Wow… Time Flies!

Our darling girl is 3 months old!!!!

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It appears that I never shared her birth here!  Sorry!  Life has been CRAZY.  Her birth story is over at Polka Dots, it’s quite the story.

 

On the  health front- I have books to recommend, thoughts to share, food to not eat. . . (I haven’t eaten well since Julia’s premature entry into our world and my body feels it!).

I promise to get back on the bloggy wagon… somewhere in between feedings and diaper washing.   :-)

The Cost of Cloth

Our baby Grok is almost here. . . 42 days!  Mama has been in full nesting mode and I have our stash of cloth diapers all washed and prepped for little one.  I decided to calculate out the cost of cloth diapering, because I hear a lot of rumors about it being too expensive.  (I can’t wait to post pictures of our new one in his/her adorable diapers!)

Here’s our breakdown:

Diapers & Wraps

36 Newborn Bummis Organic Prefolds (4-9lbs)  $57  (more than we really need but I’m taking them to the hospital and want a 3-4 day wash in this size)

4 Newborn wraps (Bummis Super Brite)  $60

24 Infant Bummis Organic Prefolds (8-15lbs) $180 kit, other items marked with *

6 Infant wraps* (Bummis Super Brite and Whisper Wraps)

24 Baby Bummis Organic Prefolds (16-30lbs) $112

4-6 Baby wraps $60-90 (Bummis Super Brites and Whisper Wraps)

Total diapers & wraps for 36 months= $469-$499

Extras

1 large wet bag*

1 medium wet bag (for diaper bag) $15

2-3 Snappis in size 1 & 2   $16-$24

48 cloth wipes $24

1 box of wipe solution drops (about a year supply) $15** You can skip this and just use water

Diaper sprayer for toilet (optional but nice) $50

Optional flushable liners – $6.00-$8.00/roll of 100

Total extras for 36 months = $150- $188

 

Diaper cream (Earth Mama Angel Baby- safe for cloth) $15**

Diaper pail (optional, also needed for sposies) $79**

** Not calculated in costs because these items are also purchased for throw away diapers.

 

Washing Costs: Based on 3 loads each week, double washed, machine dry, based on my HE machine and local water/electricity/sewer rates-

Detergent- $.10 (You can make your own detergent for pennies)

Optional Rock N Green Ammonia $.56 Per load used (1x weekly)

Wash- $.16/ per load (.96/week based on double wash per load- 3x weekly)

Dry- $.41/ per load (3 loads/week unless hang dry option)

($8.74/month wash and dry + detergent/stripper costs)

Based on these costs and the average potty learning age of 36 months, I came up with a cost per month of $26.16 to cloth diaper (excludes the cost of diaper pail and cream, since those would be used for disposables also and optional liners).

The comparable cost of good quality disposables would be (remember, my cloth are organic and there are no harmful chemicals in my detergents):

If you can wait for shipping, Diapers.com has decent prices on cases of Seventh Generation & Huggies Pure & Natural (the only two brands I would use considering our skin sensitivities and environmental concerns).  Based on usage of 8-12 diapers each day or 240-360 diapers per month, Seventh Generations would cost about $99.98 month for size 2 and above.  Huggies Pure & Natural would cost $130 month.  At Target, Huggies would be slightly less expensive at about $102/month and Seventh Generation would be about $90 month.  Throw away wipes add another cost: Earth’s Best at Target are $19.99 for 432 wipes, Seventh Generation are $9.99 for 256 wipes.  You can get the best deal at Costco at $19.99 for 900 (and often on sale, but not as natural/biodegradable as other options).  So, it’s safe to say that a family can expect to spend about $100 each month on disposable diapers and wipes. (Plus fuel, shipping, and garbage costs.) You may be able to cut that down by 25-50% if you use generics or a lower quality big brands (especially if you can devote the time to mega couponing).

36 months of disposable diapers $3,600   36 months of cloth diapering $941.76

(Liner cost varies based on how often you use the liner, if you only use it when your child is likely to poo then the cost is minimal, if you use them every diaper change it will add up.  This could add $72-$288 to your total diapering cost.)

