Saturday, January 30, 2010

Eating from the Pantry Challenge Summary

It's been an interesting month of eating. For the most part, I'd say we ate pretty normally, we were more careful about how many eggs we used (which wouldn't have been an issue at ALL, if our chickens were laying....) and we didn't drink big glasses of milk as often as we might have had we not been trying to make it last.

Our total money spent on groceries for the month of January was $92. That's quite a bit over the planned $60, however, 15 of that was to replenish my son's lunch money account (he eats school lunch one day a week), and that doesn't come out of our regular grocery budget. That puts us pretty close to $15 over budget, which is how much we spent on wheat. After years of storing hundreds of pounds of wheat, we've finally used all of it up, and didn't pay enough attention to our supplies.

Some thoughts from this experiment:
I need to store powdered milk- if I used it in baking more often, I wouldn't need to buy as much milk, and also would be covered in case of emergency.

I also learned that it's really useful to have eggs around. I might look into powdered eggs for use in baking- as a back up for times when our chickens are not earning their keep.

Limiting trips to the grocery store made a big difference in how much I spent. I've been in the habit of going shopping every week, but have discovered if I buy an extra gallon (or even half gallon) of milk, that we do just fine going longer in between.

I've missed fresh produce. While I bought some at the grocery store (3 times during the month), it really wasn't enough. My parents shared some apples and pears that they received as a gift. But today as my Mister finished up a race, and approached the table with bananas, bread and gatorade, I had a "I NEED a banana moment". I'll be looking into joining a food coop again for fruits and vegetables, we've done one in the past and really enjoyed the variety.

I'm thrilled to have some extra grocery money this month to split between our camper fund (which is where the wheat money will come from), and The Road Home.

Our list of things that are needing some serious restocking has grown pretty long this month, so it will be interesting to try to resupply over the next couple of months without killing my grocery budget. (I admit to having thoughts of using part of our tax return to shore up our food storage....).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Artichokes, another sign that I'm ready for spring...

Thanks to The Prudent Homemaker (a fascinating website!) I've discovered that it may very well be possible to grow artichokes in my backyard (Zone 5!). As I've researched, I've come up with some helpful tips. Because the summers heat up pretty fast, there are a few extra steps to take to make sure the artichokes produce. They also generally do not survive the winter, and have to be treated as an annual.

I ordered my seeds last week, which is already pushing things, so if you're interested, get seeds NOW.

Step 1: When your seeds arrive, soak them for 8 hours in a bowl of water.
Step 2: Mix seeds in with some sand, and place in the refrigerator for two weeks (this tricks the seeds into thinking they've been through a winter and will help ensure production.
Step3: Plant seeds in a seed starting mat, (or whatever you use to start seeds).
Step 4: After seeds sprout, keep them under grow lights during the day to help them grow without getting leggy.
Step 4.5: Prepare soil outdoors by adding lots of organic matter, down to 12 inches in depth, so the roots can grow easily.
Step 5: Plant outdoors 3-4 weeks BEFORE the last average frost free date.
Step 6: Keep watered, mulched, and fertilize using a nitrogen rich fertilizer.

Good luck with yours. I can hardly wait. I love artichokes, and hope we get a big harvest.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I wish it were Summer stew

I'm tired of winter. So for dinner I fixed Moroccan Summer Stew. (although I forgot that I usually put potatoes in it)

Technically this would have to be called "I wish it were summer, stew", since only the canned tomatoes were from the garden. It's better with fresh food, but the zucchini called to me from across the produce section, and dinner was born.

The kids are not in love with it. They actually eat it, but only with much coercing. Their main objection is the zucchini. I reminded them of zucchini season when we eat zucchini nearly every day, and told them that they should consider this a warm up (they didn't appreciate that). After all, if you eat something enough times, you'll probably start to like it (especially if it's actually very good).

Kid Funnies

The kids say so many funny things, that I thought I'd better get as many written down as I can before I forget them...

A (age 6) to J (age 8)- they were arguing over something.... "J! You have to learn to love NOT hate!"

A (again) to me, in a concerned voice.... "Mom, sometimes J hates me, then he loves me, then he hates me?!"

CP (age 2) is finally acknowledging his age. "When I'm 5, I'll go to school. But today I'm 2!" (He used to always say he was 5)

CP has been really intent on coloring at church lately. The last few sundays, he'll sit for the whole sacrament meeting and focus really hard on his picture. My Mister sneaked this picture a couple of weeks ago with his phone:

CP does the same thing during nursery, when it's time to color, he's focused on getting every little bit of the picture colored. Last sunday he didn't even want his fruit snacks that we let him have after the sacrament, because he was too busy. He wanted me to draw Lightening McQueen and 'Mater, luckily he's not picky that my pictures aren't the best, he just colors them in.

The music leader in CP's nursery is amazing, CP has been singing, "Families Can Be Together Forever", and "Do as I'm Doing". Those aren't songs we've sung at home recently, so I know it's nursery. The funniest thing is when he starts singing one, gets distracted by a particular word, and switches to a different song, usually the theme song from Thomas the Tank Engine.

Another cute thing A has been doing lately... In his nightly prayers, he asks for Grandma and Grandpa to be safe on their mission, and to do good work, but he also has started saying, "please bless the people in Haiti that they'll be better from their earthquake, and please bless the earth that there won't be any more earthquakes". He is such a sweet thoughtful kid.

J is getting older (he's 8!), so he doesn't say funny things as much as he used to. He's working hard in school, and playing Jr. Jazz basketball. Sometimes I look at him and wonder why he's being such a brat, :) and other times I look at him, and realize how little he still is. He really is a mature kid, and is easy to reason with. He acts older than he is so much of the time, that when he acts like an 8-year-old, it's frustrating. I'm just glad that he still asks if he can "snuggle me" when he's upset, and that he likes to see me at school.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Eating from the Pantry Challenge- update

So far, I've been to the grocery store once in January (last wednesday actually), only buying milk, lettuce, tomatoes, and avocados. I spent just a few cents over my $20 limit (we were having friends over for dinner that goes better with milk, so I bought A LOT of milk) and am planning on holding out until early next week.

We've eaten well,
Steak & Baked potatoes (with all the good toppings), and green beans
Taco Salad
Taco Soup
Broccoli Cheddar Soup and bread
Vegetable Beef Soup and bread
Homemade pizza
Spaghetti with meat sauce, green salad (the last of our salad fixings sadly), and artisan bread

We like soup when it's cold outside, if you were wondering. Crazy, but I think that's all we've eaten so far this month. We've had plenty of leftover nights, and one night eating at a friend's house.

Tonight we're having homemade macaronian cheese. I make a little white sauce, add some worcestershire sauce (just a little), some garlic, a little salt, and lots of cheese, and pour over whole wheat noodles, then bake in the oven topped with bread crumbs and more cheese to make the top nice and crusty. We'll probably have green beans or broccoli on the side. Maybe a fruit salad. (we were given some apples and pears as a gift)

Monday, January 04, 2010

J Snowboarding

This is his 3rd time (we go once a year):