To My Wonderful DH

I have an incredibly wonderful husband and I'll tell you why, I hate cleaning, I mean HATE, I've been trying to do better and using all the great advice from FlyLady has really helped but I'm just not there yet and what with how hard this pregnancy has been on me I've been doing worse about dishes and anything else that could possibly trigger my gag reflex with the only exception being my DD's diapers, I'm not that depraved.
So what has my DH's response been, esp. since he hates cleaning too?  I'll tell you, he's been cleaning everyday for at least 5 min to take care of whatever is in most need of help and attention and then cleaning while I napped this weekend.  He hasn't given me a hard time about the mess, he's just helped.  It may not always be as much help as I need and he still won't touch the dishes, he hates them even more than I do, but as far as I'm concerned he's still my "knight in shining armor" for coming to my rescue and saving me from the mess that I've been either to tired or too nauseous to deal with.  I think I'll keep him, what do you think?

DD and Her Independent Spirit

You know that song "I Did it My Way"?  well, that song sums up my DD pretty well, she knows who she is and what she wants and she'll do it all by herself if you give her half a chance and she's not even two yet.  

This past Thursday she insisted on painting her own nails, well, about 3/4 since she's been right handed from six months old,
(all pictures are from my phone, sorry)

and then Friday, when she woke up she insisted on wearing one of her big brothers green t-shirts and tried to get him to change into another one so they could match and then proceeded to get one of my eyeshadow compacts and one of my eyeshadow brushes and brought them to me to see if I'd let her use it.  I did, with supervision.

I figure that since she's determined to do it all on her her own anyway I'm better off moderating her efforts than constantly running after her yelling "NO" and finding new ways to keep her out of everything.

(This is her improvising a stool when none were around and 
she wanted to play with the bubbles while I did dishes.)
It's a trash can.

I sure love my t-shirt and pearls kind of girl.

Tuesday Movies and Nanny McPhee

Tuesdays at any Regal Cinemas location is only $5 all day so yesterday was a great day for me to take my kiddos since my dd generally gets too rambunctious and just can't sit through a whole movie.  I figured that since I had liked the first Nanny McPhee pretty well and I love Emma Thompson that this one would be a good one to watch at a discount, not super high expectations but I was hopeful.

Well, my expectations were far exceeded, not only did I like this one better than the first but my dd actually sat through the whole movie with very little fuss, I hadn't even bought snacks to keep her happy.  I actually cried at the end, I'm pregnant so I may be more sensitive than usual, it really was a great little family flick.
It was very well written and the imagery was just wonderful, I love how they use such bright saturated colors in everything.  I give it three thumbs up one for me and one for each of my kiddos.

Souper Cheap Healthy Meals

I'm sitting here typing this while I eat my third bowl of soup, soup is an amazing food, it's comforting, it's filling, it can be hot or cold, creamy or brothy, or somewhere in between, it's really easy and you can make it with any flavors and ingredients you have on hand.

Today my soup was inspired by my kids favorite version of macaroni and cheese, with tuna and peas in it, I wasn't in te mood for a cheese soup and my son wanted couscous in it so I grabbed a can of cream of chicken soup, a can of tuna, frozen peas and whole wheat couscous.  I dumped in the can of soup and two cans of water, I only wanted it a little creamy, about a cup of frozen peas and the can of tuna, water and all and put the burner on high.  While I was waiting for the soup to come to a boil I threw in plenty of seasonings: Mrs. Dash, lemon pepper, ginger, garlic, onion powder, paprika, chile powder and some lime juice because I was craving citrus.  As soon as it cam to a boil I stirred in a heaping 1/4 cup of couscous, turned off the stove and waited 5 minutes for the couscous to cook.  VOILA!!!  Totally healthy, yummy, filling soup in only 10 minutes.  It would have been cheaper if I had simply added some milk and chicken bullion but I was out of milk and the soup was a nice shortcut.

Tuna and Pea Soup with Couscous

  • 1 can of Cream of Chicken Soup or milk and Chicken bullion's or broth
  • 1 can of Tuna in water
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup heaping of Couscous
  • Season as you prefer, if using a new spice or seasoning be sure to start with just a tiny bit until you get the hang of how much you like.
You could make the whole thing for just over $1 or a little over $2 depending on if you use the canned soup and what seasonings you use.  Makes about 5 servings at about $.25-$.45 per serving.

