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Posts tagged with: real food

Snack Attack


I was in charge of snacks today for DD’s volleyball game.  Thanks to my Community Supported Agriculture pack I got yesterday I had some strawberries to share!  I’ll have to post on the CSA again soon but short update is, I love it!

As you might recall, I switched the kids and I to “real food” almost one year ago and I am finding it is these group events that are the most challenging.  I portioned out strawberries and grapes for the nine girls on the team.  I was pretty darn proud of myself b/c it would have been SO much easier to grab a box of cookies or candy like they usually receive and be done with it!  As DD saw me packing the snacks she became worried.  My 8-year-old was completely freaking out about the ridicule she would face with our choice in snacks.  By my very nature I am not one to do something different b/c others say I should (and yes, I ‘ll say it for all of you–this in a doubled edged personality trait!), I encouraged her that this was a great snack and that her teammates would love it!  She went on about Oreos and those fruit gummy things but I “gently” stood strong. DS was helpful in that he understands now the value of eating well so he encouraged DD to calm down.

I admit as I got to the game, I got nervous too!  Even had a last second thought that I should drop the fruit and RUN!  Isn’t that SAD?  Isn’t that crazy that our culture has done this to us?!  I found myself explaining my self in an apologetic tone.  I quickly stopped THAT nonsense and got just as excited about fruit as the girls should be and it worked (mostly).  There was one girl who asked for seconds and a couple of girls who only took the bag of fruit because their parents were nearby giving the evil eye.  My daughter got stronger in the moment and I heard her saying that you get good energy and vitamins from this stuff!

And–I saved money!  Fruit is SO much cheaper than the packaged crap!  I had to really hold back from going on my food rant as we are new to this group.  My friend who I’ve known a long time was very supportive and confessed that she wanted to do the same but her daughter “wouldn’t let her.”  I have so been there but for today I stood strong.

Now I’m off to enjoy some strawberries and grapes!  As I picture the scowls of some of those little girls and both laugh and cry a little.

Community Supported Agriculture


In an ongoing effort to both eat a more healthy diet AND save money, I am giving a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group a try.  Does anyone do this already?  I am so excited about picking up my first half-order on Friday.  Almost as excited as I still am about this stupid Simple Human trash can!  There’s a $50 set up fee and then it is $425 for 10 weeks.  I’m splitting this first round with a friend so we can get an idea of what to expect.  I love the idea of eating locally produced foods.  I love the idea of experiencing new items and expanding our palates.  I love the challenge of cooking new foods that I may have never cooked before.  But, most importantly, I love the idea of the money I can save here.  Our share of this first delivery will be $21 per week.  If we get enough meat and produce this could be a great way to reduce the grocery budget.  Keep in mind I only feed the kids two weeks out of the month.  On the other two weeks it is just me I have to worry about!  If I get meat and produce for $84 per month I might shave that $300 per month grocery budget down to $200.  🙂

Here’s the one I joined: http://www.kochranches.net/community-supported-ag.html

Please share about your experiences with local agriculture!



Changes Made


Many of you have asked about what practical, day-to-day things I and my children have done to start saving serious money and paying down debt.  Sundays are always a day that remind me of what huge changes we have made in our basic, everyday spending.

In June of 2012 I started making serious changes to our diet and eating habits.  I wish I knew exactly how much of my debt can be attributed to eating out because my guess is that a good chunk of what I owe came from food!  How pathetic is THAT?!  But as I talk to friends and family about this, I know I am not alone in that very bad habit of eating meals out.  Eating out is not only bad for us from a nutritional standpoint–it is just darn expensive!  This last week I did not have a plan for meals after the move and I am sick of dropping $25 to Subway for a meal…not to mention sick of the food!

