AsylumMom

Life on the inside. I've been sentenced 18 years to life and The Wardens are doing their best to drive me even crazier.

The Scientist – When in Doubt, Follow the Recipe

The next person I want to introduce is The Scientist, aka: my mom. My mom will tell anyone that asks that she cannot cook. She knows one recipe, roast beef, which is delicious by the way. But outside that juicy hunk of meat, nada, nothing, zilch, nope! So just how did she inspire me in the kitchen? Simply put, she bakes. Where cooking needs creativity and inspiration, baking is a science. She follows recipes to the letter and nails them every time. She’s the best recipe hunter I know and she can bake anything to perfection. 

Once upon a time, not too long ago, I was awful at cooking. No, I’m serious, ask my family members. It’s true! I have creativity to spare but I lacked knowledge. I lacked efficiency. You can’t simply start throwing things together without any concept of what it might turn out to be. I was working without a foundation. Finally, I started to listen to what my mom was trying to tell me for ages: to follow recipes, learn the chemistry behind baking, learn the subtle differences in how they work together and how those differences change the outcome. Bread, for example, is almost always the same 3-4 ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast. But the different quatities, times, and preperations can change the outcome into so many different loaves! Finally, I started paying attention to recipes, or if I had something in mind, I searched for the commonalities in similar recipes until I had a fine idea of what to do. I started building my foundation of knowledge and in no time, my cooking and baking got better!
 
Now, I still experiment, and it drives The Scientist crazy, because it goes against her very nature of following the rules. But that’s okay, now I know to write things down, take notes of what does and does not work (when I remember to!) and to gather information before diving in. You don’t have to follow the recipe exactly, but it never hurts to be a little educated before you experiment.

Some of the most enjoyable moments are when we are baking together, something we try to do at least once when I go to visit her, The Guru, and The Commune. We sit together and argue recipe versus intuition and eventually arrive somewhere in the middle… and it always works out! Most recently, we embarked on some sugar/shortbread cookies inspired by Panera Bread’s flower cookies with lemon icing. We didn’t get it quite right, but we got close and they tasted good!

My mom, The Scientist, taught me how to find and trust reliable recipies. She showed me how to hunt down the good ones and what certain terms meant. She has helped me become the kitchen mom I am today and has stood behind me in my movement into more real foods from sources that I trust. She really doesn’t think so, but she played a big role in how I prepare foods in my kitchen. Not to mention the love of baked goods she sparked in me! She DOES, however, know that she’s the source of my bread obsession! And that she’s reason I feel like I need to bake something at least once a week or else I feel unbalanced.

She’s an inspirational woman, in many areas of her life, and I’m proud to call her my mom. Very Proud.

The Guru – Love Each Ingredient and Never be Afraid to Experiment

For the first introduction in this mini-series, I’d like you to meet The Guru- aka, my step dad. It just so happened that his birthday was last week, so he will be first.

The Guru married my mom several years ago and she will freely admit that he’s the best thing that happened to her life (since I was born of course, not that I have an ego or anything…) and he happens to be one of the best things in my life as well. Often times, people mistake us for biological father and daughter because I am very much like him in many ways, and one of those ways is with food. He has helped me grow in my love of cooking simply by loving it himself and being willing to answer any (and I mean any) questions I may have about food. He knows a lot about obscure ingredients and how to use them so when I have an odd question or see an ingredient I don’t understand, he’s my lifeline.
The Guru got his name from first, his personality and because he likes the word “guru”, but secondly because he seems to have a sense about cooking. When we visit my parents, he usually makes all of the meals and when he does, you can watch him prep each ingredient with care. Carrots are peeled and chopped, dried herbs in large, exotic-looking bags are measured and sprinkled, garlic is crushed, meat is trimmed, bones are saved for stock and peelings are composted. He truly strives to waste no piece and I try to do the same.
The Guru taught me some very important lessons for the kitchen. First, love each ingredient. This means that you try and cook starting with the most basic form of each ingredient and work your way up. You buy your ingredients with care, store them with attention, and use them where they will be noticed. He keeps many things minimal so that the individual flavors can shine through. His meals even rival most restaurants I’ve tried, by a long shot!
Second, he taught me to never be afraid to experiment with flavor. Whether in the kitchen while preparing, or out at a restaurant. Never be afraid to try something new. The worst case scenario would be that I didn’t like it and he would finish it for me anyway. Often, he will look at a recipe, read it over, get an idea of what he wants, and then he will just use instinct. This actually drives my mom crazy because if she ends up liking the recipe a lot, sometimes he can’t recreate it because he doesn’t know the exact measurements that he used. It can get quite comical, really.

