Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Homemade Natural Deodorant Stick

I love finding cheap recipes. Whether they're for food or for other household products, if the recipe contains natural, frugal ingredients, especially if I have them around the house already, I'm totally psyched.
And if its easy as pie to make on top of all that, then I do a little jig out of excitement. Not that I'm actually afraid of doing hard work, because I'm willing to put in a lot of physical effort to get things done (like my foraging, making food from scratch, canning, etc), but I also enjoy taking it easy in between my bursts of insane productivity.
This recipe is perfect for when I don't want to do hard work, because it takes less than 5 minutes total, involves no complicated steps.
Oh, so I'm talking so much about my love of recipes that I didn't even tell you what I was talking about.
Homemade deodorant. The stick kind.

Homemade Stick Deodorant

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Prioritizing Money Spent on Healthy Food

One of the biggest dilemmas facing someone who wants to live as frugally as possible and as healthily as possible is how to make the two meet up. Healthy food can be expensive; frugal foods can be decidedly unhealthy to eat. Switching over to 100% healthy and ideal foods may be just that- healthy and ideal- but its not realistic for a good chunk of people living on a limited budget. Because of that, unfortunately, some prioritizing needs to be done.

You can't spend money that you don't have on food (going into debt is never a good idea); a proper budget should be established, making food, shelter, and clothing a priority, and eliminating whatever is not absolutely necessary to be able to afford these three basic needs. If even then money is too tight, shelter can be scaled down (downsizing to a really small home in a really cheap place, for example), clothing can be minimized (a few basic outfits bought from thrift stores is all anyone truly needs), so that one can afford adequate nutrition, because nutritional deficiencies will likely cause both short term and long term health affects, which isn't something you should mess around with. Basic health comes before creature comforts, and proper nutrition is crucial to maintaining basic health.

Order of Priorities in Food

Behind the Scenes in the Penniless Home

Do you ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes in my home?
Do you wish you could know what goes on behind the scenes of this blog, in my day to day life?

I do lots of interesting, money saving activities nearly every day. I make delicious frugal suppers, do money saving projects, go on foraging trips, homeschooling activities, frugal crafts, and go on frugal shopping trips. Most of those things that I do don't end up making their way onto my blog, either because of lack of time, or because they're interesting, but not deserving of a whole post on their own merit.

If you want to know all these things, and catch a glimpse into my life, perhaps see some pictures that don't end up here, and learning a little more about the ins and outs of an extremely frugal lifestyle...

...Head over to the Penniless Parenting Facebook page and press Like.

I am pretty active on Facebook, and until recently was only active on my personal Facebook page, but lately, I've been revving up the gear on my public Facebook page. There's typically 2 or 3 posts per day on my Facebook page, sometimes more, and we get into discussions there as well. By liking my Facebook page, you'll get to see the updates on your Facebook News Feed, so you'll be notified right away if there is any discussion going on, or any new post up there.

I probably won't be posting my shopping lists here anymore, nor will I post my menu plans, most likely, so if you want to get an idea of how and why to buy certain things, and if you want ideas for frugal meals (especially if you want gluten free), you'll have to catch those things on Facebook. (ETA: After seeing the responses here and seeing that people are interested in these posts and sad if they'd no longer be here--- people, if a post interests you, comment on it, so that way I can see its interesting to you--- that's how I pick up my cues on what is a successful post or not--- these posts will be staying on the blog, but random tidbits may make it to the Facebook first.)

So, watcha waiting for? Go to the Penniless Parenting Facebook page and press Like. I can't wait to have discussions with you over there!

Are you on Facebook much? Are you as addicted to Facebook as I am? How many hours a day do you spend on Facebook?
Are you already a follower on Facebook? Will you miss my menu plans and shopping trip posts?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Frugal Ways to Entertain Kids

Lee making a "Train" with some salt dough.
“Mommy, I'm bored.” That's a refrain that any mother hears at least at some point in her life. Parents might feel pressured to spend lots of money to keep their entertained, but with a little bit of time and effort, kids can have a really enjoyable, entertaining days without breaking the bank.

