Money Saving Recipes — Mennonite Sour Cream Chicken

I thought it only fair to warn you. I find myself suddenly in a cooking/baking mood and so we’re going to be a bit recipe-heavy for a few days. Many of the recipes I’ll post this week will be old favorites I’ve collected from some of the finest ladies I ever met.

Recently I wrote about lessons I learned from Mama about money. Some other folks I learned ways to save money from were the Mennonites. When I was in my late 20’s I attended a church that was kind of an off-shoot of the Mennonites. Every Sunday after church there was a communal dinner. The food was wonderful and the ladies of the church were always so willing to share their recipes and give advice on cooking. Over the next few days I’ll  share some of the money saving recipes I learned from them.

Each time I make one of these dishes it reminds me of when I got it and the person who shared it with me. So tie on an apron and try these wonderful recipes this week!

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Mennonite Sour Cream Chicken

I don’t know if this is a “classic” Mennonite or Amish recipe but it was given to me by one of the Mennonite ladies so it probably is one.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. bone-in, skin on chicken breasts (I often use thighs for this recipe)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4  cup flour
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Paprika (enough to sprinkle on chicken)
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For the sauce:

  • Pan drippings from chicken
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2  cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Pinch of  salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Paprika (1/4 teaspoon or to taste)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat over 350°
  2. Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a dish big enough to fit the chicken (one at a time).
  3. Add melted butter to shallow baking dish.
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  4. Dip chicken in butter then dredge in flour mixture.
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  5. Arrange the chicken, skin side up in baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle chicken with paprika to taste.
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  7. Bake chicken for 45-60 minutes or until juices run clear.
  8. Pour the drippings from chicken into a sauce pan.
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  9. Add the water, sour cream, flour, salt, pepper and paprika to the pan drippings.
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  10. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly.
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  11. Pour sauce over chicken.

I like to serve this with egg noodles. You can also serve it with mashed potatoes.

Bam’s Lemon Pound Cake

This recipe was given to me by the lady wh

o lived across the street from the first house I ever bought. Jean was a mentor, a confidante, and a much-loved friend. She taught me a great deal about gardening, cooking, baking, and parenting. After my mama Jean is the lady I miss most in my life. I call it Bam’s Lemon Pound Cake because I’ve made some changes to the original recipe over the years.

Bam's Lemon Pound Cake

— Continue reading

Do Not Refrigerate

For homemakers one of the true Great Debates is what must be and what must never be stored in the refrigerator. One of the most hotly debated items is butter. The USDA insists butter should be kept in its wrapper in the refrigerator while many people, including me, keep it on the counter. Butter is made from pasteurized milk so the chance of contamination is low but there’s always a slight risk. Salted butter runs a low risk but unsalted, whipped, or “light” butters have a higher risk. There are certain foods, however, for which you should always follow the rule; Do not refrigerate.

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Avocados won’t ripen if stored in the refrigerator but if you have an already ripe avocado you want to keep longer the refrigerator will slow ripening.

Basil absorbs the smells of other foods in the refrigerator. You don’t want tuna scented basil! Refrigeration also causes basil to wilt faster. Store basil as if they were fresh flowers; in a cup of fresh water on the counter.

Bread dries out quickly in the refrigerator. Keep bread on the counter or in the freezer unless it’s sliced sandwich bread that you will use within a few days. Bread kept in the freezer should be wrapped to retain moisture. Let frozen bread thaw slowly and completely before eating it. Unsliced bread should be kept on the counter and sliced when you’re going to eat it.

Coffee loses flavor and takes on the odors of other foods in the refrigerator. It can be stored in the freezer but ideally it should be stored in a cool, dark place.

Garlic will start to sprout in the refrigerator after a time. It can also get rubbery and even grow moldy. Keep garlic in a cool, dry place.

Honey should be kept, tightly sealed, in a dark spot in the pantry. Raw honey will keep basically forever. Honey found in the pyramids was edible! Keeping honey in the refrigerator will cause it to crystalize.

Olive Oil should be kept in a cool, dark place but never in the refrigerator. In the cold it will condense and harden. You’ll end up with olive oil with a butter-like consistency.

Onions stored in the refrigerator will turn soft and moldy because of the moisture. You should store onions in a cool, dry spot, away from potatoes.

