Really Broke but Really Hungry (AKA How to Still Eat Well When Money is Tight)

Photo by Most of you reading this probably shop on a budget. You probably spend a good amount of time trying to shrink that budget as much as possible and stretch the money you do spend as far as you can.

Various periods of my life have left me with very little money and lots of people to feed, usually unexpectedly. And while I build up my home “stockpile” every week, little by little, there have been times where I didn’t have the luxury of a full pantry to ride me through these unexpected hungry stomachs.

I want to start by saying that the biggest thing you can do to save money on food is to spend more time – more time planning, shopping, prepping and cooking.

Here’s a sample meal plan from when I was really broke. My husband and I ate off $100/month. I cooked all of our food from scratch while working full time. But the most important part? We still ate healthy food.

Another thing I want to say when you need to stretch your budget. Stretch your meals with cheap carbohydrates – double the pasta in a recipe, serve bread on the side, add stewed beans to everything you can stomach, double your serving of rice, etc. Then stretch them even further with cheap vegetables and fruit – anything under $1/pound will work. Right now for me that’s bananas, Fuji apples, watermelon, lettuce heads, bell pepper, cucumber, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, onions, radishes and zucchini. To succesfully stretch, serve small amounts of everything. If you want seconds, you get more side dishes rather than the main entree.

To give your budget an even bigger boost, drink water and cut all other beverages out of your diet. If you desperately need a caffeine fix, black tea is cheaper than coffee. Don’t eat dessert – look at it like a fitness challenge instead of a budget.

We did not use coupons because the cheapest foods never even get them – fresh produce, whole grains, meat, etc. When things were tight, and we qualified, however there is no shame in taking advantage of Fresh Food programs (they get donations from grocery stores of items that would otherwise be thrown away), food banks, church relief programs and other services as you can find them. Check with your local DHS for a list of services and programs. Also, depending on your area, you can forage. I once got 15 lbs. of plums off a tree in front of a laundromat. Dandelion greens are good – just make sure you don’t get anything sprayed. And when in absolute desperation, just eat rice, beans and Top Ramen. I know, it’s not healthy, but sometimes it comes down to just getting the calories you need.

To save as much time as possible, make it less stressful, and to help you stick to the meal plan you should also meal prep as much as possible. Slice your cucumbers, peppers, carrots, etc. as soon as you get home from the market/store. Cook your ground beef on Sunday and freeze it. Roast and shred your chicken, beef and pork, too. Soak and cook your beans. Bake your bread, fry tortillas, cook rice, boil eggs, soak the oats. Do it all in advance when you can. Then store properly and pull out what you need, when you need it.

The $100/Month Meal Plan

This will feed two people for a month at $100.

Week One:

Breakfast – 2 fried eggs, 2 slices of homemade bread, 1 banana.
Lunch – PB & banana sandwich with watermelon and cucumber slices.
Dinner – Roasted chicken and carrots with bread, rice, and stewed beans; Southwest chicken and rice bowls with corn, roasted peppers, black beans and homemade tortillas on the side; White chicken chili with tortillas; Leftovers; Roast beef sandwiches with salad; Beef stew with bread and salad.
Snacks – Popcorn, bread and butter, sliced veggies, apples, bananas.

Week Two:

Breakfast – Oatmeal with sugar and milk, 2 slices of homemade bread.
Lunch – Chili macaroni with apples.
Dinner – Beef pot pie with bread and salad; Leftovers; Pork pot roast with bread and salad; BBQ pork sandwiches with roasted peppers, onions, baked beans and rice; Pozole with homemade tortillas, rice, and re-fried beans; Leftovers; Roast chicken with potatoes, carrots, onion and zucchini.
Snacks – Popcorn, bread and butter, sliced veggies, apples, bananas.

Week Three:

Breakfast – Pancakes from scratch with peanut butter and 1 banana.
Lunch – Grilled cheese with roasted onions and peppers.
Dinner – Garlic chicken pasta with bread and salad; Chicken and rice soup with bread and salad; Leftovers; Carne Asada with tortillas, rice, re-fried beans, roasted peppers and onions; Shredded beef sandwiches with mashed potatoes, gravy, caramelized onions, and baked beans; Beef and barley soup with bread and salad; Leftovers; Pork and vegetable stir fry over rice with stewed beans.
Snacks – Popcorn, bread and butter, sliced veggies, apples, bananas.

