mind sharing.

6 Ways to Save on Household Expenses

This blog post was written by a reader.

Having your own home and paying for the utilities can be super expensive. Paying bills every month can be a daunting task, plus sometimes it just gets too difficult on the budget. However though, there are things that you can do at home to lessen your expenses. We are giving you six tips, so read on if you want to find out what we have got up our sleeves.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Recent Frugal Accomplishments

First off, I wanted to send out warm thoughts to everyone who lost loved ones on 9/11, as well as everyone who has been affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Additionally, I wanted to apologize for not having posted here recently- lots of things going on in my life that have made it feel very insane and hectic and different- more on that in another post... but unfortunately blogging had to go on the back burner... And instead of just being one week's worth of frugality, this is 2 weeks' worth of frugal accomplishments (as I'd meant to post it yesterday)...

So here's what frugal things our family has done recently:

Frugal Food:
Free Food, Foraging and Gardening:
I foraged a bunch of passion fruit.
Just one of my many harvests- swiss chard, sea beet, beet leaves, amaranth, squash blossoms, purslane, and cherry tomatoes

Monday, August 28, 2017

Our New Practically Free Dishwasher!

Dish washing has been the bane of my existence pretty much since I moved out of my childhood home. There we always, always, always washed dishes with a dishwasher- the only dishes that needed to be hand washed were some pots. Moving out and needing to wash the dishes added so much stress to my life and it has been so hard to always be on top of the dish washing. 
For years I've wanted a dish washer, but in our first two apartments there simply was no room. 

When we designed our kitchen layout in our new home, the one that we bought, we were told that one of the cabinets specifically was made removable and the exact size of the standard dishwasher, and it was right next to the sink so that it would be easy to get water there. Additionally, they made sure to install an electrical outlet in the cabinet under the sink to make it dishwasher friendly...

But spending money on a dishwasher? Much as I wanted one for years, it wasn't a priority monetarily... so we just didn't. And I'll admit... we ended up using a lot of disposable dishes, because sanity is important...


Yesterday, though, I got a call from someone that they were giving away a dishwasher and some other kitchen appliances, and if Mike would help them with a bit of the moving, we could have the dishwasher. It wasn't a new dishwasher, and it wasn't beautiful, but it was free, and arrived at our home yesterday.

What To Look For In A Meal Delivery Service For A Natural Living Family

Sanity is important to me. When I started this blog, it was just about frugality at the expense of everyone else... because sometimes you have no choice. Gradually, as our financial situation improved and our life circumstances changed, I've mellowed out and don't necessarily live an extremely frugal lifestyle. Sometimes I do extremely frugal things, but I'm all for finding the right balance that allows you to be sane, as long as you can afford it. 
For some extremely busy people, eating out and/or buying takeout is what they need to maintain a healthy state of mind, but that can get very pricey and/or usually it involves a compromise on healthy eating. Meal delivery services work as a compromise between the two, delivering the necessary ingredients to your door along with specific instructions so that you can make healthy, homemade meals without too much effort.



If you are a natural minded family and want to get a meal delivery service, here are some factors you might want to consider before choosing which company you want to go with.  This post was brought to you by Sun Basket, a meal delivery service specifically designed for the natural living and environmentally conscious folk, and fits all the criteria listed below.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Today's Frugal Produce Shopping Trip


After yesterday's post about my shopping trip, I have to say that despite my reassurance that we do have produce at home and we will manage in that department, I was feeling guilty about the lack of fruit and variety of produce, and I'm sure some people reading the post were thinking that it didn't seem like enough produce...

So today there was a local sale that often had good prices for produce, so I went to check them out.
I spent $14.80 and got all this, which, to be honest, is not as much produce as I'd get for the amount in the open air market, but I'm working with my limitations here and this is much less than I would have paid for the same produce at the cheap grocery store that I shopped at yesterday.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My Latest Frugal Grocery Shoppping Trip

The past few weeks I've had a hard time doing grocery shopping frugally- I've been very busy with a lot of things, so have done lots of short cuts that save me time but cost me more money, and that continued onto our family's vacation this past week, where I didn't want to be spending so much time in the kitchen cooking. On top of that, the fact that my arm is in pain means that I can't go to the open air market and bring back my super cheap produce, because even with my super strong wagon I need two arms to be able to take it all home. In short, our grocery bills this month have already been higher than I'd like them to be for the month ($570 is what I prefer to be my upper limit), and there are still 9 days left this month... so I decided to do a challenge and do as minimal grocery shopping as possible to keep it under $715 for the month. My house is set up relatively well enough to do that, there are just certain groceries I still need, but the rest I can probably make do with what's at home and what I forage.



Monday, August 21, 2017

Our Frugal Summer Beach Trip (and What We Foraged) and an Update on My Arm

My daughter, Rose, enjoying herself at the beach
I'm sorry I didn't post recently, or update on what's going on in my life...

From this past Monday until yesterday, Sunday, my family and I went on a trip to a beach town, a (long) bus ride away from where we lived. It is an annual tradition by now, and we've figured out how to do it frugally.

