Menu Planning Resources to Save You Money

Menu Planning Resources to Save You Money

Public service announcement, real food is not cheap!

Okay, now that we’ve covered that, let’s move on. I was recently chatting with a few readers on our facebook page (if you’re not over there I’ve love you for you to join us!) about what the hardest thing about cooking more real food was. The overwhelming response was money. It’s true real food isn’t cheap.

It’s hard living in a society where the average household spend about 13% of their income on food where as families that are trying to feed their families non-processed foods have to spend much more. Did you know that about 60 years ago the average house hold spend 34% off their income on foods? Back then there was far less processed junk out there to lure people in and convince them that it was okay.

When my parents were growing up most families still ate home cooked meals. Sure restaurant, freezer meals, cereal and other connivence foods were out their but it was not nearly as common to make those items staples. They were special treats. My mom remembers how spacial it was on the very rare occasion when my grandma would let their family of 9 pick out a freezer meal to eat. Restaurants were a every few years experience for them so freezer meals were extremely special. The thing is that my grandma only bought them a couple of times a year.

The rest of the year was filled with good, yet simple home cooked meals with just a few sweets sprinkled in the mix. Looking back my grandma sure had it right.

A simpler way of life is what I am all about but at the same time I acknowledge that it is HARD to slow down. Shops are open later, our work hours are different from what they used to be and sports teams have about a million more practices.I get that. That is why I think menu planning is a must for anyone. Even a single gal.

Top 5 Reasons to Menu Plan

  1. You save money
  2. You eat better
  3. You save time
  4. You are more aware of what you have
  5. It allows for flexibility

I have gone back and forth with menu planning. Every time I plan out my meals a week or longer in advance, I eat better and waste less. Please tell me that I’m not the only one that has found a squishy vegetable in the back of the drawer or a fuzzy container mystery food in the back of the fridge. They thing is I wish I was alone in that. When ever we waste food we are wasting time and money.

Food going bad is money down the drain. It also is a waste of your time for preparing it or a waste of time of the person who grew it. Please don’t feel bad bout the times this has happened to you, remember I’ve been in the same boat. The goal is to get out of the boat.

With constant menu planning you will find that you save money, eat more nourishing and waste less.

“Okay, so that’s all good Katie Mae but how do you expect me to start?”

I’m so glad you asked! I’m sure by now some little birdie has told you about this thing called “The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle”. If they haven’t, what rock have you been living under? 😉 All the same I’m excited to share some resources that are in it that will help you make a grocery budget ( ’cause those things are important), menu plan, make nourishing and tasty meals all  while saving money!

There are so many awesome blogs out there written by even more awesome and amazing people that I am privlagded to call my colleges and friends. They are ready to help you along the way to successful menu planning and saving money on real food.

I just got down reading Tiffany’s 22 Days to a Fresh Start ($1.99 value) and loved it! It reminded me of ways I need to cut back on waste so I can have a fresh start as well. Meal Planning Made Easy! ($7.95 value) written by the sweet Kelly of The Nourishing Home is chalked full of helpful hints and tips to menu plan like a pro. The good old List PlanIt ($5.00 value) is just that, glorious lists to put what you’ve learned from these two ladies into practice!

22-Days-to-a-Fresh-Start  Meal-Planning-Made-Easy Meals-ePlanner

Once you’ve got a budget in place and want to start planning meals you need recipes right? Never fear, there are so many great options to pick from! I haven’t read each cookbook yet but that’s okay. (I may just end up passing them along for some else to enjoy.) I want to point out my tried and true favourites.

I am a fan of almost everything Kimi of The Nourishing Gourmet creates. She is a sweet woman with a talent for creating nourishing meals that are so good! I own both of her print books about Salads and Soups and her ebooks as well. A few meals in Everday Nourishing Food ($4.99 value) are a bit more on the gourmet side, look those as a healthy and cost-effective way to have fancy meal out that would cost SO much more. Kimi, also has a simple and regular fair in her book that follows eating with the seasons, another great way to save money on food.

Shay’s book From Scratch ($9.99) is a jewel. I love to sit and look at the pictures from their farm and kitchen. She teaches you how to make tasty meals in your own kitchen. I’ve had the print edition for over a year now and love it! Learn from Shay how to make basic staples that you may be used to buying from the store.

