Archive | November 2020

Drum Roll Please!

I am so excited to announce what our family will be starting in 2021.  After much prayer and a crazy 2020, we have desided to simlify our life.  We have been building up to this point, so we are not totally unprepared for this.  Okay, let me step back and explain.

 We are a family that believes in the local food movement.  We believe that food that comes from more than a couple hundred of miles away should be a treat not a regular part of our diet.  We also want our daily living and buying habits to reflect our belief of respecting the planet that God gave us.  As a family, we were motivated by the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:  A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver.  The book is the story of her family eating only food that came from within 100 miles of their house.  We want to take it a step further; reduce our energy useage, our buying habits, get out of debt, reduced single use plastics and grow the food ourselves. Adding to that, our persute of a simplier life and to go back in time to before industrialization of America and the disposable society that we are surrounded by. Please dont get me wrong, there are a lot of modern inventions that I am very grateful for.  We do not want to discredit any of that, as I sit and type on a computer, we just want to make things last longer.  Not buy every new thing on the market and practice living with less.  I dont want to say minimalism because running a homestead is anything but minimalisitic. We are simplifiying and working on being less materialistic.  

What will this mean specifically?  We will only be purchasing things like grain items, some oils, raw ingredients I can not make myself, like baking soda for example.  We are going to drastially reduce our processed food consumption.  I will be making almost everything from scratch, sandwich bread and corn tortillas will be the exception.   There are a few things that are in our diet because of health needs, but we will source them as locally and environmently friendly as possible. Overall, we will be buying anything we do not produce as local as possible or we will be doing without.  Any food that I can not get locally, I will be getting from Imperfect Foods, to help reduce food waste as much as possible.  

This will go for clothing, bathroom products, cleaner and house hold goods.  As much as we can, we will make our own or use what we have.  We already make soap and have just started making vinegar.  If it is something we do not make, we will try to buy used first.  Then if we have to buy new we will buy local and/or no plastic if possible.  Significally reducing any single use plastic products or packaging. 

As far as energy, we have removed our dryer from the laundry room, all clothes will be hung on a drying rack or the line.  We heat our house with wood, we have sold our tractor and well be trying to use the animals more effectly on the farm.  I am sure we will be doing more posts about that in the future.  

Our goal is to do this for a year.  Document it, share what we are learning and the challenges we encounter.  It is not going to be perfect, it will be a learning process.  I would love for this to be a life long change for our family and it would be amazing to help others make the change as well.  

So here it goes, the start of this amazing journey!  We appreciate your support, your prayers, your comments and your questions.  Lastly, we hope you enjoy learning about our adventure. 

Menu Planning

FAll is finally upon us. The garden has slowed down the bulk of our harvest season is over. Our freezer is full, the cellar is full, we are ready for winter.

During the winter months we still try very hard to eat seasonally. We do not buy a lot of produce from the grocery store. We use the fruit and vegetables that I have frozen or canned during the summer. This makes menu planning so much easier. During the warm months, my menu is 100% based on what is coming out of the garden. If we have a huge cucumber harvest, we will be eating cucumbers for lunch and dinner. When the watermelon and cantaloupe start coming in, that is a huge part of our diet for the weeks when we are harvesting them fresh from the garden. We try very hard to eat, fresh, local and to eat what is in season at that time. As a result of this, I make our menu based on what is coming out of the garden or what is in season. Now that fall is here, I know what is in my freezer and I can make a menu for months at a time. It is so liberating to not have to think about dinner for months at a time! So… this is how I do it.

Index cards! I bought a pack of index cards and harassed my family. I asked every family member to list their favorite meal. If they gave me just a side dish, I pressured them to give me a main course to go with it. After I got tacos and pizza 50 times, then I looked through my recipes and recent Pintrest pins. What are meals I have made in the past that were hits and what worked? I just wrote the name of the meal on an index card. Think about soups, breakfast for dinner, 100% vegetarian meals, beef, pork, seafood, chicken and favorite birthday meals of the past. Write them all down, one meal on each card.

I then went through my index cards and wrote whether it was a beef, pork, chicken, vegetarian, pasta and Sunday/crock-pot meal. Here are some of my index cards in their categories.

BEEF: Sloppy Joe, tacos, meatloaf, hamburgers, steak, beef and broccoli stir fry, stuffed peppers, meatball sub, shepherds pie, and fajitas.

CHICKEN: Wings, popcorn chicken, chicken wraps, grilled chicken on salad, garlic basil chicken, fried chicken, BBQ chicken, chicken stir fry, Hawaiian chicken kebabs, and chicken enchiladas.

PASTA: Mac and cheese, baked ziti, ravioli, chicken mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes, lasagna, cal zones, pizza, Alfredo, spaghetti, and hamburger helper.

PORK: Open egg-roll, pulled BBQ pork, ginger garlic pork tenderloin, ham, egg and cheese sandwich, pork chops, ribs, ham steaks, pork fried rice, sausage gravy, BLT’s.

VEGETARIAN: broccoli cheese soup, potato soup, grilled cheese and tomato soup, salmon, tilapia, pancakes and eggs, baked potato and salad, quiche, mix veg stir fry over rice, beans and rice.

Photo by Miguel Andrade on Unsplash

CROCK-POT: Turkey breast, tortilla soup, chili, pork roast, beef roast, chicken pot pie, roasted chicken, and kids pick.

Now, I just pick a card from each category. There are 6 groups, 6 meals a week and one night of left-overs or kid pick. On average I have 10 meals in a group, so that it 10 weeks worth of meals. Done! I fill everything into the calendar and if I need to buy something I add it to my grocery list for that week.

That easy! This system allows for you to plan two and a half months of meals at a time!

Next post we will talk about Lunch planning!