Showing posts with label Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tax Refund Prepping: Time To Do A MAJOR Food Stock-Up


What should you do with that good-sized tax refund you get every year? You can blow it on meaningless toys or a trip somewhere. You can save it for a rainy day. However, those things won't keep you alive though when a financial crisis or job loss happens. 

You need to invest your refund into your preps, mainly food storage. 

My tax refund is a welcome gift every year. I don't ask for a refund and make sure I pay just enough taxes to not pay in. However, with the child tax credit and earned income credit, I get back a goodly sum every year. The first thing I do is pay off any outstanding debts I may have. 

The next thing  I do with my tax refund is to do a major food stock-up. I place orders online for pantry staples and freeze dried food. I go to Aldi's and do a major trip(s) because I can buy food there by the flat. I also really take advantage of the loss leaders at my local grocery stores for some great deals. 

I do not try to go broke when doing this stocking up. That is foolish. I shop the deals, use coupons for things I will actually buy, use store cards and coupons, and use online or phone apps like Ibotta and SavingStar. Just because you feel temporarily rich doesn't mean you should just throw your money away. Saving money and possibly earning money back is still important. 

You do not have to do this stocking up in one trip or one day. Take your time, plan according to your needs, and shop wisely. You also do not want to attract too much unwanted attention by leaving the store with 3-4 fully loaded carts. Then your friends and neighbors will be banging on your door for food when they get desperate!

What should you buy when you are stocking up? Walk into your pantry and look at what you have. Think about what you normally buy. Don't buy a lot of applesauce if your family doesn't like it. Buy what you use now, just in much greater quantity. 

If starting or building a food storage causes you to panic, I give some great tips in these articles:

Top 10 Items You Need For Your Food Storage

Nourishing Foods For Your Food Storage

What Meats Will Meet Your Needs?

Could You Please Pass The Legumes?

What Place Do Grains Have In Your Food Storage?

What Do You Plan To Put On Your Food?

Spicing Up Your Food Storage and Pantry

How much food should you buy to store? I would start with one month of food and work your way up to a year or longer. You don't know when a crisis could happen and you will be unable to get groceries. Having enough food on hand to get through these times is crucial. 

Do yourself  and your family a favor? Invest your refund into your food storage.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ten Lessons Learned About Food From The Depression and Wartime


The Great Depression was a time of lean years for many in the United States as well as all over the world. Many people learned valuable lessons on how to make food stretch and take advantage of cheaper processed food that came out during this time. Many people learned to survive on less and some people went hungry. 

When World War II came around, many of these lessons were needed to survive the war and stretch their rationing coupons. People were encouraged to garden during the Depression and were heavily encouraged to do during the war. Victory gardens appeared everywhere to help feed the people while more and more food was shipped overseas. 

Many of these lessons learned during these eras have been lost. We as a people are incredibly wasteful now. Our grocery budgets would be better off if we learned these same lessons and kept them in our kitchens. Then if we have lean times, we would be better off.

10 Lessons Learned About Food From The Depression and Wartime

1. Fat was never wasted. Scraps of fat were kept from everything they could be and stored. Fat from meat was cut off to be used to fry and roast. Bacon grease was kept in a jar to be used to cook eggs and potatoes. Fat from cooking meat was reused in cooking other meat and cooking vegetables. Fat was too precious to waste especially when it became severely rationed during World War II.

2. Cooking liquids were never just thrown down the drain. That was wasteful! They were reused in cooking for vegetables. Rice and pasta could be cooked in water that was previously used in cooking vegetables. They also thought it gave the rice and pasta flavor. They would also use the cooking liquids in watering plants and feeding animals.

3. Leftover meat juices had so many more uses! Leftover meat juices were used for making soup, cooking rice and pasta, flavoring casseroles and skillets dishes. Meat juices were poured into a jar to be reused in the next meal.

4. If the food has to be imported into the country, chances are you would have to live without it. This was especially true in the United States and Britain during wartime when most of their food was imported into the country. Many things they could grow themselves, but items like sugar and coffee were severely rationed because they could not produce it themselves.

5. If people could, they raised their own chickens and planted gardens. Sometimes city dwellers could not have gardens, but many cities had garden allotments for people to use. Raising your food could mean the difference between living and starving for most people. Many people during the Depression and wartime sold the food they couldn't eat or preserve. Many women sold eggs from their chickens in order to bring a little more income into the home. Many people from these eras have said that having gardens and eggs is what got them through the lean years.

6. Leftovers were not wasted. Leftovers were generally incorporated into the next meal or the next day's meals. Leftover meat became chopped meat sandwiches. Leftover meat and vegetables became part of the soup. Cooking liquids and canned liquids were reused. Nothing was wasted. If for some reason, the leftovers could not be or were not used, they were fed to the animals or put into a compost pile. 

