March week 2, part 2

You can see part 1 of this post here.

It was brought to my attention that in part 1 of this post I didn’t mention where we buy our ground beef. We have gotten our ground beef from several different places.  We used to get it from Destiny Organics at the State Farmer’s market.  Then we ordered from Natures Garden delivered for awhile (and we highly recommend them, btw).  Right now the ground beef in my freezer is from a friend’s brother’s farm.  You can buy grass-fed ground beef from just about any grocery store now, but you’ll pay anywhere from $8-$10 lbs.  You can get a MUCH better deal if you buy it from bulk from a farm.  A great resource is eat wild, where you can put in your location and it tells you farms where you can find grass-fed beef near you.  We’re about to be in the same boat as all of you trying to figure this out when we move out-of-state in a couple of months.  In some ways, I feel like I’m starting all over again on this real food journey as I try to navigate what the real food world looks like in Jacksonville, Fl.

In part 1 I talked a little bit about how much we spend on groceries, where we shop and what kind of things we buy.  I wanted to talk a bit more about budget.  We save a good deal of money by making a lot of the things we eat.  We don’t usually buy snack foods.  I regularly make a lot of our food, including…

*sandwich bread

{my favorite recipe is the frugal girls whole wheat sandwich bread.  I exchange the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour.  I’ve also started experimenting with gluten-free bread.}

*muffins & english muffins

{I try to do at least 3 grain free breakfasts a week.  Here is our #1 and #2 favorite grain free muffins.  We also do grain free pancakes. The english muffin recipe is not grain free and it comes from the frugal girl.  Again, I replace the white flour with Whole Wheat Pastry or spelt flour.}

*tortillas

{tortillas are super easy to make and really good, too!  There’s a ton of great recipes out there, but this is one of our favorites!}

*snacks

{I like to have a lot of healthy snacks on hand so when the kids ask for a snack, I can fill them up with something nutritious and yummy.  We have just started making 100 days of real food’s homemade larabars.  They. are. so. good.  We also enjoy power balls, I’ve started making the nourishing home’s grain free crackers –sometimes I add 1/2 c of cheddar cheese for a “cheese it”- like addition.  We also snack on bananas with almond butter, cheese sticks, apples with yogurt-try mixing plain yogurt with 1 tsp of maple syrup-, carrots and 100 days of real food’s homemade ranch dip.  We also always have a good assortment of nuts and dried fruit to snack on.Also, one of our all time favorite snacks is kitchen stewardship’s granola bars. }

Making these things really does cut down on the budget.  Snacks are expensive!!

WHEN do we grocery shop??

**I know going to several different stores (one of them being 45 minutes away) can seem ‘un-doable’, but I am here to say this is about priorities and it is possible.  We have done our grocery shopping several different ways.  Sometimes we go to DFM all together on the weekend, as a family.  It’s a really fun place to go and the kids view it as a family day.  They get to sample bread, pick up live fish in nets, eat lunch together and grab a (super cheap!) pastry to eat on the way home (or after you get home if you’re not one to have frosting smeared on your car windows.  Smile.)

**Sometimes life feels hectic and I just have to go. to. the. store. alone.  When this happens, I’ll run out by myself in the evening, on the weekend, in the morning….whenever I can get away and Danny keeps the kids at home.  Recently, I have left the two youngest kids with Danny, and Ruthie and I run to do the groceries on our own.  This works really well.  We get time alone to chat and connect and we can also get things done a lot faster.

**I go to DFM with friends, a lot of the time.  I’ve done this with kids or without.  Both are doable.  Hear that–both are doable.  There is not a right way or a wrong way to do this.  I know schedules are different….some of you may have your kids in school all day and you have a great opportunity to get your groceries done during your day.  Take advantage of that.  start early and you can get it all done before it’s time to pick up the kids from school.  I am also aware that some of you go to work all day and I know it’s tougher to find time to hit several stores.  It can be done, though.  It may have to be done on an evening or a weekend, but it can be done.  Some of you have a job of educating your kids at home (like myself) but–It can be done.  It can!  A lot of the times I am wearing a child, have a child walking (or dancing or skipping) beside of me, a child sitting (or building castles out of food) in the cart…but we get it done.  We view it as an adventure, I remind myself of how fast these days will be gone and we get it done.  And most times, we enjoy it.

**Some advice I can give is—try to shop or 2 weeks-1 month at a time so you are not trying to figure this out every week.**

GOALS FOR THE WEEK

Our goals for last week were to meal plan every meal for this week.  The meal plan is going well so far–because it Monday–.  Now, if I can only get my scattered brain to stick. to. the. plan.  We’ll see.  The next goal was to eat dinner at 6 every day.  That did NOT go very well.  I’m bad a time management.  I’m trying, though!  We will be keeping that goal on the list for this week.  In addition to that, our goals for this week are…..