So, The Guru is kind of a free spirit in the kitchen, which is also funny because his outward attitude is a very convincing cover of someone that is the exact opposite of a “free spirit”. Don’t let it fool you. He’s really quite fun and interesting to be around, and if you ever doubt the colors you just thought you saw behind his eyes, just try the stew. You’ll never doubt them again.

Who Inspired My Love of Food?

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I am introducing a new mini-series of posts this week! Yay!
It’s no secret that I love to bake and cook, that I love food and foodie experiences, and that even when I am sick, I turn to my kitchen to feel better. However, something that few of you know, is where I gained this love and who inspired and fostered it within me.

Therefore, I will introduce three rules of cooking that I derived from the people in my life that had the biggests hands in my love of food!

The three rules are:

From The Traditionalist:
1) Always have enough. And if you aren’t sure how much you will need, then make more than enough.

From The Scientist:
2) When in doubt, follow the recipe. And if you don’t have a recipe, turn to the internet.

From The Guru:
3) Love each ingredient, don’t be afraid of something new, and experiement with it.

These are the three most important concepts in my kitchen, and even if they may seem slightly contradictory, it’s only because they come from three distinct individuals, who all approach cooking in a different way. 

The next few posts will feature each rule and the person they were inspired by. I will tell you a little background story for them and an experience we shared in the kichen that might have been a defining moment for me. I hope you enjoy this little series as much as I will enjoy writing it!

In the meantime, any guesses on who they are? Leave a comment below with who you think they might be!

Saving Money and Stress – Homemade Cleaners

Here’s a post I’ve intended to do for a long time now and simply forgot. Often, I get asked about how we manage to save so much money on our monthly living expenses and one of the simple answers is on household cleaners. One of the reasons we switched was for cost effectiveness, but it’s come with added benefits such as not worrying about chemicals in my home and having a use for things that would have otherwise found their way to the trash can.

I have multiple recipes I follow for different purposes but for now I’ll stick to my all purpose cleaner. It’s my favorite and I use it for just about everything (except glass, it does NOT work on glass haha). When I say just about everything, I mean it. I’ll tell you one of my favorite stories here about how my natural cleaner is the lazy mom’s best friend:

It was left over spaghetti day in my house and Row had decided to try and wear some of it as a mustache. So as I am cleaning off his high chair, I take one look at him, decide it’s too big of a job for baby wipes, and simply sprayed some of my cleaner onto a paper towel and wiped his face off with it. The red blotchy stains on his skin and the sticky noodles came right off and I never even blinked at the thought of using a cleaner on his fair skin. The cleaner was made from organic ingredients that were present in a lot of his diet, I knew it wouldn’t hurt him.

 

I posted this story on my facebook page a while back and a friend of mine said she was so inspired that she immediately switched to homemade cleaners! She said that the fact that I wasn’t afraid for it to touch my son, and that she had recently caught her own baby on the verge of spraying himself with a bottle of bleach cleaner, made her a believer.

 

Sadly, I am not home to take pictures of the process but there’s not much to show anyway, so it’s not that vital. I make two versions of this cleaner throughout the year, depending on the season. The two types are a basil cleaner and a citrus cleaner. They both have antibacterial properties and will clean like nobody’s business. I could go into detail about the differences in each one, but honestly I just change for the smell and abundance of ingredients. The variations aren’t all that noticeable anyway.

 

Cleaner 1: Citrus

In the summer and warmer months, my kids and I eat a lot of oranges and I like to make lemonade, so the citrus cleaner is used a lot in that time. When we eat the oranges, or make lemonade, I save the peels (and any rind/pulp/seeds that don’t get used) and put them in mason jars, cover with vinegar, and let them soak for at least two weeks, or up to a month. After they’re done soaking, i strain the citrus vinegar out of the jars, directly into my spray bottle, and then dilute with water. I usually guess at the amounts but it’s always about a 1/3 solution and 2/3 water ratio. I just give it a little shake in the bottle and I’m good to go! If a stain is really hard stuck, i sprinkle a little baking soda on it and spray with this cleaner, the acid activates the baking soda and that usually lifts it right off, even if it needs a little scrubbing.