A few other great soup recipes:

  • Tomato Juice
  • pasta, like macaroni, shells, wheels, farfalle, etc.
  • beans, like kidney, black eye peas, white, pinto, etc.
  • frozen veggie mix, I like the green bean, carrots and pea mix
  • Onion, diced and sautéed in the pan before adding the juice
  • Water
  • Herbs and Spices, to your taste.
You just need to add enough water for the pasta so that it doesn't make the soup too thick but you can cook the pasta separately or let it get thicker, it's up to you.  It's really that easy.

Spinach and Bean Soup
  • Water
  • Milk
  • White beans or Black eye peas
  • frozen Spinach
  • Celery Seed, just a dash
  • Herbs and Spices how you like
I actually used cream of celery soup the first time I made it but it tastes great with the milk and celery seeds too.  If you have a little one who loves the color green, like my son, you can puree the thawed spinach with a little water for a nice green color.

  • Taco Seasoning Mix
  • Cooked Beans
  • Tomato Juice
  • Ground Beef, Turkey or Chicken
  • Onion
Cook up the meat and onion then add the taco seasoning and let it heat up a bit to really bring out the flavor, add everything else, bring to a boil and you're done.

Cheesy Roasted Potato Soup

In a previous post HERE

Feel free to post your own favorite soup recipes in the comments.

How to Eat Healthy On a Very Tight Budget (part two)

-- 11  Eat smarter not harder, smaller portions, eating protein first and high fiber last gets you full faster and keeps you full longer; knowing how much you actually need of each food group, like only 8 ounces of protein per day or only 1 1/2 cups of milk for toddlers, all helps you save money and be healthier too.

-- 12  Buy Generic food and store brands. They taste like brand name foods, sometimes better, but they’ll save you money on packaging & advertising.

-- 13  Buy supplementsThey can be cheap and make your life easier but make sure the bulk of your diet consists of whole, unprocessed foods.  Whey is the cheapest protein you’ll find, put some in a smoothie for a cheap but complete and filling breakfast. Fish Oil is cheaper than fish, so take them when your budget or palate doesn't allow them, just before bed to avoid the "fish burps".  Vitamin deficiency is common, Vitamin D esp. right now, so taking a multi-vitamin can help you make sure that there aren't any gaps in your nutritional needs.

-- 14  Buy calorie and nutrition dense foods.  Whole milk, potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat pasta & rolled oats are very filling.  Fruits and veggies like blueberries and yams are high in nutrients.

-- 15  Always read the ingredients, avoid foods that are full of fillers instead of real food, like most ketchup has a lot of High Fructose Corn Syrup that is mostly there as a filler but Hunt's has one that has no added sodium or high fructose corn syrup and it tastes great too.

-- 16  Shop the discounts, meat, bread, and many other things go for a lot cheaper when they are getting close to their expiration or sell by dates, look for those first.

-- 17  Get the Customer Card and only shop at one place unless you are going there already, you may save a little going to that other store for a couple of items that are cheaper there but once you add the cost of gas, extra wear and tear on your car and the extra time you usually save more by just getting it all at once.

-- 18  *Play the "grocery game", clip coupons and use them in conjunction with sales to get the best price possible.  There's a website called The Grocery Game that is a great way to get you started if you think you need help.  I started there and now do it on my own and my grocery bills were cut in half while I was actually buying more.

-- 19  Check the unit price, it's amazing how often something looks cheaper but actually costs more when you break it down.  Like two boxes of pasta, one is $.50 less but it is actually one ounce less which makes it more per ounce than the other box.

-- 20  Stop buying food out, make your own meals and take them with you instead.  Taking your lunch to work, keeping healthy snacks like nuts in the car and your purse can save you from buying

-- 21  Stick to your list and eliminate impulse buying, the easiest way to do this is to do your shopping online and pick up your groceries or have them delivered, you'll save for more on the things you don't buy and the time and gas you save than you spend on the fees you pay for the service.  Even if you can't do this make sure that you make a list and keep strictly to it, if it's not on the list it doesn't go in the cart.

