In 21 days our family of 4 (in case you missed it we adopted Calvin!) will be moving. Moving is nothing new for me, I grew up moving, and I’ve moved multiple times since being an adult, but this will be the first time, as an adult for me to move to another country. It’s hard to believe that after years of pursuing foreign missions, we’re finally going to West Africa! I know my life will be changing a lot and I’m both excited and nervous, but I know God will be with me through it all!

As far as the blog goes, I’ve really missed blogging and I’ve thought many times about coming back to it, I’ve even gone as far as starting some rough draft posts. However, it’s also been good for me to get away from it and spend time and thoughts on other things.

I’m hoping to keep posting sometimes, although it won’t be as often as I used to post….and if my posts do become really frequent I give you all permission to write me  and say, “Katy, what’s up with all these posts? Are you getting your other things done first???”

I’ve also been updating our ministry blog more frequently too, which covers more ministry and family type things.

Right when you feel like packing’s going good……

…you realize, you need to start all over again! :)

 

With all this traveling and moving I haven’t felt very frugal at all, let’s face it plane tickets, typhoid shots, malaria preventatives, and passports aren’t cheap. And it doesn’t help that we keep saying, “We need to eat at (insert all of our favorite State-side restaurants) before we go!”

To make myself feel better about all we’ve been spending, here’s 5 ways we’ve been frugal recently:

  1. I bought a dual-voltage blow dryer and flat-iron on amazon, using my earnings from swagbucks* to cut the price quite a bit.
  2. We opted for a small layover in Brussels on our way to Senegal because it was significantly cheaper than flying straight.
  3. We have over $50 at a consignment store, that I plan on collecting before leaving the country.
  4. I’ve been collecting lots of free e-books for my Kindle. I’m so thankful for modern technology, that allows me to pack buckets of books into one small device! :)
  5. I’ve been finding tons of coins lately when I go on run/walks. I wish I’d been keeping track of how many, but almost every time I go, I find at least one or two…Cameron makes fun of me, but hey, every penny counts!!

 

Linked at Sarah Titus for Frugal Friday.

Frugal Friday

For our drive down to Texas, I knew we’d be in the car all day, long enough for all 3 meals to be on the road….which could mean a lot of eating out and grabbing snacks at gas stations. That’s always been a weakness for us on road trips, but I determined to fight that temptation and take meals, snacks and drinks. Unfortunately on the drive down we did end up buying the kids some Gatorade and I had underestimated how much water we’d drink, so we bought some bottled water too. But no food was bought on the drive down (we did get some on the drive back though).

So what did I pack?

  • Quiche cups for breakfast. This was basically just eggs, milk, sausage, spinach and seasonings baked in a greased muffin pan. The only problem with these is we had to eat them cold, but other than that they were an easy to eat breakfast full of protein! And if you have a microwave, you could always heat them up before heading out the door.
  • I made a double batch of pizza muffins, much to the delight of the kids. They made a perfect lunch and I plan on making these in the future when we do more traveling. We just skipped the pizza sauce for dipping…I didn’t want to deal with that mess!
  • Wrap makings - Okay, I must confess we didn’t eat these on the road, but all the ingredients came back home with us and made for some quick meals after we got back. Instead of the wraps we just had snacks and more pizza muffins for supper. I packed wraps, lettuce, salami, cheese, and my favorite wrap filling….hummus! Wraps tend to hold together better than sandwiches, making them a nice choice in the car.
  • Snacks: Chips, grapes, apples, veggie sticks with hummus, animal crackers, raisins, almonds, peanut butter popcorn and gum. I know that sounds like a lot of snacks, but we didn’t eat them all in one day, and like I said, I was trying really hard to help us avoid buying overpriced junk food at gas stations.
  • Drinks: Water, juice pouches and homemade ice-coffee.

If we had bought 3 meals on the road, plus all our drinks and snacks on the way it would’ve cost way more, taken more time and been less healthy. Also when we did stop we were able to let the kids play instead of making them sit down in a restaurant, believe me they needed to run around!

What are your favorite foods to take on road trips?

Amy

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a grocery/menu post. My grocery shopping was minimal this week. We have plenty of hamburger meat in the freezer so I didn’t need to buy any protein other than a bag of lentils, and we have a variety of things in the pantry. Plus a couple of the things on my list to buy were actually donated to our school making my grocery list even smaller.

I spent about $40 on food. I price matched a 3 lb. bag of onions for 79 cents, 2 8 oz. boxes of mushrooms for 99 cents/each, and 3 16 oz. bags of baby carrots for 69 cents/each.