So, it looks like disposable diapering is about 70-75% MORE expensive than cloth diapering.  Even if I didn’t love the environment and think a cloth diaper butt is super cute, I’d be on board just for the cost alone.  I think families are often lulled into a sense that they aren’t spending much if they are just buying a pack of diapers at a time and they never sit down to calculate the costs.  And that’s just for one kid.  This stash will get me through at least two children, cutting the cost and environmental impact dramatically.  Brands like Real Nappies (the number one choice in New Zealand) have a two kid guarantee!

Yes, you can spend a whole lot more on diapers.  If you go with all pockets or AIO’s, you can expect to spend $15-$25 per diaper/liner (with an adequate stash for a 2 day wash cycle being 20-24 diapers).  I’ve collected a few pockets through my co-op for $3-4 each, but I don’t love pockets or AIO’s as they tend to leak more IMO.  Diapers can be addictive!  They are so stinkin cute!

Yes, I know EC (elimination communication) is much less expensive.  But the reality is. . . I’m not gonna do it. :-)

Disposable diapers create trash and use more water and resources to produce than cloth diapers.  Oh, and you are suppose to flush that poop out of the disposable before wrapping it up into a tight ball and throwing it into the landfill (even the package tells us this).  Sewer systems are set up to handle human waste, landfills are not.

***We are using Bummis Organic Prefolds and wraps. . . we haven’t received any products or payment for this post. I prefer Bummis because they are made in North America using textiles also made in North America (US & Canada).  This matters!  I also wanted organic, unbleached cotton against my precious ones skin.  So, to recap, we are using ORGANIC, North American made diapers at a budget price!

Raw Ice Cream

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I recently switched 1 gallon of our milk share to a cream share.  This means we are getting 1 gallon of raw milk and 1 quart of raw cream each week for $86/month.  We aren’t going through the cream as fast as I thought, mostly because I’m a tad lazy and haven’t been making butter or ice cream like I should be. :-)

Well, I finally got on the ball and made ice cream and it is DELISH.  Our cream was slightly cultured in the fridge, so it’s tangy like a hard scoop yogurt which adds all kinds of happy nutrition to the treat.  We made 2.5 quarts with this recipe:

2 quarts raw cream (cultured or not)

1.5 cups organic cane sugar or maple syrup  (this is sweeter than I’d prefer because hubs has a sweet tooth)

1/2 cup organic cacao powder

2 Tbs vanilla

any special add ins you’d like (hubby adding toffee)

 

I simply mixed up the ingredients in a glass bowl and then poured into the ice cream maker.  Added salt and ice and processed until machine turned off.  We then poured it into a large glass bowl, it resembled a soft serve or mouse at this point and then we froze it over night.

 

Yum-O!

Breakfast Grok Style

It’s summer time.  This means I have a lot of children in the house all day every day.  Kids want to eat constantly.  This gets challenging.  If we ate garbage food, I’d buy a giant box of goldfish crackers for them to munch on throughout the day and at least I wouldn’t go broke. . .  Since that’s not an option I’m looking for ways to feed this crew in an affordable manner (and attempting to not prepare multiple different foods at each meal or snack).

We were making steel cut oats in some variation most mornings.  I could soak the oats at night and either turn them into yummy baked oatmeal (which was a huge hit) or cocoa oatmeal or whatever sounded tasty.  This kept breakfast under $10.  Oats would fill their bellies and we usually had enough that 2nd or even 3rd helpings were possible if the kids really thought they were STARVING (which seems to be often).  This was working out well and I had plans to buy a couple more 25lb bags of gluten free steel cut oats on our next trip to Portland. . . They are about $27 a bag this way which is a great savings.  I probably will still buy them so that I can feed them to the daycare, as I’m taking the entire daycare gluten free in July.  This is my way of keeping our children safe and ensuring that once our baby is crawling around, s/he can’t pick up goldfish and eat them when I’m looking the other way.  It’s not an inexpensive decision, so it’s going to take some major creativity to meet the USDA nutrition guidelines for the daycare and stay 100% gluten free.  I’m seeing lots of oatmeal bars, rice, and corn breads in the future.  I will bake on the weekend so we have ready to go food for the week.

