Baby food can add up really quickly. I mean, really quickly! If you have chosen to feed your baby purees (as opposed to, say, doing the baby-led weaning approach), and you have a hungry kind of fellow, you will discover that you will go through baby food incredibly quickly. If you are willing to put in a little extra time in order to save a few bucks, you can make your own pureed baby food for much cheaper than you can buy in the stores!
For instance, I can find organic bananas in my city for about $0.79 a pound. There are about 3 bananas in a pound, making them about 5.3 oz each. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say after peeling them, each banana weighs a little over 4oz—the same size as a typical jar of baby food. This means once you’ve mashed the bananas, you end up with about 3 jar’s worth of baby food, for a whopping $0.79 total!
In contrast, a 4oz jar of organic banana baby puree at the same store I bought the organic bananas at costs $1.29! So for $0.79 and maybe ten minutes of work at home, you get the same amount of baby food that would cost $3.87 at the store! You might point out that if you make your own baby food, you also need to have containers to store the food in, and utensils to mash or blend the food with, all of which cost money—though if you already have a blender, this cost goes down. Small mason jars or even ice cube trays, which many people already have on hand, can be used to store freshly prepared baby food in as well. You also have the freedom to make up combinations of baby food that don’t even exist in stores! Is your child like mine and likes to mash his beef into his applesauce? Now you make a beef-and-applesauce puree that your child will love, even if you want to barf while making it! Homemade baby food is a little time consuming, but can end up saving quite a bit of money versus buying jarred baby food in the long run.
So you bought ten pounds of pork for only $1.50 a pound, or scored a few whole chickens from your backyard homestead neighbor. Dinner for weeks!… you think, but… now what? How to cook all that cheap meat you just got, assuming you are a meat eater?
Slow cooking has been a time saver for families for ages. Tough meat that would otherwise be hard to eat can simmer for hours in a pot, growing soft and tender. The trouble was that someone had to be watching the pot all day, something that’s hard to do in our modern, busy lifestyles. When the slow cooker, or Crock-Pot, as the brand name is, was invented a few decades ago, it was instantly popular. Because it cooked food at a low, constant, heat, without needing to be warmed by a flame or oven, parents could flip it on in the morning, go to work, and return home to a warm, nearly effortless meal. Since most cheap cuts of meat and vegetables generally require somewhat long cooking times, a slow cooker can be a great help to a thrifty lifestyle, as you can cook a cheap, nutritious meal very easily. Below is a basic recipe that works for nearly any cheap cut of meat, but this is only a guide—feel free to add your own vegetables or spices, and adjust cooking times to your preference.
- Chop up veggies. Onions and carrots go with almost every meat. Celery is cheap and is often used with poultry. Toss those in the bottom of the crock pot.
- You don’t need to add liquid, since fat will melt off the meat when cooking, but if you wish to, pour in a cup or two of water or broth.
- Pat dry your meat. Shake on some spices. Salt, pepper, and garlic powder are good basic flavors that go with almost everything.
- Turn on the slow cooker! If you need a meal within 4-5 hours, flip it on high. Otherwise, especially for tough cuts of beef or pork, cooking on low for an average of 8 hours will yield a more tender meal.
There you go! You have an extremely basic slow cooker meal! Again, this is a just a starting point—part of the fun is being able to experiment on your own! What are some of your favorite slow cooker recipes?
There are so many expensive products claiming to make your hair smooth, shiny, and healthy. These products may very well do just that. However, at this point in my life, I can’t see myself ever putting a lot of money into my hair. On a limited budget, putting food on the table takes precedence over shiny hair. But, did you know that putting certain foods on that table will give you strong, healthy, shiny hair? Talking about killing two birds with one stone.
Here are some of the foods that will nourish your body and your hair.
1. Fish. Salmon and tuna, in particular, are full of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. All of those are essential for healthy hair. If you’re not a big fish eater, taking some fish oil supplements every day sure can’t hurt!
2. Dark leafy greens. Aren’t they good for just about everything?! Well, they are full of vitamin A, iron, calcium, and vitamin D. It’s easy to make a salad out of spinach or kale; of course, sautéing spinach takes only about 5 minutes. So, include some of those dark leafy greens in your meals each day.