Mandi’s Easy. Homemade. ($5.99 value) is just that! Think of something buy in a store, coffee shop or restaurant and I bet she’s covered it! You are never going to want to buy bread crumbs, mayo, pesto, chocolate syrup or seasoning mixes again. These are so much better for you, cost less to make and taste a gazillion times better.

Everyday-Nourishing-Food

From-ScratchEasy-Homemade

Just these 5 books together would cost over $35 and it would be well worth it but with the bundle sale you get these 6 books plus 74 other resources and $200 worth of bonus products for $29.97! For that price it’s okay if every resource isn’t what you want or need. You have the freedom to pick and choose what you want to download to keep. If you want you can always gift the ones you don’t want to a friend. This sale is 95% off the regular price of everything together.

13 Tips for Hiking with Kids

13 Tips for Hiking with Kids

I love hiking! It must be in my blood since my dad spent a summer backpacking before he met my mom. I am nowhere near that hard-core but I do enjoying camping or a good day hike. Growing up we went camping and hiking a lot. While I was living in Mexico my girls and I took many short hikes into the hills behind our home.

Hiking is always an adventure with kids. It’s good to be prepared for whatever you might face on your hike. Today we have 13 Tips for Hiking with Kids that are sure to give you a place to start from next time you plan a hike with your kids!

1. Wear good shoes

Good shoes are vital for hiking. Little flats with no traction on the soles are going to send your kiddos sliding if they hit loose soil, gravel or a slick rock. They also give you no arch support leaving feet tired and sore way before you are done. If it’s going to be a long hike through lots of brush then they need a good pair closed toe boots. If you are going on more of a gentle hike sandals like these Keens or Chacos work great! I have a pair of each and have used them for light hikes for about 8 years now. My Chacos traveled all over Israel with me for two weeks a few summers ago. On that same trip one of my friends had on Keens and we both felt fine after hiking many miles each day.

2. See things from their perspective

Some my greatest memories hiking with my girls comes from stopping with the littlest ones and seeing the things they see and letting them express their joy over the view or whatever they may have found. New found pleasures and joy are just waiting to be discovered! I get a kick out of the stories some of them tell about the little mouse they saw it how they imagined it’s life.

3. Bring water

I don’t care how short of a hike it is, bring water. This is not a suggestion, it’s a must. You never know when someone might twist an ankle or break a bone leaving you stranded for a few hours until help can be found. A water bottle with a quality filter is the best way to bring water on a hike especially if you know you will be near fresh water. One of the only water filters I trust is the Bereky water filter. Bereky makes great water bottles that each person can carry.

13 Tips for Hiking with Kids

4. Bring snacks

Snacks keep your energy up and are a fun thing to look forward to when you plan on taking a break. Thing like beef jerky or beef/turkey sticks (I like Nick’s sticks, they are made from grass feed meat and Reals Salt) give you a protein boost and aren’t messy. A few fun/special snacks are great too, like a homemade granola bar. Even though chocolate is the perfect treat most days, I don’t pack very often unless I know it’s going to be a cool day. No one likes melted chocolate making a mess all over  everything. Soaked and dehydrated nuts and dried fruit are also great stable snacks to bring.

5. Bring a first aid kit

You never know who will trip and skin a knee, get into poison ivy, stung by a wasp or twist an ankle. It is good to be prepared for whatever might happen. Serafina shared about her herbal medicine chest, that is a good place to start for deciding what to put in your kit.

A few staples that I like to bring are:

6. Go over rules

Set rules for your kids before you even leave the house. You might want to even review them again before you start your hike. Your kids need to know what is okay and what is not. Take into consideration their age and responsibility level. I have always felt blessed by my girls not going too far off and paying attention.

7. Don’t plans something too intense

Unless your kids are used to hiking it’s important to remember that they might not be up for too intense of a hike. Kids (or adults for that matter) who aren’t used to hiking or just have little legs need more breaks. It’s normal for them to feel the hike in their muscles or to have the need for more water and rest breaks when they are not in shape, used to the altitude or so much activity.