Here's some ideas to keep your kids of all ages entertained cheaply.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Underlying Frugal Rules

I've gotten some comments from people that "this post is nice, but it isn't relevant to me for whatever reason". I can see that happening in many cases, because frugality is individual. What may be frugal for one person might be a waste of money for someone else, and visa versa. While individual frugal ideas may be more personal than others (I wouldn't necessarily call buying a netbook a frugal move for everyone, but in my case it was as it didn't blow our budget, and my computer needed replacing, and I need a functional computer for work. For other people spending money on a netbook can be a true money waste.), the basic underlying rules governing how someone spends and lives there life are more universal.

What are these underlying rules that I try to live by? The rules are the bolded, examples of the rules are the bulleted below.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Feedback Please: Posts About Gluten Free and Food Restrictions

I logged into my email account today and found a message waiting for me.
"Hi Penny!
 I know you welcome suggestions via email so I thought I'd run one by you. I, and I think most of your readership, follow your blog because of the frugal tips you offer. Lately it has mostly become about eating gluten free and soy free etc. Your recipes used to be about doing things cheap, now their about doing things homemade to fill your dietary restrictions, which is nice if your blogging about your life, but not if your blogs tagline is teaching people how to eat and live frugally. One or 2 posts on being frugal despite allergies would suffice. In general food posts are location specific because what is cheap or availible in one area is not for another but adding health and allergies make them almost unaffective. Unless of course that is the audience you are trying to cater to. I love your ideas, but recently have not found much to "take home". I look forward to reading a re-focused blog the likes of which I have been enjoying and benefiting from since it's inception.
Good Luck and please take this from whence it comes- a suggestion to help you increase readership and keep us old timers :)"
I have to say, this email left me with very mixed feelings, especially since it came the same day that I found a comment on my blog saying this:
"Hey Penny, I adore your blog and am always happy when there is a new post. However, lately the blog references your dietary restrictions so much that I'm feeling like it's too narrow now. Instead of saying why you're putting up a recipe, such as gluten restrictions and beef broth avoidance, why don't you just tell us you have a delicious, cheap recipe for onion soup. Since people come here for frugal living advice for the most part it seems like it would be more on topic to simply share your finding that work frugally and leave the dietary restrictions off. Thanks!"
First of all, readers, please, both long time readers and newer readers, how do you feel about my writing gluten free posts and other posts having to do with dietary restrictions? Do you find it limits the scope of my blog too much, do you find it may not be relevant to you but still interesting, or do you find it is specifically what you need, as you're also living with dietary restrictions? Please answer in the comments below- feedback is important to me, as I don't want the focus of my blog to make me lose readers. Thank you.

And now, I wanted to tell you why the email and comment left me with mixed feelings.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Vegetarian Onion Soup

French onion soup with melted Swiss cheese.
No toast, as I still haven't found a good gluten free bread recipe.
I love French onion soup, especially with melted swiss cheese and toast. Alas, a good recipe for French onion soup was hard to come by, as nearly all recipes I discovered called for beef broth or soup mix, neither of which worked for me. Fortunately, I discovered a recipe which doesn't call for any chemicals or meat broths. Hopefully you'll like this recipe as much as I do.

I used my homemade wine for this recipe, making it even cheaper for me.

Vegetarian Onion Soup Recipe

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Homemade Gluten Free Spring Rolls with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