But for my kids it is imperative that I get them fully back on the grain free band wagon.  What this is going to mean for my budget, I don’t know yet and I’m sweating a bit (remember, I already spend $1400/month on groceries and there’s not extra left to increase that).  I recently took my 8yo daughter to the ND to see if we could figure out foods she’s reacting to and see if there is a gut/brain connection going on.  Well. . . she reacts to gluten (duh), dairy (strongly), soy, complex carbohydrates (!!!!), and pomegranate. Awesomey awesomeness.  Her belly had large gas bubbles in it (also a duh for me, but nice to have it validated).  This kid burps and toots with the best of grown men.  So, no more fillers of rice with dinners or oats with breakfast.  (She definitely has a gut dyabosis. . . we started a high quality digestive enzyme and probiotic as well as getting a homeopathy treatment in the office.)

This has left me scrambling in the mornings to find something filling, fast, and not horrifically expensive.  The kids get bored of eggs (quickly) and I don’t like the constant complaining.  So far, I’ve made an oven pancake aka Dutch Baby and now today Honey Muffins.  Both went over well with the kids.  The Dutch Baby I altered by doubling the recipe, melting coconut oil in the bottom of the baking dish, slicing up several bananas, and topping with sweetener (for the cost, I used organic cane sugar this time), then I poured the batter in on top and baked it for about 40 minutes in a 11×17 pyrex dish.  The honey muffins I made as the recipe states, but omitted the nuts and doubled the batch.  It made 16 muffins.  I haven’t ran a cost on these yet, but I don’t feel that they are overly expensive.  However, if I keep baking with 12+ eggs every day, I may have to supplement our chickens eggs (we get 10-11 most days right now).  So far, it’s working okay for me to get up and make the kids a hot breakfast since I’m up before they are anyway.  We may reach a point where I need to have muffins or cakes baked in advance that they can pull out.

In other news, I’m planning a paleo party for about 100 people this weekend.  Pictures and information will post next week. :-)

 

Changes. . .

This is how/why I can believe in evolution as a Catholic Christian. . . I’m constantly evolving and I’m convinced we aren’t the same humans as Adam & Eve.  Life happens.  Society happens.  Ideas arise and fall.  Life evolves.

Right now, I’m going backward again.  For a while I was pretty strict purist Paleo- no grains at all.  We did still allow dairy, as close to the good stuff as possible.  Then we started adding more grains in the form of soaked rice, soaked gf steel cut oats, and sometimes beans/legumes. In the meantime, our dairy moved to 100% grassfed and raw.

What I’ve noticed is some bowel changes (paleo peeps love to talk about poo).  While talking with my ND friend today she mentioned that if ANYTHING shows up in your poo, stop eating it.  So, since we don’t know exactly what I’m not fully digesting, but we do know I’m having gallbladder issues and I’ve been consuming more grains during this pregnancy than I was before- I’m going backward.  No grains.   I’m thinking I will do the 21 Day Sugar Detox again, being pregnant means I will have to eat a little more bananas/berries and sweet potatoes likely but I think we can manage, I’ve learned through experimentation that I need to keep my carbs around 100g/ day while pregnant.   At the end of the detox, I will try adding a small amount of properly prepared grain (I will likely start with the oats as they are my favorite) for about a week.  If nothing shows up in the poo, I will increase the amount until we know if I can tolerate it or not.  Then I will add soaked rice and repeat the test.  Ditto on beans, although I don’t know how I could possibly eat beans every day. . . (I’m also seriously considering cutting dairy out for the 21 days also as I’m not sure if I’m reacting.)

Since I’ve been pregnant I haven’t been eating bacon as it repulses me again (this has been the case for most of my life) but I’m also moving forward with taking my family off pork.  It’s not something we cook often anyway as I have always had a disdain for pork.  I made this decision after reading Life Without Bacon over at Paleo Baby.  This is not going to be a huge issue in our house as its not an every day staple here.  I haven’t yet made a decision regarding shellfish. . . we love our shrimp around here and eat it about twice a month.

In the meantime, my kids are eating a bit more rice, beans, and oats.  Why?  Because school’s out, we are feeding 12-16 kids every day and I have a budget to work within.  We are taking my childcare 100% gluten free in July to help keep our kids safe and meet the expanding needs of families with special diets in daycare.  This is where it’s going to take creativity to be able to afford to feed the crew and meet the USDA nutrition requirements.   Rice, beans, and GF oats are the least expensive ways to do that.