8. Pack toilet paper and resealable bags

Without fail it’s hard to take a hike and not have at least one person needing to go to the bathroom. Toilet paper and a resealable bag to pack the soiled paper out with are a must. A small trowel to cover the #2 is a good idea as well.

Hiking3

9.  Dress appropriately

Be aware of the weather where you are going to be hiking and how long you will be gone. When I was hiking in Baja we were in a very hot and dry area most of the year so layers weren’t quite as important, often tank tops helped us cool off. Rattle snakes LOVED our hills so we wore jeans most of the time. If we were up in the mountains any time of year we would dress in layers that can be peeled off or added as the day went on.

10. Leave no trace

Please don’t let your kids litter while on your hike. It spoils God’s beautiful creation and makes it unlovely for the next person that comes along. It might also harm the wild life. We try to be carefull not to mess up too much brush or flowers as well. Though a few flowers usually find their way home with us. (Check rules for the area you are hiking in if it’s okay to collect things or not.)

11. Identify plant life

If you have been around Nourishing Simplicity for very long you will know that we are all about herbs. It is so much fun and a great teaching lesson to learn to identify plant life with your kids. Learning what plants are for cooking and healing is just as important as learning which plants to avoid. Poison Ivy for example is nasty to come in contact with but Jewel Weed which grows near by helps sooth the itch.

12. Be encouraging

Sometimes kids need a bit of encouragement and motivation to keep going. When one of my new girls moved in she was not accustom to hiking so we had to take things a bit slower at first and encourage her. She ended up having fun and running around with the best of them.

13. Bring a camera

There are sure to be special memories just waiting to be captured. Plus it’s great to take photos of the scenery and plants when you are learning how to identify them.

* Bonus- See everyone’s ability

Often people assume those who have limitations just can’t do something. While at times that can be true it’s not the absolute rule at all times. My hikes while living in Mexico normally consisted of 12-16 kids. The last year or so I had kids ages 4-19 with me. They are all deaf and for those of you that might want to know, it wasn’t an issue. My girls know the rules for when we hike and if I needed someone in the front’s attention I simply tapped the girl in front of me who got the attention of someone else who called the person I needed to talk to or just passed on the message.

I also had two girls that have no peripheral vision. They know that they have to be more aware of their surroundings and look around more. Another was my girls has a semi low functioning type of autism Even though it was a new experience for her she was happy because she was with the people that she knows, loves and trusts. Almost all of my girls loved hiking or at least started to half way through our time. They never let anything get in the way of just enjoying a good hike like any other kid.

Exciting News!!!

Hiking is a great way to get exercise, soak up Vitamin D and teach your kids healthy habits. Next week The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is going be on sale. It is packed with resources to that will help you take even more control of your health!

The book list is AMAZING! I’m just saying… It’s always an amazing source of information, videos, resources and deals. This year is no exception. You are not going to want to miss it! I can’t wait to get my hands on this deal as well!

What makes this year so special is that you can get a copy for free! When you share my link you get your own code that allows you to share the Healthy Living Bundle with your family and friends. If you refer one friend you receive $5 off your bundle! If you refer 5 friends you receive a 12-session audio conference. If you refer 10 people you get the Healthy Living Bundle for FREE!

Sounds like a good deal right? You can sign up now to get an email as soon as the sale starts!

This is where you click to sign up—————>

http://healthylivingbundle.com?ref=69170aaeac

 

 What are your tips for hiking with kids?

 

Weekend Links

C.S. Lewis Weeknd Links

Faourite Links

Deviled Eggs with Bacon @ Simple Foody

Take the Rose @ Five in Tow

Healthy Chocolate Mint Truffles @ Worth Cooking

Rule of 10: An Easy Formula to Simplifying Your Wardrobe @ Richly Rooted

Rule of 10: An Easy Formula for Simplifying Your Wardrobe – See more at: http://richlyrooted.com/2014/08/rule-of-10.html#sthash.QRtavQ8n.dpuf
Rule of 10: An Easy Formula for Simplifying Your Wardrobe – See more at: http://richlyrooted.com/2014/08/rule-of-10.html#sthash.QRtavQ8n.dpuf
Rule of 10: An Easy Formula for Simplifying Your Wardrobe – See more at: http://richlyrooted.com/2014/08/rule-of-10.html#sthash.QRtavQ8n.dpuf

Favourite Deals

I’ve been using Lilla Rose flexi clips for about four years now, before that I admired them for a few years. Right now they are having a sale on new and retiring styles making it perfect time to try one for yourself! They work for all hair types and come in many different sizes and styles.

