Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Few Things Thrifty

I've been married three and a half years. I have a 22 month old, and I stay at home with her full time. I am by no means a homemaking expert. Perhaps, when I've been a mom and a wife for thirty years, I can say I have it down pat. But, though I'm not an expert, it is my job and it is my passion. God has called me to this position in my life, and I am bound to perform it's duties to His honor, through Christ, to the best of my ability. 

What IS the best of my ability? Bringing glory to God in all that I do. 

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

Honoring my husband. 

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord."
Colossians 3:18

 Training my child in righteousness. 

"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

In that order. What this doesn't mean is being the best at every endeavor. It doesn't mean having a perfectly clean house. It doesn't mean making everything from scratch, perfectly, every time. It does mean being joyful, knowing my limits, and not feeling guilty over them.

With that being said, though I am no expert, I have learned a few tricks and tips over the past three years. I've always appreciated other homemakers sharing their gems with me, so I thought I'd pass on a few of the thrifty tips I've gleaned along the way. I'm still learning, so if you have any tips of your own to share, please feel free to comment! :)

1) Decide on your priorities and goals.
  • If buying name brand is important to you, cut your entertainment budget.
  • If buying organic or whole foods is important to you, use coupons and buy off brand when you can. 
  • If time is important to you, cut your budget somewhere else so that you can afford to buy things you might otherwise make. Make your budget fit what's important to YOU.
  • Don't waste your time and money trying to meet other peoples' goals.  Figure out your own goals, and aim for them. You'll save lots of time and money when you know what is important for your own family.
  • Pick an obtainable goal, and work towards it. One at a time. Don't overwhelm yourself, but don't let yourself off the hook either.
2) Make sure those priorities are God honoring. If they aren't, change them.
  • When your life is honoring God, He will provide all your needs. Your needs might not be what you think they are, but He will always provide. 
  • If God has called you to be a wife and a mother, I can promise there will be sacrifices. You won't drive the nicest car. You won't have the biggest house. Your kids won't be wearing the fanciest clothes. There will be times when your budget is just too tight. But you will find your fulfillment in God. And true joy only comes from Him.
3) Make your own...when you can.
Not only is it healthier (ok, let's be honest, frappuccinos aren't healthy...but otherwise!), but you will save a TON. Calculate it sometime.
But, here's the it when YOU can. If you can make all these things on a regular basis, more power to you! If you work, have a new baby, or your life is just too hectic- don't stress it. Your family will not benefit from an overworked mama. 
Do what YOU can to YOUR ability, and glorify God.

4) Make it stretch.
  • Use only half a pound of meat per meal (depending on the number in your family, of course!)
  • Add beans or lentils to bulk up a meal, and add important protein for much cheaper than most meats.
  • Use spices (they are relatively inexpensive, and last a long time) to pack flavor.
  • Make soup. Soup is a great way to stretch ingredients. Bonus- homemade bone broth is extremely healthy!  Leftovers also usually freeze well.
  • Have your kids (and you!) drink milk at meals- the protein fills them up, it is incredibly healthy, and while it has gotten more expensive, you can still often find good deals.  
  • Don't waste leftovers. Find ways to combine things into a new meal, or have a "smorgasborg" night, when everyone eats a little bit of everything. 
  • Buy the instant foam pump dispensers, and refill with 1/4 dish soap and the rest of the way with water. Don't shake, but rotate gently to mix. This is simply a marketing ploy by soap companies to get you to buy their "special" refill soaps, but the only difference is that it's more watered down! So you're paying more money for less soap. As long as you have the dispenser, any soap will work once it's watered down. This makes your dish/hand soap last much longer!
5) Shop second hand, and learn to re-purpose
  • Craigslist, thrift stores, consignment sales, and garage sales are my favorite places to shop. They often have great deals on practically new items, especially clothes.
  • Learn about your town/city's resources and use them.Thrift stores, local sales, websites that post local deals, etc.
  • Re-purpose an old shelf into a spice rack, a vintage wooden crate into an end table, and old spoons into coat hangers. Get creative! Again, Pinterest! 
  • Don't buy it unless you need it and have a plan for it.
  • Don't buy it unless it really is a good deal. Know what something costs new, compare that to the life of a used item, and consider if you will use it enough to get your money out of it.
6) Don't judge yourself too harshly.
  • Lastly, don't be to hard on yourself. I'm not saying be a lazy couch potato and live in a pigsty, although there may be a time for that! But, keep your priorities straight (see above!), and give yourself a break now and then. Realize the value of playing with your children...even if the dishes don't get done. Don't freak out if you order pizza too often. Don't beat yourself up if you didn't get the yogurt made this week (or burned two gallons of it...) And don't despair if the WalMart bill is higher than it was last month. Try your best. If you don't like some of your habits, try to change them. And glorify God.  
And any time you need some motivation, or encouragement, just read Proverbs 31. : )

"Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar.  She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants. She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet. She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants. Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all."  Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates."
Proverbs 31:10-31

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Deep Dish Curried Quinoa and Veggie Tart

I like to use the term tart rather loosely...I mean, technically, this should be called a pie, or a quiche. It's really way too deep to be called a tart. Not to mention it wasn't baked in a tart tin. But tart just has such a ring to it. It just sounds so much more fun than a quiche. So, Deep Dish Curried Quinoa and Veggie Tart it is! 

This dish was a major hit. We had it for supper last night, and I'm having it for lunch today, and I'm seriously considering it again for supper tonight. It was so good that I started writing this blog post right away, instead just of adding it to my list of "to blog." Yes. That tasty. It was another attempt at a meatless, veggie-ful meal, and, I think, a great success! It's huge on flavor, thanks to the curry (I love a spice that does that!), packed with protein from the eggs and quinoa, and very hearty. We were both full after only one slice! It could also very easily be made as a crustless quiche for gluten free or lower carbs, and any kind of squash would be great in it. I just happened to have some summer squash in the freezer that needed using, but butternut would be SO good in this.


And, it's a slam dunk when it comes to heart health!

Garlic- Garlic has anticlotting properties, possibly due to the ajoenes present. Also, the sulfur phytochemicals may help protect against heart disease.

Onions- This tear jerker is a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps control bad cholesterol. The quercetin found in red onions is thought to  help prevent heart disease. 

Mushrooms- These have vitamin B6, riboflavin, and niacin- all helpful in preventing heart disease. Shiitakes are even more enriched with heart helpful nutrients, such as eritadenine (lowers cholesterol) and lentinula edodes mycelium. 

Spinach- Spinach is chock full of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps combat free-radical cell damage;  folate, a B vitamin that likely helps protect against heart attacks; and plant sterols, which help lower LDL cholesterol, as well as vitamin C! 

Quinoa- Considered a "super grain", Quinoa is an excellent source of heart-healthy magnesium and vitamin E, as well as cholesterol-reducing plant sterols, saponins, and rutin.
Whole Grains- The complex carbohydrates in whole grains contain indigestible oligosaccharide carbohydrates, which are linked to helping prevent cardiovascular disease. They also contain flavonoids, which are antioxidants also linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and help bolster blood vessels. Lignans and plant sterols may help lower cholesterol, and vitamin E is an antioxidant that may also help prevent heart disease.

Olive Oil- This healthy oil contains disease-fighting phytochemicals, vitamin E, and monounsaturated fat. All these help keep arteries clear of cholesterol. The monousaturated fat may also help raise good cholesterol, and a diet rich in this fat may help lower your chance of heart disease. 

Curry- Several of the spices in curry (such as cumin, cloves, ginger, nutmeg,  and turmeric) are thought to be cardio protective and have antioxidant properties. 

Source: Fight Back with Food: Use Nutrition to Heal What Ails You,  The Reader's Digest Association

Deep Dish Curried Quinoa and Veggie Tart

One whole wheat pie crust (optional- this could easily be a crust less quiche) (I used this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, subbing half whole wheat flour and using all butter.)
1 small zucchini, sliced (or any kind of squash)
1 small yellow summer squash, sliced (or any kind of squash)
5-6 mushrooms, sliced
2-3 handfuls of fresh spinach
1/4 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups cooked quinoa
4 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 Tbs curry
4 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbs curry

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. 
Crust: roll out dough into a 9" round. Transfer to a deep dish pie plate, and prick with a fork. Line the bottom of the plate with parchment paper and dry beans or pie weights (this part is really will still work without the weights, it just might be puffier.) Bake  at 425 for 15 minutes for a par-baked crust.

Filling: Heat 2 Tbs of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, then add the zucchini and squash. Stir occasionally, until the veggies start to soften (10-15 minutes), then add the onions and mushrooms.Continue to saute until the veggies are nice and golden, then add in the other 2 Tbs olive oil, garlic, quinoa, and spinach. Cook for 3-4 more minutes, until the spinach is lightly wilted, then add 1/2 tsp. sea salt and 1/2 Tbs. curry. Spoon filling into par-baked pie crust. 

Custard: Whisk eggs, milk, 1 tsp sea salt, and 2 Tbs. curry until well blended. Pour into the crust, on top of the filling. Bake at 425 for 35-40 minutes, or until custard is set and top is golden.