We stay at an apartment belonging to a relative and within a few minute's walk from the beach, and try to hit up the beach as often as we can- frugal entertainment at its finest.

In addition to the beach, we try to take the kids to the splash pad, also a short walk away from where we stay, not to mention free and fun.

While I had to run an errand one day, my husband took the kids to Ikea, where they window shopped, and he bought them super cheap ice cream.

We looked at the city's municipality's website and heard about a free clown festival happening one of the evenings we were there, so we took our kids and got to enjoy so many different performances, all sorts of different clowns, some jugglers, some mimes, some tightrope walkers, and some comedians. The kids and I all enjoyed ourselves. Even better was the fact that a good friend was vacationing in the same place and we got our families together at the clown festival, in addition to my getting together with her another evening.

I also enjoyed a walk on the beach and the promenade with yet another friend in the area- along the walk we foraged some plants together, and identified some others.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Delicious Italian Style Antipasti Stir-Fry Recipe - Gluten Free, Paleo, and Vegan


Recently I was in a restaurant and had a delicious meal of fish, salad, and cooked vegetables. The cooked vegetables were called antipasti but honestly looked more stir fry like to me. It was really amazing and once home looked for a way to recreate it. I knew it had onions, green beans, mushrooms, red peppers and sweet potatoes but beyond that I didn't know. I asked my Facebook contacts for suggestions on how to combine those ingredients to make a terrific dish and my friend Beth suggested I go with oregano, garlic and balsamic vinegar. I tried it out and it was so delicious. As much as I enjoy eating out its so nice to be able to recreate a meal at home so that occasionally you can enjoy the taste without the price tag.
Because this recipe has to be made in two parts its not the easiest recipe ever but it is simple enough that I was able to make most of it myself despite a hand in a cast (Mike chopped the sweet potatoes, I did the rest.) it's also not the cheapest dish in the world but it's relatively frugal and fancy enough to serve to guests in addition to it being both Paleo and vegan. Highly highly recommended.

Just note this makes a relatively large amount so you'll need a large pan.

Delicious Italian Style Antipasti Stir-Fry Recipe - Gluten Free, Paleo, and Vegan

Three Essential Home Upgrades for New Parents

This post was written by a reader.

First of all, everyone understands that when you have a new addition to the family, money is tight. For something so small, they sure know how to consume, and by the time you have stocked up on all the essentials to keep them clean, clothed, safe and fed, the chances are, the last subject on your mind is home upgrades.

But there are some things that you really should consider, and they need not cost a fortune. Here are my top three suggestions.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

In a Cast Now...


This post is taking a while to write because...
My left hand is currently in a half cast from above my elbow to my fingers... Hard to type quickly when using just one hand...

Planning for Your Child's Future Education

As a parent, it’s only natural that you’d want your child to have the best education possible so that they can have a great start in life and reach their potential. For a great many parents, that means setting money aside to be able to support their son or daughter – with HSBC finding that 91 per cent of parents plan to provide financial support when it comes to the fees and costs associated with further education.

The sums involved in paying for your child’s education aren’t insignificant so it pays, literally, to have a plan in place to be able to do your parental duty in this regard.

Here are some things to bear in mind…

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Make Money From Home as a Pet-Sitter

This post was written by Nat Smith, Rover.com community member. Rover is the nation's largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.

What if you discovered that you could make money from home, doing work that’s engaging and rewarding for the whole family? Pet-sitting is an amazing way to earn money and teach your children valuable skills in the comfort of your own home.

Dogs need individual attention and loving care to thrive. Owners turn to Rover.com to find reliable, friendly sitters to look after their pets while they’re traveling or at work. Whether you board dogs in your home overnight or offer doggy daycare, you can build a successful and flexible business in a few simple steps.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Our New Free Bathroom Cabinet -- Homemade From Pallet Wood



When I went to pick out the tiles for my new house about 2 years ago, the day that I went to pick them out I was feeling really really strange, my head was not in the right place... and I came down with some awful bug where I didn't get out of bed for a week after that. Needless to say, I didn't have the right head space for making decisions about our house, and when I finally saw some of my choices once they were installed, I kind of freaked. The bathroom especially upset me, because it was this pale yellowish brown, and I couldn't understand why I'd picked such a weird color for the bathroom...

My friend Michelle, the one who helped me with my clothes makeover, and in general is good with design things, actually pointed out to me how that color isn't so bad, its actually nice- it's the color of sand. And if I wanted to pair it with other colors, I should go in the beach direction, for a beach themed bathroom- blues like the ocean, driftwood color (light woods), and the sand colored tiles... Once I looked at it that way, I started seeing the potential, and honestly, now the room that I thought I'd hate most is one of my favorite rooms in the house- the en suite bathroom in the master bedroom.

The thing is, we have a tiny space in our bathroom. Our bedroom is also extremely small, and the bathroom is rather tiny, specifically to make more room in our dining room/living room/kitchen, and I'm totally OK with that, but it did mean we needed to come up with some creative solutions to work around it.