3. Nuts. Almonds, pecans, and walnuts, in particular, are full of protein, minerals, biotin, and vitamin E. All of which are necessary for healthy hair. Just sprinkle a few into your salad, onto your cooked vegetables, or into a little bowl for a snack.
4. Sweet potatoes. What a sweet way to take care of your hair…and to treat yourself! Sweet potatoes are full of vitamin A. You and your hair will also get vitamin C, iron, and calcium when you eat a sweet potato.
5. Eggs. Eggs have gotten a bad rep over the years. I think they have finally been redeemed as a good-for-you food. And because they are a great source of protein, iron, biotin and contain vitamins A and E, they are great for your hair, too!
These are some fun and tasty ways to take care of your hair, don’t you agree?
I saw various versions of this very funny meme on Facebook right around Thanksgiving. We joke about the holiday ten pounds almost like we do the “freshman fifteen,” right? And while many of us don’t actually put on an additional ten pounds, we can definitely feel our jeans suddenly feel a bit snug.
Some years I’ve done better than others in terms of putting that weight on to begin with. But this year, I can feel it a bit. When I went running last weekend, it was as though I could feel the sweet potato pie dragging me down. 😉 But rather than feeling bad about the additional weight, I just decided to do what I know to do while I enjoy this season.
1. Make sure exceptions are just that, exceptions. We all want to enjoy those creamy mashed potatoes, the sweet potato biscuits and, of course, the pie. I sure did! But, in reality, I had made exceptions leading up to Thanksgiving. That’s the real problem. We don’t put on ten pounds at one sitting. It’s all the exceptions before and after that meal. So, I decided that I’d quickly get back to my normal eating and work out routine so that my jeans feel back to normal by Christmas (or sooner). I expect to make exceptions again for our Christmas dinner, but that won’t be a problem as long as I’m back in my routine between now and then.
2. Keep moving, even on vacation. Maybe it’s too cold or icy to run outside. Throw in a workout DVD. Dance around with your children for 20 minutes. The weather is nice enough for us at this time of the year that I got onto the trampoline with my children the other day. That was after an impromptu soccer match in our backyard. It’ll burn a few calories, keep your body moving, and be fun to exercise with your family.
3. Don’t think about food. It seems that the more we work on being careful with our food/calorie intake, the more likely we are to think about food and our bodies. Just have fun and allow for a few well-deserved exceptions. They are more fun that way.
How do you manage your weight around the holidays?
Of all the different types of cuisine, Mexican food has got to be my favorite. If we go out to eat, I tend to think about going to a Mexican food restaurant. And, although I cook a variety of types of food at home every day, I make tacos and fajitas quite a bit. And, one of the most fun (although not at all good for you) parts of a Mexican meal is chips and salsa, right? The combination is virtually irresistible, if you ask me! 😉
Well, our garden produced a bunch of yummy tomatoes, cilantro and peppers. Check these out! (Cilantro not pictured below.)
What was I supposed to do with these…make salsa, of course!
So, I got to work. I used about 7-8 tomatoes and chopped them up.
Then, I chopped up about half of an onion.
I also chopped up the peppers but didn’t take a picture. (Sorry, I forgot to. And, I was getting very excited about the salsa.) Then, I crushed two cloves of garlic and chopped a handful of fresh cilantro.
Next, I dumped everything into my food processor, added the juice from one lemon, salt, pepper, about a teaspoon of cumin, half a teaspoon of chili powder and a dash of cayenne pepper.
I ran it through the food processor for about two to three minutes. Then, I poured it into a bowl and let it chill in the refrigerator for about half an hour. (That was only because it was almost dinner time. We had leftovers that sat overnight and that batch was even better.)
Who needs store bought salsa when you can have such fresh, tasty and even kinda healthy salsa. If you can manage to eat it without tortilla chips, it really would be healthy. Good luck with that, though!
What’s your favorite make-at-home indulgence?
Most of us like it when the pantry is full. Having a good stock of groceries is on the to do list of most people I know. The problem with stocking up on food can be keeping it fresh while you aren’t using it.