 

Cleaner 2: Basil

The basil cleaner isn’t always as good on the tough stuff, there’s just something about that citrus that really eats at it. However, it still gets most of the grease and sticky spills up thanks to the vinegar. The vinegar is the main cleaning component in both of these recipes, with the differences being boosts of separate sorts. In this solution, I take about 3 cups of water and a handful of fresh basil leaves, and boil it for about a minute, turn off the heat, and let them steep until the water is cool. Then I scoop out the leaves, pour into my spray bottle, add about 1 cup of vinegar, and then fill with water the rest of the way.

 

Variations on both cleaners that I love include adding some essential oils to change the scent, or adding 1/2 cup of witch hazel to increase the antibacterial and antiviral capabilities, especially during flu season. All of this is completely safe around children! (Unless you decide to use peppermint oil, which can be a skin and eye irritant.)

 

So if you are like me and get a little lazy with the messy monsters around and don’t want to have to switch cleaners for every little mess, or have to spend money on all kinds of different cleaners for every surface, then try these homemade cleaners! They will save your wallet and your sanity all in one sweep, and they don’t smell half bad either!

Real Food: Beef and Bean Soup

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A few days ago, we had a cold snap. Any time it gets cold, I love to make soups, stews, and baked goods. There’s just something about having the smell of something cooking in your home, with the residual heat coming off of the stove, that just warms me from the outside right down to my soul. This time I opted for a classic in our family, beans. Everyone remembers growing up on beans. They were cheap and easy to make. However, I wanted to amp them up a little. I wanted them to taste good and familiar, but also have a little nutritional punch and be filling! Last time we ate beans, my husband didn’t really eat much, but this time he ate two bowls! And my precious B, who has been refusing almost all foods, ate two servings of his own! I was one proud mama!

So what made it so good? Maybe it’s that I used all ingredients from scratch, chopped and washed and seasoned with love… Perhaps it’s that it was slow cooked for several hours… Or maybe it’s the combination of those two things and the time of year. I don’t know, but it sure did the trick.

So if you’re looking for a warm meal that will taste like your grandma just teleported into your kitchen, a meal that is so smooth and simple, yet exciting and new, with every flavor melded seamlessly together, then this is the recipe for you.

Did I mention that it’s EASY!?

Yep. It’s so easy that you’ll wonder why you haven’t tried it before.

Let’s start with the ingredients:

I took one chopped bell pepper, about 3 chopped mushrooms, some roasted garlic, sun dried tomatoes, about 2 strips of maple smoked bacon, some lovely ground beef, butter, seasonings, and my secret weapon (thanks to my husbands beast friend) a spoonful of pace picante sauce.

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I also had 1/2 of a chopped onion in a bag in my freezer. I like to keep onions chopped and ready for cooking, especially because I can buy in bulk, chop, and freeze!

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And then the most important ingredient! One pound of sorted and washed pinto beans! (Strained of course)

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I melt the butter in the saucepan and toss in the vegetables, stirring until they are soft, and then I add the bacon. After a minute or two, I pour in the beans, stirring to get them all mixed in. I pour in 2 cups of beef broth and 2 cups of water. Next I add the ground beef and seasonings.

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After I have stirred everything and I’m sure it’s all seasoned, I pop the lid on that pot and leave it alone! Only returning to stir on occasion and top it off with some water. After a few hours your house will smell amazing and you are ready to eat!
As a note, if you want a thicker recipe, just don’t add as much water when topping it off. The beans will absorb most of it and some will escape through steam. However, this recipe is already fairly thick. So if you wish it to be a more liquid soup, then add more water. It’s that easy!

