Archive for March, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: pork and sauerkraut in the crockpot, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies
(I am also making beef stock for my soup for tomorrow.)

Tuesday: italian vegetable soup (Fix It and Forget It, page 51), homemade biscuits (from freezer)

Wednesday: tacos, salad or fresh veggies and dip

Thursday: asian orange chicken over rice, steamed veggies

Friday: homemade pizza with a new dough recipe from a friend, fresh veggies or salad

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: leftovers or sandwiches

I never got around to posting my menu last week, so here it is:

Monday: chicken with tropical barbecue sauce (Fix It and Forget It, page 176) over rice and veggies – it was okay, the chicken was rather dry

Tuesday: spaghetti with meatballs

Wednesday: roast in the crockpot with mashed potatoes, gravy, and steamed carrots

Thursday: veggie frittata

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: took chips and salsa to a family meal

Sunday: leftovers


March 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm Leave a comment

Real Food, Real Ingredients Journey

Over two years ago, I started this blog to share with others how to save money. I believe it is important to be careful how you spend your money, whether you have plenty or little. I spent time cutting coupons and looking for the best possible deal. There are so many websites that can help you find coupons and then match coupons with sale prices to get super cheap and sometimes free items. Who doesn’t want something free?

I found blog after blog after blog with coupon links, recipes and freebies. It was addicting and there is always more out there. I don’t know exactly when, but I began reading about “real” food and “real” ingredients. I had always considered myself healthy and that our family ate healthy. My mom raised us eating healthy and it was a lifestyle I thought was important. I looked at labels, you know, how much fat, how much sugar, how many calories? And if they were all low, it was healthy, or so I thought. Cool Whip or Whipped Cream? Cool Whip, because it had much less fat. Sherbet or Ice Cream? Sherbet, because it was also less fat. Margarine, because that’s what the commercials said was good for you. On and on it goes. And obviously, fruits and vegetables were healthy.

Somewhere along the line, I learned that you need to read the ingredients, instead of checking to see how much fat or calories are in the product. I was started to see “healthy” items with ingredients in them that were either unhealthy or something I didn’t even know what it was. Long story short, I started doing more research into healthy eating and real ingredients. There are a wide variety of blogs that include easy and healthy recipes. I started changing the way we ate.

I stopped buying items with high fructose corn syrup – which, if you look at ingredients, it’s in almost everything! I started making more meals from scratch. It saves money and then you know what foods you are actually eating.

Now, I will buy whipping cream and make my own whipped cream. I don’t buy sherbert or ice cream with HFCS. And butter is the way to go. It’s from made cream and sometimes salt. When I buy something, I want to know what all of the ingredients are.

I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and decided to be more careful with the meat I purchase. We switched from ground beef at the grocery store to organic grass fed beef from a local farm. (We purchased 1/4 beef, which was just over 70lbs and around $4.40/lb.) The total cost was divided by 12 months and each month, so much was deducted from our food budget. We still have some beef left, and it’s been over a year. My goal is to only buy free range poultry. I have found two local places that I can get good deals. I recently bought a 40lb case of organic free range chicken legs for $1.09/lb, which will last me almost a year. Organic free range boneless skinless chicken is very expensive (I have never seen it for less than $5lb). So I have been purchasing free range chicken tenderloins, which are cheaper than breasts, usually around $3.60-$3.75/lb.

The only meat I get at the grocery store is deli meat (I am looking for hormone free deli meat, but haven’t found any yet), and ham. The ham I buy is from a local company.

Yes, it can be expensive to buy grass fed and or free range items, but not always. And I would much rather quality meat less often, than hormone filled meat all the time.

Our eggs come from a local farm, they are free range and are $1.75/dozen, which is much cheaper than the free range eggs at the grocery store.

Other items I’ve eliminated from our kitchen:
cream soups (they contain MSG and partially hydrogenated oil)
Hershey, Nestle, chocolate (chocolate often uses child slavery, so I now only buy chocolate from companies that do not use slave labor such as Trader Joe’s, Green and Blacks, Endangered Species, Tropical Source, Newman’s Own)
canola oil (is usually genetically modified)
bouillon (very processed)
hydrogenated oils (in PB, cake mixes, candy, etc)

Items I now use:
maple syrup (natural sweetener)
evaporated cane juice (it’s still processed sugar, but less processed than granulated sugar)
white whole wheat flour

I am continually trying to take small steps towards healthier eating and healthier lives. I believe that the less processed the item is, the more whole ingredients in it, the better.

Cleaning products, makeup, and personal cleansing products are other items I try to make sure are healthy. It’s hard to figure out what items are not toxic. It seems easier to me to find a company that makes things naturally, with ingredients you think are safe, and then to buy their products. For now, the main ingredients I am trying to avoid are sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, and triclosan.

If you are interested in safe cosmetics, check out to see how safe your products are. I sell and am using BeautiControl products. They recently released a new skincare line that is free of parabens.

You can google “make your own household cleaners” and will find tons of results. I am currently using Ecover all-purpose cleaner that mixes with water and has lasted me several years.

It is overwhelming, so if you want to make changes, start with just one change at a time. And when I decided to ditch the high fructose corn syrup, I didn’t throw away everything in my pantry and fridge that contained HFCS. When it was time to get something new, I would look for a brand without HFCS. For example, I switched from Heinz to Hunt’s Ketchup. Please comment or email me any questions you have and I would love to try to help.

March 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm Leave a comment

Menu Plan Monday

I know it’s not Monday, but better late than never, right? My menu was actually planned before Monday, so I am not sure why it took me so long to post it. And I ended up planning two weeks of menus this weekend, so that be nice for next week. A few months ago I planned my meals for two weeks at a time, but somehow got out of that habit. My goal is now to plan at least two weeks of meals at a time. It will take less work and it goes well after I am already in a meal planning mood. 🙂

Monday: apple sausage, quinoa, and broccoli

Tuesday: Kelly’s Split Pea Soup* (Fix It & Forget It, page 54), Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread**, and creamy orange cooler***

Wednesday: ham and cheese strata, steamed broccoli, and sauteed apples

Thursday: chicken and veggies (Fix It & Forget It, page 169)

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: hamburgers, fresh veggies, from-scratch baked beans (Fix It & Forget It, page 203)

Sunday: pork and sauerkraut in the crockpot, veggies

my substitutions:
* 2 cups of homemade chicken broth instead of bouillon cubes and decreased the water by 2 cups
** white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour; cultured buttermilk instead of buttermilk
*** orange juice instead of fresh squeezed orange juice

March 16, 2011 at 4:36 pm Leave a comment

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