6 Popular Passive Investments to Build Wealth and Financial Security

This post is written by Nancy Evans, a mom who loves being able to invest the money she saves by living frugally.

There is a common misconception that holds most people back from being able to become financially independent and secure. It's the myth that you need to come from a wealthy family in order to make money. This simply isn't true, as there are plenty of examples the world over of billionaires who were once dirt poor.

Money Myths that Prevent Financial Security

It is falsehoods like this that prevent folks from taking the one simple step that is necessary to build wealth: investing. Another myth that holds people back from investing is the mistaken belief that they can't afford to begin investing now.

While you will need at least some capital to begin investing, most of us can cut back on spending and put our savings towards investment goals.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Homemade Toasted Sesame Flavored Oil Recipe- Frugal and Easy Hack


It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Asian food, specifically Korean food. I am able to combine a variety of frugal and super frugal ingredients, whatever I have on hand, either foraged or purchased from the reduced rack, and create gorgeous and delicious healthy dishes with them. However, there is one ingredient that is required in a lot of Korean dishes that is not quite so cheap- toasted sesame oil, but a little bit packs a big punch, so I am willing to splurge on that.
However, even if there's something that I'm willing to splurge on, if I can get the equivalent for far cheaper, then why not, as long as I'm not compromising on taste (at least not too much).

My friend Charmane told me a few years ago that she makes an imitation toasted sesame oil to use to give flavor to dishes. It's not sesame free, so it's not a good alternative for people with sesame allergies. However, what she does is toast sesame seeds and use them to infuse bland oils with that toasted sesame flavor. While Charmane doesn't do it specifically for money saving purposes, but just in a pinch if she doesn't have a chance to go out and buy toasted sesame oil. If you live in a place that toasted sesame oil is hard to come by, it also is a great solution.
I decided to give it a try and see how it works. While I was at it, I wanted to compare- does it really save money, and if so, how much?

KidGuard- Keeping Your Children Safe Online

As a mom with kids who are getting older, the debate in my head about whether or not to allow my children to get cell phones and other tech devices of their own rages in my head. We finally decided to get my 9 year old a smart phone for his birthday in September, with a data plan, but it stresses me out somewhat. Is it safe? Is it a good idea? Then my mind starts wondering- is it safe for him to not have a cell phone of his own, especially as he gets more independent, and I allow him to go places without me unsupervised?

KidGuard, a company whose aim is to protect children using technology, contacted me and asked me to tell my readers about their service. What they do is reassuring for parents like myself, who debate about smart phones and tech for kids- who want to get it for their kids, but at the same time, don't want to compromise on safety.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Futility of Mommy Wars

Babywearing. The subject of many Mommy wars.
11 years ago I was the perfect mother. Of course that was before I was even pregnant with my first. I remember writing a list of all the things I'd do as a parent, like never co sleeping with my baby, all the things I'd insist on with my kids, how they'd be, how I'd discipline them, etc. The list was actually a couple of pages long if I recall correctly and I was so proud of myself for having written it out, for going into motherhood prepared with a plan instead of just winging it and probably flubbing it as I was sure a parent without a clearly defined direction would be doing.

Well, then I gave birth. And boy was I in for a rude awakening. It doesn't matter how much I read, how much I researched, how much I planned ahead, motherhood was so different from what I expected. That list ended up in the trash because nearly none of it was relevant. My kids were themselves and not anything that my master list could have predicted.

But even so, once my kids were born I developed a very rigid idea of what the proper way to mother was... And at first I stuck with it religiously, even when it was hurting me, even when it wasn't working for me, because the guilt was so bad if I didn't.
And all around me the Mommy wars raged.

Monday, July 31, 2017

DIY Pallet Wine and Liquor Rack


I was so excited to share my husband's last pallet wood project with you... only... it no longer is his latest project! He's since built something even more awesome than this, but you'll have to wait for me to post about it, but let's just say I'm amazed by his skills and ability to transform simple wooden pallets into masterpieces.

So for now, I'm going to gush about this project of his- a pallet wine rack. Though I'll admit, we do store other things on there, not just wine. Like vodka, and whiskey, and other distilled beverages. I guess that makes it a wine and liquor rack. Why not? Yes, it only holds wine glasses, not glasses meant for other types of alcohol, but in our home we don't stand on ceremony, we'll drink anything from a wine glass.

Managing Finances While Unemployed

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles
at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I am very happy that my husband works in a very much needed, if underpaid, profession round these parts. He'll hopefully never be unemployed, and that hasn't been an issue of ours since we married. However, those in other professions often do face layoffs or end up unemployed for whatever reasons, and I really appreciate this post by reader, Amy, about how to manage your finances in such a situation.