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Recipe:

Ingredients
One pound dry pinto beans (sorted and rinsed)
One pound of lean ground beef
One green bell pepper, chopped
About 3 mushrooms, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tbsp roasted garlic, minced
1/2 sun dried tomato, chopped fine
1 spoonful Pace picante sauce (optional)
2-3 strips maple bacon, chopped into small pieces
3-4 tbsp butter
2 C beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp basil
2 tsp paprika

Directions
In large pot, melt butter with roasted garlic over med high heat. Toss in chopped vegetables and cook until slightly soft. Add in the bacon and cook that just until the edges start to curl. Pour in the beans and stir until all ingredients are mixed well. Pour in 2 C beef broth and 2 C water. Allow it to warm up but not come to a boil yet. Once it’s warm, add the ground beef, chopping into manageable sizes and stirring in. Stir in seasonings. Bring the mix to a low boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to med low. Cover and allow to cook for a minimal of 3 hours but up 5. Stirring occasionally to ensure that nothing sticks to the bottom. You may need to add some more water occasionally to keep the water level above the beans. Salt to taste and serve hot with bread.
Makes approximately 6 servings.

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Etsy is Taking Over!

It’s almost half way into September now and Dad and I are feeling the crunch. We were planning something big for our family in October but its still up in the air over whether we will be able to fund it or not! If you feel compelled to help, feel free to visit my Etsy shop that I have been working on all month to find something you might like! I do custom art available in a variety of forms from you printing at home to notepads and canvas prints! Here’s an example of some of my work:

My moms beloved cat, Dally, who passed away a year ago.

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A set of baby shower invitations done in a safari theme.

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And a piece that speaks directly to me as an autism mom, when I hear someone say “I’m sure he can be fixed.” My heart breaks just a little. I made this piece of art for any mother or father out there that may struggle with similar pain, available for little girls as well.

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Please help a momma out and tell your friends!

Fluffy Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pancakes with Chia Seeds

These pancakes are so fluffy and yummy that you don’t even really NEED syrup for them. I don’t even have pictures because my kids were eating them as fast as I could make them up! I love pancakes. They’re fast and easy to make, the ingredients are common, and they can be made in a way that they’re almost healthy, but are at least a great source of fuel to start your day on! However, most recipes are too dense and too… Blah for my tastes. This morning I started to improvise on an old recipe and came up with these light and airy, sweet and yummy beauties! I think I will make them again tomorrow and I’ll try to snag some photos of them before they disappear down my munchkin’s bottomless pits. 😉

Ingredients:
1 1/2 C unbleached all purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 heaping Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp chia seeds
1 1/2 C whipping cream – (a little less than two small cartons, shake a little first)
1 egg
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Directions

Put dry ingredients into medium mixing bowl, make sure there aren’t any lumps in the brown sugar! Mix to combine with whisk.

In another bowl, stir egg until its all mixed together, add the melted butter and vanilla and whisk. Slowly pour in whipping cream, whisking vigorously. When the mixture starts to thicken you are done. Add the cream mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until fully combined into a batter.

Heat your flat top grill to 350. Use a ladle to pour out small rounds of batter. This mix takes longer than some recipes so be patient. Watch for bubbles to start coming through the batter. Wait for the bubbles to stop, if the sides are risen and cracked, you are ready, if they’re not, wait for them to rise. Then flip them over. And wait for the bottoms to brown up. When you lightly touch the center and it feels like a fluffy cake texture (or bounces back from your touch like a sponge) then the pancake is ready.

Move to a plate, top with syrup, and serve!! (Or just hand one dry to your child as he runs away from you!)

Update, as I was typing my son stopped to investigate with one of the pancakes in his hand so I actually caught a blurry picture before he ran off. Haha!

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Body Image – A New Look

A while back I had this wonderful idea that I wanted to do for some friends of my family. I was having one of those moments where I was really annoyed with someone because they were so insecure with themselves. And then I realized that I was annoyed with another persons insecurities. How tragic is that? I wanted to help her. She’s one off those women that even when you compliment her, she turns it into an insult. She absolutely cannot in any way accept anything positive about herself. That’s a very tough thought for me to take in!

Many women have issues with their image and are subject to this notion that we can’t be proud of our so called flaws without looking like a fool. Have you seen The Beautiful Body Project? This inspires me in so many ways. I’ve never been one to take part in self bashing, and when I slip up, I always feel sick about it. How on earth can this be healthy? I remember sitting around a table recently and every single woman there was exchanging flaws and self disgusts and diet “tricks”. Sounds like a bad movie but it was really happening!

But wait, there’s more.

I honestly hate when I try to encourage someone to do something and they say “No, you can because you’re skinny and pretty, but I’m too fat and ugly for that.” I always try to tell them they are wrong but this person can’t fathom the idea that they actually are pretty and therefor, nothing I say helps.