7. If you did not raise or hunt your own meat, meat could be very expensive. Meals in the Depression and wartime were not heavy on meat like they are now. Meat cooked at one meal was stretched over 2-4 meals. They might roast a chicken for one meal, make chopped meat sandwiches for another meal, soup for lunch or supper, and use the rest of the chicken in a white sauce served over toast or pasta. The bones would be used to make broth for the soup before being thrown out to the chickens. Nothing was wasted.

8. Consider alternative ways of cooking food. In the 30's and 40's, cook stoves were popular. Electric and gas cook stoves were becoming increasingly available and were cheap to run. However, in the Depression, people could not afford to run the stoves. During the war, gas was rationed. Women used wood stoves and hay boxes to cook food and save money. 

9. Forging was very necessary during these eras. People looked for dandelion greens, dug up wild onions, and knew where to find blackberries in the brambles. Forging for anything edible helped at the supper table and, for some families, made the difference between a very meager meal and a decent meal. 

10. "Making Do" was the theme of the Depression and wartime. People didn't have a choice if they wanted to eat. Beans were eaten a lot because they were cheap and nutritious. Casseroles were made more and became popular because little bits of food could be mixed together to make a more filling meal. Bits of dried fruit and sweet vegetables were used to sweeten food when sugar wasn't available or heavily rationed. 

Food was never thrown out or wasted. People became very creative and resourceful to make a meal for their family. They had to. They didn't have a choice unless they wanted to starve. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Egg and Spinach Open Faced Sandwiches



Things to know about me:

1. I am not a fancy cook. Not at all. I could be if I wanted to, but I really like making uncomplicated things. This sandwich is one of them.

2. I will eat cold sandwiches, but I really, really like hot sandwiches with crusty or toasted bread.

I make these Egg and Spinach Open Faced Sandwiches for breakfast or lunch. I like them that much and I will eat breakfast at any meal. Also, this is a good way to get in your greens!

Gather your ingredients. Since I was making this for lunch I used 3 eggs. Sometimes I only use 2 eggs. I stuffed a sandwich sized baggie full of spinach. I also used 2 pieces of bread, but I have also been known to use leftover baked potatoes instead of bread. I also used a liberal amount of butter and some salt, but you can also use coconut oil and whatever seasoning you love.


Start by getting your skillet hot and add butter to melt. Drop your 2 slices of bread in the toaster.


Add your spinach to the skillet. Put it all in there. If you are using a small skillet like I was, the spinach will still fit.


When the toaster is done, butter the toast. All toast should be buttered. Always. 

Add the spinach on top of the buttered toast.


Add more butter to the skillet and let it melt and get bubbly.


Add the eggs. You might want to use a bigger skillet than I did, but I was at work using what I had available to me.


When your eggs are done to your satisfaction (scrambled, fried, sunny side up, soft), put them on top of the spinach and eggs. I left my eggs soft with runny yolks. 


Dig in! This is not a dish best left cold! Salt or season them as you prefer and go to town on that sandwich. 

This is a relatively healthy sandwich that quick and easy to make! My favorite kind of dish!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015 Best of Living Life In Rural Iowa - Top Ten Posts!

You all read these posts, shared these posts, and shown this blog some love! Thank you so much! I couldn't do this without you all and I wouldn't want to!

These posts were the most popular posts in 2015! Counting down from 10 to 1 in popularity, here they are:

10. 

9.

8. 

7. 

6. 

5. 

4. 

3.

2. 

1.

Thank you again and have a great 2016!
Erica


Monday, December 14, 2015

Once A Month Shopping Challenge: Month 2 Update & Month 3 Beginning


Month 2 Update:

November started out with really great intentions. I was set up for the month with one grocery trip and two trips to other stores. I was hosting Thanksgiving and thought I knew how many people were coming. 

Then two days before Thanksgiving hit. We made a trip to the store when I figured I did not have enough food (I was wrong, of course). We had more people coming along with bad weather and I started to panic a wee bit about having enough food. So I went to the store and spent another $50 I should not have spent. 

If that was not bad enough, I went back the next day too! However, I am not sure I am counting that since it was Rob's food I was buying and being reimbursed for. He just couldn't make to the store after he got off work (he's a trucker).

I also made a trip to Dollar General. I had a $30 gift card that I had earned a while ago for trying a product and taking a survey. It wasn't a specific card to Dollar General, but could only be spent in certain stores and Dollar General was the only one close to me. I had this card for awhile and realized it expired the end of November! Eek! No matter what the experiment is, I cannot throw away free money! I did, however, make it into another experiment that I hope to blog about this month yet. 

I did cancel my Amazon Subscribe and Save this month. I didn't feel right about taking it and I didn't really need anything that was being shipped. My kids might argue with that, but they will live.