Potatoes turn gritty and sweet in the refrigerator. The cold turns the starch into sugar quickly. The ideal place for potatoes is a root cellar but if you don’t have one store your potatoes in a cool, but not cold, spot in the pantry. Keep potatoes in a paper bag as plastic isn’t as breathable and potatoes will rot faster in plastic.

Tomatoes should never be stored in the refrigerator. Refrigeration cause the ripening process to stop and ripening is what give tomatoes their flavor. The cold also makes the tomato mealy because it breaks down the membranes inside the fruit walls. Store your tomatoes in a bowl on the counter for the best flavor.

How to Grow Garlic Indoors

Garlic is an ancient bulbous vegetable and a member of the Allium family so it is closely related to onions, shallots, and leeks. It is easy to grow. Garlic grows from individual cloves broken off from a whole bulb. Each of the cloves will form an entire new bulb with 5-10 cloves. This post will teach you how to grow garlic indoors.

There are so many health benefits in eating garlic. It contains a compound called Allicin which has very potent medicinal properties. Although it’s a very popular ingredient in cooking it was used in ancient history mainly for its medicinal properties and health benefits. The Babylonians, Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all wrote about garlic and its use in medicine and healing.

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When garlic is chewed, chopped or crushed a sulfur compound called allicin is formed. This compound is what is believed to produce all the health benefits of garlic. It’s also very low in calories but it’s very nutritious. It contains vitamins C and B6, manganese, and selenium in respectable amounts. It also contains vitamin B1, calcium, copper, iron, potassium, and phosphorous.

Garlic boosts the immune system so supplementing your diet with it can help prevent a common cold. It also reduces the time your cold symptoms (if you didn’t eat your garlic and caught one) by 70%.  Garlic can reduce blood pressure. Of course for this you’d have to eat about 4 cloves a day so you may want to consider a garlic supplement of about 1,500 mg. It also can lower your total and LDL cholesterol. Both high blood pressure and cholesterol are major factors in heart disease and stroke. This amazing food contains antioxidants that may aid in the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. It may help minimize bone loss and be beneficial to those with osteoarthritis.

If you have a bleeding disorder or take blood thinners you must talk to your doctor before increasing your garlic intake, especially with garlic supplements. But garlic is a delicious and nutritious food you should grow indoors or outdoors.

And now to growing garlic…

You can easily grow garlic in a pot. The best garlic to plant is organic. The ones you find at the grocery store have usually been treated to prevent sprouting but if you find one sprouting at the store you can definitely plant it!

  1. Use the best garlic heads you can find.
  2. Fill a large pot with good potting soil.
  3. Separate the individual cloves, leaving the “paper” on each clove.
  4. Plant each clove vertically with the blunt end down and the pointed end up,  in about 1” of soil.
  5. Place the pot in a sunny location and water it.
  6. Water when the soil starts to dry out but be careful not to overwater.
  7. When the greens reach a height of 3” – 4” cut them but leave an inch so they will regrow. These greens are known as garlic chives and can be used in cooking.
  8. The greens will eventually stop growing. They’ll turn brown and dry up. That’s when you dig up the new bulbs that each clove has formed.

Be sure to save cloves from the new heads of garlic to plant and start the process again. You can grow an endless supply of garlic right on your windowsill.

Be Beautiful With Honey & Vinegar

Women love to be beautiful. We like to look great for the men in our lives and for ourselves. But beauty can be really expensive. In 2013 the average woman spent more than $15,000 on beauty products and rituals. Did you know there’s a cheaper way to look fantastic? Here are some ways to be beautiful with honey and vinegar.

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HONEY:

Honey, egg white, and flour moisturizer – This luxurious moisturizer contains only three ingredients you probably already have in the kitchen. Mix four tablespoons of honey with a couple of egg whites and just enough flour to create the consistency you desire. Then simply stir until the mixture thickens. Spread on your face, hands, or anywhere you have dry skin.

Honey, egg, and milk face mask – Depending on your skin type you may use the whole egg or only the white or yolk. If your skin is normal, use the entire egg. For dry skin use the yolk only. If your skin is oily or if you’re prone to acne use only the egg white. Add a couple of tablespoons of whole milk and a tablespoon of raw honey and whisk the ingredients by hand or with a mixer until fluffy. Spread on clean face and let sit until dry (about 15 minutes). Rinse well. Your face will feel and look fabulous! The recipe makes about 2 masks so store the extra in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within a week.

Honey and tomato face mask – Mash the inside of a tomato (skin removed) and some honey to form a thick paste. Spread it on your clean face and leave it for about 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Your face will glow.

