Budget, In The Kitchen, Nutrition

New Menu Planning…

I have decided if Randy and I are going to keep up with our evening chores we are going to have to make some changes to our evening meals.  Cooking from scratch is healthy and yummy and all of that good stuff, but it is also time consuming.  With both of us working full-time it’s going to take some doing to eat healthy and get everything done that needs to be done.

So, I am working up a menu plan, fairly general, to make our evenings more open to taking care of our animals (especially with baby chicks on the way).

Monday:  Crockpot

Tuesday:  Soup and Sandwiches (usually egg or grilled cheese)

Wednesday:  Crockpot new or leftovers (add tortillas, cornbread, etc.)

Thursday:  Grill (from the freezer) 

Friday:  This will be our big meal of the week because I am off on Fridays.  I also hope to do some cooking for the freezer so we have casseroles in the freezer to get us through the following week.

We will probably have to implement some rice and beans back into our menu to allow for some bulk cooking.

Our menu this week isn’t on track with this new menu plan, but here is what I have planned for the week.

Monday:  Egg (homegrown) sandwiches on homemade bread

Tuesday:  Link Sausage cooked over sweet potatoes and turnips in our cast iron skillet.

Wednesday:  Stir-Fry (bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, turnips, and sweet potatoes over brown rice).  The rice is soaking as we speak.

Thursday:  Pork chops on the grill and veggies of some sort.

Friday:  Roasted Chicken, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Turnips, and a salad.

Cook ahead:


Black Bean Chicken Chili

Chicken Tetrazinni

Hopefully I will get some tortillas made, but we’ll see how the day goes.  I also have a lot of housekeeping to do.  One day a week just doesn’t cut it when you are trying to cook for 4 days and clean for 7 days worth.

Hope everyone has a great week.


Stimulus check…

Just a quick tidbit on the stimulus checks you are getting this year.  We intend to pay off debt with our’s, however, if you must spend your check to “stimulate the economy” here are a couple of ideas:

*Shop locally with the money at individual retailers (i.e. NOT Walmart) 

*By items made in the USA (rather than stimulate foreign economies by buying products made in_______(fill in the blank)).

*Use it at local Farmer’s Markets

*Donate to local or enviornmental charities (humane societies).

*Invest, save, or pay off bills (rather than buy more material items, try to get yourself off the economic treadmill so many Americans are on these days).

It’s everyone’s perogative how they spend the money.  This is just a reminder of things which may actually “stimulate” the US economy, help local retailers and farmers, and/or just be a wise choice for individuals.

Budget, Self-Sufficiency

Frugality and Self-Sufficiency…

Self-sufficiency in the food department….

It is the time of year in Kansas when things are just starting to produce.  Early foods we begin eating this week from our garden:




Green onions

Soon to come:







Although I have never actually “foraged” before, I fully intend to try:

Dandelion greens

Breaded Dandelion flowers

Morels (I think we missed them this year, but fully intend to try next year)

Foraging later in the year:


Sand plums


I sometimes struggle with the inner battle of “organic vs. frugal.”  Anyone else have this problem?  I want to buy everything organic, but then I have a feeling of regret that I’ve over spent and not used our money wisely.  There has to be a balance.  I justify my non-organic purchases with, “I cook from scratch, so if I don’t buy EVERYTHING organic I’m still doing better than most.” 

So, with that being said, Randy and I also take advantage of the farming in our area for free corn on the cob and free wheat from nearby family fields.  No it’s not organic, yes it’s laden with chemicals, but it’s free and corn isn’t really all that good for you to begin with and we eat it in moderation (don’t you love how I justify my choices).  The wheat (if we purchase a grain mill) will be just enough to get us by for a couple of months, and then we will purchase it from a nearby bulk food store (organic).

I also struggle with the need for supplements in our daily routine.  These have proven to prevent ailments and sickness, so it’s hard to eliminate something that is working so well for us.  However, I want to try to cut back on some of the expenses.  We buy supplements for our two dogs as well.  For the price of the supplements I feel they will save us on vet bills over the long run (our small dog has severe allergies) just the same as I feel it has saved us on doctor bills as well.  Still I will try to trim, trim, trim.

We have also put some major purchases on hold and are currently brainstorming ways to get by without:

A tractor to move round bales for our sheep

A new roof on our house

New permanent pasture fencing (goat fencing)

A vacation to the Northeast in the fall

Here’s my idea for the tractor.  We can line our round bales up outside our lots in the winter and place electric netting extending from the lot out around one round bale at a time to allow them to eat the one bale.  When that bale is gone we can move the electric netting around the next bale and so on until spring arrives again.  This year my Dad had to drive his tractor 5 miles (roundtrip) to move a round bale into the sheep lot for us whenever they ran out.  Not very feasible with the price of farm diesel and not fair to him to have to take time to do it for us every other week or so.