Month 3 Beginning:

Month 3 actually began last week. I did grocery shop a few days early and without a detailed list, but I was driving by an Aldi's. I do not pass up an Aldi's when I drive by one because they are usually cheaper than my regular grocery stores. 



Case in point: This month I spent $120 on groceries for almost the same stuff that I bought last month for $175. I was able to get a half-gallon of Paige's milk for $2.79 each versus paying $3.99 at our local stores. Almond milk is about the same. Produce is almost always cheaper as is spices. 

I am almost in love with Aldi's and try to do all my grocery shopping there. And with some big changes happening at my house in January, shopping cheaper will become even more important. Rob is moving in with me at the end of January! Yeah (like jumping over the moon yeah!)!

Like I mentioned, I did not have a list. I really hope that doesn't end up being a disaster. I do keep a list on my phone of things I run out of so I know I need to get those things. I also don't have a specific meal plan for December. I am trying to use up expired and soon to expire food in the pantry right now so meals are being based around that.

I also made a trip to K-Mart to get two bags of dog food, six cans of wet dog food (I had 2 - B2G1 Free coupons), two bags of treats (B1G1 Free coupon), three small bags of cat food, and 1 bottle of conditioner. I spent $64 there after coupons and discounts.

I made a trip to Target also to get under eye concealer (K-Mart doesn't carry my favorite brand), two bags of whole wheat flour, and some Christmas cards. I spent $20 there with coupons and discounts. 

I think this month will go better. I am still Christmas shopping, but hope to get that done soon. I also usually make French toast, bacon, and Apple Fritters for Christmas brunch. I did not buy any Texas Toast Bread for the French toast because Aldi's did not have any. I might try my hand at making French Bread for French toast. Otherwise I will be making a very short trip to the store for that and more apples if they supply doesn't hold out. Dane eats 1-2 apples a day so that is a distinct possibility!

I also don't know what I am bringing to my parents for Christmas there. Most of our family meals are potluck, but those bringing food are usually assigned a food group like bread, vegetables, salad, and whatnot. I should probably ask my mom what she wants me to bring! Hopefully that won't mean a trip to the store either!

As you can see, I am not perfect. I try and I do love this challenge because it is keeping me out of the stores and on budget. I will have some new challenges coming up with this challenge, but Rob knows about this so he won't be surprised. If he wants something, he will just go get it himself. 

How did your month go? What surprises are you anticipating for this month?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Once A Month Shopping Challenge: Month 2 and November's Meal Plans


Here we are, Month 2 of the Once A Month Shopping Challenge!

I tried to be a little more prepared for this month. I have officially made my three planned stops as of yesterday. The first stop was to K-Mart to get:

2 bags of dog food
2 bags of cat food (grain-free for the cat with a sensitive stomach)
1 bag of cat litter
1 bottle of shampoo (for me)
1 bottle of shampoo/conditioner (for Dane)
2 bottles of conditioner (1 for me, 1 for Paige)
2 bottles of Vitamin C gummies (buy 1, get 1 free)

I cannot find the receipt right now, but I know I spent $76 with taxes and we saved $25 with coupons and discounts. Some things like cat litter have gone up a bit and that surprised me. 

The second stop was to Menards. I have this receipt! At Menards, I bought:

1 Plastic Window Kit to cover my inside windows
1 Plastic Door Kit to cover my back door until I get a new storm door
1 Garden Hand Shovel to replace the one the dog chewed up
2 different size drill bits because the ones I had were dull
1 set of sticky mouse traps
1 bag of Fast Set Repair Mortar for the basement drain. We have caught snakes coming up through the sides of it where the cement has crumbled. 

I had a Menards rebate check for $10. My total after that was $19. Not too bad! I also got another rebate to mail in when I bought the window kit. 

The third stop was to Fareway. This trip was for groceries and this one hurt! I won't list everything because this was a big grocery shopping trip that included Thanksgiving. I am hosting it this year!



The highlights and deals:
Frozen vegetables for $.77 (I bought 6 bags)
Shredded cheese - 8 oz. packages for $.99 each (limit 3)
Pork Sausage for $1.99 a pound (I got 3 - 1 lb. packages)
10 pound roll of 85% ground beef on sale for $2.99 a pound (I got one roll)
Store pasta on sale for 10/$10.00
A lot of produce 

I spent $174.00. I am still in shock, but I am trying to step back and realize if this is for the whole month, that is not bad at all. I shopped a lot of deals and saved quite a bit that way. I did have to buy meat which always kills me. I bought two roasts in addition to the meat listed which were $18 total. That is just expensive, but both roasts will provide two meals and 2-3 days of leftovers afterwards. That is not bad.

I already have the turkey and ham in my freezer for Thanksgiving. I bought potatoes, stuffing, apple cider, cranberries, and fried onions for the green bean casserole. I have a lot of food in my pantry already for side dishes. Plus our holiday meals are potluck so many other people will be bringing more food. 