It’s terrible to look forward to eating some potato chips through the day. Then you open them up, take a bite…and they are stale. The flavor has disappeared. It’s almost like eating greasy, cheap cardboard. Instead of dealing with this disappointment, try putting your chips in the freezer. They remain crunchy and the flavor lasts longer.
Cereal kept in the fridge takes months to go stale. I know this from experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s Cheerios or Corn Flakes. It doesn’t matter if they are in a box or in a bag. As long as your container is closed the cereal doesn’t go stale. I have kept these products in the fridge for two months, and still had a great bowl of cereal when I chose to eat it.
Having a large freezer that you keep in the house or in the garage is a great way to stock up on meat and have it last a long time. Just make sure that it’s packaged correctly to reduce the risk of freezer burn. It’s also important to date your meat and use what you first bought first.
Meat isn’t the only product that can be frozen for a rainy day. Bread products and milk can last quite a while when frozen. Bread products can include hot dog and hamburger buns as well as sandwich bread. One bread product I wouldn’t leave in the freezer would be tortillas. It has, in my experience, left them wet and pasty. They stick together. They aren’t great to eat. It’s better to keep tortillas in a dry, sealed container.
It’s an issue I hear lots of parents talking about. How to get your children to eat vegetables. Broccoli, spinach, beets are on the forefront of my mind when I ask the question. We have some success with steamed broccoli and one of my children will eat beets in a salad I make. But, I have discovered the easiest way to feed them those green veggies…
This is the problem. How to eat these?
Step 1: Toss a bunch of fruit into a blender. I use frozen berries. Sometimes, I’ll have frozen mango or cherries. Add in a banana and milk or yogurt.
Step 2: Add your steamed green veggie. In this case, it’s broccoli. But, sometimes it’s spinach or beet greens (or some combination).
Step 3: Add in any other food that you want to sneak in. I like to add ground flax for a little Omega 3 in the mix. You may also need a little honey, depending on the sweetness of your fruit.
Step 4: Blend!
Step 5: Pour into an ice tray and add popsicle sticks. I have little helpers for this part 😉 (Please excuse the messy counter. Making coleslaw was next on my list.)
Step 6: Enjoy!!!
How do you get your children to eat veggies?
Do you remember when everyone thought that eating granola was such a healthy thing to do? There was such a connection that non-food related things would be referred to as granola. It was earthy, natural and likely to be consumed by non-carnivores! 😉 Well, I wasn’t those things but I still loved snacking on granola. Over the years, I learned that granola is not necessarily a healthy snack. If you buy it in a package, you have to watch out for many things. What’s being used to preserve it? How much sugar or, worse, corn syrup is used to make it? What other balls of sugar, essentially, are hidden in it? M&Ms? (In case you are wondering, M&Ms are not healthy. At all.) Some yogurt-covered treat (also usually full of sugar). Lots and lots of sugar in granola. That’s not to say anything of the calories, especially if there are peanuts or other nuts in it. Nuts aren’t bad. But, let’s face it, if you are trying to lose weight, you don’t want to be consuming a high calorie, high fat, high sugar content snack.
So, I simply stopped eating granola. However, recently I was at one of our favorite grocery stores with my daughter and she wanted a snack. The snack she wanted had a very high sugar content, so I offered she try something different. We were in the bulk section, so I picked up some granola that was on sale. She and I both ate it in the car and I realized that I missed that snack. I also remembered why I stopped eating it. I felt so full so fast and saw that the sugar content was higher than almost any snack that we usually eat. So, even before we got home I determined that I was going to start making homemade granola.
It was easy, inexpensive and so much healthier than any granola I could buy at our local grocery store! Here’s the recipe.
3 cups oats
1 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/2- 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. coconut oil
1/2 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
(I also threw a handful of almonds in mine…just because I noticed that I had a few right when I was putting all this together.)
1. Preheat the oven to 300.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Then, spread them out onto a greased or parchment paper lined baking sheet.
3. Then, mix all the wet ingredients and pour over the oatmeal mix on the baking sheet. Mix wel
4. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring the mixture every 10 minutes, until it’s golden brown. Let it cool and store it in a glass container with a lid.
Enjoy for breakfast or as a healthy snack at any time of the day!
What’s your favorite kind of granola?