I love Asian food. I think thats pretty obvious by looking at the recipes on my blog and seeing where the vast majority of them originate.
 One thing that I always loved was egg rolls (I think that's pretty much synonymous with spring rolls, but I could be wrong), but egg rolls are made with egg roll wrappers, which, while very easy to make (I have a terrific recipe here on my site), are made with gluten, and hence... don't suit my needs living a gluten free life now.
I really was craving some egg rolls the other day, and then I discovered that there IS a gluten free alternative- spring rolls, originating in Vietnam, that are wrapped with rice paper, instead of egg roll wrappers.
If you're looking for instructions on how to make your own rice paper, I can't help you out. I've looked it up and it is so incredibly complicated, necessitating special equipment, that it really didn't seem worth the bother. Rice paper is sold with Asian goods (near the soy sauce and wasabi and sushi wrappers) in the grocery store, but can probably be bought more cheaply at an Asian grocery store. 
Rice papers weigh very little, so even if the package seems expensive, you get a ton of wrappers for your money. I paid $3.50 for my package of rice paper, but after making a huge ton of spring rolls, enough that that was my family's whole meal (and we're large eaters), we'd only used up a third, making the rice paper cost less than $1.20 for an entire meal's worth for a family of 4. Not dirt cheap, but certainly not very pricey either. And this is with having bought the rice paper at the grocery store, not at an Asian store. 
Best thing about rice paper is that its dry, not requiring refrigeration or freezing or whatever- you keep it in your cupboard until the next time you want to use it without worry about it spoiling. (And if you're worried about the health aspect- they contain two ingredients- rice, and water- so it's not anything overly processed.)

Here's how we made really terrific gluten free spring rolls for supper- pretty cheap, healthy, and delicious!

Homemade Gluten Free Spring Rolls with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homemade Fish Sauce Recipe- Nam Pla

Homemade Fermented Fish Sauce
I love exploring exotic cuisines. Discovering new ways of cooking, new food combinations, is so exciting for me. I usually learn about these different types of foods while working my way around the blog-o-sphere, and on my recent travels I came across a bunch of Thai and Vietnamese recipes, all of them sounding very intriguing, but all non options for me because... The ubiquitous ingredient, found in nearly every recipe I chanced upon, was an ingredient that I'd never used or even tasted before in my life, never even seen it being sold in any stores I'd been to even when living back in the US, and now that I live abroad, have no chance of finding that ingredient.

That ingredient was fish sauce, a fermented fish condiment, also known by the names nam pla, nuac mam, and nam pa, among others. Fish sauce adds a fishy soy sauce like flavor to foods, and is used in stir fries, dipping sauces, curries, etc..

What do I do when I discover a food that I can't buy where I live?
Why, make it myself, of course.
So that is what I did. I made this at the same time as I was starting to make my homemade soy sauce, so I was already engaged in one "very gross" fermentation process, so I figured, why not try another crazy experiment at the same time? And by golly, it worked out very well!

Homemade Fish Sauce Recipe

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hopping Tiny Little Homestead

I consider myself a homesteader, someone who lives as much like they did way back when (picture Laura Ingals Wilder in Little House on the Prairie) as possible, trying to be self sufficient, making things from scratch, and living a beautifully simple life.
I don't have a farm, nor do I have a garden. I don't even have a small patch of dirt to call my own. My family of 4 lives in a 454 square foot apartment with a shared front porch, but I've been blessed to live in a place where most of the other families do have yards, many do grow fruits, and there are many wild edibles in my vicinity. So while I might not be able to homestead in the same large scale as people with large farms can do, by taking advantage of the resources available to me, I'm able to be relatively self sufficient, and do many homesteading type activities.

Homesteading is generally a slower paced life than the rat race of the professional world, which works terrifically for someone like myself. There's a lot of physical labor involved, but not much pressure to get things done according to someone else's time frame.

Aside for the summer.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Salt Dough- Frugal Kids Craft

Salt dough beads and buttons.
As the summer is nearing its end, as your patience and summer fun budget runs closer to zero, you might be looking for something entertaining and frugal to do with your kids, to keep them out of trouble and doing something constructive.

Salt dough crafts is the perfect solution.

Salt dough is an easy to make project, involving no special or expensive ingredients, no tools, no toxic ingredients (terrific for little kids who have a hard time keeping craft materials out of their mouth), and best of all, no cooking or baking, which is a boon if you a) are trying to minimize cooking so as to not heat your home or b) have older children, old enough to direct an activity, but too young to use the stove on their own.

With salt dough, you mix 3 or 4 or 5 basic ingredients together to make a dough that is terrific for molding, and then dries rock hard, and can be painted and kept for many different purposes, the same way you can use clay that has been baked in a kiln.
Salt dough has been used as far back as Ancient Egypt, where it was for rituals and gifts, and had be used for decorative purposes as well. I've seen people making salt dough the most around the Holiday season, where they make ornaments, nativity scenes, menoras, etc... out of this very easy, cheap, and versatile dough.