The November Meal Plan is going to look similar to October's meal plans. I will be incorporating more slow cooker meals that are low carb for me. The kids will probably have rice with them, but I need to be more diligent about sticking to eating better. I have my freezer meals for the slow cooker and we are also trying Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef and Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja. I can't wait to try them!

November Meal Plan
Chili (slow cooker)
Beef Stew (slow cooker)
Mongolian Beef (slow cooker)
Ropa Vieja (slow cooker)
Chicken Noodle Soup
Cavatini (for sports banquet)
Pork Chops and Roasted Vegetables
Homemade Pizza
Fajitas
Tacos (2 times)
Baked Rigatoni
Taco Chili Mac
Turkey Pot Pie
Spaghetti
Slow Cooker Roast Chicken and vegetables
Chicken Loaf, rice, and vegetables
Fritatta
2-3 Freezer Meals
Thanksgiving 
Thanksgiving Leftovers
Leftovers from slow cooker meals

I realize the leftovers are a tentative thing. I usually make a lot when I make slow cooker meals so we have plenty of leftovers. However, I am living with the joy of a growing boy. If he is hungry and even remotely likes the meal, he can eat a lot! Holy moly! Paige can also eat a lot too which makes for an interesting meal time some nights. 

As always, I make my own bread and snacks for myself and the kids. We have chickens that produce eggs which is my breakfast almost every morning. This month, I am going to try to make my own tortillas (those are more expensive than ever!). 

How is your shopping challenge going? What are you planning for meals for November?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Monday, October 12, 2015

Frugal Refrigerator Clean-out Frittata

So when you have a lot of eggs that need to be used up, some vegetables in the fridge that needs to be used up, and need a quick meal, what do you do?

You make Fritatta! I love frittata. I love saying the word frittata. So much fun!

Below is a couple days worth of eggs. While I sell them or send home with the college kids some of the extras, we still have to step up and eat them.


One of my favorite ways is Frugal Refrigerator Clean-out Frittata. How to make it you ask?

Ingredients:
8-12 eggs
3-4 vegetables you need to use up
Butter or coconut oil for sauteing vegetables
1 cup of shredded cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Crack 8-12 eggs into a bowl. I usually use about 10 eggs for the 3 of us. You can use more or less depending on how many you are feeding. You can also add a little water or milk if you want your frittata fluffier. I don't bother with that. Whisk the eggs until well blended and all the yolks broken.


In a nonstick skillet or a very well seasoned cast iron skillet, heat your pan to medium high. Add the fat of your choice, allow it to melt, and add your vegetables. I had a half a container of sliced bella mushrooms, four mini bell peppers, and kale. I started the mushrooms and peppers first until they were soft and cooked a bit. 


Then I added the kale. I had a bought a big bag of kale and am struggling to use it all. Just some advice: this might be too much kale.



Let the vegetable cook some more and wilt the kale. You might have to add more fat. The mushrooms like to suck up the butter or oil.


Add your cheese of choice. Whatever needs to be used up, except maybe mozzarella. I don't care for it in this recipe. I used up a half bag of shredded sharp cheese. Season your frittata at this time too. I usually just use salt and pepper.


Add the eggs. Turn off the heat to the burner and let sit for a minute. Put into the oven and let cook for 20 minutes. It might not take as long or might take a little longer. Use a paring knife in the middle of the frittata to see if done. If the knife come out clean, it is done!




And voila! You have a delicious Frugal Refrigerator Clean-out Frittata! You can cut into four, six, or eight slices. We normally do six pieces, but whatever floats your boat! 



Give it try and let me know what combinations of vegetables you used! 

Thanks for reading!
Erica


Friday, October 9, 2015

Do You Want To Join The Once A Month Shopping Challenge?


Do you want to save money? Do you want to shop at the store less?

I know I do! I used to shop only once a month for groceries and I have fallen off the wagon. Sad, but true.

However, my friend Daisy at The Organic Prepper has issued a Once A Month Shopping Challenge! She is challenging fellow bloggers and readers to only shop once a month for the next six months with a little leeway for the holidays. Check her out here to see the rules and what she has planned! 

Yesterday was my grocery shopping day. I got paid on Tuesday, but was a little too busy (and lazy) to run to the store. I knew I would need some cheese, milk, meat, and produce to make through the month. 


I am going to tell you all some things up front so you will know where I am in my grocery shopping and food storage as well as what challenges we have:


1. I have a very full refrigerator right now. Some of the leftovers were ignored and need to be fed to the dog.

2. We are following a more unprocessed, low carb diet for my health. I hope I can get through this month on what we have. Having to eat more protein to keep my energy up has been very eye-opening!