*   (Although most of my recipes say how much they cost I am stating the cost without sales or savings, I haven't included how much I saved with coupons or anything I grew on my own.)

How to Eat Healthy On a Very Tight Budget

--When you can buy a burger for a $1 or feed a family of 5 for $3.50 using cheap fatty meats and Hamburger Helper but it costs $4 for a bag of grapes or a package of spinach, and $3 for a bunch of broccoli, it can seem like eating healthy is only for those with plenty of $ to spend.  I am here to tell you that this doesn't have to be the case, you can eat very healthy and spend less than you spend on the stuff the food industry passes off for food.

There are many things that add to this since most of us eat on plates the size that used to be our grandparents serving platters which gets us eating more than we actually need along with the fact that most of us are filling up on foods that don't give us what we need and so our bodies tell us we are hungry even though we've eaten lots of calories because our food is devoid of actual nutrition.  (Did you know that an apple you buy in the store today has as many calories but only half the nutrition of an apple only 50 years ago? So even "healthy" food is lacking in nutrition unless you grow it yourself.)  If you eat very much fast food and processed foods, those foods are also created to get you to eat and crave them more than you would if they were made more "homemade" style.  All of this also has massive effects on our medical costs so we more than make up for what we save today on cheap "food" with what we spend tomorrow on Dr's visits, medication, surgeries, and lost quality of life.

--First thing you need to do when looking to save $ on your groceries while eating healthy is to flip the way we usually think of breakfast, lunch and supper.  Instead of eating a big meal in the evening you should eat the way my mom taught me, she said "eat like a king in morning, a queen for lunch and a pauper at night."  This way of eating is not only easier on our budgets but is great for our health as well.  Proteins like eggs are cheaper than the meats we typically eat for dinner and since our blood sugar levels and metabolism are set in the morning, having a big healthy breakfast sets us up for success for the rest of the day.

--The second thing was already touched on, buying cheaper proteins like eggs, milk, cottage cheese, beans, soy, peanut butter, etc.

--Third, rethink where you buy your food, buy in bulk, if you can't go through some of the things fast enough or it's too expensive to get started then find a friend or two to split it with, sometimes I can buy things at the wholesale clubs for just over half of what I'd pay somewhere else.  You can also save a lot buy buying at closeout stores, I've gotten some great pickles at the dollar store.

--  buy frozen and canned, Frozen fruits and veggies can be up to half the price of fresh and since most of them are picked when fully ripe and then frozen right away they have more nutrition and flavor as well.  Some Canned foods like tomatoes and tomato sauce and paste save a lot of time, are great in recipes and on the wallet, they also taste better and have more nutrition as well.  Other canned fruits and veggies are generally more expensive by actual weight, esp. once you've poured off the liquid, than fresh so I only recommend tomatoes, plus they are generally soft and flavorless.

--  Buy whole unprocessed foods like plain yogurt, pasta, rice, beans, oil, nuts, oats, chicken, etc.  You can buy these whole foods in bulk as well and store them, since they are your basics you can use them in almost any kind of meal.

--  When buying fresh only buy what is in season.

-- 7  *Plant a garden, when you grow your own herbs, fruits and vegetables it not only saves you tons of money but  it has other benefits as well, it can be very relaxing, it adds oxygen, it is very rewarding, and food you grew yourself tastes better and typically has about double the nutrition of fresh produce from the store.  I only had a tiny concrete patio one year but I was still able to grow 4 tomato plants, 7 different herbs and lots of lettuce, all in containers.  This cost me about $50 to get all the supplies but I had so many herbs that I dried plenty for the rest of the year, enough tomatoes to give away and can some, and  the lettuce was so good that everybody I gave some to said that they had no idea lettuce could be so full of flavor and crunchy.  I saved about $100 even after subtracting the food I gave away.

-- 8  Plan ahead, make a menu for the week or even month, plan your shopping after making an inventory of what you already have so that you don't buy multiples and waste food.  Make double portions and then eat the leftovers soon, freeze them and eat them later or use them in another meal.