Week Four:

Breakfast – Rice pudding with bread.
Lunch – Egg salad sandwiches with sliced watermelon and cucumber.
Dinner – Shredded pork burritos with beans, rice, homemade tortillas, roasted peppers and onions; Pork and potato stew with bread and salad; Leftovers; Roasted chicken with rice, stewed beans, and roasted zucchini; Chicken spaghetti with garlic bread and salad; Lemon chicken over rice; Leftovers.
Snacks – Popcorn, bread and butter, sliced veggies, apples, bananas.

How have you survived a tight budget?

One Pot Smokey Sausage and Cheddar Pasta

One pot dishes are my favorite thing right now. I live in a budget-friendly apartment. I like it here. However my kitchen is very tiny. I have a 12 inch sink. A 10 inch toaster oven. 1 working range burner. Virtually no counter space. And the pies de la resistance? Only one outlet that can’t run two appliances at the same time without flipping a breaker.

So one-pot dinners have saved my life when it comes to feeding bigger groups of people healthy, home-cooked, budget friendly meals.

It helps that I like carbs. And cheese. Anything with white carbs and cheese is my friend. I would happily live off of baked ziti and take-out pizza for the rest of my life if I wasn’t afraid it would kill me.

So if you like carbs and cheese this is for you. With added delicious vegetables and the smokey flavour of kielbasa to make it healthy, filling and rich. The pasta will melt and the cheese will ooze and everyone will want more.

Enjoy.

Smokey Sausage and Cheddar Pasta

Comfortably feeds four very-hungry teenagers. Costs $1.77/serving if you get organic kielbasa. Which is like $8+ saved compared to eating out!

You will need:

  • 1 tbsp bacon grease (or olive oil)
  • 1 sweet onion, diced (~1 cup’s worth)
  • 3 vine-ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely diced or juliened
  • 4 four-inch kielbasa links, sliced (~12oz.)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 16oz. macaroni
  • 1/2 tsp salt (more if you use olive oil)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes

The Delicious Food

In a heavy-bottomed soup pan warm oil over medium high heat. Add onions, tomatoes, bell pepper and kielbasa. Saute until onions are fragrant and translucent. Toss garlic in and saute another minute, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn.

Reduce heat to medium low. Add chicken broth, milk, pasta and salt. Bring to a low boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how al dente you like it..

Check pasta for desired consistency. If it’s good, stir in cheddar and pepper flakes.

Serve warm and enjoy.

What Our Baby Didn’t Need

What Our Baby Didn't Need

Parenting is probably the most sensitive subjects in our country and the most publicly judged. From what goes in their stomachs to how we decorate the nursery, every decision is criticized from even the most obscure angles. And when we start discussing what our sweet baby’s “need” it gets even more heated. You are taught to feel like less of a parent if you don’t provide everything for your child. That your little one will be at a disadvantage without light-up noisy toys or a mink changing table cover. But when it comes right down to it babies don’t care about these things. And more importantly – they don’t need them.

Now, by all means, if it’s important to you go for it. But don’t think less of yourself if you don’t. There are things babies do need. This post however is all of the things we didn’t buy in the first place for our Pudge, things that were gifted unnecessarily to us, and things we regretted buying.

Refusing to purchase things like this in the first place not only protects your financial security, it teaches your children a healthy relationship to material belongings, helps your family focus on experiences, and protects our planet from unnecessary consumption.

Diapering

  • Disposable diapers and wipes.
  • A diaper pail or liners.
  • Commercial diaper rash cream.
  • Baby powder. Use cornstarch instead.
  • Disposable cloth diaper liners (seriously defeats the purpose of cloth in the first place).
  • Changing table, pad and covers.
  • Portable changing wallet.

Bathing

  • Head shields.
  • Special bath toys.
  • Separate body wash and shampoo.
  • Bathrobe. Cute but not needed.
  • Special baby-sized towels. Save yourself some cash and get standard towels that will last several years.
  • Infant bath tub.
  • “Baby” wash cloths. Regular wash clothes or a soft loofah work fine.