3. Paige is lactose intolerant which really limits what I can use for dairy and substitutes. She drinks lactose-free milk and I use unsweetened almond milk in my baking and some cooking. However, I can see making a run just for milk. She drinks at least a half gallon a week. I bought three half-gallons of Lactaid knowing we had a full one in the fridge already. Dane and I do not like the taste of milk and normally just drink water.

4. I have a very full freezer with at least ten freezer meals in it. I hope to use up some of the older meat this month. I also have a full pantry which needs some using up of the older food.

5. We make almost everything homemade with bread, snacks, and breakfasts being the big ones. We have chickens which means we have a constant source of eggs. 

6. I take cold lunches or leftovers for lunch everyday. Paige takes a cold lunch at least twice a week.

7. We will be gone at least two weekends this month to Rob's place. We still make our own meals, rarely eating out (too expensive), and cook a lot on the grill. One of those weekends, we will be at his sister's house, but again everything will be about the same as if we were at his house.

With that in mind, what did I buy yesterday at the grocery store for the month?

1 - 16 oz. bag each of shredded Mozzarella, Colby Jack, and Sharp Cheddar cheese ($2.99 ea.)
16 oz. container of sour cream ($2.19)
1 - 8 oz. chunk each of Colby Jack and Monterrey Jack cheese ($1.66 ea.)
8 oz. container of sliced mushrooms ($1.99)
1 head of broccoli ($1.48)
1 box of saltine crackers ($1.49) (I have not learned to make these well yet.)
1 box of Go-Gurt for Dane ($2.00)
1 big box of fruit snacks for the kids ($5.99)
2 whole chickens ($.99 a pound - $7.94 total)
1 pound container of sliced ham ($3.99)
2 - 2 pound bags of carrots ($.88 each)
3.17 pounds of pears ($.88 a pound - $2.79 total)
1 box of organic spinach ($2.50)
1 bunch of green onions ($.88)
10 pound bag of russet potatoes ($2.49)
3 pound bag of yellow onions ($.99)
4 pack of mixed bell peppers ($4.99)
3 - 3 pound bags of Jonathan apples ($.99 each - $2.97 total)
2 bottles of reduced sugar grape juice ($.99 each - $1.98 total)
1 - half-gallon of unsweetened almond milk ($2.97)
4 pack of Activa yogurt for Paige ($2.50) (Paige can handle this yogurt.)
1 - 32 oz. container of plain yogurt ($2.99)
3 - half-gallons of Lactaid milk ($3.99 ea.) 

Total spent with tax was $81.69. A lot of this was on sale which is how I determine what I am going to make for meals for the month. 

I still have to make a run for pet food and possibly chicken feed. The kids should not need any personal products and we should be good on household items. 

I also still need to find Dane a Halloween costume. He is outgrowing everything! And, of course, he wants to be the Joker this year. 

In the next few days, I will post what I am making for meals for the month as well as any snack food and breakfast. I am still finalizing some of this due to still evaluating what needs to be used up.

Please join us in The Once A Month Shopping Challenge! I promise you will learn a lot about yourself, your shopping habits, and your family!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fajita Vegetable Packets: A Great Way To Use Up The Garden Bounty!


Looking for a way to use up the summer produce from the garden? Scored a good deal on onions and peppers at the farmers market? Let me introduce you to one of my favorite ways to use onions and bell peppers!

Fajita vegetable packets! 

I love fajitas. Love isn't a strong enough word. Fajitas would be my last meal in prison. Yum!

However, I don't always dig the price of bell peppers in the winter. Talk about sticker shock! One summer I had a abundance of both bell peppers and onions and decided to make some of these up! 

I also love having ingredients ready to use in the freezer. Who wouldn't?

First, slice your bell peppers in to strips. 


I did red bells and green bells. You can use whatever colors suit you.



Put the bell peppers into quart size bags or whatever containers you have on hand.


Slice up onions and add them to the bags too. 



If you want to add other vegetables or peppers, feel free. This is what I use in my fajitas. Seal and label the bags and freeze.



This is how I use them: I cook up the meat (usually chicken), season everything if I didn't do so before, add the frozen vegetables, and let them cook. You might not have the crisp vegetables that some like in their fajitas. I am okay with that. I usually turn the heat up to medium high - high heat to cook off the liquid that comes out from freezing. This works great in my cast iron skillet!

If you really want to, you can freeze the meat with the vegetables. You can even season it all, add a tablespoon of olive oil, two tablespoons of lime juice, and freeze it altogether in a gallon size freezer bag for a complete dump and pour meal. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Preppers and Homesteaders Need To Eat Healthy Too!


I have been thinking about healthy eating and diets a lot lately. I hate diets. I hate the idea of depriving myself of something that can be good for me if I eat in moderation and make wise choices. I have been following a modified low-carb diet lately because Rob needs to for his health and I know I need to cut out more sugar in my diet. 

