Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saucy Stories

     There was a period of a few months where we only went to the grocery store for a few basic items. I still bought the newspaper and perused the sales ads out of habit, but there just wasn't money left for groceries after bills and gas for the car. No, I didn't waste away to a size two. We ate out of our pantry and freezer.  I browsed my cookbook cabinet instead of the grocery ads. We mainly shopped at a fruit stand and Amish goods market on the way home for fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, and eggs. We couldn't afford meat very often.

     I started really paying attention to the grocery store sales. Many of these buy one get one free foods that I could purchase almost for free with coupons were full of chemicals. Pasta sauces, seasoning packets, boxed dinner mixes, even beef and chicken broth are often laced with chemical additives and MSG. I didn't realize how many modern foods contain MSG. I had mistakenly thought they did away with that when they learned that it made many people ill. Silly me...

     My two year old grandaughter has been in my house all along. When she was on formula we called her the exorcist baby because she projectile vomited constantly. She was switched to every formula there was and nothing worked. However, she flourished as soon as she went on regular food. She tries all foods and eats almost everything with great gusto. She loves the home cooked meals, asks for beans, and eats tomatoes like candy. She even eats things you wouldn't expect a baby to eat like chicken with hot sauce, tacos, bean tostadas, guacamole, and spinach artichoke dip.

     My five year old grandson moved in with us and for a week straight he refused my dinners and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead. He only eats peanut butter and jelly, pizza, chicken nuggets, fries, apples, bananas, cereal, and corn dogs. Gradually we hope to have him taste some new dishes. 

     I usually drop into my produce store on the way home from work. It's the end of the day and they give great deals on everything they won't be able to sell much longer and sometimes it is just free. One day I was given an entire box of tomatoes. I brought them home along with red peppers, garlic, onion, carrots, and celery. I chopped, peeled, sliced, steamed, and ran everyhting through the food processor. Everything went into a big stock pot on the stove and cooked a long time. As a matter of fact I was cooking sauce on Halloween night when a little girl, probably around twelve years old, sniffed and asked what I was cooking for dinner. She then went down the street and marched her dad up my driveway so he could smell dinner too. My daughter tried the sauce that night, closed her eyes, and said, "Please don't ever buy jarred sauce again." I haven't bought sauce since. I cook a box of tomatoes at a time and put the sauce in freezer bags. We use it for pasta dishes and pizza. I plan to try it as a soup base too.

     Goodbye coupons and grocery stores. I think I'm much better off without you.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

In the Nick of Time

     This was a rough month. I emptied my savings completely and rolled all the coins and deposited everything into checking so I could pay the bills. Not even one penny was left unaccounted for. I tallied up everything I had and then added up my bills. The bills were higher than the money available to pay them. I paid what was due first and saved the three that were due in the first week of February. These were important bills, electric, water, and gas. I had another check coming so they would be paid in time, but I would still be behind enough to have me worrying over the month to come.

     After all the worry, the phone call came. We had a year and a half of too many applications, a few false starts, and much careful living financially. However, now my husband is employed in another pizza restaurant! I'm excited! It's exactly what we needed and just when we needed it. Now for the long process of rebuilding.