So, how do you make salt dough?

Salt Dough Recipe

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Egyptian Broad Beans for Breakfast- Ful Medames Recipe

Ful medames with tomatoes. I know- not so beautiful
looking, but what more can you expect?
Its mashed beans after all!
When you hear the word breakfast, your first association might be cereal and milk, bacon and eggs, sausage and hash browns, oatmeal or grits, etc. If you were French, your association might be a bowl of chocolate soup with a croissant, and if you were Belgian, some nice large waffles with whipped cream.

However, if you were Egyptian, what you'd likely have for breakfast is a nice bowl of ful medames, a mashed broad bean (fava bean) dip that is a staple in the Egyptian diet, even though ful medames is made from really cheap ingredients.

Since going gluten free, I've always been looking for foods to eat for breakfast that are filling, nutritious, and don't take too long to prepare (or can be prepared the night before and are still good in the AM). Oh, and cheap is also good. I also happen to have low blood sugar in the morning, and if I don't eat any carbs in the morning before doing anything physically strenuous, I start getting really lightheaded and dizzy. But finding frugal gluten free carbs that are cheap are not so easy.

Enter the broad bean. Where I live, dry beans are cheap (though not as cheap as in the US), and the cheapest bean of all is the broad bean. I'll be honest- I don't use broad beans much, as they have a very distinct, strong flavor, a flavor that can overpower other dishes and make them hard to work with. I shied away from using these beans, even though they were my cheapest option. But with the perfect recipe like this one? They're heavenly!
Now that I'm gluten free and looking for safe carbs, broad beans are a terrific choice. As with all beans, they are full of carbohydrates in addition to being filled with protein, vitamins, and minerals. And cheap, did I mention?

Ful medames has been my breakfast of choice as of late. They're the perfect start to my day (even without their traditionally accompaniment- pita), infusing me with energy and filling my belly with delicious foods.

Ful Medames Recipe

Friday, August 19, 2011

Indian Egg Curry- Anda Masala

Shown- Anda Masala, Indian pickles, passion fruit chutney,
 fresh fig chutney, red lentil dosas, and coconut chicken curry

Do you like exotic food, but not like the hefty price tag or foreign ingredients often included? If so, then this recipe is for you.
This recipe is a North Indian curry, and it is based on one of the cheapest proteins available- eggs.
It tastes absolutely delicious, especially paired with chutneys, dosas, and pickles, as part of an Indian feast.

I got this recipe from Viet World Kitchen, a terrific website with many delicious international recipes.
Here it is, with my changes.

Indian Egg Curry- Anda Masala

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Homemade Coconut Milk

Store bought coconut milk can be very expensive. Whether you're using coconut as an ingredient in an exotic recipe, or you're just seeking a dairy free milk to drink, it can get pretty pricey to keep buying those cans of coconut milk.
Not only am I on a gluten free diet, I'm also trying to use as little dairy as possible, as I've noticed it gives me stomach issues, so I'm always on the lookout for dairy free milks to use, and so far, I've had good success making chickpea milk and sesame milk, but sometimes I don't feel like putting in as much effort as chickpea milk requires to make it, and sometimes the taste of sesame isn't what I want in a certain recipe. Its times like this that I pull out my coconut and make coconut milk for my family.
Making coconut milk from shredded coconut is much cheaper than buying ready made coconut milk, and its easy as pie. If you bulk buy coconut, as I do, it is even cheaper to make, perhaps even as cheap as regular milk, depending on the prices in your area.
In case you were wondering about the nutrition facts of coconut milk, a cup of coconut milk has 5 grams of protein, as opposed to the 8 grams of protein in a cup of whole cow's milk. It also contains 41% of the recommended daily amount of iron, and 4% of the amount of calcium. (Whole milk, in comparison, has 0% iron and 28% calcium.) It is also filled with many, many, many vitamins and minerals, and on top of that, has many other health benefits as well. 
So, how do you make homemade coconut milk?
Here's how.