Feeding

  • Nursing bras. I bought nursing tank tops for the same price and saved myself laundry and the cost of clothes I could even nurse in.
  • Pureed Baby foods. Check out Baby-Led Weaning instead.
  • Special baby snacks (stay away from yogurt drops – those things are loaded with added sugar!)
  • Special dishware for baby – I gave him a glass tea cup plate and tea spoon for silverware to practice with. But mostly he eats off a tray with his hands.
  • Bibs. We just got him naked for meals and wiped him down with a washcloth afterwards. The bib really didn’t protect any of his clothes.

Clothing

  • Sleep sacks. These can only be used at bedtime. Save yourself the work, money and time by getting footie pajamas instead. This way if you need to go anywhere you can easily strap your baby into a stroller or car seat without having to wake them up and change their clothes.
  • Shoes
  • Accessories

Gear

  • Bouncer/Rocker. Unnecessary and you can’t leave the room if your baby is in one (Babies have suffocated in them before – read the safety manual if you already have one. They’re really not that helpful).
  • Shopping cart cover
  • Jogging stroller
  • Special “diaper bag”. Get a regular bag that can be used for longer than 2 years of your life.
  • Bassinet. Just get the crib from the get-go. Get a convertible one, too.
  • Special infant car seat. A huge waste of money. Most parents use them longer than it’s safe too (my baby outgrew his by 4 months), and again you can’t leave the baby in them outside of the car so they don’t “help keep baby asleep” at all.
  • Play yard. Ours has been useful for when I’m vending at the farmer’s market but I never use it at home.

Bedtime

  • Crib mobile.
  • Crib bumper. Not safe until the baby is almost 9 months, at which point it’s not necessary.
  • Teething guards for the crib. Cribs have to meet strict safety standards – your baby won’t ingest anything dangerous.
  • Pillows. Babies can’t use them until about 9 months and the fire retardants in them make them undesirable even then. Your baby really won’t care.
  • Extra blankets (unless you don’t have easy access to a washing machine. Then you want LOTS of extras).
  • Crib skirt.
  • Noise machine. Put on the radio or a fan if it’s a big deal but we didn’t need to do anything special.

Playtime and Learning

  • Extra toys
  • Anything electronic or noisemaking. These things will just irritate you when you’ve had 3 hours of sleep and the same song has played 265 times over.
  • Exersaucer
  • Walker (my doctor actually told me these were dangerous)
  • Play gym

Safety and Healthcare

  • Gas drops

This is part three in raising a zero waste family.

Part One: The Zero Waste Baby

Part Two: What We Actually Needed for Baby

Part Three: What We Didn’t Need

$75 Meal Plan #5 – Sugar Free Edition

A meal plan, if it’s going to work, isn’t broken down into weekly measured portions and their associated costs. It’s a mix of this week’s purchases, what’s in your pantry, gifts and ground-scores.

So, following this format, I’m pitching in my budget. I spend $50-$75 a week on me and my husband. I’m currently breastfeeding so I eat twice as much as I previously did.

But we have no other sources of food beyond our budget. No garden, herbs in the window sill – nothing. I use coupons sparingly – the store ad for wherever I’m shopping, the occasional newspaper and coupons.com. When I get the mood I also use Ibotta, Grocery 51 and MobiSave. But these aren’t included in my grocery budget; they pay for date night.

THIS WEEK WE BOUGHT:

 Bananas, eggs, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, 1 romaine head, milk, sugar free salad dressing, 3lbs. apples, honey, angel hair pasta, 8oz salad shrimp, 1 cabbage head, red onion, celery, 2 lbs. Bag of carrots, 1 corned beef roast, 8oz. saltwater salmon, asparagus, cilantro, 2 tomatoes.

BREAKFAST OPTIONS:

Fruit

Oatmeal with honey

Banana Peanut Butter Smoothies

Scrambled eggs and hashbrowns

Baked sweet potato

LUNCH OPTIONS:

Burritos

Tuna salad

Leftovers

SNACK OPTIONS:

Popcorn

Fresh fruit

Vegetables

Boiled eggs

Pickles

Tea

Coffee

DINNER MENU:

Thursday  – creamy garlic chicken with rice.