*Stick to the meal plan

*Take healthy snacks with us wherever we go!

*Eat dinner by 6:00 every night

*Eat a grain free meal every.day.

March week 2, Part 1

DISCLAIMER: this a a 2 part post.  I will post again on Monday with part 2.

I’m just going to plunge right in….I know what people think.

“Organic food in expensive.”

“Everyone eats like I eat.”

“I’d rather die happy than healthy–I’ll take my chances.”

I know these thoughts, because they were once mine.  Especially the expensive one.  I could not imagine HOW people ate organic food.  I chalked it up to it must only be rich people who do that, and I’m not rich.  I have to eat what I can afford.  I didn’t want to know what I was eating.  I just knew I couldn’t afford anything else—-so I blindly cut out coupons for food that shouldn’t be called food, grabbing the least expensive things I could get my hands on, not knowing (or wanting to know) what I was doing to my body.  Or the bodies of my family.  I explained back in February that we had a wake up call when my daughter was diagnosed with food allergies and I found Robyn O’Briens website and book, the UNhealthy  Truth.  From there we watched Food inc., followed by Jamie Oliver’s Food revolution (I recommend season 2 episode 2 to everyone!) and then anything we could find….like King Corn and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead ,to name two.

****I would like to challenge EVERYONE reading this to pick just ONE of the documentaries/episodes I mentioned above and WATCH IT. ****

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From that point, we knew one thing: WE HAD TO MAKE A CHANGE.

The changes were a little at a time.  We would pick one thing, like meat or milk and we would research it TO DEATH until we knew what we thought about that ONE thing and how we felt like it needed to change, and then we would CHANGE IT.  So, here, at this point in our lives, it is still a learning process.  We are still changing things little by little (for example, we just recently changed the water we drink.)

Here are a few things that we do:

*our main goal is to eat what is real.  we read labels.  If it has an ingredient list that takes an hour to read (you know what I mean!), we  don’t buy it.  If it has ingredients that we can’t pronounce, or don’t recognize, we don’t buy it.  If it has corn ANYthing (and it’s NOT a NONGMO product) as one of the first 5 ingredients (and we try to stick with things with 8-10 ingredients or less) we Don’t buy it.

{like apps?  Fooducate is a great one!  Scan any item and it ‘grades’ it for you!  My kids LOVE seeing the grades of their food! It’s free–get it!}

*We follow the dirty dozen/clean 15

{{If it is on the dirty dozen, it comes into our house organic or local (naturally) grown.  **for instance, the fruit stand right down the road from us does not want to pay the huge amount of money it would have to pay to officially become ‘USDA certified organic” but they grow their fruit without the use of harmful pesticides.  This is local food that is naturally grown.  This is my favorite kind of food to buy!**}}

*We stick to a low gluten/gluten-free diet

{{this is simply because it is better for your digestive track.  We have a couple of family members with celiac sensitivities and it’s just better for all of us.  We have also done a 30 day Paleo challenge, and still eat quite a few grain free meals.}}

*We DO NOT buy conventional chicken or beef.  We will go quite a bit into detail with this in a later post, but it is a no-compromise issue for us.  If we are tight on money, we incorporate more meat-free meals.

*We drink unhomogenized, lightly pasteurized  milk (We prefer raw, but don’t have a supplier at the moment).  We also use almond milk and coconut milk to cut back on our dairy intake.  We do not drink soy milk at all. (we will talk more about milk in a later post).

*We try to avoid sugar to the best of ability (it’s everywhere isn’t it???  And super yummy, to boot!)  We try to stick more to sweeteners such as local raw honey, maple syrup, molasses and sucanat.

({Fake sugar including aspartame, splenda and the like are OFF LIMITS.  We avoid them like the plague.  It’s just NOT REAL.}}

*We care where are eggs come from!!  We care about antibiotics and hormones given to chickens that our eggs come from, we care about how those chickens were raised and we are willing to pay a little more to make sure the eggs we eat are SAFE to eat!

*we try not to eat corn products that are not NON GMO.  This is not always possible, because….we live in America, but we try.  (watch king corn)

Those are the MOST important food issues to us.  Not the only important issues, but the MOST important.

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Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

We spend $400 a month on groceries.  This includes all of our food, toiletries, laundry supplies, diapers.  I don’t know how this compares to your grocery spending,  but I can tell you how it compares to the rest of America.  According to this gallop poll, the average american family spends $151 a week on food.

