Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Frugal Family Table

     Early in our homestead years we faced the challenge of feeding a growing family on one income. No garden or coops in place, no farm markets nearby, food had to be purchased from local stores meaning careful planning and practical prepping. Those years were made easier by my experience as a frugal farm kid with grandmothers who could stir up any thing and stretch the unimaginable. It was time to hone in those skills and compliment my husband with hard work and careful consideration.
       Let me start this time of sharing by telling you I did not purchase jar baby food and rarely purchased baby cereal. No formula, no baby wipes and no diapers (but that is another post). My children ate real food, period. Butternut squash, carrots, peas and beans are easily steamed and mashed for little ones. Okay, I know that sends some people to the ceiling, but babies do not have to have liquidy foods- mashed foods are fine. Now that I have lost half of you, let's move on.
Our basic meal layout:
1. Breakfast whole foods.
    Very few cereals every grace my pantry- and time is often short in the morning when you have little ones to care for. My favorite go-to breakfasts are: baked oatmeal, whole grain waffles, scrambled eggs. Each of these can be easily complimented juice, milk, or fresh yogurt. To keep cost low, I only purchase orange juice and it is only served at breakfast. Waffles are the most time consuming, so we made a double batch Sunday evenings for a light meal- daddy was home to help with children so mommy could cook. They were frozen and ready to toast for morning meals. Baked oatmeal was baked the evening before and reheated or served cold. Eggs are easily scrambled in a canning jar and refrigerated for cooking in the morning.      
2. Light lunches.
    Simple was my plan for mid day meals. Fresh fruits, sandwiches, or leftovers were easy to pull together with hungry children at my feet. I am a 'all hands work together' mom, so if you could walk you could help- table setting, laying out bread, serving fruit were all areas for little helpers (baby was always nearby and included in the chatter:). If we had fresh yogurt it was often served with a spoonful of honey or jam.
3. Hearty evening meals.
    Roasted meat is always on the menu. Each week a roast and a chicken were made, deboned, and on hand for meals. Tacos, spaghetti, meat with veggies, and soups were rotated and arranged with on hand produce to give us plenty of variety. Biscuits, rolls, breads were made by hand with all hands helping (so much fun!). Bones from our meat were placed in the crock pot making hearty broths for soups/stews. Nothing goes to waste in a homestead kitchen.
4. Treats are treats.
     I am not a food Nazi- I like fun food as much as anyone, but it has its place. Cakes, cookies, ice creams and such are simply an occasional treat shared and enjoyed. When children help make items, such as cookies, they grasp a special appreciation for them realizing the time it takes to achieve such a sweet reward. Lack of convenience breeds appreciation- believe me, I appreciated those cookies after making them with three toddlers!
    Tomorrow we will peek into the pantry for my standard shopping list; staples, perishables, and paper goods are all on the docket!

1 comment:

Dolly Sarrio said...

I think that how we live affects us forever. It is a good thing to make things taste great and stretch to fill a need. It's wonderful that the family most of the time never sees the work and prep we mother's do. It in turn makes for children that pay more attention to how well we use what we have. It doesn't sound like to me that anyone suffered with early days. It appears that everyone fared better than if fed from jars and cans of what they call food...Bravo.