There are lots of reasons for being unemployed. A majority of people are unemployed abruptly. They may have been let go or laid off with no warning. This is why it’s recommended you have an emergency fund equal to three months of expenses saved up. That way if the unavoidable happens, you have a backup plan. Plenty of folks don’t always have those expenses saved up and if they do, they could very well find themselves unemployed longer than those 3 months. Or even experience more hardship that depletes their funds quickly. This changes how we need to manage our finances when we become unemployed. Here are our top tricks on what you can do to help you manage your money and hopefully stay afloat.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Easy Healthy Eating Menu Plan for Weight Loss- With Recipes

Sauted mushrooms and kale, seasoned with curry powder,
and seared curry spiced tuna
Someone I care about was told that they need to lose weight desperately, go on a diet, because otherwise they have a very, very high risk of having medical complications.
This person currently does not eat healthily at all, is not much of a cook, but wants to, and doesn't have a lot of time or energy to be spending all day in the kitchen. I was asked to make this person a menu plan, to help them lose weight, and fast.

I will add at this point that I am not a dietician nor a doctor nor do I profess to be one. The whole point of this post is just to share some tips that worked for me, some easy menu ideas that are weight loss friendly and aren't too time consuming to prepare. If you're unsure of what you should be eating for weight loss reasons, run this by a doctor or dietician before starting. I don't think I shared anything controversial at all, though, just well rounded healthy meals.

I have personal experience with losing weight by going on a Paleo diet, especially one with lower amounts of carbohydrates, but I think that that change might be a bit too big for someone who currently doesn't eat healthily. So I would not suggest that this person go completely Paleo, just a gluten free, clean eating, low carb, moderate fat, diet, and if that doesn't seem to be working, then I'd suggest she tweak it to be different, as needed.

The basis of the diet will be three square meals a day, carbohydrates strictly limited, lean proteins, unlimited amounts of lower carbohydrate vegetables, and fats moderated but not limited as strictly as carbohydrates. I read a post on ChrisKresser.com a while back (but can't find the link anymore) about why many people who go on lower carb diets lose weight at first and then start gaining it back, and part of what he said is that it is not just carbohydrate intake that affects weight loss, but overall calories as well. Usually when people first start going lower carb, they eat fewer calories as well, since they can't stomach the higher fat content of a diet in which fat replaces carbohydrates. However, gradually they start eating more and more fatty foods and this causes them to gain weight because they end up eating just as many calories, if not more, than where they started out, replacing carbs with high fat foods like nuts and cheeses. Because of this, I think its important that people trying to lose weight don't overdo the fats. I'm not saying avoid them entirely, but be cognizant of how many fats you are eating. Don't snack on nuts, for example.

Investing for the Average Joe

If, like myself, you're not a maven in investing, but want to know more, thankfully Nancy Evans wrote this informative post to help teach us more about investing money.

Where and how you invest your money is a decision that is critical. That being said, being able to fully understand the different types of investments you can make might just require you to take a crash course in just the terminology. Here is a quick look at a few of the terms and investment types that might help you gain a bit of an understanding of the process of investing while allowing you to make better, more informed decisions.

Cryptocurrencies
A cryptocurrency is a digital type of asset that has been developed and designed in such a way that they function as a type of exchange (just as with money) online. Cryptocurrency is managed and maintained by the use of cryptography, and this acts as a measure of security. You can invest in this asset by either purchasing it outright or by mining for it with a company such as Genesis Mining. There are quite a few types of this currency, but Bitcoin is the most well – known. There are also Litecoin, Ripple, MintChip, and Ethereum.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Homemade Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix Recipe--Vegan, Paleo, and Allergy Friendly



Growing up, my family didn't have lots of ranch dressing (French and Italian and Thousand Island were more common), but we did periodically buy it.
And we used it as a salad dressing, period.

As an adult, I learned how versatile ranch dressing is. How it can be used as a sauce on nearly anything from pizza to chicken to fish to french fries and so many other ways. But you don't even need to have the dressing to get the yummy flavor- ranch dressing seasoning mix can also be used in a variety of ways to add deliciousness to a variety of dishes.
My friend Kerryann uses ranch seasoning mix on brussel sprouts. I find it is absolutely out of this world on zucchini. Popcorn also tastes great with it. So does chicken and fish and rice and potatoes and roasted carrots... You name it, its good with ranch dressing seasoning mix.

I made my own after seeing ideas on plenty of different sites. I added nutritional yeast to give it a cheesiness, but if you don't like nutritional yeast or don't have it, you can leave it out. If leaving out the nutritional yeast, make sure to use the smaller amount of salt listed, or it'll be too salty.

If you want ranch dressing or dip instead of just the seasoning mix, you have a few options. You can take mayonnaise and buttermilk or regular milk or non dairy milk or sour cream or non dairy sour cream and mix two or more of them together with the seasoning mix, added to taste, until you have it just right.
If you want to keep it vegan, you can mix it with cashew cream (soaked cashews blended up with lemon and salt) or vegan mayo (like my flax seed mayo) or a mix of the two.

Everyone in my family adores my ranch dressing and seasoning mix- I hope your family enjoys as much as mine does.