Homemade Coconut Milk Instructions

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wine Making is a Family Affair

Stomping the grapes
I grew up in a home where both my parents were involved in food prep. My mom tended to make the every day suppers and my dad specialized in Chinese food and meats.
My family's diet was a lot more varied than that of my friends' families, typically eating food from around the world (and not the standard American diet) but even so, our one big claim to fame in the community was that our basement housed a "beer room".

"Beer room" was a misnomer My dad has always considered himself a biochemist (and that was what he got his degree in before going to medical school), and because of that, he loved kitchen biochemistry- making and fermenting things.
We fermented so many different types of things growing up, and by we, I mean the whole family. Even though it was my dad's initiative, we kids all pitched in to do the work involved, helping to mix, mash, schlep, siphon, and bottle.
What did my dad make? 
What didn't he make is the true question. He made all different types of wine. Port, dandelion raisin wine, Zinfandel, Cabernet Savignon and sweet wine. Beers- stouts, lagers, ales and pale ales. Ginger mead. Honey mead. Sake (Japanese rice wine). Miso. Hard iced tea. Hard lemonade. Etc. And we helped him do it all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Perfect Dill Pickles Recipe

If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, we're nearing the end of the summer, and that means that cucumbers are in season and dirt cheap now. If you're a gardener, you most likely have cucumbers coming out of your ears by now, and you're probably on the lookout for more things to do with those yummy cukes.

Of course, the answer to the cucumber dilemma is nearly always pickles! Fortunately, there are so many variety of cucumber pickles to make that you'll never run out of ideas or get bored from repetition. You can make hot and spicy pickles, you can make very sour vinegar pickles, you can make bread and butter pickles, sweet and sour pickles, half sour pickles, garlicky pickles, etc...

I grew up predominantly with 2 types of pickles- dill pickles, and Vlasic bread and butter pickles. They both were equally delicious, but there was just something about that dill pickle that made me feel all good inside that the Vlasic pickle couldn't do. Maybe it was the fact that those pickles were naturally fermented, who knows.

Where I live, the pickles are nothing like the pickles of my childhood. People here don't seem to know what dill pickles are, they only know what garlicky spicy pickles are. That taste of my childhood, those delicious pickles, are no where to be found. If I want them, I have to make them myself.
So I do. With a very traditional fermented brine. They're very healthy, as they impart a nice batch of probiotics into your system with every bite.
Here's how. They're so delicious that you'll want to make a huge batch; otherwise you won't have enough to put away for later, because your kids will gobble them down too quickly.

Perfect Dill Pickle Recipe

Monday, August 15, 2011

Our Unnatural "Natural Foods"

A product touting being "All Natural". I can't make any
 statements about this product, as I am unfamiliar with it,
I just chose to use this picture as an example.
Once upon a time, I believed everything I was told. I was very gullible, and people had such an easy time convincing me of just about anything under the sun.
Then I grew up a bit and with it, gained just a little bit of healthy skepticism. I learned to take things with a grain of salt. To not believe everything just because someone said it or wrote it. To make sure to ask for proof when something seemed even slightly unbelievable.
But one bit of gullibility remained. When something was written on food packaging, I believed it. When I read that something was made with "All natural ingredients", and I was able to confirm it by looking at the ingredient list on the packaging, I believed it.
After all, why shouldn't I?
Why would they lie?
Lets get back to that.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Perfect Polenta Recipe

Polenta. Mamaliga. Mieliepap. Kachamak.
Store bought polenta chub.
These are just but a few of the many, many, many names out there for corn meal "mush", used as a starch all over the world. The most famous name of all of these is polenta, which is how I'll be referring to it throughout this post.
Polenta was eaten by the Italian poor for centuries, and as I am quite fond of Italian traditional foods, not to mention any types of gluten free filling starches to add variety to my diet, I knew polenta was going to be something that I'd start to make often.