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How to Can Peaches in a Simple Honey Syrup

How to Can Peaches in a Simple Honey Syrup

Peaches are the fruit I look most forward to in the summertime! Well, I guess I have to add in strawberries, cherries and nectarines as well.

California’s Central Valley has some of the best summer fruit in the nation! I beg to differ that our peaches might even be better than Georgia’s but I’ve never been there so I better watch what I say!

There is one thing I know, you can.not. buy peaches from the store! No questions asked, if you do and you’re happy with them you don’t what you are missing out on. If I can’t buy them fresh and local there is no way I am even eating them. I tried that once, big mistake.

Peaches are the perfect summer fruit, sadly their growing season is short. There are five options:

  1.  You enjoy them in the summer and that is the end of them
  2. You freeze
  3. You dry them
  4. You make fruit leather
  5. You can them

As much as I love and promote eating with the seasons sometimes it is nice to have a bit of peach sometime later on in the year.

Fresh Peaches

I have very limited freezer space so I only freeze a few gallon size bags of peaches each year. The past few years I have either dried, made fruit leather or canned peaches. My prefered form of preservation is canning.

Canned peaches are the perfect after dinner dessert or topping for oatmeal. Most store-bought canned peaches are canned in high-frutose corn syrup. Then there is the BPA concern so I haven’t bought peaches from the store in years. When I was little we did get to eat some that were canned in a light syrup ever so often. I like to make a simple honey syrup for my peaches. Sometimes I’ve run out and just canned them in water and not noticed the difference.

Organic peaches are always preferred but can be a bit pricey. I tend to haunt the farmer’s market and buy peaches from the “sceconds” bin. Seconds are fruit that are bruised or otherwise blemished making them not able to be sold full price. I’ve found that many time there are only slight bruising or spot so I always buy them. I end up only paying 1/4 of the price!  It makes the farmer happy to be rid of it while at least getting a bit of money and it makes me happy too since I’m saving lots of money.

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How to Can Peaches in a Simple Honey Syrup
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Peel your peaches. You can peel them with a paring knife which is what I normally do since I am using bruised fruit. You could also freeze them whole for about an hour and them rub the skin off under running water. Lastly you could put them in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds and then place them in a bowl of ice water for another 30 seconds. Pick the peach up and the skin will come right of.
  2. Cut your peaches. You can cut them in half or slice them to your desired thickness. Place them in a bowl.
  3. Fill each jar with your cut peaches. Pour the lemon juice over the peaches. Use 1 teaspoon for each pint jar and 2 teaspoons for each quart jar.
  4. Bring the lids/seals to a gentle simmer.
  5. Bring the honey and water to a simmer to make a "syrup". Once the honey is dissolved turn off the heat.
  6. Pour the hot syrup into each jar, just filling to where the threads of the jar start.
  7. Wipe the rim and place the seal and lid on the jar. Twist on the ring, being sure not to make it too tight.
  8. Place the jars in a water bath canner or pressure canner without the lid.
  9. Cover the jars with water and bring to a boil for 20 to 30 minutes.
  10. Remove the jars from the pot with a jar clamp and place on a counter or table covered with a dish towel.
  11. Allow to fully cool and seal before storing away.
  12. If you have never heard a jar seal before, it is music to the ears!

Have you tried canning before? What is your favorite thing to can?

 

 

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday, Wildcrafting Wednesday,

 

 

 

How to Save Money on Real Food Part 1

HowtoSaveMoneyonRealFoodNS1

The journey to eating real food always needs to be filled with grace. There are many ways to save on real food, organic and non-organic alike. Over the next couple weeks I will be sharing tips on how to save money on real food that will nourish your family and keep your budget in check.