We plan to patch the old roof as needed and save until we have enough money up front to do the roof without having to finance it.

We ran one strand of electric fence cable ($300) around our existing fence using the existing posts and not replacing the entire thing with goat fencing ($4000).  Granted this is only temporary, but it saved us $3700 for now.

A vacation to the Northeast to see the fall foliage will just have to wait.  We love our farm and can enjoy fall at home instead.

Homesteading, self-sufficiency, voluntary simplicity, whatever you want to call it does take sacrifice and a little ingenuity.  If it were easy everyone would be doing it. 

I just had a discussion with Randy the other day about what he would sacrifice to not have to commute 2 hours a day and go to work 40 hours/week?  I would sacrifice A LOT!  He’s a little resistant to some of the changes, eh hem, Dish Network is his life, literally.

Some of the silly (IMO) expenses we have that could easily go:

Dish Network

Dining out (we’ve gotten kind of bad about this lately)

Non-necessity food and beverages

Extra vehicles

Everyone has places they could trim.  It’s just a matter of prioritizing the important things in life.  To me TIME and our HEALTH are the most important things in our life and the two things lacking in most lives.

I enjoy going out to eat, but with the price of fuel, the cost of going out to eat, and the unhealthy food we will most likely consume, wouldn’t it be just as fun to pack a picnic lunch and go sit by one of the ponds nearby, or under our big cottonwood tree, or even just on the patio at our fun little bistro table?  It’s about spending time together and it doesn’t have to be expensive to make it memorable.

The cost of living is definitely on the rise.  I am evaluating and re-evaluating our spending more and more as prices continue to increase.  Some of the most valuable traits you can have in today’s world is to be able to:

Grow at least some of your own food

Cook from scratch

And be thrifty with what money you have.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week.

Around the Homestead, Budget

A Friday at Work…

Since I took the day off yesterday I decided to make up my time by coming in today which I really hated to do, but the bill don’t pay themselves.  Randy HATES me going to work for a number of reasons, especially if it’s somewhat voluntary.  However, we are really striving to be dept-free and as a result I feel we need to work a certain amount of hours to keep on track.  Tax-time is never nice to us, so we are in a slump right now.

We are striving to decrease our spending, our debt, and eventually our income.  We find it so hard to give away ¼ our hard-earned money to others who don’t have to go to work and spend hours away from their home like we do.  So, the only way we know to avoid paying in a huge amount of money in taxes (legally) is to just make less money.  Yeah, those two college degrees may be considered “wasted” to others, but to us we would never be where we are today without them.  Whether we hold jobs in our fields of study or not.  *I will step off my soapbox now.

Randy’s car wouldn’t start this morning, so he was late for work.  It finally started, thankfully, so we are both away from the farm today.  Dad will check up on the sheep and if anything happens I will head straight home to take over.

Yesterday I got a lot done around the home.  All the usual:  dust, vacuum, clean the bathroom, laundry, and baked bread.  Ash and I got in our three games of fetch, and I managed to get a small bottle of Lavender Linen spray made to help me sleep after my middle-of-the-night trips to the barn to check on the girls.  A big part of my day was spent outside and with a high of 25 degrees it makes for a chilly day.  I am sipping on a nice hot cup of green tea as we speak.

I’m putting together a small post on nutrition, supplements, and some environmental ideas.  Hopefully I can get it posted today.  If not, it will be sometime next week.

I promise baby lamb pictures soon.  They are adorable if I do say so myself.  My favorite is a little boy (of course).  Rule Number 1 for raising livestock:  don’t fall for the baby boys, it only makes your life harder when it’s time for them to “go.”

Have a wonderful weekend and try to stay warm.

Around the Homestead, Budget

Another busy weekend…


Friday Randy got off work early and noticed a yard sale on his way home, so we hopped in the car and got there right as they were opening up.

Here are a few of our bargains:

A $5 Reel Mower

A cooler for $7.50, perfect for when we butcher chickens.

My dh also got a set of jack stands for $1, a nice fishing net for $1, and I got the book Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin for $.50.  Woo hoo!  We never get to go to yard sales, auctions, or garage sales and always want to.  We had a great time and hope to do this more often.

I planted a small patch of lettuce in between two buildings where it stays fairly moist and cool (good for lettuce, right?).  Turns out it’s also good for growing cats.