Let me explain something that I never knew about polenta. Polenta starts off like a porridge, but as it cools down, it becomes hard enough that you can slice it and use it as you would noodles, as well as many other uses. (I'll elaborate on that later.) Ready made polenta chubs are sold  in grocery stores to be used in all sorts of recipes.
But you know me.
I don't buy anything ready made if I can possibly make it myself, from scratch.
Can polenta be made from scratch?

Absolutely. Its pretty much one of the easiest make from scratch foods that I make.

And dirt cheap. Which is why poor people throughout the globe ate it. Which makes it a terrific meal base for someone as extremely frugal as myself.

Here's how to make it.

Perfect Polenta Recipe

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fried Green Bananas

I love food from around the world. Has anyone noticed that yet? I love traditional food, no matter where it originates, and I think, in part, I got that from my mom and dad, who raised us with pretty multicultural palates.
 One dish my mom would make for us occasionally as a treat was fried plantains. Plantains are these big, thick banana like fruit that don't really taste good raw. Instead, they're cooked, typically fried, and then eaten with a variety of toppings. Fried plantains are eaten throughout Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Africa, and if I may say so, they're quite delicious!
I'd wanted to make fried plantains for my family at quite a few points in time since moving to where I live now, but I hadn't been able to find plantains being sold anywhere, no matter how much I was willing to pay. And since even in places where it is sold, it can be relatively expensive, I wanted to share with you a delicious alternative, that, in my opinion, tastes exactly like fried plantains- fried green bananas!
I've yet to see a place where bananas aren't sold, and when in season, they can be quite the cheap food. And best of all, its a gluten free, grain free starch that tastes absolutely delicious!

Fried Green Bananas Recipe and Instructions

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gluten Free Flat Bread- I

The delicious and flexible gluten free flatbread made
into a wrap to hold a hot dog with all the fixings.
One thing I have missed since going on a gluten free diet is a bread substitute. I don't really care what type of bread, I just don't want it to fall apart, I want it to taste good (even when not immediately out of the oven), and I don't want it to call for any expensive, exotic ingredients that I can't get round these parts.

I've tried a few gluten free bread recipes, and I'm sorry to say, they've all been less than satisfactory. Before going on our vacation, I renewed my search to find a gluten free bread, and to my delight, I found two really amazing recipes that I am glad to share with you readers. Today I'm sharing the first recipe; the next recipe will follow shortly.

What I like about this recipe is it uses ingredients that, though they are gluten free, are still pretty cheap. There's no funky ingredients in it, other than maybe xanthan gum, but I've noticed that even though xanthan gum is pretty expensive per pound, you use just a tiny little bit in each recipe, and it works to hold together the baked goods in the same way that gluten does, so its a worthwhile investment. (Not to mention that nearly all gluten free baked goods call for xanthan gum, so you'll end up needing it at some point or another if you're on a gluten free diet.)

 The base for the recipe is millet flour and brown rice flour, which you can easily make from scratch using a coffee grinder (and flour sifter), and if you buy them in bulk, millet and brown rice are both pretty cheap grains, especially millet. (If you live locally and want to know where you can get millet cheaply, send me an email to pennilessparenting at yahoo dot com.)
The recipe also uses potato starch and tapioca starch, and while they're not dirt cheap, they're not dreadfully expensive either. I've included the links to where you can buy these with great prices on Amazon, because on Amazon, you can order these foods using your Amazon gift cards that you can earn for free from Swagbucks just by searching the web

I based this recipe off of a terrific recipe on Gluten Free Gobsmacked that had lots of rave reviews, and I was not disappointed in the least, even after making my own adjustments to keep it more frugal and using the ingredients available to me.

Gluten Free Flatbread Recipe

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Homemade Soy Sauce Experiment Instructions

What is the craziest experiment you ever did in your kitchen?
What is the most complex and complicated kitchen experiment you ever did?
What is the grossest, most disgusting sounding food you ever made?
What foods, when you make them, do you really not want to share how it is made with the people eating them?

In response to all those questions above, I have one answer.
Homemade soy sauce.

I'll warn you now, this blog post is not for the faint at heart or the squeamish. It may easily gross you out completely, and one thing it'll certainly do is change your view of a commonly eaten condiment.

