I never ever thought I would say this, but I’m enjoying gardening! I wasn’t a fan of gardening when I was growing up, but I guess it’s in my blood and I shouldn’t fight it! 😉 My grandpa and my mom must have passed the gene on down despite my resistance! Now, I’m thankful.
I really started appreciate gardening since I’ve been on a quest to live and eat healthier. There’s something very satisfying in cooking food that we grew! You know…that whole “I-can-do-it-myself” pride that you see in your toddler, well now I remember what it feels like with gardening!
Another bonus: I know exactly where the food came from and what was put into it! And now it’s really helping our grocery budget! We have a pretty short growing season in Minnesota, but I’ve still been able to harvest lettuce, zucchini, green beans, and sugar snap peas already! I didn’t have to buy any veggies this week on my grocery trip! Mostly fruit and a few other staples! Maybe “going green” ain’t so bad!
Other things I love about gardening:
- My kids are involved and learning so much! They’re learning science, health, and good eating habits as well as spiritual concepts like “What you sow is what you grow!” (And they are having a LOT of fun! They beg me to water the garden or pick vegetables!)
- There’s something therapeutic in pulling out weeds! I don’t know what it is, but it feels good to yank a weed out by the root and toss it aside!
- We get off the couch and enjoy the outdoors while gardening.
- Fresh food takes flavor to a whole new level! You may never buy another canned vegetable from the store once you try growing your own!
- When we live 28 miles from the nearest big grocery store it’s nice to be able to just go to our yard and pick something last-minute for a meal!
- It’s a meaningful (and frugal) gift to share homegrown veggies with a friend or neighbor!
Have I convinced you to try gardening yet?!?!?! Don’t let having a small (or no) yard hold you back. We have a few containers of herbs and lettuce on our porch that really supplement our meals nicely! You could try a tomato plant in a container and make your own spaghetti sauce or fresh BLT sandwich! The possibilities are endless! You might just grow a green thumb while you’re at it!
Fresh salad for lunch, anyone?
We’ll probably eat this for dinner tonight!
Fresh herbs! Basil, oregano, rosemary…and a cute toddler (pick at your own risk!) ;)
He’s happy to help…especially if it involves water and mud! Win-win!
If you want some meal ideas, check out Courtney’s menu for the week! If this whole concept of meal planning is still a little intimidating here’s a couple of ideas that help me in the planning process:
- Look at your calendar for the week and take note of activities planned. Make sure dinners are something easy and fast for those busy nights where you’re running kids off to lessons or church programs. An easy meal, like a crock pot meal you can make ahead or freezer meal that has the prep work all ready done would be a good option!
- Check the freezer and cupboards to see what you have on hand and need to use up as you plan meals and grocery lists. You can find some meal inspiration in your own kitchen and save a few bucks by not buying unnecessary items!
- Use websites like allrecipes.com and enter an ingredient and search all the different recipes listed, or use their menu planner. You might find a new family favorite!
- Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, also recommends a program called e-meals where for a small fee they send you affordable meal plans that can be customized for special diets and take away the stress of planning. I haven’t used it, but it’s another option out there!
- Have a “theme” for each night of the week. For instance I usually have a crock pot meal on Mondays (our lesson nights), a Mexican flavor meal on Tuesdays, pasta or Italian dish which is usually fast on Wednesday (church night), stir fry or Asian food on Thursdays, and pizza is our usual Friday night meal. Weekends I get my husband’s input since he likes to grill or cook fish when he’s home. Other options would be a Soup night or having a meatless meal night every week.
- Ask kids! As my kids get older and want to help more in the kitchen, I envision letting them help plan and cook a meal one night a week too. (I stopped doing this after our big move but need to get back into the habit!) It’s a good skill to pass on and they’ll be more likely to eat the food they help plan and prepare!
- My little kitchen helper!
Where do you find meal inspiration?
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!
This summer I read a book on how “America’s Cheapest Family” saved money on their grocery budget. I was encouraged to find out that a lot of the tips were pretty practical things I already do. I don’t take it quite to the extreme they do, but I can save a significant amount. Couponing is not a system I’ve been able to get into as well (for where we’re at right now), so if you have questions on that Courtney is our expert. Otherwise, here’s some things that I do to feed our family of six economically.
1. Eat at home! As much as I love to eat out, it is a luxury for us. The majority of our meals are at home and homemade. By doing so we can spend $5 for a meal to feed all six of us instead of $30 or more. We live in the country so take-out isn’t really much of an option…unless you want pizza every night (which I’m sure my son would NOT mind.) If this is a stretch for you consider learning just one or two dishes and start with that.
2. PLAN! (I know! I hate that word sometimes…but it works. So I put on my “big girl pants” and make a plan). My plans are not super detailed…just guidelines. 😉 Breakfast is usually toast or cereal, lunch is fruit and yogurt or PB&J’s, so dinner is what varies and that’s what I plan out for a week. (I used to do a whole month at a time, but for now I’m just going week by week.) Courtney or I will post our weekly menu on Mondays if you want any ideas. With my plan I will always have an answer to that dreaded question: what’s for dinner?
3. Stretch your meals. This is part of the planning process. For instance, Sunday’s meal was a crockpot chicken. I used leftover chicken and the broth from this meal for Monday’s meal of chicken and wild rice. I have a lot of chicken and wild rice left and that will become soup by adding some cream. I’ll also use chicken from Sunday’s meal and cream I bought for soup to make chicken alfredo on friday night. That’s four meals from one chicken and two using the cream. That’s what I call stretching your meals. By doing this I buy less ingredients and take full advantage of the things I do buy.
4. Think about what foods are in season and take advantage of sale items. When making your dinner plan it might be helpful to have your local grocery store flier or ad at hand. Look to see what foods are on sale and tailor your meals to include those items. I like to include a lot of fresh fruit and veggies which can be expensive, but I know the best time to buy apples are in the fall, oranges are usually cheap in the winter, strawberries in the summer…you get the idea!
Check back tomorrow to see the other ways we save money on groceries in Part 2!
Homemade bread! My newest experiment in saving "dough"! ;)
How do you save money on your grocery budget?