However, I refuse to cut out any fruits or vegetables out of my diet. Ever. I like them way too much! I just don't understand any diet that tells you something grown in nature is bad for you. 

So you will get a rare post from me on healthy eating. I truly believe it is important and crucial to being in good health. Prepping, homesteading, parenting, and just daily living become easier when you are eating healthy. Eating healthy also lead to other good habits, such as exercising and sleeping well, because you have great energy during the day and actually feel tired when you go to bed.

Everyone has a different idea of eating healthy. We do the best we can buying organic when affordable, locally sourcing our meat, using eggs from our own chickens, raising some of our own produce, and not using hardly any processed food. We aren't perfect and I am sure some of you have better ideas for eating healthy. Please share them in the comments!

Many people think it is too much work to eat healthy all the time. But we are preppers and homesteaders! We thrive on thinking ahead while enjoying the present! We can do this healthy eating thing!

Why should someone be eating healthy? Because:
1. to be healthy. 
2. to lose weight.
3. to cut out processed food in case something happens in the world and need to rely more on what can be raised in the garden and on the farm.
4. to have energy to get through the day.
5. to feel better about ourselves. 
6. to have clearer thinking.
7. to fight against diseases like diabetes, depression, etc.

We want to feel better! We want a better quality of life. We don't want to be so unhealthy that we can't keep up with the work, defend ourselves, be active with our kids/grandkids, or just keep up with daily life.

Healthy eating can be easy. It really can! However, you need to plan ahead. You can plan ahead by: 1.  make ahead breakfasts to quickly warm up in the mornings.
2.  plan ahead on snacks.
3. can quite a bit of your own food to cut out the preservatives and artificial ingredients.
4. meal planning
5. freezer cooking (which makes my life so much easier!)
6. plant a garden, plant in containers, plant edible perennials, and plant fruit/nut trees and bushes. 

Below are some of things I do to plan ahead to have healthy food on hand. I will list at least five things for breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks.

Breakfast:
1. Make MYO Oatmeal to have those packets ready to go in the morning.
2. Mix eggs with meat and vegetables in muffin tins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Make a large batch of granola and granola bars to eat by itself or to have as cereal or with yogurt.I freeze some of them so they do not go bad before we eat them all. 
4.  Bake a large batch of healthy muffins and/or quick bread. I freeze them and pop them in the microwave when I need them. 
5. Make a double batch of pancakes to reheat the leftovers during the week. We often eat the leftover pancakes with homemade jam
6. Always have fresh fruit available. The ultimate grab and go snack or breakfast!

Snacks
1. Granola bars (see #3 in breakfast)
2. Fruit or vegetables already cut into easy to eat pieces
3. Small mini peppers with cream cheese
4. Summer sausage and cheese
5. Pickles or Pickle roll-ups (ham, cream cheese, and dill pickles)

Lunch (work and school)
1. Sandwiches. My current love is ham, Swiss or muenster cheese, and spinach on a multi-grain sandwich thin. We are also trying making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and putting them in the freezer to pull when needed.
2. Leftovers!
3. Making a big batch of taco meat to reheat in tortillas and eat with whatever you want or have on hand.
4. Fruit and vegetables already cut into easy to eat pieces
5. Create a bento box like meal with 5-6 small choices that are bite-size for easy eating.

Supper
1. Freezer meals. There are several recipes on the internet. I tend to stick to low-carb and dairy-free recipes that can be done in the slow cooker.
2. Slow cooker/Crock Pot. I use mine at least once a week. I put at least one slow cooker meal every week in my meal plan. Sometimes I plan for 2-3 times a week depending on how busy we are.
3. Freeze chicken in marinade. As the chicken thaws, it will marinate and be all juicy and yummy. I either pan fry or grill these them.
4. Freeze your vegetables or buy frozen vegetables. Cook on the stove top or in the microwave for a quick side dish.
5. Put meals together on Sunday to have on hand during the week. You can take it out of the fridge and heat it up for a quick, hot supper.
6. Use a pressure cooker. I am learning to use mine, but the ease of use and the many recipes on the internet make using this so much easier. I love making rice pilaf in mine!

You will notice that I like to eat healthy, but I like my meals quick and easy too. I love to cook and bake, but I am lazy and don't want to spend a lot of time doing it! Time is valuable and needs to be prioritized during the week.

If you have food allergies, healthy eating and planning ahead is even more important. Paige is majorly lactose-intolerant and the rest of us are mildly so. Many times Paige cannot eat the school lunches and will pack hers the night before. We also plan meals that are dairy-free so she can be comfortable eating them. We do use lactose-free milk instead of regular milk in every recipe that calls for milk. 

Now, does healthy eating sound hard? 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Preppers, Stop Bashing Each Other's Food Stockpiles Because No One Is Right or Wrong



Over the last month at home, we have been talking about how we need to increase our food storage for more people and for a longer period of time. As much as I want to believe I would have enough for three months and longer, reality tells me that might not be the case. 