So, if you'd like to take the blue pill, do not read on.
But if you take the red pill and find out the freaky truth about the origins of your food, you won't ever be able to forget it. You'll never be able to look at a bottle of soy sauce the same way again.

The choice is yours.

Blue pill?

Or red pill?

If you want to take the red pill, read on.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Maternity Clothes Cheaply

Fold over skirt, perfect for maternity wear.
One of the more expensive parts of pregnancy, in addition to food aversions and cravings, is needing to stock your closets with a whole new wardrobe suitable for pregnancy. For someone like myself who likes to keep things as cheap as possible, the thought of spending hundreds and hundreds on clothing that I'd only wear for 6 months (or less) at a time and only every few years, was just too much to handle.
Fortunately, there are ways to get a closet full of maternity wear without needing to spend too much money.

Maternity Clothes Cheaply

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Gluten Free Shopping Trip- 7/27/11

(I have to admit, this shopping trip is from 2 weeks ago, I just never got around to posting it yet, and since I have just a few days till my next shop, I decided to get this up now.)

I've come to terms with some "harsh realities". I knew that going on a gluten free (and oat free) diet would be more expensive than a diet that relied on the cheapest starches- wheat flour, wheat pasta, semolina, barley, and oats... but, no matter the expense, I've realized that I had no choice but to go on this diet, as my health depends on it (and going gluten free means being able to actually function). This shopping trip is the first of my gluten free shopping trips that I'm posting on my blog, and the second shopping trip where I've done a whole two weeks worth of shopping in one go instead of the bits and spurts I was doing during my first trimester.

So now comes the "harsh reality". This shopping trip, meant to last our family for the next two weeks, added up to 90 dollars. The shopping trip two weeks before that cost me 85 dollars, bringing our total monthly grocery expenditure to 175 dollars. Ouch! In past months, I've gotten our grocery bill for the month to be as low as 90 or 100 dollars, but those days are long gone, at least for now.

Then again, I know some families our size in our area, also not blessed with a lot of money, and not on a particular diet because of health reasons, who easily spend 500 dollars or more each month to feed their families. So I guess 175 dollars for the month for a healthy, gluten free diet isn't so terrible. And once I get more energy back and my nausea goes away even more, I'll hopefully be able to get the grocery bill even lower. Hopefully, but we'll see. 

Oh, and one last thing- once I can actually eat cheaper cuts of meat again (chicken wings, chicken gizzards, etc...) without puking, my bill will probably be cheaper as well. Chicken breast is more expensive than those other cuts of meat, even once factoring in the bones...

So, what did I buy for my 90 dollars?
All this food.

Here's what I bought, and why I bought the things I did.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Vacation Pics (So Far)

Still on vacation until tomorrow. Not pressuring myself to post because I'm taking it easy. Really enjoying the AC and the breeze and having free time with few responsibilities. Not doing touring or anything strenuous, just relaxing, going for walks, and enjoying the sand and the water and the change in scenery.

In the spirit of taking it easy, here's some pictures from our trip in lieu of a full post today.

Partial view of one of the supper menus. (Plans changed because I couldn't find a portable BBQ.)

Ike at the beach.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Going on Vacation- Menu Plan

Image: Phil Thebault /
We're going on vacation! I think this is the first time in a long time that our family is going on vacation, and the best part about it? Aside for the bus rides there and back (total=$25 dollars, if I'm not mistaken), this vacation will cost us absolutely nothing! (Ok, food also, but we have to eat whether we're at home or on vacation, so that doesn't really count.)
I'm really excited! Beaches. Beaches. Beaches. The boardwalk. Did I say beaches? (Other than when Lee was 9 months old, neither of my kids have ever been to any beach. (We live in a very landlocked location.) I'm looking forward to splashing in the water, spending time as a family, burying each other in the sand, building sand castles, etc....
Oh, and best of all, the place where we're staying has AC, something that we have decided as of now not to buy for ourselves, but today is really, really hot. I'm melting, and the mere thought of sitting in an air conditioned room tomorrow is cooling me down.