Homemade Vegan Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix Recipe

Ingredients:
1/4 cup dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried dill
1/4 cup onion flakes
1/2-1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder or granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

Instructions:
1. Mix all the ingredients together.

2. If you have a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder grind until a little more fine. It doesn't need to be powdery- some chunks are fine.

3. Store in a dry place until using.

Enjoy!

Are you a fan of ranch? Do you tend to use the seasoning mix or the dressing? What is your favorite use for the seasoning mix or dressing? Do you tend to make it from scratch and if so, how? Or do you buy it ready made?
Does this look like a recipe you'd try?

Diversified Investments: Examples to Help You Gauge Your Future

Image courtesy of Pong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I literally know nothing about investing, but it is an important stage in taking care of your finances- save money and then once you have it saved, invest to grow. That is why I appreciate this post by reader Nancy Evans about how to invest better. 

Investment diversification is a hard topic to grasp if you’ve mostly relied on autopilot investment strategies like a company 401K. A recent story in Bloomberg highlights why more people are taking an active interest in their future finances: employers are rapidly slashing benefits. From 2001 to 2015, there’s evidence that workers lost a collective quarter of the value of previous generations in benefits. Simply put, retirement is expensive and companies are scaling back to cut costs.

That puts the lion’s share of work on you to figure out where and how to invest. If you’re a beginner, and you’re wondering what a healthy diversified portfolio looks like, here are some examples and thoughts to stimulate your mind.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Frugality When Dating

When you meet people in person, especially when it's through friends, you often know something about them already based on how you met them. If you met them through frugal mutual friends, or doing a frugal activity, you'd have an idea (though maybe not complete) about how they live, that they may be frugal oriented. But if you meet them through dating websites such as Yes Dates you can't make any assumptions about whether or not they'd be on the same page as you vis-a-vis frugality, and therefore, it should be discussed on dates early on in a relationship to make sure you're compatible in terms of lifestyle and financially.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Story of My Redbud Flower Wine and Its Transformations

When I read Pascal Bauder's book "The New Wildcrafted Cuisine" I got so inspired by his taking wild plants- fruits and flowers- and turning them into alcoholic beverages. He has a whole section about that in his book, including how to make these beverages without any added yeast, just using the wild ones in the area.

Mid March I took a bunch of foraged redbud flowers and mixed them with sugar and water and let them sit, to see what would happen to them. I don't remember the exact proportion of sugar to water...

Boost Your Home’s Resale Value on the Cheap


I am so grateful to have been able to buy a house in a community I love that I have no plans on moving away from this place any time in the near future, if ever. But I do know, though, that many people are trying to sell their home, and in order to increase its resale value often invest lots of money into their property first. This post was sent by a reader, and hopefully it'll be useful for those of you in need of some ideas on how to boost your home's resale value without needing to spend too much money on the process.

Moving is never easy, both from the aspect of logistics and emotionally. Leaving your home for a new place you may not know much about can be stressful. However, if you are able to get a good price for your home, you can be more content with the whole situation. Prepping your home for the sale doesn’t have to cost a whole lot of money if you do it smartly.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Our Family's Frugal Accomplishments This Past Week

My husband's frugal project this week.

It's been some time since I did a weekly frugal accomplishment round up, but I've been missing those. For those new here, it's when throughout the week I tally up the various frugal things I did, and then share them with you at the end of the week. Sometimes I do more frugal things, and sometimes less. Sometimes I look back and say "Wow, I really had a very unfrugal week"- that happened this week, I'll admit- and then when I write up the post I get reminded that, despite thinking I flubbed frugally (and I'm not saying that never happens, or that I didn't do anything unfrugal this week), I still did things to save money that are worthy of acknowledgment, even if they are small.

So here they are- the various frugal things my husband and I did that saved money over the past week.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Biking, Exploring, and Cooking- My Polish Vacation, Day 2


Sorry I didn't get this post the day it happened, about 2 week ago. I wrote most of it then but was too tired to post it, and then decided to save writing and posting about my trip until after I came home.

If I had to sum up my first official day on Poland (because the day I was traveling there can't officially be counted, for real), it would be with the words biking, exploring, foraging, and cooking. My Airbnb hosts Piotr and Karolina are really wonderful people, first of all. They speak decent english, are very helpful and kind, and I believe I just made some new friends.

Piotr and Karolina gave me a bike to use for while I was there, and though as a child and teen I bike rode a lot and enjoyed it, I haden't ridden a bike in 15 years. My goal was to explore the countryside and bike to a park 12 kilometers away, possibly, or stay more local.