In researching what I need to keep increasing my food stockpile, I have come across some severe prepper bashing in blog posts and in the comments. Mainly preppers bashing other preppers. As much as I agree with some of the viewpoints, there are some really misguided people too. Some don't believe anyone else has stocked up on food as well as they have. Some believe in just a one-prong approach is best whether that be prepackaged food, MREs, canned food, or raising their own food.

Why do we need to bash each other and make each other feel incompetent? That just is not necessary! Preppers are doing what they can now to make the future better in times of trouble. We all may be wrong or we all may be right, but for me, these truths are what keep me happy:

1. I am just happy that they are stocking food in any form. At least they are trying! Many aren't trying at all!  

2. They will be able to feed themselves for awhile and not want to knock on my door for food. That makes me a very happy camper. 

3. As misguided (in my opinion) as it is that they are just stocking on one kind of food source, they are stocking up on food. I do believe in a multi-pronged approach with having a garden and livestock, prepackaged foods, canned foods, etc. Some don't and I don't agree, but that is what is great about opinions. We each have our own.

4. As long as they have the means to prepare that food with or without power, I am still happy that they are stocking up. They can feed themselves no matter what.

5. If they are stocking up on beans, wheat, oats, and other bulk items, I hope again they have the means to prepare them. I hope they have some way to process the wheat, cook the beans, make oatmeal, and make bread. Otherwise, they were not thinking all the way ahead. If they did, great! That means they will be eating at home and not be knocking at my door. 

Along with bashing what other preppers stockpile, many are critical about how they stockpile. Why so much criticism?!?! There really is no right or wrong way to stockpile, only how you take care of that stockpile. Take me for example. I use these methods to stock up:

* Grocery Stores, mainly Aldi's, but wherever I can find a good deal
* Online mainly through Emergency Essentials, Auguson Farms, and Thrive Life
* Amazon using Subscribe and Save, Prime Pantry, and just shopping the deals
* Mass Merchandisers like Target, Dollar General, and KMart
* Gardening, eating straight from the garden, preserving and canning the harvest
* Raising chickens for eggs and, in the future, for meat
* Gleaning and Foraging, eating what I find or preserving for future use

I make sure everything is stored properly and taken care of. I don't put everything in one place in the house, but have a little stashed everywhere with a main storage room for a most of it. 

I don't believe in putting all my eggs in one basket because I have learned a few hard lessons about that. Some people do believe in putting all their eggs in one basket and that is okay. It may or may not work out for them, but we shouldn't criticize them for it. 

Unless they show up at my door for food. Then I will be a little critical. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, April 13, 2015

Nine Ways Food Is Money (And Better Than Money!)


From reading a lot of preparedness articles and listening to what other people have to say, I am continually amazed by how many people do not make food storage a priority. Whether you have food storage, the ability to grow and preserve food, the ability to hunt or forage for food, or any kind of resupply plan, you have something that is better than money.

In fact, I have been seeing an upswing in articles talking about holding on to your money in case of emergencies. Sometimes that is good advice, especially when talking about home and car repairs, medical emergencies, and what not. I will never be against having an emergency fund. However, when talking about a disaster, crisis, or other situations, money may not do a person a whole lot of good.

Why? Here are nine reasons why:

1. Money does not keep you alive. Food does.

2. You can barter with food. Especially food you decided you don't like for food you do like.

3. If there is a time where money is worthless, food will never be worthless unless it is contaminated or severely expired.

4. You need food more than money to live when you have a disaster, crisis, or a situation.

5. Storing foods and seeds will give you peace in case of future events. Money is nice for retirement, but may not be there when you need it or it is stolen from you.

6. Having food storage and/or the ability to grow, hunt, raise, and/or forage for food will definitely up your survival chances in any situation. Having money, but no real way to spend it, will not help you to survive.

7. Food can be made into medicine or used for medicinal purposes. Money can buy medicine, but if the medicine is not available, then what?

8. By-products from food packaging, gardening, foraging, and hunting can be used to make more food. You can use food packaging for storing more food or containers to raise food. Food waste can be used for compost to enrich the soil to grow more food. Livestock waste can be used for enriching the soil also. Money does not do any of that.

9. Food helps keep the family happy and healthy. Food brings comfort when times are not so comfortable. Food brings people together and keeps the morale up when times are tough. Money can do these things, but it is a temporary and cold comfort. If money comes to mean nothing, money will lose that little bit of advantage too.

Which would you rather have: food or money?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why You Should Grow And Preserve Rhubarb!


Rhubarb is an excellent addition to any garden! Being that rhubarb is a perennial, you can get a crop every year and fill your refrigerator/freezer with its deliciousness.

