How to Go Gluten-Free

As a part-time Eat to Live disciple (part-time as my budget allows! Some months I have to make our meals stretch with pasta or rice…), I have made an effort to eliminate breads from my diet. I quit buying store-bought bread and began making homemade bread for my husband’s lunchtime favorite: PB&J sandwiches. When eating out, I refuse to eat the bread/rolls/fillers before my entree comes. I stopped buying graham crackers and Cheerios for my daughter to snack on.

In preparing a meal for a new mother with a baby who suffers from a terrible acid reflux issue, I just stumbled upon The Gluten-Free Goddess’ blog. It’s filled with TONS of recipes, as well as important details on the GF diet. She also teaches you how to bake with GF products and provides a cheat sheet of GF essentials.

What I loved the most about her site is the link entitled, “How to Go Gluten-Free.” Check it out! It’s filled with great information to help guide you through what can be a very confusing maze. Here’s a link to her blog: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/p/how-to-go-g-free.html

Good luck on your journey to nutritional wellness.

 

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Ways to Save, Part IV

This is the fourth and final part of a series of posts about saving money for Christmas.

Part IV: Cleaning

1.) Stop buying commercial cleaners. The ads on tv have convinced us we need a specific cleaner for each specific room/item/floor/surface of our house. NOT TRUE! Vinegar, baking soda, and Borax – these are pretty much all the things you need. I clean toilets, sinks, mirrors, floors, upholstery, and lots more surfaces with those items. Here’s a list of things you can clean with vinegar: http://www.diynatural.com/white-vinegar-cleaning-laundry-more/. It’s also healthier for you – no toxic fumes or worries about mixing harmful ingredients!

2.) Make your own baby/cleaning wipes. We do this on a regular basis (maybe twice a month). I love that I know what’s touching my baby’s sensitive areas. (PS – You can switch out the baby shampoo with a mix of vinegar water to make cleaning wipes for countertops, etc.) Here’s the recipe: http://www.homemademamas.net/2010/07/homemade-baby-wipes.html.

3.) Try cloth diapers. On paper, the savings were tremendous. Unfortunately, practicality just wasn’t on our side. We can’t afford to purchase a whole lot of the “new-fangled” diapers at once. I did try the old-fashioned safety pin and rubber pants method…for all of one week. I don’t know about babies in the 1950s, but mine is a SQUIRMER! She always tries to flip onto her tummy on the changing table, leaving me with horrible nightmares of eyes getting poked out by the safety pin. No thanks!

4.) Stop buying disposable Swiffer-type pads. You’re just filling up landfills with more trash! Just use a damp rag (or I’ve even seen a burp rag or receiving blanket you don’t use anymore cut to fit). You may even look into buying a robot vacuum to keep things clean when you don’t have time.

May the God of all grace bless you immeasurably more than you could have asked or imagine! ~Eph. 3:20-21

Ways to Save, Part III

This is part III of a series on how to save money for Christmas.

Part III: In the Kitchen

1.) Stop eating out so often. It’s healthier to eat at home, it’s cheaper to eat at home, and it’s more fulfilling to make it/bake it/cook it yourself.

2.) Get started on eMeals right away! Emeals is a program Dave Ramsey endorses that sends you a weekly shopping list and menu based on what’s on sale at the grocery stores this week. You can choose where you shop – Wal-Mart or Kroger, for instance – and other options, like Clean Eating or Low-Carb, etc. It tries to get your grocery budget (for 7 dinner-type meals) for that week at or around $60. Go to www.emeals.com to sign up now! They have a free trial offer.

3.) Make as much as you can from scratch. I have the time (what a valuable resource, I’m discovering!) to make things like breads and home-cooked meals, so that is one way I can decrease our living expenses. Stay away from convenient, pre-packaged foods, which are often full of sodium and saturated fats. Also, there are lots of accessible homemade seasonings recipes on the Internet these days. I make my own dry Ranch dressing mix, taco seasoning, and Italian seasoning. (Plus, it’s a lot healthier for you since you can control the amount of salt you put in.)

4.) Buy in bulk as you can. I bought a box of 5 dozen eggs at the beginning of this month, which was like paying under $1.00 per dozen. If you buy each dozen separately, you spend as much as $3 per carton! Sam’s Club is a good resource for us.

5.) Use your freezer. Instead of throwing away leftovers, freeze what is freezable for later in the month. Here’s a list of freezable foods: http://www.simpleorganizedliving.com/2011/02/10/freezable-foods/.

6.) Do the couponing thing, if that’s what you love to do. I don’t love the goose-chase of it all, and plus, I don’t buy a lot of brand name stuff because the store brand is often cheaper.

7.) Make your own dishwasher detergent. Yep – it’s super easy and only uses 4 ingredients. Recipe here: http://www.diynatural.com/homemade-dishwasher-detergent-soap/.

8.) Stop buying cokes, candy, ice cream, and other things that eat up your food money and aren’t good for you anyway. Just because Dr. Pepper is 3 for $10 at Albertsons doesn’t mean it’s any better for your body. Water is free!

9.) Do your oven cooking in the coolest parts of the day so your A/C doesn’t have to work as hard to keep your house cool.

10.) Keep a log of all the food you throw away. This will give you an idea of what you need to cut back on next trip to the store. One news special kept a hidden camera on the trash can to see the amount of food one family threw away. I think in a month’s time, approximately $1500 of food was wasted.

11.) Designate a day or a week for “Eating Whatever Is In The Pantry/Freezer/Fridge.” It may not look like much, but once you start pulling it out and putting ingredients next to each other, you may actually come up with a masterpiece! I love the option from Kraft Foods where you input the ingredients on hand and it finds recipes for you with those ingredients. I remember one time, when my cousin and family were moving from one house to another, she posted on her facebook wall that she was pulling everything out of the freezer, throwing it into a pot, and calling it “soup.” (She also included her apologies to her family.) So what’s in your freezer right now? Could you live off of that for a week? A couple of days? How about the pantry? College kids, Ramen noodles can be done lots of different ways! Just get creative!