How can you make the little guy move?  He’s hot and the ground here is nice and cool.  He could at least stay in one place rather than migrate over the entire patch.  Bless his little heart!

We didn’t have enough going on or enough little projects around our homestead.  So, I came up with an idea.  My Grandma had an old refrigerator in her shed, so we asked if we could have it. 


The plan is fix it up to use as decor/storage for serving trays, tablecloths, cloth napkins, etc.  Once we got it out of the shed and cleaned up we have some doubts about the bottom where it is rusted, but we are going to forge ahead and see if we can’t replace the bottom, get it painted, and moved into our house.  You are all shuddering at the thought of this disgusting thing being inside someone’s home, aren’t you?  LOL

Maybe it will work, maybe not, but it’s worth a shot!

Since these photos were taken, I have cleaned it out and all the dark on the bottom of the inside was dirt, not rust.  So, only the exterior will be our major rust removal area.

We did get some swimming in and some relaxation over the weekend.  Not a lot, but a little.  We have plenty on our to-do list for this weekend also, but I’m still looking forward to it.

My mom owns a feed store in town, and a lady was in discussing how she was looking for a ram lamb.  Coincidence?  Mom explained how we have Texel ram lambs ready to go.  I think we are within her price range, so she may do a little research on Texels and be in touch.  Go Mom!  I would love to sell our ram lambs for breeding rather than the alternative sale.  We already have one we are fattening up for a lady and it nearly breaks my heart to feed him or even look at him.  My dh will take him to the locker which I am so thankful for.  I could do it, but I would be a complete and utter mess.  “We take care of them, so they can take care of us.”

Hope you all have a wonderful week.

Budget, In The Kitchen

Grocery Shopping…

My dh and I went grocery shopping over the weekend.  We are determined to go three months without going to the store.  We will get our milk from the dairy near our house and may go to the specialty store near my work for bananas and apples.  Other than that we are buckling down and doing without.  I made a menu for one month and intend to just cycle through it.  This is my first time buying for this long, so I’m sure I will have to get creative come month three.~Smile

This week’s menu:

Monday:  Tuna Casserole with homemade bread

Tuesday:  Scrambled Eggs with Toast

Wednesday:  Beef Stroganoff

Thursday:  Tamale Pie

Friday:  Chicken Rotel with ww tortilla

Saturday:    Stir-Fry with Brown Rice

Sunday:  Grill

We are going to try to start making our Sundays more of  “a day of rest.”  It’s really tough when you work all week and have a small farm.  We really need both our days to get caught back up.  However, we want this to be “family day.”  A day we spend time together, rest, relax, and preparing for a new week. 

My dh and I helped work Dad’s lambs over the weekend.  Approximately 300 of the little darlings.  We used a sore mouth vaccination which is a live vaccine and not once, not twice, but about a million times did I get it smeared on my face or splattered with it as the little critter shook their heads.  I have eight days before I’m in the clear, so wish me luck.  From what I’ve heard it’s very painful and from the looks of sore mouth on the sheep, I know I don’t want it on my face.  Ugh!  However all of Dad’s and all of our’s are vaccinated, docked, etc.  Now they just have to grow up to be big healthy sheep.

One last thing before I close.  I would like to ask everyone to pray for the people of Greensburg, Kansas.  I had a friend, his wife, and their three year old daughter who lived there.  They lost everything!  Their home, their cars, and all their belongings.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. 


One step closer to being debt free…

I just wrote a check to pay off one of our student loans.  Yippee!  My husband and I prioritized a list of bills to pay off.  We determined which to pay off first by the amount owed and the interest rate.  We put a couple smaller bills first in order to have a few successes and get the hang of it before we really buckled down and hit some of the larger debt.  What a feeling!  I seriously think him and I will have to have a mini celebration tonight.  Not including the house we only have three more to go.  We will focus on our mortgage as soon as all our other debt is taken care of.  My husband and I are really blessed to be where we are today.  It’s hard not to compare yourselves to others driving the nice cars and wearing the nice clothes, but we know (now) those things aren’t what’s most important to the two of us.  We want to be good stewards of the earth, practice good husbandry, and take care of those who are dear to us.  We value time more than money.  We want to live a life that will keep us (both of us) home more and at work less.  We are now one step closer to home due to some sacrifice!  Life is good.  ~Smile

Here are some budget templates (I use the first one “Personal Budget”) to keep an eye on where our money goes.  I know not everyone likes these, but I found them tremendously helpful.  My husband loves that I keep track of this, and at the end of every month I print it off to show him the areas we did poorly and the areas we succeeded in following our plan.  Good luck!