Simplifying Meals and the Budget (So You Want to Be a Homesteader #19)

I am learning a lot this summer.  I am learning to simplify my meal plan, my shopping list, and my budget in order to save time, energy, and a whole lot of money that will be used for other things.

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Making cookies is super easy and keeps Pa from buying packaged.

My meals are usually pretty elaborate affairs.  I would always have a long menu plan filled with delicious looking recipes from magazines and cookbooks.  Great if I happen to have all of those ingredients (not usually), and if I happen to want that particular meal on the night allotted.  No?  Then we were out at a restaurant.

When do you think restaurants skyrocketed in price?  It seems like overnight but yet, a few years later, I am still shocked that $40-$60 is the average ticket for two of us!  We noticed how we feel, the extra weight gain, the heartburn and pinned it down to when we go out.  I generally serve much smaller portions and the food is fresh and additive free at home.  We also took a look at the average we were spending on restaurants in a month.  Lord, have mercy.  That is money that could certainly be used elsewhere.

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Eggs, a little milk, chopped spinach and chives, sprinkle of cheese, salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 degrees until a knife comes out clean.  About 20 minutes.

I have found a few ways to make meals super easy.  First, choose a side or a main.  What do I have in the freezer?  Do I feel like wild rice?  What is growing in the garden?  Basically, what do I have?  Chicken, rice, frozen peas, carrots….I can make a homemade cream of celery sauce (milk, flour, salt, celery…you don’t need to buy those cans of cream soup), and fresh salad from the garden.  I plan that the day before so I can defrost as needed.  Things don’t get wasted, nothing languishes in the back of the fridge, and we eat clean and simply.  If I am short one ingredient, I go get it.

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I plan Doug’s lunch the day before as well.  Leftovers?  Sandwiches?  Do I need to make bread?

Hot cereal or homemade yogurt and granola start the day.

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By taking out elaborate and processed foods, I have saved time, money, and a lot of stress.

Now for simplifying the budget; this is important!  I needed to glean through and find lots of money.  Wedding, down payments….I have my reasons.  We usually do the envelope system.  I have $200 allotted for groceries for the week.  I would take two weeks worth of money and go to the store with my elaborate lists and spend the amount.  Until I noticed that I have tons of staples, frozen foods, and vegetables growing in the garden.  I was spending the money just to spend the money!  So instead I only get what I need.  A short list at the end of the weeks of things like flour, yeast, coffee, etc.  We are saving $400 a month on groceries.

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So then I’m on a roll, ’cause Mama wants a bigger farm.  Where else am I spending just to spend?  Well, let’s just say I am busy spending only what I absolutely need to.  No dwindling “extra” money in envelopes and using the dreaded budget buster- the debit card.  I am saving an average of $800 a month!

Try it!  Don’t use credit cards.  Rarely use the debit card.  Pull out a hundred bucks and make it last as looooong as possible.  Use what you have.  Cook simply with what you have.  Try to sell some things and earn a little more and see how quickly things add up.

Simple=Peace of Mind

Redecorating the Farmhouse, part 2-transformation

20180724_110203I am an advocate of using what we have.  I have a beat up couch and a beat up futon and some beat up chairs and a giant puppy who likes to sleep on them.  I have hand me down furniture that can easily move from room to room to create a different look.

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The newly white bookshelf matches its mate now.  I set it at an angle in the corner to create a smooth appearance to my mini office space complete with vintage secretary.  This L-shaped living and dining room in my hundred year old house lends itself to separate areas for reading, or conversation, or entertaining.

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Tomorrow I will show you what fabulous finds you can get at antique stores, garage sales, craigslist, or thrift stores that still work in this day and age and make life so peaceful and satisfying in their gentle whirrings and lack of electric usage, but there are some things I get new.  Unfortunately from Walmart, but there it is.  It would be ridiculous to use vintage quilts on our furniture. They are best left to beds.  These quilts were twenty dollars and they are surprisingly well made and hold up as farmer’s markets table cloths and chair covers.

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Even though the twinkly lights don’t look that great during the day time, come dusk they transform our house into an enchanted fairy land.  They are our sole light along with kerosene lamps and candles in this space.

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The Hoosier was hiding in the kitchen.  The Farmhouse sign was hiding in the kitchen as well.  They looks so lovely as the first things you see when you walk in our front door.

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The Hoosier has been outfitted as a bar.  The cupboard holds glasses.  The flour case holds bottles.  The drawer holds openers and tea candles.

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The side table and mirror have been outfitted as a wine stand.  The magazine rack holds food magazines.

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The black table lends itself to drama and simple items, like birds nests and natural items found outdoors.  Such perfect decoration and it can change with the seasons.

I moved a table that was in the living room into the kitchen and put a double rack on top to hold all of my cookbooks.  A simple solution to dissuade the puppy from eating my cookbooks and it is beautiful in its highlight of the lamp, books, and coffee grinder.

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Growing where planted and gratitude are important and the frugal homesteader can do a lot with paint and a little creativity.  There is no place like home!  See you tomorrow for part 3!

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