Honey facial cleanser – Mix honey with coconut oil to create a mixture that is easily spread. Rub it into your skin to remove makeup and cleanse your skin. The cleanser will unclog pores and leave your skin clean and fresh. *Avoid the eye area.

Honey and almond exfoliating scrub – This can be used anywhere on your body to exfoliate and moisturize. Just combine ground almonds with an equal amount of honey to form a paste. Rub it into your skin in a gentle, circular motion and then rinse with warm water. It takes about 2 teaspoons each to make enough paste for your face. Another honey exfoliating scrub is 2 parts honey to 1 part baking soda.

Honey and olive oil hair conditioner – There are two ways to use this combination. You can simply add a little to your shampoo (about a teaspoon) or you can leave it on for deeper conditioning. Just spread the mixture onto your hair, cover with a towel, and let it do its work for about 20 minutes. Then shampoo as usual.

Honey bath soak – Just a few tablespoons of honey, added to bath water will leave your skin soft and smelling great. For an even more luxurious soak combine ¼ cup of honey with 2 cups of whole milk. You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.

Honey, olive oil, and lemon juice dry skin lotion – Mix a tablespoon of honey with a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of lemon juice to help relieve dry skin. Just spread it on and leave it for about 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

 

VINEGAR:

Apple Cider Vinegar hair rinse – Combine 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar with 4 cups of water and pour over your hair after you shampoo. The vinegar will remove built up styling products and also strengthens the hair shaft. Leave it on for several seconds then rinse. Using a cold water rinse will increase the shine by sealing the hair shaft.

Apple Cider Vinegar, bentonite clay, and honey face mask – Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and bentonite clay and add 1 tablespoon raw honey. Leave on skin for 15 minutes then rinse with warm water.

Apple Cider Vinegar skin toner – Put a few drops of apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball. Apply it to breakout zones to prevent acne. For a stronger acne rinse mix one part vinegar to 3 parts water and apply it to skin with a cotton ball. Allow the mix to remain on skin for about 10 minutes, then rinse.

Apple Cider Vinegar detoxifying bath soak – Add a few capfuls of apple cider vinegar to your bath water to draw out toxins and leave you feeling refreshed.

Apple Cider Vinegar and vegetable oil nail soak – Combine apple cider vinegar with vegetable oil to strengthen nails. It will also help remove stains on the nails.

Apple Cider Vinegar foot soak – Soak your feet in undiluted apple cider vinegar for up to an hour to remove calluses and reduce swelling of your feet.

Apple Cider Vinegar dandruff treatment – Simply apply apple cider vinegar to scalp with a cotton ball to relieve dandruff and dry, itchy scalp. Section your hair to apply the vinegar evenly and wash it out in the morning.

Shrimp with Fettuccine in Tomato Cream Sauce

I love this rich, flavorful meal. The tomato cream sauce can be used in so many dishes but one of my favorite ways is to combine it with shrimp and fettuccine. It’s my version of comfort food. And it only takes about 30 minutes to make!

If you double the recipe use the same amount of cream.

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Shrimp with Fettuccine in Tomato Cream Sauce

Servings:4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
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  • 1 can (15 Oz. Size) tomato sauce
  • Salt And pepper, to taste
  • Sugar (to cut the acidity of tomato sauce, to taste)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
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  • Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
  • Fresh basil, chiffonade and chopped
  • ½ pound fettucine
  • ½ pound shrimp

 

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water and keep pasta warm.
  2. Sauté shrimp in 1 tablespoon of the butter until shrimp is pink.
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  3. Heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for until onions just begin to soften.
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  4. Add tomato sauce to onions and garlic.
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  5. Add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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  6. Remove from heat and stir in cream.
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  7. Add cheese to taste.
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  8. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired.
  9. Add pasta, tossing gently with tongs.
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  10. If sauce is too thick for your taste you may thin with a bit of the reserved water from the pasta.
  11. Add shrimp, tossing gently with tongs until sauce is well-distributed.
  12. Add basil and mix it in gently.
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Making A Coupon Organizer System

In my post Simple Steps To Saving Money — Part 1: Groceries I talked about using coupons to save at the grocery store. One problem I’ve seen so many times at the checkout is that people often don’t organize their coupons. They miss using coupons for items they’re buying only to find them afterward, they pull out expired coupons, and sometimes the coupons are so wrinkled and worn they can’t be read. It may seem like a silly topic, but coupon organizing is important in helping save money.