Where it gets really upsetting is the moment you hear “I don’t know why he even loves me, I’m too fat for love.”

Yes. I really heard that. Too fat for love. Those were the words that came out of her mouth.

That. Is. Heartbreaking.

After these events, I was laying in bed, letting my mind wander, when I thought, “They just need to see themselves the way their partner does.”

Slowly, I formed an idea. If you have image issues, please, take part in this exercise. If you don’t have image issues, take part anyway! It’s a healthy way to boost your self esteem!

All you need is a pen, some paper, and a partner. It can be anyone you love, trust, and respect. Whether this means your husband or boyfriend, or if you’re single, your mom or best friend or sister. Feel free to exchange and each do it but it was originally designed for a husband and wife duo to help the wife. So adjust it to your needs, the idea remains the same. 🙂

First, write down 5 things you hate about yourself. Easy, right?

Now write down 10 things you love about yourself. A little harder, but you can do it!

Next, have your partner write down 10 things they love about you. Then have them read their list to you.

Now, here’s where the magic happens. After hearing the wonderful ways your partner sees you, take the 5 things you originally said you hate about yourself, look at them in a new light, and turn them into something positive.

Now stand up and read your new list of 15 things you love about yourself.

You are SO beautiful, in so many ways. I only want you to be able to see it.

I made some printable pages you can use if you like, because who doesn’t love pretty printables!? 🙂 I hope this could help at least one person.

I had a friend, “M”, volunteer and test it for me, she opted to do an exchange with her best friend. They each took part in both sides and ended up with a wonderful new outlook on themselves! This is what she had to say about it:

“It was really hard for both of us to turn some of our dislikes into positives… Like my tummy and her nail biting. It was also hard to come up with 10 things we liked about ourselves. We almost gave up! But we finished and I guess it worked pretty well!” -M.

Thanks to M for volunteering in my exercise! Now, the rest if you, go do it and learn to love yourself just a little bit more!!

Here are the printables!

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I Love Being a Mom, But Parenting Sucks.

Parenting sucks. I mean, being a mom is great. But parenting? That sucks. Know why? Because apparently it’s EVERYONE’s business. And it starts before the baby is even born.

You’re keeping the baby? You’re putting her up for adoption? You’re not finding out the gender? Your naming him/her THAT?

You’re going to do unmedicated birth? You’re going to use DRUGS? You’re going to do a home birth? You want a doctor telling you what to do?

You’re not breast feeding? You’re not covering up while your boob is hanging out? You’re supplementing? You’re NOT supplementing?

And I could go on and on. But here it gets worse. Because it starts coming from places where you’re supposed to feel supported. But you can’t please everybody.

If you chose to spank, someone says you’re abusing them. If you chose not to, someone says you’re spoiling them.

If you chose to CIO, you’re torturing your child and starving his attention. If you chose to pick him up, you are spoiling him and fostering feelings of attachment and insecurity.

If you chose to feed them mainstream food, you’re poisoning them and you’re lazy. If you chose to feed them natural and homemade foods, you’re trying too hard and think you’re better than other moms.

If you chose to use generic brand products, you’re injecting them with chemicals and setting them up for sickness. If you chose to use organic products with fewer chemicals, you’re, once again, trying too hard and think you’re better than everyone else.

If you chose to raise YOUR child, YOUR way, then you are a know-it-all, selfish, better-than-everyone-else idiot.

I hate that this is what parenting has turned into. I hate even more that it comes between families, even between couples. I hate that we aren’t even free to make choices for our children anymore. When did parenting become a public affair? Just because I am a mom, doesn’t mean I lost all of my rights as a human when I gave birth to one.

Cooking from Scratch (Finally)

Happy Birthday! Thursday, August 15, was my mom’s birthday. My mom lives 8 hours away from me so I didn’t get to see her. However, my brother lives 5 minutes away and was going to visit her this weekend, so, I decided to bake her a surprise birthday cake and send it with him! As you can guess, I made the cake, and icing, from scratch! OF COURSE! Haha. So, this is the most recent example I can give of how cooking from scratch is cheaper.