Friday – shrimp pasta.

Saturday – chicken stir fry.

Sunday – corned beef with cabbage and potatoes.

Monday – southwest chicken salad.

Tuesday – grilled salmon with asparagus and quinoa.

Wednesday – corned beef hash (using leftover corned beef).

MEAL PREPPING I DID THIS WEEK:

These foods were prepared over the course of the weekend. Some was stashed away for later and some was consumed this week.

  • Crockpot beans
  • Boiled eggs
  • Baked sweet potatoes
  • Chopped cabbage in thin slices.
  • Shredded 2 carrots; roughly chopped 1; sliced 4 into sticks.
  • Diced small red onion.
  • Diced 5 sweet onions.
  • Quartered 1 yellow onion.
  • Cubed 2 lbs. Chicken breasts
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Celery sticks
  • Minced cilantro
  • Diced tomato

THIS WEEK’S TOTAL SPENT: 

How do you spend your grocery budget?

Bachelorette Party – Clean, Sober and Cheap

I recently helped plan the bachelorette party for my sister in law. We were faced with a challenge though – our party had to be kid-friendly, dairy free, low budget, and sober. The bride to be didn’t drink alcohol or consume dairy products, we were all broke and there was going to be about 6 kids under the age of 5 present. 

Our party started at 5, lasting about 3 hours. We had awesome music playing on the laptop as guests arrived. We picked three games, and one back up in case something went wrong. If its a long party, you might do more. There’s a list of my favorite games below.

Our party was at dinner time so we served pizza and drinks (soda and juice), getting a dairy free pizza from Papa Murphy’s. Surprisingly delicious and soooo convenient. Other good options would be BBQ chicken sandwiches in the crockpot, spaghetti or a burrito bar.

We couldnt afford decorations. Spending about $10 at the dollar store we put together party favors with candy and cute bows. Looking to go zero waste? Get cute coffee mugs and buy bulk candy to put inside – or bulk coffee.

All you other party planners might flinch at the idea of no decorations. But they weren’t necessary – they produce waste and cost money. And none of the guests even notoced. You dont need much for a kickass party!

Games

  • Flower arrangement contest /scavenger hunt in teams (fake or real flowers) – race to see which team finds all the flowers and puts them in the vase first.
  • Cold feet – fill a bowl with ice water and some costume jewelry rings. Tournament style – first person to fish out all the rings with their feet wins the round. Continue until you have a champion.
  • Pop! The Question – two teams. Attach two inflated balloons to everyones butt. No hands, no feet. The first team to pop everyone elses balloons wins.
  • Chocolate Unicorn – tournament style. Whoever stacks the most oreos on their forehead wins the round. No help, and you can’t hold the stack with your hands. Repeat until you have a champion.
  • Kiss the Bride – team pictionary, except the artist holds a tube of lipstick in their mouth to draw. No hands.
  • Junk in the trunk – teams or individual. Fill an empty tissue box with ping pong balls. Attach the box to your butt. First person to shake out all the balls wins. No hands!
  • Blind Love – blindfold one person. Have them do someone else’s makeup. Best makeup artist wins.

Ways to Save More Money

  • Have guests bring food and drinks.
  • Don’t provide prizes or party favors.

What’s your favorite party game?

What We Actually Needed for Baby: Zero Waste Style

What we really needed for baby

*This post contains affiliate links, where I recieve a portion of your purchase at no extra cost to you. All affiliate links are to products I have actually used. 

Raising a baby requires a lot of crap. And if you go mainstream it requires an absurd amount of crap. Every child is different; every lifestyle, climate and laundry schedule are different too. But it is helpful as a new parent to see what other moms did.

Whether you’re a new mom or not, if you want to raise your child with a minimalist and zero waste attitude, this checklist is for you. Below you will find all the things we actually needed for our little Pudge’s first year, as we pursued a zero waste and minimalist lifestyle.

Keep in mind lifestyle differences as you read – I have full access to a washer and dryer, I breastfeed, Pudge comes to work with me so my pumping needs are limited, and I live in a spastic climate with extreme cold and hot weather.