I was blessed to grow up with a mother that loved rhubarb and canned it into jams. I was doubly blessed to move on to a farm that has it growing abundantly.

Why Should You Grow Rhubarb?

1. Rhubarb is very easy to grow. Get some plants from a garden center or find a neighbor/friend willing to thin out their patch. Plant your rhubarb in a sunny location and fertilize with some well-rotted manure. Do not pick the first year, only pick the thick stalks the second year, and pick all you want the third year!

2. Rhubarb is easy to maintain. Rhubarb just need a sunny location and adequate moisture. You do not have to dig it up in the fall because it likes to have its roots frozen in the winter. Give the rhubarb some well-rotted manure in the spring or fall to help fertilize it, but this is not necessary every year.

3. Rhubarb gives hope that Spring and Summer are here to stay. Rhubarb is one of the first vegetables ready to eat in the Spring in Iowa. I love having fresh vegetables coming from my garden early and often.

You should not eat rhubarb leaves, The leaves contain a poison that will make you very sick. I have been hearing of varieties that have edible leaves, but most common rhubarb plant leaves are not edible. Just eat the stalks!

Rhubarb used to be planted in every yard. You can find it in abandoned properties as well as your neighbor's yard. Most people who grow it have more than they need and are very willing to share it. If you are not able to grow it, just ask around!

Rhubarb is very easy to harvest! You can either cut the stalks close to the ground or just twist the stalk and pull (preferred method). Cut the leaves off and add to your compost pile. Rinse the rhubarb off to get any dirt and grass clippings off.

How Do You Eat And Preserve Rhubarb?

1. Some people like it raw, like my son. Too much raw rhubarb can result in upset stomachs though. I remember as a kid that we would pick it and dip the end in sugar, take a bite, and repeat. Again, too much is not a good thing.

2. Rhubarb can and should be made into pies, crisps, cobblers, cakes, fritters, tarts, and whatever dessert/breakfast goodie you can think of. Rhubarb is versatile like that. I have also had it made into compotes, sauces, and chutneys. Again, deliciousness!

3. Rhubarb can and should be canned in the form of jams, jellies, chutneys, and sauces. Rhubarb is very simple to can and is very forgiving. Rhubarb is a great item for a first-time canner to try! Rhubarb Jam is the first jam I learned how to make!

4. Rhubarb can be frozen. Pick your rhubarb, rinse it off, and chop into 1/2-1 inch pieces. I use my Food Saver, load the bags with 2-3 cups of rhubarb, and vacuum/seal. You can also flash freeze by laying the rhubarb in a single layer on cookie sheets, freeze, and then put into bags and store in the freezer. Either way works. I just don't recommend putting them in bags and freezing. I usually end up with freezer burnt rhubarb.

Rhubarb is so easy as you can see! Rhubarb makes a great addition to your garden in ease of growing and producing food for yourself and your family. I hope you add this great vegetable to your homestead today!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

This article is part of the:


30 Ways of Homesteading


The Prepared Bloggers Network is at it again! We're glad you've found us because the month of April is all about homesteading.

Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by growing your own food, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may even involve the small-scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. Most importantly homesteading is not defined by where someone lives, such as the city or the country, but by the lifestyle choices they make.

The Prepared Bloggers are passionate about what they do and they each have their own way of achieving self-sufficiency. Grab your favorite drink and enjoy reading about the 30 Ways of Homesteading!

Crops on the Homestead

Straw Bale Gardening from PreparednessMama
Benefits of Growing Fruit from Schneider Peeps
Crops to Grow for Food Storage from Grow A Good Life
Winter Gardening Series from Our Stoney Acres
How to Save Carrot Seeds from Food Storage and Survival

Animals on the Homestead

Getting Your Bees Started from Game and Garden
Homesteading How-To: Bees from Tennessee Homestead
How to Get Ready for Chicks from The Homesteading Hippy
Selecting a Goat Breed for Your Homestead from Chickens Are a Gateway Animal
Adding New Poultry and Livestock from Timber Creek Farm
How to Prepare for Baby Goats from Homestead Lady
Tips to Raising Livestock from Melissa K. Norris

Making the Homestead Work for You - Infrastructure

DIY Rainwater Catchment System from Survival Prepper Joe
Finding Our Homestead Land from Simply Living Simply
I Wish I Was A Real Homesteader by Little Blog on the Homestead
Endless Fencing Projects from Pasture Deficit Disorder
Homesteading Legal Issues from The 7 P's Blog

Preserving and Using the Bounty from the Homestead

How to Make Soap from Blue Yonder Urban Farms
How to Render Pig Fat from Mama Kautz
How to Make Your Own Stew Starter from Homestead Dreamer
Why You Should Grow and Preserve Rhubarb! from Living Life in Rural Iowa

30 Ways of Homesteading

Check out all these great articles with great tips for your homestead, large and small!


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