Saturday, January 31, 2009

Raising and storing food...cheaper and better!!!

Even though it is still winter with lots of snow on the ground in beautiful North Idaho, Terry and I have been scouring over the seed catalogs, gardening books, etc. and making a plan. I always tell the kids, "Fail to plan, Plan to fail". So we are modeling that lesson by planning out this year's garden. I am sure we aren't alone in this endeavor as grocery prices skyrocket. We were gifted a wonderful gardening book for Christmas by our dear friend Ligeia. It is an awesome read and has lots of really good direction and info for those gardening in the northern climates. The book recommended several seed companies who specialize in colder climate and short growing season seeds. We have made our list and drawn a schmatic and are dreaming away of fresh grown and harvested fruits and vegetables.

But since it isn't gardening season yet, you may say there isn't anything you could be canning or storing away currently. Winter is a perfect time to be canning dried beans. I use many dried beans both alone with cornbread and also in soups and other recipes. Beans can sometimes take forever to cook, or so it feels, with the sorting, washing, soaking, rewashing, and cooking. I work full-time outside the home so anything that makes getting dinner to the table quicker is a must-have in my book. Imagine have your own canned beans cheaper, quicker, and ready to take out of the pantry and use. So this weekend, I added canning beans onto my To-DO List. I canned 4 quarts of great northern white beans and currently have a big pot of black beans boiling away. If anyone needs specific info on how-to can dry beans, send me an email or a comment and I'll do my best to share.

While in the kitchen working on my canning, I kept hearing "I'm hungry". I whipped up three pans of cinnamon rolls, also using Sally's recipe. Topped off with bagged cream-cheese icing purchased from the Amish Farm to Market store. I don't know about your family but our family can eat several cinnamon rolls each and that can add up to quite the expense when there are only eight rolls to the can for $2-3 dollars each. We could easily spend $10 on cinnamon rolls and they wouldn't be nearly as good. I don't know how much these home-made rolls tallied, but I would guess between $1-2 for the three pans. Obviously this isn't an every morning breakfast because everyone is rushing to get out the door, but the weekends are just right to make this investment of time and energy in your family.
Make today a good day - invest in yourself and your family. You won't be sorry you did!!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Frugal Living

We have been on the path of simplifying for quite some time. There may be more of you finding my blog by googling frugal, frugality, cheap meals, etc. It is time for all of us to really search within ourselves and our budgets as to how we can save money and be more assured of providing and surviving when things get even tougher than they are right now.

Usually on Friday mornings, I make a big family breakfast that we share around our kitchen table. There is where we share the highs and lows of the week, plans for the weekend, do-to lists, etc. After breakfast, we generally get busy on our chores and housework so that it can be done and the weekend officially started. This may sound strange, Friday,??? We have four day school weeks and so every one of our weekends are three day weekends because I also have Friday off as well Saturday and Sunday.

I start off my chores with making bread. Do any of you make your own bread? This has been a recent accomplishment for me. I was also afraid to try and fail. I told myself it was so hard. My mom didn't make homemade yeast bread very often and it wasn' t anything I learned as a child, so that also compounded my belief that I couldn't do it. My colleague from work, Sally, also raised a large family and she encouraged and taught me how to do bread. I am not nearly as good as Sally but I also haven't been doing it as long. I guess the true sign that I have mastered it, is will the kids eat it? A resounding yes. Almost as soon as it comes out of the oven. Not only is it so tastey but also saves money. I am sure you guys have priced good bread at the store so you know how much could be saved by making your own.

Another chore for our family is wood and heating with wood. We have heated our large home with only wood this year. This was the first year that we cut down trees, split wood, made kindling, and made our own fire-starters. We previously would purchase duraflame logs or fire-starters and that was such an expense but when we were burning energy logs you had to have a fire-starter to get them going. I found on one of my daily blog reads, a great home-made firstarter that utilizes waste materials that we have an abundance of around our home - dryer lint, empty toilet paper rolls, and leftover bits of candle wax.

We also have added an Alladin oil lamp. We have two other lamps (not Alladin) that I picked up at an estate sale but they are very low candle-power and make doing homework practically impossible. The Alladin has candle-power equal to a lamp with a 75 watt bulb. Much better. They are pricey, but we were able to get our economically from Ebay. If we ever find ourselves without power like friends on the east coast, we will be able to continue hopefully without a hitch.

Doing things on purpose to achieve the things for which you plan. I hope everyone will consider if what they are spending their time and energy doing is getting them what they want and/or need.