My youngest girl has a visit to the ND next week and we will begin experimenting with her diet so we can heal her gut.  There’s definitely some brain/gut stuff going on with her.  So, she may be following a protocol like mine soon.

On the pregnancy front- I’m 27 + 3 weeks today.  Some days I’m in complete shock that this strong little bean has made it this far!  I’m starting to prepare things for his/her arrival.  I’m in a lot of pain most of the time. . . from loosey goosey hips/ligaments, and stretching/tearing adhesions in my abdomen, a bum bladder/bowel issue, and a sluggish gallbladder.  Other than that, we are doing just fine.  I’m not sleeping much, since the bladder wakes me up every two hours and pregnancy insomnia often keeps me from falling back to sleep easily.  But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I’m having a baby, people!  After 8 years of an empty womb and multiple pregnancy losses, I have a viable baby growing in my belly!

Summer Vacation. . . 2 Days In

Three hours into Summer vacation yesterday, I thought for sure I was going to lose my marbles.  Or ground my children to their rooms for the remainder of the Summer.  Today was a bit better. :-)

One of my coping skills (with 10-16 kids here all day every day, I need coping skills) is to have food planned and prepped.  What this means:

*Daycare menu for the week up and ready by Monday (which means all necessary shopping done by Sunday)

*Dinner prep/planning (today I put a chicken in the crock pot. . . added rice and voila, super easy dinner all we had to do was add our veggies)

*Lunch- the bean idea isn’t going over well with a couple of the kids.  Those two only ate their veggies at lunch and left the beans.  A couple of the girls ate thirds.  Hopefully they will decide beans aren’t so bad.  I sauteed purple cabbage, kale, & a bit of red bell pepper in butter, then added the beans and seasoned with garlic, pepper, & salt.  It was quite tasty.  We added a small salad of greens & carrots and a glass of raw milk.  The beans I have prepped should last the week, next week we will switch to soaked rice for lunch and I have a feeling the two who don’t appreciate the beans will like that better.

*I’m posting a list on the fridge that lays out snack and meal times along with WHAT they can chose to eat.  I can’t stand the “what’s for snack?” when they’ve barely finished swallowing breakfast.

Speaking of breakfast, I came up with a fun new one!  The kids are loving it.  Growing up my favorite was chocolate malt o meal.  That’s obviously off the menu these days.  Well, I’ve discovered that soaked steel cut (gluten free) oats make a quite tasty “cookie bowl oatmeal”.  Here’s my recipe for 16 servings (although if you are feeding my kids, they will eat at least 2 servings each).

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Cookie Bowl Oatmeal

3 cups steel cut oats, soaked in 9 cups water + 1-2 Tbs acid of choice (ACV, whey, lemon juice) overnight.  In the morning, pour into a pan, and bring to a boil.  Add 1/4 -1/2 cup cocoa powder (depending on how chocolate you like it), 1 cup sweetener of choice (unrefined sugar, palm sugar, maple, honey), 1 cup natural nut butter of choice, & 1 TBS vanilla.  Cook until thick and delicious.  We drizzle a bit of raw cream on top and they gobble it up!

** Yes, I know this is REAL FOOD but not exactly Paleo.  In case you haven’t heard. . . I’m not married to any exact diet principles. I like variety.**

School’s Out- What Do I Feed These Kids???

When the kids are home, they want to eat ALL THE TIME.  Seriously, you’d think they were starving.  In reality I think it’s more boredom than anything.  We are limited in the amount of out and about time we can have since I run a childcare from my home and taking 16 kids on outings is no small production.  You’d think that with 16 kids here they couldn’t get bored at all, but its amazing how quickly that happens.

I’m trying to budget and make sure that having them home all summer isn’t going to blow my grocery budget out of the water.  After all, you know they are going to want frozen treats and the older girls will want to bake up goodies. . .

My plan is to have soaked steel cut outs set in the rice cooker for breakfast, so all I have to do in the morning is push start.  If I keep a watch on the “sweetener” the kids add, we should be okay.  Generally, I allow them to use a bit of stevia, raw sugar (sucanat), palm sugar, raw honey, or maple syrup.  The trouble is, if I don’t regulate, some of them will dump WAAAAAAY too much sweetener and/or cream into their oats.  This is pricey and unhealthy.  They also love to add berries, which is awesome if they use the 1/4 cup measuring cup with the frozen berries vs. dumping them willy-nilly.  Gluten Free bread and pancake fixings are expensive, so those are off the menu except for a weekend or special occasion.  We always add scrambled eggs for protein (thanks to our happy hens for providing them!).