Items in green were absolute necessities – everything else just made life easier.

Diapering

Washing Diapers

Washing cloth diapers in my portable washing machine.

  • Cloth Wipes. We have enough to fill 2 quart size mason jars because I’m paranoid about running out. This lasts 2- 4 days and is approximately 36 wipes per jar.
  • DIY cloth wipe solution. 
  • 30 reuseable cloth diaper liners/inserts.
  • 25 cloth diaper covers. Our Pudge had bad diarrhea from antibiotics so we would go through up to 20 a day.
  • Small jar with DIY diaper rash cream.
  • Cornstarch in a Shaker. Works just as good as baby powder and it’s a lot cheaper.
  • 2 small wet bags.
  • 2 large zippered wet bags.
  • Somewhere to wash things. If you don’t have washer/dryer hookups you can use the bucket method or buy a portable washer like this one and line-dry (Line-drying is better for cloth diapers anyways).
  • Portable wipes container for when you don’t want to haul a mason jar around.

Bathing

Proud to BreastfeedFeeding

I breastfeed. If you’re planning on formula feeding or doing a combination of the two this list will need alterations. If you have the choice, always breastfeed exclusively. Its better for you, your baby and the planet. And your wallet! But no matter how you do it, feeding your baby is the part that matters.

  • 2 glass bottles
  • Electric breast pump
  • 2 pumping tank tops
  • Bottle brush with nipple wand
  • Dishwasher bottle basket
  • Castille soap for washing bottles
  • 304 steel pot for sterilizing pumping supplies, bottles and pacifiers.
  • Re-useable milk storage.
  • Insulated cooler and ice packs for transporting milk.
  • Nursing pillow and washable cover.
  • Lasinoh cream for your nipples. I only really needed this the first month but some Mom’s will need it the whole time you nurse. 
  • Reuseable WATERPROOF nursing pads (if they’re not lined with waterproof material on the back you’ll leak right through them).
  • Clothes you can nurse in public in – stretchy T-shirts, loose sweaters and low tank tops work great and are cheap. Or get the amaaaazing nursing sweater I have.
  • Nursing cover (if you’re uncomfortable in public).
  • Prenatal vitamins for mom.

Moving on to solids between 4- 6 months, you will also need:

  • Whole foods – bananas, squash, etc.
  • Lunchbox for on the go.
  • Potato masher. I use it on things like beans and baked potatoes.
  • Teething bags (stuff it with frozen berries. Seriously, no orajel needed).
  • 4 Bibs

Bedtime

  • 3 Velcro swaddles (these saved my life – seriously. I wasn’t going to buy any but one was given to me and I loved them so much I bought two backups)
  • Two heavy blankets
  • Two medium blankets
  • Two light blankets
  • 6 receiving blankets (these double as burp rags)

Clothes (year one)

In the spirit of zero waste, buy as much of these used as possible. For when you can’t, I’ve provided links to organic cotton clothing that can be passed down until it’s ready to be composted.

