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Today, I finished up the last of the Grain Mill Wagon blogger challenge posts with my Soaked, Gluten-Free Waffles recipe. And that means that I will, once again, be going grain-free. I have really been struggling with it but I know I need to for my health. Grains are cheap and easy, the holidays are stressful and no one wants to cook 21 meals plus 7 or more snacks a week, week in and week out for years. Yet that is where I am, yet again. But it’s what I need right now.
Last Fall, I went off of grains and went onto a low-carb paleoish diet that allowed for some raw dairy and some very limited amounts of beans. I saw my energy go through the roof. While on that diet, I walked 20 miles in one week on vacation. Prior to my diet change, that would have been unheard of. I need to get back to that place of amazing energy. I was able to outrun my kids. I was so happy at how much I was able to accomplish.
Grains will not be leaving our household, however, so I have laid out a battle plan. If you recall from previous Real Budget, Real Food Storage posts, Jeff can eat anything, my daughter is GF and my son is GFCF and will soon go on a specialized diet once I’m on my feet with paleo for me.
Here’s the battle plan for a mixed household. First, I’m going grain-free this week, but not low-carb yet. One step at a time. And I’d like to see what effect grain-free has on me outside of being paleo, and if my energy increase is from one or a combination of both.
Second, Jeff and my daughter will remain on grains and my son will remain on them for now. So for this week’s meal plan, you’ll see a mix of recipes with grain-free options for me. We’re going to meals where everyone can eat the main dish, and the side dishes are varied so everyone gets a complete meal. For example, we might have a hearty chili without beans. On the side would be the beans and some rice for the kids and hubby. I’ll have extra chili or a side of cooked kale or maybe even a winter salad. Everyone gets a solid meal without having to cook two separate meals for the household.
Third, I’m also going to begin concentrating on building up a freezer stash of already prepared meals and snacks for every family member so I don’t have to constantly be confronted with grains and carbs, and the temptation to eat them because I’m busy and I don’t want to have to fix separate meals.
My over-riding concern is that I have enough to eat. Not eating enough causes problems with metabolism and thyroid. Most people who attribute problems to low-carb or paleo have it happen because they’re not eating enough. I had that happen in the past when I was only GFCF, so I’m familiar with the symptoms and issues. My goal this week is to make sure I’m getting enough in calories. I need to consume enough calories in the right foods that my hands and feet stay warm. It doesn’t take tons of white sugar and carbs to accomplish that, just enough calories.
Rebuild the Storage
But first, I’d like to answer a question I received over e-mail. Her statement was that my posts didn’t reflect real life, because I spent money on that food and I’m not posting those amounts, just what I’m spending now. She claimed it was deceptive.
Yes, we will need to rebuild the food storage. Yes, that will take money. But the point of this series is to show you how low you can get your food budget while using your storage as insurance. Just like you purchase health and life insurance for when you need it, a food storage program is insurance for when you need to eat but don’t have the money to spend. You must eat, you know you’re going to need to eat, your kids will need to be fed. Absolutely. You know it’s necessary for life, so why not be prepared for when you hit a rough financial patch?
For us, those rough patches have come from job loss. We’ve been through two year-long rounds of unemployment since 2009. Yes- in the last three years, my husband was only fully employed for one year. He’s now working a part-time job. He’s an engineer, he’s no slow leak. The market here is dead, but we’re tied to the area due to the needs of family. Moving isn’t possible for now. So we are under-employed and hoping we can go full-time if the economy ever picks up.
When we being the process of rebuilding, I will blog more about it. For now, we don’t have the funds so we are using our food storage as insurance instead of as a large pantry. When we have extra money, we do use it as a pantry- we replace what we eat. It is important when you have the budget to eat what you store and store what you eat. No matter how you’re building your storage, that principle remains the same- if you won’t eat it, don’t buy it. It’s a waste of time, money and space.
Menu for the Week
Breakfast- leftover waffles for the kids, leftover soup for me. Jeff normally skips breakfast on Sundays.
