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Don’t Be Afraid Of Jello!


Yes, yes. I know the whole story about eating whole foods, local produce and buying from small farms. Heck, of course I do ( Its my life!) However, like any good intention, I do think we get a little too nutso about it.

Although we eat food that I mostly raise and process or butcher, my kids are not denied foods because of it. I do have to say that I don’t give them junk food or (gasp) fast food, until they were old enough to ask for it(more than once). I still can get away with buying them that sort of stuff once in a blue moon. I truly think its because they never developed a taste for it when they were young. May be I am off base, but that’s my story and I am sticking to it.

Anyways, there are foods that you can use to fill out a meal and make it feel fun, for mere pennies. I am talking about foods that might get the poo poo from families, based on the local or pureist stance that they take with food. I find most of the extremists are people without families, those that can afford to eat a Freegan lentil soup for 7 days and still live to blog about it. 🙂 But what of the people feeding children?

I feed our family of 7 and my husband’s mother for less than 500 a month. Its not always pretty, but I get it done. Now, eating food on this sort of budget leaves very little room for junkfood. I don’t do boxed or prepared foods anyways, so that is not an issue, but sometimes, a kid just wants something fun to eat. Even if they have never tasted the fast food version of it. Case in point, here are 5 things I buy, that make a meal fun. Not one of them is purchased from a local farmer:

1. Koolaid – I do buy the invisible one.. Make it with ¾ cup of cane sugar and serve.

2. Jello – c’mon…its J..e..l..l..o! No seriously, from ice pops to whipped jello, this is a cheap, yummy treat. Add fruit, use it to make jelly, make it and offer a sick child as a drink when dehydrated. Just make it and serve  with whipped cream. Its pretty versatile. Yes I know its made from cow hooves…I am ok with that. Better than throwing them out.

Chocolate chips – I cant ever believe I am defending these, but CC are perfect for making any cookie dough more spectacular. I double or triple the dough amount and keep the CC to the single batch every time, no one even misses the extra chips. OR mix with raisins and make cookies that way. They visually look loaded with chips. Just saying..

Sugar – Yes, I eat sugar. It isn’t something we pound into our foods every day. I don’t get all sweaty about it. We just eat a dessert that has sugar in it. I made it, I know whats in it. I do buy cane sugar though. NO matter what anyone in any office says, sugar is NOT sugar. Cane sugar is Cane sugar.

We also love Agave, honey, molasses, maple syrup and stevia drops. They don’t scare me either. We use them, not live on them.

I guess my point today is not to sound  high and mighty. It is just to illustrate that a grocery store shouldn’t appear to be frightening or dangerous for healthy eating. In all honesty, we should have the option to buy foods as we can afford them. If you are frugal, you can still eat treats and fun things..just make them yourself, and keep them a treat. That means once in a while and enjoy every bite.

Photo: Flickr user Ricketyus

Pantry Gardening


By now, the foods that were put up last year have begun to run out. In our house, we are down to the last few bags of tomato sauce, having used all the cases of tomatoes and sauce in the pantry. We do have hot sauce left, but that is only because it is so much more convenient to open a jar, rather than thaw a bag. It is probably time to say goodbye to the foods that we didn’t like. The apricots were a huge hit when dried, but the canned ones were never eaten. I will be blending them with a stick blender, and making apricot bread. No more canned appricots!

Because it is time to think about this year’s garden, taking stock of what you used and what you had too much of, should be written down somewhere. Make a note to grow more/less, and stick to it! Our eyes are always bigger than our pantry, and that can end up being wasteful. Overwhelmed at what to plant? I recommend starting with three major things your family will use.

For us, that means tomatoes, sweet peppers, and greens. All three things are used almost daily. They are canned, dried, and frozen-keeping them in our diet year round.
What three things will you start with?