But how do we avoid it?  As a mom who works outside the home while raising two very busy kids, I have to have a plan.  And Sunday is my day to execute that plan.  I spent five hours cooking today.  I made our meals for the evening and lunches/snacks using the same ingredients.  I start every week with the goal that we will not find ourselves in a drive thru window eating like seagulls!  That’s a running joke with the kids “only seagulls should eat out of windows!”  This is a huge challenge given our weekday schedules.  This week we even have “to go” items for our evenings that we will eat “on the go” but they are made from all real food ingredients.  While eating in the car is not great we DO make it a family meal!  I am super proud of that and love to hear my kids tell other kids that we do this!  And I cannot tell you how far this is from the old Claire.   My sister (a dietician) STILL cannot believe my transformation.  I used to make fun of her for her refusal to buy pre-shredded cheese.  🙂

So challenge yourself and your family to not eat out for ONE week or maybe even a MONTH!  If you are doing two drive thru meals per week and we estimate $25 per visit, you’re saving 50 bucks per week and eventually $200 per month! Make eating out a treat and not the norm!  Seeing restaurants as undesirable and making better choices at the grocery store has made an enormous difference in my debt snowball.  Our grocery budget is $300 per month!  The bulk of that savings has come from a dramatic reduction in packaged foods and instead making things from scratch.  Eating at home is always better than eating out and then I took it a step beyond and started making a lot of our food with unprocessed ingredients which keeps us full longer and cost less to make in the long run. 

For those of you that might be interested, my go to meal planning websites are www.thescramble.com and www.momables.com.  Check them out!

French Kids Eat Everything–Read This Book!


Hello!  I’m BACK!  I’ve had some technical difficulties on my end but I am back and running with my internet connection fixed!  It was a neighborhood wide issue over the weekend and it turns out to have been a great “problem.”  My neighborhood is pretty open and friendly as it is but when all technology is on the blitz, it became even friendlier!  We ended up having a great time spending time outdoors and doing things we might have otherwise missed because we were inside watching television or fiddling on the internet.

The “technology outage” also led the kids and I to catching up on reading books!  I was finally able to finish the book I started far too long ago: “French Kids Eat Everything” by Karen Le Billon.  I think I mentioned it when I first started reading it about 4 or 5 months ago as I was diving deeper into my real food journey.  I know there are some readers who aren’t crazy about hearing about my real food adventures but I know, without a doubt, that this food journey has saved me money!

I don’t have many regrets about how I raised my kiddos.  I’ve certainly made mistakes but, for the most part, I’m regret-free.  I communicate well with them and vice versa.  BUT, if I did have things to do over again I would follow some of the great rules presented in this book.  So, if you are a mom or dad to be, or  a new parent—I write this post for you.  Go get this book.  It will teach you things to do very early in your journey that will undoubtedly improve your health and the health of your children, AND save you MONEY!

The book presents 10 food rules.   1) YOU (as the adult) are in charge of food education, 2) avoid emotional eating, 3) parents schedule meals and menus AND KIDS EAT WHAT ADULTS EAT (no short order cooking), 4) eat family meals together, 5) eat your veggies, 6) you don’t have to like it, but you do have to taste it, 7) no snacking! It’s okay to feel hungry between meals! 8) slow food is happy food (as in, EAT SLOW), 9) eat mostly REAL food and 10) Remember that eating is joyful and RELAX!

These rules are a quick summary of what the book talks about but it offers such great tips on training your children early to eat well.  And children that eat well simply cost less money—from health issues to fewer snacks, we are saving money!  Take a look at this book—good stuff!

Things are moving along at a decent pace and I am continuing to live each day with being debt free as my goal.  Some days are harder than others but thankfully I haven’t had any major setbacks.  It’s been a good month and we are taking one day at a time!