My day started out seeing this gorgeous view from my balcony window, at my AirBnB in Jastkow, Poland, a village not far outside Lublin:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Give Your Bathroom a Facelift on a Budget

I am really excited to share this post with you. Fortunately, living in a brand new house, our bathroom is quite beautiful (if I may say so myself), and hopefully soon I plan on sharing pics with you. But I know what it's like to live in an older home especially with a bathroom that is far from ideal, so this post filled with lots of affordable ways to give your bathroom a makeover, from the most basic to the more extreme, depending on your skills level and budget. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Have you been through this motion? However often you clean your bathroom, it always seems just a bit too tired and never quite shines as you would want it to? Maybe it is time to remodel it. Companies such as Plumbing Plus of San Diego offer a wide variety of choices. However, remodeling can be a costly endeavor and not everyone can afford it. Yet, there might be an easier, more affordable solution. Give your bathroom a facelift where it counts. This article contains several ideas for refreshing your bathroom without much investment.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Authenticity and its Pitfalls


Some of you might have wondered about my post last month, and about the relatively infrequent posting on my blog since then...

I'm authentic on this blog when it comes to sharing my lifestyle choices with you, even lifestyle choices that may be very different from the norm. This is an extreme frugality blog, and I do other extreme things, so yes, I'm daring to be authentic here...

But I get pushback. Sometimes I get criticism, and that I can usually take, because I'm confident enough in what we do and that our lifestyle is the right one for our family. But sometimes I get such cruel responses, attacking me and my character and my morals and everything else I hold dear... and that's when it makes me do a double take and question sharing so much.

I was reading a book by Brene Brown (awesome speaker, writer, etc... look her up on Youtube to see her Ted talks if you haven't yet) called "The Gifts of Imperfection; Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are" and came across this segment that spoke to me so much, you have no idea, especially as it relates to this blog, and inspired me to keep on being me and authentic, despite the kickback I inevitably will get. Because that is the price for connecting, and I've connected to so many of you readers via this blog, and I wouldn't want to give that up for the world.

And now here's what Brene said.

Friday, July 14, 2017

BBQ Rub and Seasoning with Coffee and Garlic Recipe- Inspired by Trader Joe's

My sister in law visited from the United States, and brought me along some gifts that I really appreciated- some spice mixes from Trader Joe's. One of them was this delicious coffee and garlic spice rub that I loved to put on nearly everything, though baked chicken was my favorite... but as with these types of things, I eventually ran out of it...
I decided to try to mimic the recipe, and reading the back gave me a good idea of what was in it. However, I found this link to a copy cat recipe for it, and then modified it to use what I had in the house. I left out the orange/clementine peel, but you know what? I think it's just fine without it. Can I say it tastes exactly the same? I don't know, but it's great, and my kids just wanted to sit there eating the spice mix plain, its that good.
Feel free to use this spice mix on pretty much anything you want, such as roasted veggies, chicken, fish, beef, etc... It doesn't need to be barbecued- just baked is fine, or even sprinkled onto your food right before eating.
This is a vegan and gluten free recipe, and depending on how you make it, it can also be paleo (if you use coconut sugar).

BBQ Rub and Seasoning with Coffee and Garlic Recipe- Inspired by Trader Joe's

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Foraging Wild Edibles in Poland- With Lots of Pictures!

Having never stepped foot in Poland before, I assumed that going there, I might recognize one or two different edible plants, and maybe do a drop of foraging. I was not expecting to recognize most of the plants there, with them being things I regularly forage locally, or plants I'm familiar with even if I didn't forage them myself.

Here's just some of the many, many, many edible plants I saw in Poland. I saw the vast majority of them the the first day in Poland, in the Jastkow village in the countryside outside Lublin, but saw very many wild edibles in the city of Lublin, proper, as well as in Warsaw.

When I first was being driven from the airport to the rural airbnb where I was staying at, at around 3 in the morning, I saw these giant leaves growing all along the sides of the country road. I couldn't identify them 100% because it was dark and the speed in which we were driving, but I saw that it was absolutely the most common plant I could find in the countryside. I suspected it was a type of dock/sorrel/rumex species, but decided to check it out better in the morning.

When I had a chance to walk and bike through the country side, I took a better look at this plant and saw that it was not dock, but rather horseradish!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

My Poland Trip- Day One, Sorta

It is currently 3:15 am Polish time, and I'm tired. I just decided that I want to write a blog post every day of my trip (or nearly) so I'll keep this short and head straight to bed, so I can be bright eyed and bushy tailed tomorrow for my bike trip through the country side.

This morning I wrote a menu for the family for while I'm gone, all easy to make foods, and then finished packing the last of my stuff and headed out the door. I specifically went to a change place in town instead of converting money in Poland or at the airport to get better rates. 

After that, I headed to the airport bus that goes straight from the city center to the departure terminal. It was very cheap, only $4.50.

I got to the airport really, really early. I mean super early. As in instead of getting to the airport 3 hours before my flight as they recommend, I arrived 6 hours early... Ok, plenty of time to relax and get things done (pick up my travel health insurance card, my sim card, etc...), but the flight ended up being delayed by 2 hours, so turns out I arrived to the airport 8 hours before my flight took off!

Once I finally got onto the plane, I was pleasantly surprised to see that despite my paying only 47 dollars round trip for my flight, the airplane was decent. It was a Boeing 737, I specifically asked as my son Lee is obsessed with airplanes.