  • 10 newborn onesies – 5 long sleeve, 5 short sleeve.
  • 2 newborn hats.
  • 10 newborn pairs of pants.
  • 2 newborn light zip up footie pajamas.
  • 2 newborn heavy zip up footie pajamas.
  • 20-40 pairs of 0-3 month socks (Dont waste money on newborn ones).
  • 2 pairs of 0-3 month booties (only if it’s really cold).
  • 0-3 month snowsuit (only if it’s really cold).
  • 10 0-3 month onesies – 5 long sleeve, 5 short sleeve.
  • 2 0-3 month hats.
  • 10 0-3 month pairs of pants.
  • 2 0-3 month light zip up footie pajamas.
  • 2 0-3 month heavy zip up footie pajamas.
  • 20-40 pairs of 3-6 month socks.
  • 2 pairs of 3-6 month booties (only if it’s really cold).
  • 3-6 month snowsuit (only if it’s really cold).
  • 8 3-6 month onesies – 4 long sleeve, 4 short sleeve.
  • 2 3-6 month hats.
  • 8 3-6 month pairs of pants.
  • 2 3-6 month light zip up footie pajamas.
  • 2 3-6 month heavy zip up footie pajamas.
  • 20-40 pairs of 6- 18 month socks.
  • 2 pairs of 6-18 month booties (only if it’s really cold).
  • 1 6- 9 month snowsuit (only if it’s really cold).
  • 8 6- 9 month onesies – 4 long sleeve, 4 short sleeve.
  • 2 6- 9 month hats.
  • 8 6- 9 month pairs of pants.
  • 2 6- 9 month light zip up footie pajamas.
  • 2 6- 9 month heavy zip up footie pajamas
  • 20-40 pairs of 18- 24 month socks.
  • 2 pairs of 18- 24 month booties (only if it’s really cold).
  • 1 9- 12 month snowsuit (only if it’s really cold).
  • 8 9- 12 month onesies – 4 long sleeve, 4 short sleeve.
  • 2 9- 12 month hats.
  • 8 9- 12 month pairs of pants.
  • 2 9- 12 month light zip up footie pajamas.
  • 2 9- 12 month heavy zip up footie pajamas
  • Dirty clothes basket
  • Baby safe stain remover
  • Baby/cloth diaper safe laundry soap
  • Chlorine-free bleach
  • Net bag for washing socks in (so your machine doesn’t eat them)

Gear

  • Convertible car seat
  • Stroller and rain shield
  • Car mirror. So you can see baby on long trips. Baby’s have suffocated in car seats before so I view this as a necessity.
  • Car window covers
  • Diaper bag (if you’re not using your purse)
  • Convertible crib. In the United States you are legally required to provide your baby an age appropriate bed with a frame. Even if you cosleep.
  • Highchair or other seating while eating device.
  • Somewhere to keep clothes off the floor; Baskets, bookshelves and dressers all work.
  • Boba wrap or baby carrier

Playtime/Learning

Minimalist Daycare Play AreaYour baby needs very little in this category, contrary to popular culture. My baby’s favorite toys are empty cereal boxes (plastic removed), rubber spatulas, coat hangers and an old Xbox controller that had the cord cut off. And in all honesty your baby will enjoy watching you and being involved in your tasks more than toys. I let him play with hangers and washcloths while I fold laundry. He plays with a wooden spoon and cheerios while I do dishes. And so on.

  • A blanket to lay down on the floor.
  • A separate blanket for outdoor play.
  • Hand-held rattle
  • Two stuffed toys (ours sing)
  • Foot rattles
  • Rings
  • Books to read (As many as you feel is appropriate)
  • Library card.
  • Supplies for sensory play like finger paints, cookie cutters, etc.

Misc.

  • Pacifiers and clips. These have been shown to reduce the risk of SID’s, so use them until about a year and then ween off of them.
  • Nail clippers
  • Hairbrush
  • Missing persons kit
  • Waterproof/fireproof safe for important documents.
  • Special swim diaper for the local pool.

Baby Health and Safety

  • Forehead thermometer.
  • Lavender vaporub for colds.
  • Nasal aspirator (there are different sizes – get all of them).
  • Syringe for medications/vitamins.
  • Infant tylenol.
  • Peppermint tea (for belly aches).
  • Pedialyte.
  • Grape juice for constipation.
  • Baby-proofing supplies – fridge latches, cabinet latches, oven and range guards, gates for stair cases, toilet seat locks, etc.
  • Fire alarm in every room. Gas alarm if you need it.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Baby monitor

I seriously recommend getting hold of your local Child Welfare and asking for a home inspection checklist. There are required items on there a lot parents (good normal parents) don’t know about. Such as having a certain distance between kitchen appliances and the sink.

What did your baby need?

This is part two of a series on raising a zero waste family.

Part One: The Zero Waste Baby

Part Two: What We Actually Needed for Baby

Part Three: What We Didn’t Need

Potato Leek Stoup

This is probably my most requested recipe. It’s my husband’s favorite, my brother-in-law’s favorite, my mom’s favorite… pretty much everyone who eats my food always wants this recipe.

I’ve done different variations over the last three years but this is by far the best way to do it. Perfect for a rainy day dinner, this recipe is particularly filling for a “soup” and is very affordable to make.