Here’s our menu plan, which I’m sure I won’t follow exactly, cuz I never do:

Breakfasts: breakfast rice, oatmeal, eggs, toast, smoothies, breakfast burritos

Lunches: leftovers, burritos, quesadillas and sandwiches

Suppers:

Linked at Organized Junkie.

After our Simple Living classes, one of the things I wanted to talk about was my More with Less Cookbook….but that was months ago and I’m FINALLY getting around to it! Better late than never…right?

 

When we had our simple living scenario two things made me run to my cookbooks, one was that we had to cook from scratch and the other was that we couldn’t use the internet, so no googling recipes.

While I love cookbooks, I’ve tried to trim them down with all the moving in our lives, but one that I’ve kept (and probably will keep for a long time) is my More with Less Cookbook.

Put together by Mennonites, it’s full of scratch recipes, which are mostly healthy and frugal. Not only is it full of recipes, but it gives meal ideas, discusses healthy eating, and a really cool feature…”Gather Up the Fragments”, which as you can guess gives ideas for using up leftovers. If I were to pick one word to describe this book, I’d call it practical!

It has many international dishes, even some from Paraguay (my parent’s last 2 years in Paraguay were in a Mennonite town).

Just the other day I made the Roman apple cake. I also make the lentil soup recipe (with a few variations), sopa Paraguaya, basic cheese sauce, rice guiso and have plenty of other recipes I want to try! In short, this is one of my favorite cookbooks ever!

Do any of you own this book? What’s your favorite recipe from it?

*Amazon affiliate link – If you make a purchase through my link, I receive a portion of the proceeds.


Amy

 

Pantry in our travel trailer we lived in for 2 years.

Wondering how 2 adults and 2 kids are eating for $42 this week? I’m sure plenty of ultra-frugal folks and queens of couponing do this all the time, but I usually spend closer to $100 a week….so what’s the trick? I’m doing almost all of my grocery shopping from my own pantry and fridge this week!

First I grabbed a notebook and pen and went around writing down what things I had on hand in 5 categories: protein, veggies/fruit, grains/breads, dairy and other. To my surprise we have a HUGE variety in the grains section, not only do we have tortillas, wraps and bread, but we also have flours, wheat germ, rice, millet I didn’t know I had, and even more! I had more veggies than I realized too. The one category that was rather low was protein, although we have 4 kinds of beans and then lentils. I do cook quite a bit with beans, but don’t really feel like having beans every single day this week, so I bought some hamburger meat.

Reasons to eat from the pantry:

  1. Waste less food. I know if I fill my fridge up with fresh food, that fresh food (especially produce) will look more tempting that the older stuff making it more likely to never get eaten. Also, the fuller the fridge, the easier things get stuffed in the back of it and lost.
  2. Have emptier more organized cupboards.
  3. Save money. Because we’ll mostly be eating from what we already have, I was able to spend just under $42 on food at the store.

Spent just under $42

So here’s the menu plan.

Breakfasts: oatmeal, smoothies, eggs, toast, breakfast rice, muffin recipes that use up leftover milk, sour cream and yogurt, like these banana muffins.

Lunches: sandwiches (grilled cheese, egg salad or chicken),  soup, leftovers

Suppers:

  • Black beans and rice, chips, salsa, cheese and avocados
  • Meal with some friends, I’m bringing mashed potatoes and a veggie.
  • SUPERBOWL at friend’s house! I took popcorn and banana bread
  • Taco salad with stretched taco meat
  • Pizza pasta and salad
  • Chili and corn bread
  • Leftovers

Are you shopping your pantry this week?

Oh, and I almost forgot, we have a new post at our ministry blog, What We’re Doing…in Pictures.

Linked at Organizing Junkie.

Amy 

I’ve been kinda dreading this post, cuz I just love so many awesome blogs! I have several that I check on a regular basis and others that I just go to when I have more time and happen to think of it. And I’m always discovering new blogs, so this list is definitely not comprehensive and it will probably change a million times, but for now here’s some of my favorites!