The flight was decent. I talked with some of the people on the plane, made a few friends, including some that want me to stay in touch.


I took this picture of the plane so that Lee, who will be reading this blog post to follow along with my travels, can see what the airplane looked like.


Passport control was literally a cinch. Someone on the plane from Belarus, neighboring Poland, was telling me how much his visa cost, and I was wondering how much I'd have to pay for mine. 
Nothing.
They literally looked at my passport, didn't say a word to me, just scanned it and stamped it and that's it.

The arrivals hall was not what I expected. I don't know what I expected, but not this. Then again, after 2 am so....


Interesting and amusing and comforting and weird to see those rental car services I'm familiar with from the US, Avis and Hertz, in Lublin too...


One thing I've noticed so far- Poland has lots and lots and lots of doors. Every hallway has a door at the beginning and end of it. I was told by my airbnb host that it is to keep out the cold. But it's just weird to see so many doors...

Pleasantly surprised to see this nursing room in the airport right near the bathrooms.

My airbnb host picked me up from the airport- even nicer as it was at 2:30 am, and brought me to the place.

The room where I'm staying for $13 a night is large, comfortable, etc... even if its not necessarily my style decor. 


In the morning I'll explore more.


The bathroom is gorgeous but no pic of it yet...

So far spent today on this trip?  $4.50 on the airport bus, $23.14 on my airfare, $45 on my cell phone service plan, $13 on my airbnb, $11.34 towards my host for the ride from the airport, and $4 for orange juice and vodka as a treat for myself on the flight. $100.98 so far. I plan on keeping a running tally for the duration of the trip.

 And now, time for bed.

Gnite!

Hopefully will update tomorrow... (Or rather... today.)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Getting Ready for My Trip

Sorry I haven't been so talkative lately, still trying to figure out certain things about this blog... but in addition to that, I've been pretty busy lately doing all sorts of stuff, including teaching various foraging and shopping classes around and more importantly, getting ready for my trip!

I leave tomorrow for Lublin, Poland, and I'm really excited. My itinerary changed from what I'd originally planned- instead of just staying in the Lublin area, I'm taking a double decker bus to Warsaw where I'll be spending two days, before coming back to Lublin by train. I already found out details about the public transportation and purchased tickets.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Importance of Taking Care of You, and My Latest Frugal Shop


I remember one time I took my kids out for ice cream, and someone tsked me for it, saying "Aren't you supposed to be frugal?" When I think about misconceptions regarding frugality, that is always the first story that comes to mind. Many assume that to be truly frugal, it means never spending money on anything that isn't absolutely necessary. But here's the thing- I don't believe in that kind of frugality. In fact, I am loathe to even call it frugality, because my definition of frugality is far different. It's living within your means, not spending more than necessarily on things (getting the best deals you can on them, if possible), and cutting back on things not important to you so that you have the money to spend on things that are.

There's a lot of discussion about wants vs needs when it comes to frugality, and where money should be spent, but I think its fallacious to ignore the fact that wants can be emotional needs, and we can't dismiss our mental health state, and how being in a good place mentally is not only very important, but also gives you the headspace to be more frugal, or make more money (or both).

A friend of mine recently bumped into me on the street and was saying that she feels guilty when she sees me because she is spending a lot more than I am on many things, and she had an expense that she was pushing off because it wasn't frugal, and because of that, was increasing the stress load in her life tremendously every single day. I reassured this friend that she didn't need to feel bad about spending the money, even a large amount of money, on something that would significantly affect her life for the positive- frugality is not stinginess, and there's no point in being frugal if you don't use the money you save to improve your quality of life. (That is a big part of my thought process behind why I'm spending money- frugally, but still spending money- on a vacation abroad next week that I feel is necessary for my mental health and to improve my qualify of life.)

Frugal dating: how to have a perfect date almost without money

My husband and I have been making an effort to go on more dates lately, and not just the twice a year type thing that we'd been doing until now. The thing is regular dates can be expensive and if you're trying to regularly go on dates, either the price tag can get pretty hefty, or you might decide to push off the dates because of the cost. If you can date without spending much money if at all, you'll hopefully get the benefits without the drawbacks. A friend from Planetofbrides.com kindly shared with me some interesting ideas about frugal dating for everyone. These scenarios are suitable for first dates, anniversaries, and for married couples that look for ways of brighten their everyday life.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

I'm still here

For those of you wondering why I haven't posted anything in the past while... I'm still here. I just have been doing a lot of thinking. As a result of various things going on in my life, thinking about how I run this blog and why, and if I plan on making any changes to it for the future. I don't have an answer yet and hopefully will go back to my regular scheduled programming soon, I just can't tell you exactly how soon.
Thanks for your patience.
-Penny

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Planning an Exciting and Frugal Vacation Abroad

Destination: Lublin. Photo credit Lukaszprzy
I recently learned about a site called SkyScanner.com, which allows you to find cheap flights around the world. Unlike many price comparison websites where you need to put in a specific location and specific dates, SkyScanner lets you put in your departure location, and then from there on, it's flexible. You can pick a specific location or choose "Everywhere". You can choose specific dates, or you can ask it to show you the cheapest dates.
So of course I plugged in my location, and since I didn't have a specific location in mind, or a specific date, I just left those open... and found something that astounded me. Flights from my closest airport to Lublin, Poland, for 23 dollars each way. Yes. That is including taxes and fees and all that. Its a no frills airline, and it is only on specific dates, but I said that that is too amazing of a deal to pass up.
So I booked it.