Lunch- Lemon pepper chicken with broccoli and cauliflower. Rice on the side for Jeff and the kids. The broccoli and cauliflower are left over from last week.
Snack- cookies for the kids, nothing for the adults
Dinner- Finger foods- deviled eggs, cut up veggies and dip, leftover meats, black olives, sardines or kipper snacks, crackers for the kids. We normally eat leftovers on Sunday night, but this week we won’t have enough so we supplement with little bits.
Breakfast- testing an egg and veggie-based breakfast casserole recipe for the Menu Mailer.
Lunch- salmon salad with fermented veggie sticks
Dinner- Roast with carrot, onion and potatoes, brussels sprouts
Breakfast- scrambled eggs for all, cheese for those who can have it.
Lunch- leftover roast from last night
Snack- yogurt and berries
Dinner- Roast chicken
Breakfast- testing a grain-free pancake recipe.
Lunch- egg salad
Snack- 3 minute ice cream
Dinner- chicken pot pie with the leftover roast chicken from last night. Recipe coming to the blog soon.
Breakfast- omelets with veggies
Lunch- Soup from the leftover chicken
Snack- yogurt and berries
Dinner- testing a chicken recipe for the video-based membership class using some frozen veggies.
Breakfast- waffles for the kids, eggs with cheese for me
Lunch- mayo-based salmon salad, fruit
Snack- deviled eggs
Dinner- testing a steak recipe for the video-based membership class.
Breakfast- omelets with caramelized onions and mushrooms
Lunch- leftover clean-out
Dinner- Jeff’s pick of meat from the freezer plus whatever veggies we have left.
Our raw milk pick-up was this week, so we spent $18 on milk. I had cauliflower, broccoli and some carrots left over from last week, so we didn’t need to buy any.
We will purchase eggs, brussels sprouts, more carrots, and bananas. We will also pick up whatever other veggies are at a good price when we go shopping this week to round out the side dishes for the dinners we will be testing. My budget will be $20 for everything. We found coconut milk yogurt last week at the salvage for super cheap, below my threshold of make versus buy. Click here to view my recipe for coconut milk yogurt. We also picked up a carton of blueberries for less than $1 at Aldi’s. Those will make snacks this week. I’m also watching for good prices on high-quality cheese so we can pick up some as we are running low. I have two cheese addicts here, so it’s hard to keep it in storage. I need a way to hide it. lol I think I’ve figured out what to do and will share that soon.
The meat, mayo, other veggies, stock, spices, grains and other components not listed in the shopping list above all come from our food storage. So far this month, we have spent less than $63 on food ($36 on raw milk and $27 for everything else), everything else came from food storage. We are on track to spend less than $150 on groceries this month, thanks to our food storage. For a family that is trying to keep the budget just as low as humanly possible so we can rebuild our emergency fund while hubby is under-employed, having a food storage is a Godsend for lean times or added security.
What Could I Eliminate If I Had To?
Raw milk is our most expensive item. We pay $9 a gallon and will purchase 6 gallons this month, but it’s because we have three deliveries this month instead of two- that is unusual. That’s a total of $54, or a little more than one-third of our monthly food budget. Under the circumstances, I believe the cost is justified. We could easily drink two or three gallons a week, but we limit ourselves to one gallon per week while our budget is tight. However, we could eliminate fresh milk from our purchases if our budget was even tighter and we had no wiggle room, and be ok since we have that built into the food storage. We could also eliminate most of our vegetable purchases and use the frozen, canned and dehydrated fruit and veggies we have in storage if we had to due to budget. However, since I prefer working with and the nutrition from fresh vegetables, I use those whenever I can.
So the only thing we would need to purchase would be eggs, since our flock got wiped out.
I struggle with the same issues, trying to eat low carb or grain free when you have a tight budget and you’re in a household where others can handle some of the foods you can’t. I do a similar thing with our meals, always trying to have the main portion shared, with vegetables for both us and an additional side dish that includes grains (for my husband). I also do batch cooking for both of us, so we have meals ready whenever our schedule gets too hectic.