Frugal Blogs

Adoption

  • Owlhaven - Not only do I love Mary Ostyn’s blog, but I love her book Family Feasts for $75 a Week.*
  • One Thankful MomGreat blog with honest truth!
  • An Inviting HomeI recently stumbled across this blog and am so glad I did! This family adopted a sibling group of 3 from FOSTER CARE!!! (now you see why I’m drawn to it). They also have 2 bio kids, so she’s a busy woman! I’ve read her post One Year Later multiple times and plan on reading it again! :)

Other

And of course, there’s plenty more that I read, but this should at least get you started if you’re looking for some good reads! :)

*Amazon Affiliate Link

This shepherd’s pie is similar to my crock pot shepherd’s pie, but this version uses lentils along with the meat, and uses no canned cream of mushroom soup, which skipping that was easier than I thought. I didn’t even make up my own cream of mushroom from scratch or anything, all I did was substitute cheddar cheese for it!

If you’re looking for a cheap meal…well potatoes, a little meat, and lentils is super frugal.

If you’re looking for a tasty meal that’s also filling….yup, one 9 X 13 pan of this lasts our family currently of 4, for 2 full meals.

If you’re looking for a healthy meal…well there’s veggies, protein (both meat and lentils), and lots of fiber!

Ingredients:

~Mashed potatoes – I made about 6 potatoes worth.
~1 lb. ground hamburger or turkey meat
~1 cup of dry lentils, red or brown (cook according to package directions before using)
~1 bell pepper
~1/2 onion
~1 celery stalk with leaves
~1 can of corn (or use frozen corn)
~2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
~Worcestershire sauce to taste (I like lots!)
~Salt
~Pepper
~Garlic powder

Chop the veggies. Brown the meat and cook the veggies with it. Once the meat and veggies are cooked, add the cooked lentils, put them in the bottom of a glass 9 X 13 pan. Next sprinkle the cheese, then layer the mashed potatoes on top. Bake at 325 F for about 25 minutes or until hot all the way through and bubbly.

Keeping it ultra frugal?

~Use leftover mashed potatoes.

~Instead of pealing your potatoes scrub them and keep the peals on, that’s not only less wasteful it’s also where most of the nutrition and fiber is.

~You can even save the potato water from cooking the potatoes for making bread!

~After chopping up your veggies, save the onion skin and pepper core and seeds for  making veggie broth.

Amy

1. Popcorn – Buy a big bag of popcorn kernels and pop them yourself in a heavy bottom pan. Popcorn’s full of fiber and you can make all kinds of flavors, sweet or savory.

2. Muffins – You know I love ‘em! When made with fruit, part whole wheat and less sugar, they can be pretty healthy. Check out some of my favorites here.

3. Fresh fruit can be frugal when bought on sale and in season. I buy apples and bananas almost every shopping trip. When the kids are hungry, but it’s not supper time yet, I let them choose one or the other, Gracia’s usually the apple eater, and Little Dude’s the banana man.

4. Veggie sticks – Carrot and celery sticks are almost always a good deal, but sometimes I splurge and get sugar snap peas, they’re my favorite!

5. Smoothies – Freeze fruit that won’t last much longer, like berries, peaches, mangoes and bananas then toss them in your blender with some milk or yogurt. I like to make my smoothies thick, like soft serve ice-cream. :P

What are your favorite frugal and healthy snacks?

Linked at Frugally Sustainable.

Amy

I was rather appalled as I was tallying up October’s expenses and our grocery bill was higher than it’s been in a LONG time! Not sure why, I guess when you don’t keep on top of things, they can easily add up without even being aware of it. So this week I’m making our menu plan based almost all on what I already have around the house (thankfully their’s plenty here). I only spent $36 on food at the grocery store this week.

 

Breakfasts: Coconut granola, oatmeal, toast, eggs, fruit or smoothies

Lunches: Leftovers, burritos or sandwiches (egg salad, chicken or grilled cheese)

Suppers:

  • Vegetarian stuffed peppers & sauted spinach
  • Chorizo, egg and cabbage burritos with corn tortillas
  • Sausage barley stew and bread
  • Chicken quesadillas, chips, pomegranate and steamed broccoli
  • Lentil soup and bread
  • Oven roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and some kind of veggie
  • Leftovers

 

I love how easy of a breakfast granola is. The kids can get it themselves with a just a little help pouring the milk, making my mornings a little easier. I also love knowing the kids are starting their day with a breakfast full of fiber. I love all kinds of granola, but recently I played around with one recipe to make this coconut kind.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla

Heat oil, honey and vanilla up in microwave or stove top. Mix remaining ingredients. Pour the oil, honey, vanilla mixture over the oat mixture and mix together. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 300 degrees F about 20 minutes or until it starts to brown. Take out of oven and let cool before removing from sheet. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy with milk, fruit and yogurt for a parfait, thrown into a trail mix or just eat by the handfuls! :P

This could make a great gift too!

Frugally Sustainable.

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