12.) Use just your “tried and true” recipes, the ones that are easy to make and use few ingredients. Sure, I love this Chocolate Harvest Fruit-Topped Cake, but look at that ingredients list! It’s time consuming to make, it’s expensive to make, and, I know from experience, that it doesn’t last very long before spoiling.

13.) Skip those hard-to-find (read: expensive) ingredients, substituting them with something else. One time, I even substituted almond extract for vanilla in my husband’s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. I thought I was going to be in trouble…but he loved it!

Ways to Save, Part I

(For my facebook friends, I wrote a note about this last October.  Most of this information is repeated.)

You all know I LOVE Christmas.  I love the baking, the music, the lights, the festivities, the smells in the air, and the time with family and feeling like nothing matters – it’s Christmas!

But in order to get to this utopian mindset, I’ve discovered I must take care of my finances first.  As Dave Ramsey mentions in his FPU class on budgeting, we women have a gland related to money.  When money is short, or when there are money problems of any kind, the gland starts acting up and makes our faces squish up, making us look like we ate a lemon!  And then, what it does to our rhetoric to our husbands???  Oh wait, I’m not speaking theoretically anymore… :/

So I want to share with you, in a series of several posts, ways we save money to prepare to celebrate this wonderful season (that is less than 4 months away now) with no worries of money issues invading our happiness.

Part I: Around the House

1.) Put your tv/entertainment system and Internet power supplies on power strips.  TURN THEM OFF when not in use (including overnight).  We saw nearly a $50 savings in one month from this alone.

2.) UNPLUG YOUR CELL PHONE/COMPUTER/NOTEBOOK CHARGERS and other device chargers when not charging the device.  They draw power even if nothing is plugged in.

3.) Open the windows as much as possible to save on heating/cooling bills.  Again, we saw huge savings.

4.) If you must use the heater or A/C, use a programmable thermostat, and turn it up/down when there’s no one home.

5.) Instead of reaching for the thermostat, change your clothes or turn on a fan.  In warmer weather, keep the A/C at or above 74*, turn on fans, and keep the kids from running in and out.  In the cooler weather, put on sweats, socks, or even a stocking cap to keep warm and keep the heater down (like 68*).  Plus, you can cuddle under blankets on the couch with your sweetie or a mug of hot chocolate to stay warm!

6.) Unplug fans, Scentsy warmers, and anything else drawing power while not in use.

7.) Drop the expensive Smart Phone plan for your 10-year-old.  Ok, I’m exaggerating, but smart phones are literally causing some families to go hungry because of poor money management.  Read the article here: http://theweek.com/article/index/233979/are-smartphones-wrecking-family-budgets.

8.) Sell old clothes to a consignment store or use an auction site, like eBay.

9.) Have a garage sale (weather-permitting).  Literally pull stuff off the walls and get rid of things you don’t need.  If you haven’t used it in the last year, chances are you don’t need it!

10.) Clean out closets and the attic.  Use whatever you have for gift wrap, foregoing the wasteful, expensive bags and paper that are all going to get thrown away!  We were given some baskets by someone else who was cleaning out closets.  You can bet those will make an appearance at our Christmas gatherings!

Try doing just one of these and see how much money you can find to spend on Christmas.  Remember, no credit cards!  Christmas IS coming, and it’s on the same day as it was last year, so don’t get surprised by it!  Plan your work and work your plan.

More to come.  Until, then, glory to Him who is able to bless you exceedingly abundantly more than you could ever ask or imagine! ~Ephesians 3:20-21

Have you tried eMeals yet?

We love eMeals. It is so easy and convenient. If you don’t know what it is, check out their website, www.emeals.com.  Basically, the creators of eMeals design a week’s worth of meals around the sale items at the grocery store.  They email it to you with the shopping list, menu, and instructions on how to fix everything.  It is WONDERFUL!

I love that I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner: eMeals already did that for me!  I remember the time I used to spend at the table with the cookbooks spread out in front of me, asking myself, “What do we want to eat this week?”  No more–eMeals to the rescue!  Also, if I get interrupted in the middle of making dinner, the instructions are so simple that anyone can pick up right where you left off.

The recipes are simple but flavorful, and often take me outside my comfort zone of spaghetti, tacos, turkey sandwiches, and roast in the Crock-Pot.  I never would have tried capers or gone in search of yellow rice if it hadn’t been for eMeals.

They have something for everyone!  If you are a vegetarian or vegan, they have meal plans for you.  If you need help with portion control, there’s a plan for you.  If you need Crock-Pot only recipes due to your busy schedule, they’ve got you covered!  You can also choose whether the meal plan is for 1-2 people or for your family, 3-8 people.

The BEST thing about eMeals is that I don’t have to worry about how I’m spending my budgeted “food” money.  I know I’m going to get the BEST deal and make the most of each food item purchased because that’s what the eMeals creators do for a living.  PLUS, an ALDI grocery store just opened near us, and we discovered that shopping at ALDI saved us even MORE money than shopping at Wal-Mart.  EMeals creates menus for both places.  (Another post on ALDI will be coming shortly!)

Try their 30-day trial for FREE today, and see how much money/time/headache you saved.  You’ll agree, their small monthly fee is worth every penny.  This is not a commercial, and no one paid me to say these things.  I just know how when something works, you want to tell the world, especially when it comes to saving money!  This works for us.  I hope you’ll try it and find that it works for your family, too!

Be blessed, exceedingly abundantly.  -Ephesians 3:20-21