I love Publix.  There it is.  Out in the open.  Publix is clean, the people who work there treat you like you’re their long-lost sister….or daughter.  The aisles are nice and wide and they give you free cookies (and free dinner, if you time it right).  There cake is delicious, their pharmacists are the best and they practically BEG to push your cart full of cranky kids (and groceries) to the car and unload it all for you.  All of that being said, unless you are buying a few certain things OR using coupons, Publix is expensive.  I do get some things there.  They are the only place around that carries some things I occasionally feed my 11 month old.  I do shop there, I think they are a great company, but, unfortunately, when staying on my REAL budget for REAL food, I do better elsewhere.  We do most of our shopping at 3 stores.  Below I have tried to explain the system….

Dekalb Farmer’s Market

We do a great deal of our shopping at the  Dekalb Farmer’s Market. It is quite a hike for us, but it is worth it.  If you are looking for things they just don’t have at the grocery store, it is worth it.  And if you are trying to eat real food on a real-life budget, it is worth it.  We try to go twice a month.  Nope, it doesn’t always happen, but that is the goal.  This is where we get most of our produce.  Organic produce is hard to find  on the south side of Atlanta, and if you do find it, they want you to pay for it with body parts it’s so expensive.  There have been times when I have been in a bind and had to compromise, but it nearly kills me.  We also get our flour (whole wheat pastry, spelt flour and several different gluten-free varieties), spices, unhomogenized milk, I’ve just started buying lunch meat there and don’t think I can ever go back to the overly processed stuff, now.  We get almond butter and peanut butter (they grind it fresh right in front of your eyes!) there, maple syrup, coconut oil, dried fruit, nuts, sucanat, apple cider vinegar, and more.

Kroger

I also shop at Kroger.  They have great deals, they have a great natural food department and they have started carrying their own organic line of food called Simple Truth.  I always do well at Kroger (money. wise and health wise)!  I buy chicken at Kroger.  They have boxes of  harvestland chicken breasts (they also sell this brand at Wal-mart), and I have also bought Simple Truth Chicken.   Sometimes I buy eggs at Kroger (simple truth) if I can’t get them fresh from a farm.   I buy cereal there quite often, yogurt (I usually buy stoneyfield farm) if it’s a good price, and a few other things here and there that I can’t really remember.  I do buy butter there, usually.

**for those of you that don’t know, Kroger has a ‘clearance’ section that I LOVE to shop!  They almost always have some organic/natural food cereals and snacks back there.  It’s a great way to save!**

I also shop at Aldi.  They have a few good options at a low-cost, and my kids love putting a quarter in (and taking it out) for the cart.  It’s a great time. At Aldi, I buy cheese, tilapia and salmon.  That’s pretty much it.   Their salmon and tilapia are NOT farm raised (which is really important….I even ask at restaurants if it is farm raised before I order.  If it’s a yes, I pass).  The cheese is just regular cheese.  We have not made the switch to raw milk cheese yet and I will admit wholeheartedly that it is because of the cost.  There are other things that are more important to us.  I will say here that we do try to limit our dairy intake.  Some weeks it works, others it doesn’t.  I would love to be completely dairy free (except for maybe yogurt), but we are just not there yet.

So, there you have it.  This covers what is important to us, where we shop, what we buy where we shop and how much we spend.  Coming up in part 2 on Monday: HOW we grocery shop–as in WHEN we do, WHO does it and how all of that fits into our busy lives.  Also… an update on our weekly goals, and NEW WEEKLY GOALS

The big announcement. As in REALLY! BIG! ANNOUNCEMENT!

On friday we posted about the
craziness of February at our house. In addition to the flu, and a computer virus, we had a little something else going on behind the scenes. We knew there was a possibility of a job transfer for Danny. We were very excited about the idea of it, because it would mean better hours for him (for those of you that don’t know, danny has worked night shift-10p-7a-since sophie was born). As excited as we were at the thought of it, we knew there was a chance that it wouldn’t work out so we didn’t want to say anything until we knew FOR. SURE.

On monday night, February 25, we found out that it IS, indeed, happening.

We are moving to
Jacksonville, Florida!

We are so excited (and a bit nervous!), and think that it fits in perfectly with our year of family reclamation. This will be a wonderful change for our family and we are confident that God orchestrated this move. We have been hoping for Danny to get off of night shift for a very long time and I, for one, have many times thought it

would. Never. Happen.

The verse that keeps coming to mind during this exciting turn of events is “If we are faithless, He remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13)

Please pray for us as we prepare for this transition!

HELLO MARCH!

February = EPIC. FAIL.

Love month did not love us.  In February, our home was invaded by the flu.  A nasty virus that ended up getting 3 of us.  It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  Just tiring.  Oh, so……tiring.  As the flu invaded our bodies, another virus struck…..our computer.  Our computer totally crashed!!  We only have the one computer…..so that was hard.  We are back up and running now (thanks to the mad computer fixing skills of my husband!).  . So we are going to chalk February up to one big giant epic FAIL…..and pick up in beautiful, wonderful, (birthday month)…..

MARCH.