Potato Leek Stoup

Comfortably served 7 people (2 teenage boys and two large men included)

 

You Will Need:

1 tbsp butter

1 bundle leeks, white parts, thinly sliced (about 3 cups sliced)

1 rib of celery

1 tbsp salt + more to taste

1 lbs thick cut smoked bacon, sliced width-wise (pork jowl is a good substitute, and ends and pieces bacon is a budget friendly change that still tastes damn good)

Pepper to taste

3 lbs potatoes, un-peeled and cubed

4 cups water

2 beef bouillon cubes (or sub 2 cups of water for 2 cups of beef broth)

2 cups whole milk

 

Note: if you like crispy bacon cook the bacon in the pot first, scoop it out with a slotted spoon and let crisp on a paper towel. DO NOT drain the grease – add the butter and leeks straight to it and follow instructions from there.

 

To Prepare:

  1. In a soup pot melt butter over medium heat. Add sliced leeks, celery and salt generously (about 1 tbsp). Stir until coated in butter.
  2. Toss in bacon and a pinch of pepper. cook until leeks are translucent, stirring frequently. The bacon should also be cooked thoroughly at this point but not necessarily crispy.
  3. Add potatoes, bouillon and water to pot. Mix. Bring to a boil.
  4. Cover and reduce to a low heat. Let simmer for 10-30 minutes (depends on how small your potatoes are cut – 20 minutes is usually perfect).
  5. Remove from heat. Add milk, salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with crusty baguettes for an authentic French dish. If you reserved the bacon for crispness, sprinkle it on top before serving.

 

This would taste very good with a German beer if you don’t mind disgracing the French history of the recipe 😉

$50 Meal Plan #2

*UPDATE: This was originally posted in January on the old blog*

A meal plan, if it’s going to work, isn’t broken down into weekly measured portions and their associated costs. It’s a mix of this week’s purchases, what’s in your pantry, gifts and ground-scores.

So, following this format, I’m pitching in my budget. I spend $50-$75 a week on me and my husband (plus the weekly family dinner of 6 people, my younger siblings’ weekly visit, and all of the friends that come and devour my muffins. Every. Freaking. Day.)

But we have no other sources of food beyond our budget. No garden, herbs in the window sill – nothing. I use coupons sparingly – the store ad for wherever I’m shopping and coupons.com. Nothing complex. About 10 minutes a week and I save about $5 each shopping trip.

This hasn’t been the healthiest week for us. I’ve been working late nights so when I come home dinner is the last thing I want to do, and I can’t prep it in the morning because I’m doing homework in the mornings.

 

This week we bought:

Boneless skinless chicken breast (4 lbs.), ground turkey (2lbs.), mushroom-chicken sausage (1lbs.), beef ramen, coffee creamer, kale, lettuce, green onions, asparagus, bananas, 3lbs. bag of onions, yogurt, 2 boxes of cereal, and 1 jar of pasta sauce.

Meal-share Benefits with Family: 1 whole turkey and 3 goose eggs. My husband’s boss cleaned out his freezer.

From the Garden (and some Foraging): Morel mushrooms(!!) and dandelion greens from our yard (because I know they weren’t sprayed).

 

Breakfast Options:

Yogurt and granola

Frogs in a Hole

Oatmeal

 

Lunch Options:

Vegan Chili Verde

Cornbread

Turkey wraps

Sausage pasta with spinach (sausage+pasta+spinach+milk)

Leftovers

 

Snack Options:

Crackers

Granola bars

Fresh fruit

Crunchy roasted chickpeas

Quesadillas

Green salad

Pickled eggs (just throw boiled eggs in an empty pickle jar with leftover juice. One batch per pickle jar – refrigerate please)

French bread (homemade) and butter

Peanut butter edible cookie dough

Tea

Hot Cocoa

 

Dinner Menu:

Thursday  – Chicken curry with brown rice

Friday – Enchiladas

Saturday – Turkey and kale soup

Sunday – Ground beef ramen (ground beef+ramen+green onions) and salad

Monday – Turkey gravy over potatoes

Tuesday – Steak, garlic creamed pasta and asparagus

Wednesday – Turkey meatballs with marinara and fresh bread

 

Meal Prepping I did this week:

These foods were prepared over the course of the weekend. Some was stashed away for later and some was consumed this week.