Teaching people to make wise choices in purchases and learning how to use basic foods that we normally wouldn’t think to save like bones and vegetable peels is a bit of a passion of mine. I remember the first time I saw the cook at the school where I served in Mexico tossing the bones and offal from the chicken she was cutting up. I asked her why she didn’t save them to make stock. It turns out no one had ever taught her, she was just doing what everyone around her did. The next time she made chicken she giddily showed me the broth she had made from the bones and offal that she was going to use in our rice that day. Sometimes a person just needs to be taught. It is my hope that “mis hijas” in Mexico will rememer the things I taught them.

You might remember the book I co-authored this year, Frugal Secrets of Real Foodies. It is full of more in-depth tips, how-tos and recipes how to save money on real food. It also includes the authors’ personal stories on how we came to eat real food and save money while doing so.

Consider today’s post and next weeks a crash course while the book will take you a bit deeper.

Join a  Natural Foods Co-op

The word co-op has been part of my vocabulary since I was a little girl. It is hard to remember a time when my family didn’t belong to one. Azure Standard is by far (in my opinion) the best natural foods co-op out there! The have good rates, a wide and I mean wide verity of items chose from and you can buy small to very large amounts. If I want to try a new brand of coconut milk and only want one jar, that’s no problem or if  I really like something I can buy a few flats of it. Since Azure Standard is based out of Oregon there is no sales tax. An added bonus it that there is no shipping! Once a month you send your order in and meet the driver at a designated drop point to pick up your things.

My Top Azure Picks:

  • Wheat Berries
  • Sucanat
  • Apples
  • 5 gallon buckets with Gamma Seal Lids
  • Coconut Milk
  • Chicken Feed
  • Real Salt

Save Veggie Scraps

Don’t throws veggie scraps away! Peelings, bits and pieces of vegetables like carrots, onions and celery make great additions to stocks. Cilantro roots and stems give amazing flavor to rice and soups. A little bit of leftover herbs can be blender with butter to make an amazing herb butter!

Save Bones

Bone-broth is so incredibly good for you! I can’t even begin to enumerate the reasons why I believe that everyone needs to eat it at least a  few times a week. Homemade broths and stocks are the foundation for delicious soups and stews. They are also very frugal to make. Cartons of broth from the store are lack luster and cost up to $4 for a 16 oz carton.

I use a lot of chicken broth in my cooking so anytime I have chicken on the bone I save the bones in a zip lock bag and store them in the freezer until I have enough to make a pot of broth. Some may find it gross to reuse bones that have already been “chewed” on but the freezer and cooking process will kill any germs that might have been on the bone.

Buy off the Clean 15

I don’t know anyone who can afford to buy 100% organic food.  That is why the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen List come in hand. If I can afford to buy the items on the Dirty Dozen I will. If not I pass them over and buy off the Clean 15. I try to follow this for grocery stores, farmer’s markets and farms alike. Sometimes though I still really want that orange even though I can’t afford the organic ones so I buy it, eat it and am grateful for it.

Buy in Season and Local

Buying in season will save you money where ever you go. It will also ensure that your food tastes better. Have you ever eaten a peach in the middle of winter? Blach!!! I can’t even go there. It just doesn’t taste right. Peaches can’t grow in the winter which means they were shipped from somewhere that is  warm and picked before it’s prime.

This also ties into eating local. I remember visiting an aunt in the mid-west one summer, she was raving about a plum that she had bought at the store. I enjoy a good plum so I bit into one. I was taken aback by the bland flavor. When I looked that the box I saw an area code from somewhere just south of where I live in California. In order for the plum to get to Missouri and still look pretty without spoiling the plum had to be picked before it’s prime just like peaches you buy in the winter. Picking fruit before it’s prime also decreases the nutritional value. I love buying fruit at the local stands in the summer. They are less expensive and bursting with flavor, plus you are helping a local farmer!

Buy Seconds

Buying in season and local may save you some money but at times it still costs too much. Organic local peaches cost $2.50/lb in my area. Yet if I buy “seconds” AKA bruised fruit I only pay 75 cent/lb! Many times there is one little nick or blemish in the fruit so the farmer sets it aside. I bought about 24 lbs of fruit from my farmer one week for only $15! Most of the fruit was in near perfect condition. You can also look at the grocery store for marketed down items that are almost to their expiration point that the store wants to get rid of.

 Stay tuned for Part 2 next Monday!

 

 Now it’s your turn! What are your real food money-saving tips?

 This post is part of Fat Tuesday,