From July 5-July 10 I will be on vacation in and around the general Lublin, Poland area.

Dom mansjonarski w Lublinie (2009-06-12)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Chicken Yakisoba Recipe- Gluten Free, Paleo Option, Vegan Option, Allergy Friendly

Yakisoba made with the vegetables listed below, plus with the addition of swiss chard

In my house growing up, my mom, despite being a very adventurous cook in general, and teaching me to love foods from cuisines around the world, had very specific ideas about what flavors and foods could and couldn't get together. Fruit did not go with vegetables, and onions with fruit were an anathema to her. (When people gave us fruit chutney with onions, you wouldn't believe her incredulous reaction.)
One of those combinations that my mom considered a strict no-no were tomatoes and soy sauce- tomatoes were something Italian, soy sauce Asian, and never the twain shall meet... For the longest time, even after I rid myself of most of my mom's particular cooking ideas, and even after I began to embrace fusion cooking, I still couldn't wrap my head around the concept of tomatoes or tomato based anything with soy sauce, as tomatoes 'had no place in Asian cooking' (which isn't entirely accurate anyhow).
Imagine my surprise, therefore, to learn about yakisoba, an authentic (if relatively modern) Japanese recipe, that was made with tomato based ketchup, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce! I've been trying to find out the history of the sauce, how the fusion dish came about (and am in the middle of reading a book about the end of the shogunate in Japan and the beginning of western influence on Japanese society in the middle of the 1800s), but I am not finding a definitive answer, though I suspect it has something to do with the "westernization" of Japan, and then adapted post World War Two (but would appreciate further clarification)...

15 Summer Nature Activities for Kids

This post was written by Joe, an outdoor enthusiast and lead editor at Nature Rated; a website which rates and reviews the best outdoor gear for people who quickly want to know what to get. He believes in no fluff, to the point reviews, which help you choose the right gear for your next adventure.
Whenever daily life gets him down he heads to the nearest lake or river with his kayak and camera spending time recharging his batteries.

What are your kids doing this Summer? For many of us summer time with the kids is a time to enjoy the outdoors, the sunshine and if you're lucky the ocean.

As much as kids love summer holidays, keeping them busy can be a real chore! If you've not got the luxury of a summer camp then it's up to you as parent to find things for the youngsters to keep busy with.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Insanely Frugal Shopping Guru- Interview with Penny's Dad

Hello there everyone. Today I decided to do something a little bit different. I've talked about my parents before, and how I grew up, and shared various things my dad and mom have taught me about saving money and cooking... Recently, though, my dad has been talking to me about his monthly grocery budget and I'll tell you something- if you think I'm nuts and crazy frugal, he outshines me by a mile.
My dad cooks mainly for himself, 3 meals a day, seven days a week, and has guests (2-4 at a time) over for about 7 or 8 meals a month.
His grocery bills on average are about $43 dollars a month for all that.
Yes, you read that right. This is not a typo. 4. 3. dollars.
And I thought my 428 dollars-575 dollars a month (ok, for a family of 6, granted) was frugal. The biggest difference is that my dad is cooking for one (mainly) and I'm cooking for 6, and my dad and I have very different diets. My diet is very vegetable heavy, gluten free, processed food free, pretty much paleo, and my kids eat gluten free. My dad on the other hand doesn't avoid processed foods in theory, but overall does simply to save money, and he eats a lot of gluten and refined carbohydrates and white sugar, etc... I wouldn't necessarily recommend someone follow my dad's shopping and dietary habits, but since I know there are many out there that don't see the need to eat the way I do, gluten free and practically paleo and a "traditional foods diet" but just want to eat decent meals on a low budget, I figured that it would be a nice idea to share how he shops and cooks. Maybe it'll inspire those of you who eat a diet more similarly to his than mine.

Here's the thing. I wanted to tell you about how he shops and how he keeps his grocery bills so low, but I knew many people wouldn't be likely to believe me, so for a month I asked him to keep tally to the nearest dollar, and for the month of May he spent $75.50. With half of that being food that he stocked up for a few months in the future. He predicts that he'll probably spend under $30 this month, but I'll follow up with him next month to see.

My dad is here right now, visiting, and I decided to write this post interview style, so he can tell you about how he shops the way he does, where he shops, what he eats, why he does it, and all that.

Meet my dad, Cardiologist Colonel Edward of the US Army, currently on inactive duty and living abroad not so far from where I do.


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