Lunch is where I’m experimenting.  Somewhere out there in the blogosphere, I read about pre-soaking beans and allowing the kids to fry up their own fat, bean, & veggie combo at lunch.  They can each do their own (or ask for a big helper).  I’m thinking of expanding to include pre-soaked/cooked rice as well so they can choose rice or beans plus veggies and fat  (sweet? rice, coconut oil, carrots, and a dash of wheat free tamari. . . savory? beans, lard, kale, & salsa).  I have a feeling I will need to make a refrigerator list with examples of combinations for them to build upon.  My kids love the rice/bean thing so I don’t think this will much of a stretch.  It should also be cheap and filling.  Thankfully, my very active kids can handle a couple servings of  properly prepared carbohydrates.  If my gallbladder remains in flare up mode, I will have to avoid beans, but the baby probably won’t mind an occasional fried rice lunch either.  Maybe the kids will even let me place my order. :-)

For frozen treats- we have lots of popsicle molds on hand.  We will use a variety of juices, raw milk,  coconut milk, & fruit to make pops.  The kids enjoy making them and eating them. . . so not a problem.   Smoothies are an all time favorite around here.  I like to culture kefir and we use that as base.  Then they can add spinach, berries, and bananas.  I don’t think this is a cost savings, but it is full of nutrition.  And of course, beats a trip to the smoothie store (um hello sugar, calories, and bye-bye money!).

With the carbs added at breakfast and lunch, dinners will stick to our non-grain plan as much as possible.  Meat, fat, veggies, followed by fruit for dessert.

I’m seriously considering making each of my children a check list that illustrates how many servings of fruits they should eat (and what a serving is, like 1/2 that giant apple), how many veggie servings, how many grains, dairy, etc. . . Because, my kids LOVE fruit and want to eat it NON-STOP all day long.  This really isn’t a terrible problem to have (it’s not candy, right?) but fruit is expensive and does create an insulin response.  So. . . if they have a write on/wipe off check list they will be empowered to seek out their own meals and snacks according to their bodies need for fuel and know when they’ve had their limit on things they tend to binge on.  I’m hoping this will help encourage more veggie intake.   It will also provide a tool for us to talk about healthy eating, fueling our bodies, listening to our bodies signals about hunger and being full, etc. . .  We can custom tailor each list to the specific child (we have one who only wants to eat fruit and meat but REALLY needs healthy fats).

My goal is to limit baked treats to once a week.  I might reserve these for the weekend when we can make a batch of almond flour dark chocolate chip cookies or coconut flour french toast topped with maple syrup.  This will help our budget and our waistlines while not encouraging our sweet tooth too much.

Thinking ahead to next school year.  I intend to buy no more plastic bags.  I buy few now, and encourage the kids to stop and think about why they’d use a baggie over a reusable dish.  I want to be at the point where we have a system that works so well we need no baggies except for those field trips that require a “throw away” lunch.  I will be researching the best methods to accomplish this.  My kids have lost almost all of my 1 cup Pyrex glass bowls I purchased in the last few months, which is annoying since they are about $10 for 4.  Our Laptop Lunch system is far from perfect (especially for the age and calorie needs of our kids) as is the PlanetBox.  These are perfect lunch systems for preschool-early elementary kids, however all but my 8 year old daughter has outgrown their capacity.  There is no option for reheating lunch items at school and we’ve not found a suitable system for keeping food hot until lunch, so I need a container system that allows 4-6 items, plus components and a water bottle (this past year I bought each child a CamelBak, and I think most of them are lost, so much for $18 water bottles!).

Good thing we have the summer to plan!

Paleo, Pregnancy, Gallbladder, & Kidney Stones?