Since we drastically failed in February, we will move February’s area of reclamation to March.  We’re sticking with

Food and Nurtrition

goals for the week:

*eating dinner at 6m every night

*meal planning EVERY meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) next week 

********We are changing up a few things, so we want to go over that now.  As we said in our first post, we will be posting our area of reclamation on the first Monday of every month.  Due to scheduling issues we are thinking that it will work better for us to move our post day to Friday instead of Monday.  So, starting TODAY, Friday, March 1, we will be posting the first post of each month on the FIRST FRIDAY of the month.  Then throughout the month, our (main) weekly updates will be posted on each Friday of the month.  We may post a few updates on other days, IN ADDITION to Friday, but there will always be a post on every Friday. *******

Coming up…

among a couple of other things, NEXT FRIDAY we will be talking about WHERE to buy all of this organic, natural REAL FOOD that we all should be eating!!  I’ve had A TON of people ask me WHERE I grocery shop, how often I grocery shop and HOW DO WE AFFORD organic food?!  All of this will be included in next Friday’s blog post.  Join us then and visit us over on facebook, too!

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Welcome to a new month and a new look!  We are SO excited about our topic for February.  In this area of our lives, we are continually learning.  We have some of it “together” but are still greatly struggling with some aspects of it.  It is a fun challenge for us, because we can share what we have learned, why we do what we do and where we are still struggling.  The area of reclamation for February is……

Food and Nutrition

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Our food story starts awhile back.   Well, I should say our REAL food story starts awhile back.  Our oldest daughter was diagnosed with food allergies at age 3.  For several months we just muddled around, avoiding peanuts, fish and sesame seeds everywhere we went.  And in case you don’t know, that’s not easy. At all.  There are peanuts in ev.er.y.thing.  Eventually, I started googling recipes that our girl would be able to eat and stumbled upon http://www.allergykids.com/ where I learned about Robyn O’brien, the founder of allergy kids and the author of the Unhealthy Truth.  Her story SHOCKED me and I had to know more. She encourages people to eat more like their Grandparents did, to read labels and to “do one thing”. Well, I was fine.  Right?  I read labels.  Everyday.  I was trained to that by my child’s allergists.  This chick didn’t have anything on me.  Or so I thought.  Turns out she didn’t encourage you to read labels just to avoid peanuts. Or wheat.  Or whatever.  She said there is bad stuff in our food.  What a sec.  Isn’t this America?  Don’t we have an FDA?  Isn’t it their job to keep us safe?  I kept reading.  And reading.  And reading.  I decided to do one thing.  She recommended a documentary my  sister had already told me about.  Something called Food Inc.  There’s my one thing.  I can do this.  It’s a movie.  Totally doable.

And that was the beginning.

It changed our lives.  We realized for the first time what kind of food we had been putting in our bodies and our kids bodies.  I had always thought you had to be rich to eat organic food.  I don’t know how many times I had said (or thought!) “I can’t afford organic food.  It doesn’t matter how good it is for me,  I’ll never be able to make it work.”  In Food inc., a man by the name of Joel Salatin, a farmer from Virginia said something that made me think.  He talked about being at Farmers markets, selling (safe) eggs for $3 dollars a dozen and how people would say things about how expensive that was for A DOZEN (12!) eggs that would last about a week, while sipping on a (1!) soda that would last them about an hour and cost $1.50ish.  WOW.  So it’s not about how expensive REAL food is, it’s about priorities.  I don’t have to have soda, or fast food (that an average family spends over $20 per meal on!–that would buy 6 DOZEN safe eggs–) or even a nice dinner out.  I can TAKE THAT money and apply it to REAL food at the grocery store.  It was eye-opening.  And we decided to learn more.  And learn we did.  Our one thing turned into one thing after another, after another, after another (don’t even get me started on Jamie Oliver and season 2, episode 2 of food revolution). LIFE. CHANGED.

Organic_Food_Cancer

This month we will be talking about real food on a budget.  We will be talking about when organic is necessary and why, and when it’s okay to buy conventional food.  We will be talking about meal planning, grocery stores, farmers markets, gluten-free, paleo, green smoothies, couponing, fast food, kitchen organization and much, MUCH more.

Our biggest struggle is meal planning.  It seems like if you meal plan, you have to start that BEFORE 5:00 pm the day of.  Just shoot me. That’s not. how. I. roll.  So this week, our goal are:

*Eating Dinner at 6 pm EVERY day (this is a struggle for us.  Take my word for it.)

*To meal plan for EVERY meal next week.  BREAKFAST, LUNCH and DINNER (I’m scared.  For real.)

We’ll be updating more often during the week this go around, and sharing pictures and status updates with our progress on Facebook.  Please “like” us over there if you haven’t already! 🙂  Thank you for your support and please tell us….do you follow a real food diet??  Why or why not?  We love to hear from you!