-- 9  Soda and other flavored drinks like punch, even juice, may taste great but they aren't so good for you, soda is the worst since it causes you to retain water, retards your absorption of oxygen, and caffeine is a diuretic so it makes you dehydrated; even juice has the same calories as soda or punch so it's only good in moderation.  Milk may be touted as a super healthy drink but it contains as much sugar as soda and twice as much if you drink the flavored ones so even milk needs to be in moderation, instead drink tap water, it's calorie free, really cheap and just what your body needs.

-- 10  Time is also money, keep it simple, instead of making complicated recipes save those for special occasions and make most of your meals with only about five ingredients.

*   (Although several of my recipes say how much they cost I am stating the cost without sales or savings, I haven't included how much I saved with coupons or anything I grew on my own.)

Roasted Potato Soup

This is one of my family's absolutely favorite soups.  It's super easy to make since I start off with leftovers from a previous breakfast.  I start by getting my big pot out and saute half a chopped onion and celery in a pan, celery optional, and then I add chicken/ veggie stock, milk, canned cheddar cheese soup, actual cheese and those hash brown cubes you get in the frozen section of your grocery store that I've already cooked up nice and brown for breakfast the day or two before along with just a little bit of bacon.  Now is the perfect time to throw in some veggies like broccoli or pureed veggies like cauliflower or yellow squash.  Heat up slowly until bubbling and it's done.  Top with bacon, a little more cheese and even a dollop of sour cream, as Rachel would say "Yummo".

A couple of tips:  If you've ever read the ingredients to Kraft's Macaroni and Cheese you've seen that the cheeses they use are cheddar, parmesan, and blue, I know that the blue may seem counterintuitive but it really adds to the "cheddaryness" of the soup or sauce your making, I also ALWAYS use sharp if not extra sharp cheddar because you can use a lot less cheese and that means you get all the flavor without all of the saturated fats and no gross fats and oils floating on top of your beautiful soup.

I don't know the calorie count but the run down is:

$3 Hash Browns for two meals
$3 Bacon for two meals
$3 Stock
$1.50 Milk
$1.70 Cheddar Cheese soup
$ .50 Onion for two meals
$3 Cheddar Cheese, Parmesan and Blue Cheese 
(you only need a little bit of the parmesan and even less of the blue)

Total= $15.70
Servings= about 8-10
which makes it:
$1.50 - $2 per serving

Morning Sickness Ends @ 13 Weeks My Foot!!!

I've finally gotten over that nagging feeling that I'm going to throw up at any minute 24/7 but what hasn't let up at all and in fact has gotten worse is my gag reflex. Milk of ANY KIND can send me running for the toilet and since two toddlers drink milk at least twice a day I've had to resort to having my DH make up their milk cups for me so that the kids can get them themselves and I have as little contact with the stuff as possible. This sensitivity has posed many new problems, I have to take extra calcium supplements and an extra prenatal vitamin every couple of days.

In addition to my gag reflex I have also developed a very STRONG aversion to anything with sugar in it, this has also made me run to the bathroom to purge any of the sugar from my system and has denied me absolutely all of the sweet treats that I love of which the list is very short. I actually lost my sweet tooth years ago with only a few exceptions that I just could never pass up when available but now even these are just a faint memory until this "sugar allergy" finally goes away.

When you add to this already frustrating list a craving for all things protein, meats, nuts, beans, this has all the makings of a very interesting and very long pregnancy. On the bright side, I'll probably have plenty of funny stories to tell from it though.

Better Than Granola!

I really LOVE yogurt with granola the only problem is that granola is high in fat and sugar and adding that to an already quite sugary fruit yogurt is just not a very healthy dish so I've been on the look out for an alternative that is at least low in fat, high in fiber and will give me that crunchy nutty flavor that is the whole reason I love granola in my yogurt in the first place.

Well, I finally found something that fits the bill perfectly for me, it's called Uncle Sam Cereal. It's made with toasted whole grain wheat flakes and flaxseed, it's high in Omega-3's and fiber and low in sodium and sugar (with less than 1g sugars). Best of all, the flakes and flaxseed stay crispy and crunchy.  Of course I can't really say just how long they stay crunchy since I loved it so much that I gobbled it up pretty fast.