Seriously people.  I’m 25.5 weeks pregnant and something is going on.   At first glance, we thought I had a bladder infection so I went in for a quick UA.  The initial report was lots of blood, not much bacteria.  Huh. . . well, let’s start an antibiotic over the weekend while it goes off for culture. Culture comes back with a similar result.  Dr thinks maybe stones especially with the pain I’ve been having.  When I saw him in office, the areas that is the most tender is over the liver, which says, “hello, gallbladder”.  Awesome.  Oh, and I was exposed potentially to Hepatitis A through my favorite berry blend at Costco.  Double Awesome.  So we drew a whole bunch of labs and ordered an ultrasound of my liver, gallbladder, and kidneys.   That’s the fun for tomorrow.  We shall see what it says.

In the meantime, I’m keeping a log of my food and symptoms… this is an attempt to find a pattern.

I’m not a modern medicine kind of gal when I can avoid it.  So, I’m researching the best way to deal with this.  Today I started adding raw ferments in the hope that it will help balance my stomach acid and thin the bile in the gallbladder (red cabbage and beets). I also have a call in to a local nutritional biochemist who can hopefully provide some insight on safe supplements to use (can I add HCL and bile salts while pregnant?).  I also have acupuncture scheduled to work on bile flow and liver function.

Even if we discover my gallbladder is on the rampage, that doesn’t explain the good ole’ blood in the urine. . . perhaps I’m unlucky enough to have both gallbladder and kidney stones going on.

My biggest concern is what to eat. .  .the recommendation is a high fiber, low fat diet.  I already eat gluten free due to Celiac, grain free/processed foods free/sugar free. . . what’s left?  I will be living on veggies w/ olive oil, chicken, & fish?  Ugh. . . so bland and boring! Not to mention, how on earth do I maintain weight while I’m pregnant (I don’t need to gain but loss isn’t recommended).

I’m wondering how my grassfed beef plays into the low fat scheme. . . word on the street is that it’s much leaner and can be okay. . . I’m loathe to give it up and I only eat one serving of meat a day, usually at dinner.  That said, if I have to stop eating eggs and nuts as well, what on earth do I eat for breakfast?  I can handle some soaked oats or rice but without a protein source I get shaky and feel sick. In all likelihood I need to cut out my cheese (favorite go to snack) and so that opens up yet another can of worms.   Olives and avocado instead?  Except that’s gonna get old. . .

On that note, here’s some lovely photos of my co-op order. . . beef, chicken, and lots of produce.  Yum-o.

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Produce- $60, Beef $165, Chicken $44

Monthly Menu

Now. . . if I get really crazy, I will prep some meals for the freezer.  I’ll get back to y’all on that. :-) In our budget post, I indicated that meal plans were on the way.

So- our meat for the month is 30lbs of beef (ground, steak, stew, roast, oxtail), 4 whole chickens, 2 pkgs (2 lbs each) shrimp, & 2 pkgs Tilapia filets.  We have a variety of produce that can change weekly, but we tend to stick with the same type of veggies and fruits.  We have eggs, oats, rice, & beans and plenty of healthy fats.

Breakfasts will be simple- eggs,  oats, & fruit

Lunches- leftovers or packed “finger” lunches

Snacks- fruit or veggies & protein (cheese cubes, kefir smoothies, berries & cream, leftovers)

Dinners- this is where the fun begins!  Now that I’ve laid down our meal rotation plan, I can order my produce accordingly (for instance include potatoes if roast is on the weekly menu).

*Beef meals* My beef order this round includes 12 pkgs of ground, tri & bottom roast, 1 oxtail, 2 pkg stew, 8 filet & 2 rib eye steak

#1- hamburgers (rice, salad)  2x  (4 lbs ground)

#2- taco soup (includes beans, almond flour bread) 2x (2lbs ground)

#3- beef & broccoli (rice) 2x  (1lb stew meat or rib eye steak)

#4- stew (rice & salad) 1x (1lb stew)

#5- mini meat loaves (rice, cabbage/peppers/carrots inside) 2x (4lbs)

#6- roast (potatoes, carrots, mushrooms) 2x (tri and bottom)

#7- taco salad (refried beans made w/ lard) 2x (2lbs)

#8- steak (and loads of veggies!) 1x (filet)

#9- beef veggie soup 2x (oxtails/roast leftovers)

16 meals

*Seafood*

#1- Shrimp Scampi, rice, veggies 1x

#2- grilled fish packets 2x

#3- Shrimp stir fry w/ rice  1x

4 meals

*Chicken*

#1-  whole roasted chicken w/ potatoes, veggies x2

#2- chicken soup w/ almond flour dumplings (made with carcass for bone broth) x2

#3- chicken stir fry w/ rice  (prepare whole chicken & remove meat) x2

#4- chicken broccoli w/ rice x2 (prepare whole chicken and remove meat)

8 meals

*Meatless*

#1- rice and beans 2-4x’s

Meal Count= 30-32

My trick for making ground beef stretch- I process up a mix of vegetables like cabbage, spinach, bell peppers, & carrots and then add it to the ground beef.  This works especially well in taco meat, meat loaves or balls, etc. . . for burgers and meat balls/loaves it’s essential to add egg to the mix for binder.