Teacher and Friend Gifts


When I shared my holiday budget a few days ago I didn’t go into my budget for teachers, co-workers, neighbors and other friends.  Here’s another place where Pampered Chef has paid off.  In addition to the commission I earned that has nicely padded my emergency fund, I earned those “Pampered Chef Dollars.”  With $300 to spend I was able to get everyone a small something and able to keep $100 for later.  It’s nice to not have to touch my regular budget for these items!  I haven’t done much with PC this month for obvious reasons (the divorce, the holidays), but I look forward to jump starting my real food business in January.  I also woke up today with a fun idea to incorporate couples by having an event in February.  Many of my friends have been discussing how we can get their husbands and boyfriends involved so a couples’ event of cooking real food sounds perfect for Valentine’s Day.  I really do enjoy this real food stuff and to be making money at it is a complete bonus.

If I can get through the holiday season and just spend my kid budget I will be SO proud!

Real Food Passion


I am going to start this Monday with a little pat on my own back.  With all of this divorce stuff since September 1, I am proud to report that the kids and I have stayed the real food course.  While we have certainly had slips, we are definitely not anywhere near where we were pre-real-food plan.  I’m even prouder of the fact that I continue to be able to feed us real food AND shave money off of our grocery budget.  Of course with only three of us and no big eaters in the group (DS will be 13 in December and we’ve already seen some major growth spurt food consumption but for now he’s eating normally), the food budget was bound to decrease.  But, by keeping it real and making so many things from scratch, the food goes a long way.  As of right now, I’m spending $75 on groceries each week.  $300 per month!!!  And on REALLY good stuff!  That’s just awesome!!!!

I read an article recently that might help me shave even more off the bottom line.  The article was about how much food we waste in this country.  Apparently there’s a documentary out there called “Dive!” that follows a group of friends as they “dumpster dive” for food discarded by grocery stores.  I haven’t seen the documentary but the statistics shared in the article are pretty alarming with some 40% of American food going uneaten each year!  The estimated cost of that food is $165 billion!  We’ve all bought too much and don’t have time to eat what we buy so we end of trashing it so I like the tips shared to help prevent waste.  I follow 3 of the 5 suggestions.  I do not shop hungry, I do not buy something just because it is there and I  make a meal plan.  The two suggestions I’m going to try to incorporate now are to “divide and conquer.”  That means to divide up packages of food into smaller servings so that you can freeze smaller portions and use when you need.  I used to be good about this but have fallen out of habit.  Then the idea of buying bulk with a friend.  Now that we are family of three, we don’t have a Costco membership.  I didn’t see the value in buying so much stuff when we won’t use it all in a reasonable amount of time.  Although things like household products can be saved forever, I’m not really in a position right now to spend a lot up front even if it is a better “per item” cost.  But if I find someone to split everything with then we might be in a much better position.  The article also suggests splitting the cost of the membership.  I like that idea! 

I’m STILL couponing but just for toothpaste, shampoo, cleaning products and the like.  That’s a huge area for savings though and I’m seeing the added benefit of taking the time to do that. 

The best part of all of this is when DS said to me last week “Thanks for still feeding us real food Mom.  I thought that when Steve left it would be too hard for you to do by yourself.”  🙂   That makes all of those Sundays in the kitchen worth it! 

Have a Magnificent Monday!

Two More Real Food Workshops!


I was contacted by two different “friends of friends” about my Real Food Workshops and have two more events booked.  These ladies want to get their own group off the ground so we discussed that I’ll do an intro event that basically explains how my family made the switch.  We will make the super easy whole wheat tortillas that are great to have on hand for a bunch of different recipes.  I hope the guests can be inspired to improve their family’s diet and save money in the end.  Exciting stuff!! 

I’m feeling pretty good about the various incentives I earned for the month of September from Pampered Chef.  I have $200 to spend on products and am excited to add to that this month and then I can get a major shopping fix…without spending money.  That’s another unintended benefit of deciding to do this! 

The kids did all the paperwork preparation for these workshops and DD goes with me and handles much of the paperwork at the event (keeping it organized and making sure guests have what they need).  We have so much fun doing this and it is great together time!  Of course, the extra income is always welcomed!