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Sorry for the horrible photo. It’s too bad the cake didn’t really survive the trip to my mom. All the roses melted off of the sides! It was in AC the whole way but Texas heat can’t be reasoned with. My mom said it tasted great though! So that’s all that counts I suppose. I was still sad about my roses, though they weren’t much of a loss considering I kind of messed them up anyway. Ha! Anyway, on with the math…ugh.

For me to have baked this cake from a box mix,it would have cost about $16.00:

(These are rounded off to make this easier)
Boxed cake mix: $3.50
2 tubs of icing: $5.00
Milk/eggs/oil for cake mix: $2.00 give or take.
Raspberries for the raspberry filling: $4.00
Purple gel food coloring: $1.00

Or if I bought it from the bakery, probably around $20.00 right?

Here’s what it cost me to make from scratch, with items I keep on hand because I like to bake often.

Cake, recipe can be found here, I cut the recipe in half to make a smaller cake (two 6″ rounds instead of two 9″ rounds)

Cake Flour: $4.00 per 2lb box, I used 1 1/8C = approximately $1.50
Milk: $4.00 per gallon, I used 1/2C = about $0.12
Eggs: $3.00 per 18ct carton, I used 3 = about $0.50
Almond Extract: $2.00 per 2oz bottle, I used 1tsp = approximately $0.16
Vanilla Extract: $2.00 per 8oz bottle, I used 1/2tsp = approximately $0.02
Granulated Sugar: $7.00 per 10lb bag, I used 5/8 C = bout $0.25
Baking Powder: $3.00 per 10oz can, I used 2tsp = $0.10
Salted Butter (sticks): $2.00 per 4 stick box, I used 6tbsp (3/4 stick) =$0.75

Icing and raspberry filling. Recipe for icing can be found here, I doubled it to make filling and have extra. The filling was about 1/4 of the total icing, with fresh raspberries and 1tsp of raspberry extract added.

Salted Butter (sticks): $2.00 per 4 stick box, I used all 4 = $2.00
Confectioners Sugar: $3.00 per 2lb bag, I used 6 C = about $4.50
Vanilla Extract: $2.00 per 8oz bottle, I used 2 Tbsp = about $0.25
Milk: $4.00 per gallon, I used 3Tbsp. = approximately $0.19
Fresh Raspberries: $4.00, I used about 1/4 of the bag (approximately 1C) = $1.00
Raspberry Extract: $2.00 per 2oz bottle, I used 1tsp = about $0.16

So my total, from scratch, was $11.50! That’s cheaper!

Now, aside from my cake costing less, I now have all these ingredients on hand, which means I can bake any time I want and it will all be cheaper unless it requires a lot of a special ingredient.

Now, I’m not here to tell you “and knowing what goes in my food is priceless” (even though it is) because you may be like my husband. In his eyes, he doesn’t care if it’s healthy or not, if it doesn’t cost less, then it’s not worth it. So we are JUST talking bottom line here.

But the beauty of cooking from scratch is when you meal plan with it. Meaning, plan for meals with similar ingredients and your money will go further! Now, I also bake bread from scratch. Ingredients are flour, yeast, salt, and water. It ends up being less than $1.00 per loaf! Where at the grocery store, you may pay $2-3.00 per loaf with all kinds of preservatives in it!

How about actual meals? Well, a favorite of mine is pork fried rice done the lazy way. We mix pork chops that I’ve sliced up, rice, and frozen mixed veggies to make a meal that all 4 of us eat WITH enough leftovers for lunch the next day. Wanna take a guess at the cost? About $5.00. FOR TWO MEALS! Now, buying fried rice as takeout or in those handy little microwave cartons is what, around $4.00 per carton? Times 4 people equals $16.00, times two meals equals $32.00!? I’ll take $5.00 over $32.00 ANY DAY. And guess what? Yup, there’s pork chops, rice, and mixed veggies still in my kitchen waiting to be used on another meal.

Am I making any sense yet or do you need more math? I hope not. I hate math. Haha! But seriously, the budget that the wardens has put me on is pretty tight, but their appetites keep expanding, so I’m having to learn how to save every penny I can. I hope to have an expansive vegetable garden one day to cut even more costs from our grocery bill, but that’s not an option at the moment so I will stick with learning how to cook from scratch in preparation for when I DO have one.

Good luck to all of you! I hope I can help at least one person save money!

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