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There are many ways to organize your coupons. Here are a few of the ways I’ve seen used and used myself over the years.

Boxes – If you’ve looked at the pictures in many of my posts you’ll know I’m a big fan of boxes. Using a box for coupons can be an excellent way to organize them. The box can be as small as a recipe box or as large as a shoe box. It all depends on how many coupons you need to organize.

I like index file boxes because I use the blank tabbed dividers to separate my coupons into groups. You may choose to divide your coupons by expiration date or type of food or cleaning products, etc. Pick the method that make the most sense to you. Mark each tab of the dividers with the types of coupons in that section. You can fit a really large number of coupons in one of these boxes.

The only real issue with boxes is that they can be inconvenient to carry to the store.

Expanding Accordion File Folders – These folders come in a wide variety of sizes. If you’re really into couponing the large folder would be great. If you’re more like me and never have a huge number of coupons then the wallet size folder would probably work out just fine.

An advantage to the expanding file folders is that the normally have a way to hold all the contents within the folder. You don’t have to worry about your coupons ending up all over the floor if you drop it (of course that’s only when it’s closed). And the folders are easier to carry to through the store than a box.

Zippered Binders – I’ve seen a couple of local ladies who keep their coupons in a zippered binder. I have to admit I’ve been intrigued. They carry the coupons and a calculator so they can keep track of their coupons and do a sort of running tab on the groceries they’re buying. I thought they had the coupons in page protectors but they actually use those little plastic sheets that photographs in albums. They have dividers that separate the sheets into their particular coupon system.

Envelopes – This is a simple system in which you just separate the coupons by group and put each group in its own envelope.

You may choose to separate your coupons by aisle in the grocery store if you’re very familiar with the layout. But this can be problematic if the store changes locations of products. You can also separate coupons by:

Product type – You may choose to group your coupons by product type like all baking items in a group or all products found in the cleaning aisles together.  

Expiration Date – Although sorting coupons just by expiration date is one way to organize your coupons it’s not always the most efficient. Yes, you’ll avoid having expired coupons with you but you’ll have to sort through all the coupons to find the ones you want. I prefer sorting by the type of product and putting the coupons that will expire soonest in front.
Before shopping make a list and go through your coupons to match items you need with coupons you have. Note each item on the list that has a corresponding coupon with a C or some other way to remind yourself you have a coupon for that item. You can pull all the coupons for that shopping trip while you’re making your shopping list and take only those you know you need. However, you may want to take all your coupons in case you pick up an item on sale and want to also use a coupon.

Cleaning Series Part 4 – Cleaning Stainless Steel Appliances

A dear friend asked me to tackle cleaning stainless steel appliances and I’m always happy to try to help people. In spite of the name, stainless steel does stain. Unfortunately, I don’t have a stainless steel refrigerator, stove, or dishwasher. I don’t even have a stainless toaster. So I’m going to try cleaning the stainless on my Bunn coffee maker with a couple of these methods and give my opinion on them.

The best practice is to wipe down your stainless appliances with a damp, soapy cloth every time you do the dishes. Rinse with clean water and then dry the appliance with a soft towel. If you find you’ve missed this step a time or two and need to clean your stainless, here are some tips.

First, it’s critical you know what not to do and what not to use to clean stainless steel.

  • Don’t clean any stainless surface unless it’s cool to the touch.
  • Don’t use chlorine bleach or any product containing chloride.
  • Don’t use steel wool, steel brushes, or highly abrasive scrubbing pads. They can scratch and may leave residue than can rust.
  • Don’t use oven cleaner.
  • Don’t use abrasive cleaners on brushed stainless steel.
  • Don’t use excessively hard water, dirty or gritty water.

Read the owner’s manual, if you have it, and follow those care and cleaning instructions first. Some stainless steel appliances are coated with a clear coat finish and certain products can strip that finish.

  1. Find the “grain” of the stainless steel and always clean following it.
  2. Start at the top of the appliance and clean downward.
  3. Give your appliance an initial wipe down with undiluted vinegar, rinse with clean water, and dry with a soft towel.
  4. If there is heavier grease or baked on food use a mild detergent in hot water and gently rub with a nylon scrubbing pad. Immediately rinse with clean water and dry with a towel to prevent water stains.
  5. If the stains are still visible make a paste of baking soda and liquid dish detergent. Use a nylon scrubbing pad or an old toothbrush to gently scrub. Rinse with clean water and dry.
  6. If stains are still there try undiluted vinegar, scrubbing gently with an old, soft toothbrush. Again, rinse with clean water and dry.