  • 3 loaves of french bread
  • Turkey meatballs
  • 2 cups brown rice

This week’s total spent: $46.00 

 

How do you spend your grocery budget?

Preparing for Parenthood: The Zero Waste Baby

Zero Waste Baby NeedsI’m having a baby in December, and as our lifestyle has transitioned to zero waste and minimalist living, it’s just as important for that lifestyle to continue with us as our family changes. This is my first child, but I cared for my younger siblings for years as well as did daycare for a variety of families.

There are lots of cool gadgets out there for babies and young children. But very little of it is necessary, and some of it is straight up ridiculous.

Given my family’s tight budget and our commitment to reduce consumption in all areas of our lives, we’re sticking with the minimum. Lots of this has been gifted to us by family and upon our baby shower we’re probably going to receive more. I’ve also perused Facebook classifieds, craigslist and Freecycle for many free items. I encourage you to do this if you have the time or if you’re on a tight budget.

Household Changes

  • Water filter for sink
  • Filtering shower head and bath faucet
  • Waterproof mattress cover (for my mattress)
  • Cotton sheets (for my mattress)
  • Outlet covers
  • Dog bed (because we’re co-sleeping in the beginning and the dog can’t sleep on the bed anymore…)
  • CO and radon detector
  • Fabric shower curtain
  • If you haven’t already switched, get all the plastic out of your kitchen and switch to:
    • Bamboo cutting boards
    • Cast iron or 304 Steel cookware
    • Ceramic or cast iron bakeware

Baby Bedding

  • Crib or convertible bassinet (Convertible is better!!) with matress
  • Cotton sheets for crib (x2)
  • Homemade crib quilt
  • Light receiving blankets (x4)

Bathtime

  • Cotton undyed towels (x2)
  • Cotton undyed wash cloths (x8)
  • Baby grooming kit
    • Soft hair brush
    • Infant nail clippers
    • Snot sucker
  • Baby mild castille soap
  • Gentle baby lotion (you can make your own if you’re ambitious)

Diaper Changing

  • 20 cloth diapers
  • Homemade diaper rash balm
  • Diaper pins (steel; x4 sets)
  • Reuseable wipes, in a homemade solution, in a reuseable container
  • Waterproof diaper covers (x8)
  • Dirty diaper container and reusable liner (x2)

Clothes

  • Onesies (x16)
  • Socks or booties (x8)
  • Coming home outfit <3
  • Swimsuit
  • Scratch-proof mittens
  • A hat
  • leggings/pants (x16)
  • Pajamas (Light; x8)
  • Pajamas (Heavy; x8)
  • Swaddle wrap (x2)
  • Dirty clothes hamper

Feeding

  • Burp clothes (x8)
  • Glass bottles (x3)
  • Bottle brush
  • Breast pump
  • Freezer storage for pumped milk
  • Bibs (x3)
  • Highchair or seat with support

Misc. Needs

  • Moby wrap carrier (make this myself)
  • Stroller
  • Car seat
  • “Diaper Bag” (A bag that accommodates my normal purse items and baby needs when travelling)
  • Baby thermometer (I suggest the pacifier ones)
  • Baby book (if you’re nerdy like that…)
  • Developmentally appropriate toys (not very many are necessary – my niece’s favorite toy is a red rubber spatula)
  • Books (because even infants enjoy stories)
  • Baby monitor (for when you’re getting it on in the living room while the baby snoozes 😉 )

Parent Needs

  • Nursing bras (x8)
  • Nursing cover (make this myself)
  • Reuseable nursing pads (x16)
  • Scheduled dates (and gift cards if you can afford it) for after baby

I hope this was helpful! If I’ve left anything out, please let me know. Also it’s worth mentioning that I won’t be stocking up ahead of time on clothing and we have a washer and dryer. If you don’t have access to a washer and dryer and aren’t planning on hand-washing poopy diapers this list might be very different for you.

What did you need for your first baby?

This is part one in a series on raising Zero Waste children.

Part One: The Zero Waste Baby

Part Two: What We Actually Needed for Baby

Part Three: What We Didn’t Need