Vegetable soup ingredients

10-14-2017The main focus of my shopping today was to get ingredients for my favorite vegetable soup. I didn’t end up having time to make it today but hopefully I will tomorrow. The soup has simple ingredients and I like to make a large batch that will last me for a few days. It’s really nice to have the soup available and to not need to cook quite as much. I will try and post the recipe when I make the soup.

I also did a mini shop later in the day where I bought some tomatoes, dairy-free pepper jack cheese and a 12 pack of sparkle water.

Total for today’s shopping: $33.15

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Frugality and times of crisis

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In a nutshell: Recently due to a severe family crisis frugality has been the absolute least of my concerns and basically went completely out the window.

The past 2.5 weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. Luckily this story ends well, but it was an extremely dire situation. A very, very close family member of mine (for privacy purposes I’m not going to say who) who is elderly had a very bad fall where they suffered a small skull fracture, brain bleeding and just massively not feeling well and were taken to the hospital by the paramedics.

To say this situation was terrifying for me is a massive understatement. I had to take an emergency flight out from the east coast and was just praying for them to be alive by the time I got there. It was the longest, most anxiety filled flight of my life (but thank God for the airplane that got me there!!). My beloved was first in the ICU then moved to the regular ward…and then after 4 days blessedly released from the hospital where they were deemed medically stable and that everything should heal.

I have been here ever since helping them with everything from eating, drinking, taking medicine, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, etc and just spending time together. Essentially just trying, very very slowly to get things back to normal.

I am immensely, hugely grateful that my beloved is recovering from an extremely scary and dire health crisis. It’s an absolute miracle and blessing from God. He is so full of mercy, love and compassion for us.

During this time me and my family have been eating a lot of take out. For awhile it was nearly every main meal. And this is why– this situation was so stressful that I simply was unable to cook and feed myself or anyone else and I could barely take care of myself. I was losing weight rapidly and was getting extremely low blood sugar…so I quickly realized, if I don’t eat, somehow, I will collapse and get very ill.

I was living on food from the hospital cafeteria, and after my family member was released from the hospital, living on take out from the local grocery store and restaurants. This is one of the few times in my life where there was simply no other option. It was a true emergency and I’ve been dipping into my emergency fund to take care of the costs.

Fortunately, life around here is slowly starting to normalize. My beloved is up and walking (a miracle in itself!!!) and starting to be more independent. My gratitude to God is profound and also witnessing the miracle of the body healing itself. It’s truly amazing.

I’m starting to cook a little more and eat less take out and hopefully over the next few days I can begin tracking my expenses more carefully. I’ve missed my Food Budget Friday updates, but sometimes life intervenes. Under normal circumstances I really try to avoid eating out…but this wasn’t at all normal. Thank goodness for the cafeterias and take out places that have fed me and my family over the past two weeks!!

My prayer is simply for my family member to have a full recovery, feel great, and return to their normally very social and active life ❤

Lunch today: Vegan quesadilla and veggies

lunchIt always makes me happy when I find a good dairy substitute that I enjoy. This quesadilla I had for lunch today was excellent: it tasted great and the cheese was nice and melty. It tasted very similar to a “real” quesadilla.

Although I love dairy, especially cheese, I have a tough time eating it too often. It gives me fatigue, headaches and doesn’t digest all that well. I don’t think I’m necessarily allergic to milk products but I’m definitely sensitive.

What really made this dish excellent was using dairy-free pepper jack cheese. It gave the quesadilla extra flavor and helped it to really sing 🙂

I rounded out today’s lunch with some raw veggies including cucumber, mini tomatoes and radishes for a veggie nutrition boost.

Although I only made one serving, you could easily make more if you’re serving several people.

Awesome dairy-free quesadilla

Serves 1

2 corn tortillas, 6-inch

2-3 heaping tablespoons non-dairy pepper jack cheese, shredded

1 teaspoon non-dairy butter or vegetable oil

Salsa (optional)

Sliced veggies served on the side; such as red pepper, cucumber, radishes, tomato, or carrot sticks

Warm a large skillet on medium heat and add the non-dairy butter. When butter begins to melt place a corn tortilla in the middle of the pan. Let the tortilla warm for a few seconds and then top with the non-dairy pepper jack cheese.

When the cheese begins to warm and melt slightly top with the other tortilla. Press down with a spatula. Take a look under the top tortilla and when the cheese begins to look melty flip over. Continue cooking until the cheese is thoroughly melted.

Tortilla should be slightly browned on each side.

Total cooking time is about 5-6 minutes.

Serve with salsa and sliced veggies

Frugal favorites: Simple saucepan

photo40A saucepan is kitchen magic and really holds so much potential. What I love most is it’s simplicity and also how many things it can cook.

For many years I was a major kitchen gadget and gizmo collector. At one time I even owned 3 rice cookers…3!! I still love kitchen gadgets and own several but I’ve been trying to pare down over the years and keep only the ones I use regularly. I am an aspiring minimalist and am drawn to things that help make life simpler, easier and less expensive while still doing a great job.

I especially love tools that can multitask rather than single use items. This saucepan is definitely a master multitasker and I use it pretty much every day. It’s made from stainless steel and is “middle of the road” quality which is what I tend to go for with most things. What I mean is that it’s not super cheapo where it’s poor quality and will fall apart or breakdown quickly (ie. the coating chips off) but it’s not from a cooking speciality store where the pan is more expensive than it really needs to be. I spent about $30 on it new and it’s holding up really well, but if you can find one second hand for less that’s great.

This pan is a fantastic money saver and helps me easily make healthy food. Check this out: I bought a one pound bag of brown rice for 89 cents. I can usually make rice three times from one bag (1 cup rice to 2 cups water). My little household usually eats one whole saucepan of rice with our dinner. That means the rice for our dinner, for both of us, is only about 30 cents, or 15 cents a person! That’s frugal heaven right there!

I also use the saucepan to boil potatoes, boil broccoli, noodles, steam carrots, make hard boiled eggs, lentil soup, chicken soup and more. This pan is seriously wonderful and helps to us to eat cheaply and healthfully.

If you have a large family or prefer to make large batches of food having a larger saucepan, such as a 6 quart size, makes sense, but the same ideas still apply. We also have a large stock pot but we don’t use it on a daily basis as much. More like every few weeks or month 🙂