Soups are easy to make ahead and to make large batches to freeze for lunches, as are rice and beans.  I may take the approach over the summer I learned from another mom- pre-soak beans and have them on hand.  Allow the children to fry up their own bean and veggie/fat combination at lunch (this would work with rice as well).  We usually have extra eggs, so omelets or scrambles are another great option.  My kids are also always thrilled with oats and fruit, so if we end up with more than we need for breakfast, they will eat it up.

Now the challenge for me is going to be sticking to the plan.  The pregnant belly has a tendency to “crave” certain things. . . like hot dogs and mac n’ cheese (which I fed with grassfed beef hot dogs & cauli mac) but that’s not in the budget.  6 grassfed beef dogs cost $8 and my family needs 2 packs for a meal.  Ouch!

100 Days of Real Food- Grocery Budget

Technically, I think our 100 days is over or probably close, but who knows since I’ve lost track.  The reality is, we always eat real food with minor deviations for special occasions, so this is more about budget than anything else in our world.  Tonight, I came up with a “plan”.  This keeps us at the $1000/month for groceries. This doesn’t include extras I need for daycare or household supplies/toiletries/supplements.

Meat $318

30 lbs of grass fed, local beef (through the co-op) $170

8 chickens- whole, local, pastured (through co-op) $88

Shrimp- 2 pkgs at Costco (2 lbs each)$30

Tilapia- 2 pkgs (or other fish in price range) $30

Dairy/Grains $200

Milk- local, raw, 100% grassfed, 2 gallons/week  $80

Eggs- 5 dozen/week (based on bargain prices, we have our own free range chickens) $50 (this will buy chicken feed as needed)

Oats- 25lbs gluten free (bulk Bob’s Red Mill) $35

Rice- 25 lbs organic short grain brown (Costco) $25

Beans- 10lbs (variety)  $10

Fats/Oils $158

Butter- pastured $64 ($8/lb at Market of Choice)

Coconut Oil- Nutiva at Costco $23 (probably only every 2-3 months)

EVOO at Costco (2 pkg, purchase every 2-3 months) $15

Lard- pastured, made from fat that is included in co-op beef

Heavy cream (organic, pastured)- $20

5 lbs cheddar (Tillamook at Costco) $15

Nuts/Seeds/Dried Fruits $40 (mostly Trader Joe’s)

Produce $280

Weekly co-op order/ extras $70 each week

Condiments & misc $44

Grand Total- all real food, 90%+ organic, local grassfed meat, etc. . . $1,000 for a growing family of 7!!!!!

Items such as chocolate chips or 85% dark chocolate will come out of the misc budget.  We like to order almond and coconut flours every couple of months, those should balance with the budgeting for coconut and olive oils which won’t actually need purchased monthly.  We also may find that we don’t use this much meat or that our chickens use half as much food (especially in the Spring/Summer).  The budget will flex as needed.  For the next month, I intend to keep track of every expense in the various areas and any expenses that don’t fit into one of these areas so that we can budget more accurately in the future.  Now that our garden is planted, we may also find that our produce expense drops.

Stay tuned for the menu utilizing these foods!  I have a feeling the biggest challenge will be snacks and packed lunches for the kids (with summer on the horizon, this may be a tad easier!).

*Yes, I know that oats, rice, and beans are not TECHNICALLY Paleo/Primal (and cheese/raw dairy is on the fence).  Ask if I care?  Nope.  We soak them so that our bodies can use them and they help stretch the budget in our large family (not to mention that since I’ve been pregnant I’ve noticed an increase in the needs for healthier carbs).

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Here’s $60 worth of produce- – I was too tired to unpack the box!

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