Periodically, buff the appliances with a stainless steel polish or lemon oil to maintain the lustrous finish. Apply in the direction of the grain using a lint-free cloth. Buff and dry with a second lint-free cloth. I really love used surgical towels for anything requiring a lint-free cloth.

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Some of the non-abrasive cleaners for stainless steel are 3M Professional Grade, Bar Keeper’s Friend (a personal favorite), Sprayway, Weiman, and Cerama Bryte. Always test new cleaners on a spot that will not show before applying it to the main part of the appliance. Another fan favorite is CLR’s Stainless Steel Cleaner.

Don’t use any pastes or sprays meant for cleaning decorative elements like backsplashes or handles on stainless used for cooking. Do not use silver dip polishes like the ones used to clean jewelry because they are corrosive to stainless steel.

Lessons My Mama Taught Me About Money

Mama was born in 1914. By the late 1930’s she had 4 growing boys. She and Daddy were trying to feed and clothe my oldest brothers during a really dark time in America. My parents were actually fortunate during the Depression. Daddy had a steady job with Ford Motor Company. He also took on jobs for overtime that most men refused; he’d clean the steel pits which, according to Mama was a truly awful job. Nonetheless, raising a young family at that time wasn’t easy. She learned a lot during those days and these are the lessons my mama taught me about money.

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  1. Don’t have debt. If you’re in debt right now get out of it as quickly as possible. Give up other things (which I’ll cover in this article) to pay down your mortgage, car payment, and/or credit cards as soon as you can. If you have credit cards, take them out of your wallet and cut them up or at least lock them away in an inconvenient place.
  2. Stash cash for emergencies. Of course you may have to wait until you’ve paid down some debt but it’s a good idea to have an emergency fund. You may not be able to pay for every emergency with cash but anything that isn’t put on credit saves you much more than just the cash you use.
  3. Eat at home. Restaurant meals and even a morning stop for some fancy coffee add up more quickly than you realize. Learn to cook if you don’t know how and eat at home. Brown bag it for lunch. Even cakes, cookies, and other treats can be made less expensively and will taste better if it’s homemade. An occasional meal out for an anniversary or birthday is fine as long as you’re paying cash.
  4. Use what you have. We’re bombarded with ads to buy new things. Many of those things are the same as items we already own. Just because a company says their product is newer or improved doesn’t mean you need to replace a perfectly good item for which you already paid. If you’re tempted to buy a replacement for something you own put the money toward paying off your debt instead. I even re-use plastic freezer bags and aluminum foil if they’ve been used for things that can properly washed away.
  5. Don’t replace it; fix it. My stove is 20 years old and some folks have suggested I get a new one. There’s nothing wrong with my stove and it has the added advantage of only having 4 things that could possibly need to be replaced. I’m not talking about the knobs or other cheap things but the real nitty-gritty of it. New stoves have lots of fancy electronics and can be incredibly expensive to repair. If you do have something that needs repair try going online and getting instructions on how to do the repairs yourself. If you’re afraid to do that, try calling a repair service. When the thermostat on my oven gave up the ghost I called for a repairman and he told me I could do it myself for far less than it would cost to have him fix it. He told me where to get the part and exactly what to do to change it out. I saved over $150 way back in 1990. Imagine what that would cost now! If you need repairs on electrical service or gas appliances it’s best to have a professional.
  6. Make it yourself. A lot of things we use every day can be made at home. Everything from laundry detergent to baby wipes can be made at home for far less than buying it at the store.
  7. Do it yourself. You can pay someone else to do your chores like lawn mowing or cleaning the house but you’re burning money by doing that. You can accomplish everything you need done if you are careful about spending your time as well as your money. If there’s something you truly hate doing consider bartering with someone who doesn’t mind doing it. Maybe you can cook a meal to pay for having someone give your dog a bath.
  8. Buy used. Many things from furniture to prom dresses can be purchased used. I’ve mentioned Habitat for Humanity stores for furniture and baby items. Resale shops have become more and more upscale in recent years so you can find everything from accessories to evening wear that’s in great shape for a fraction of the cost.
  9. Get things cheaper. Before you buy anything check both local store ads and online to find the best price. Many stores offer price matching and price protection. This means if another store offers the same item for less the store will match their price or, if you’ve already purchased it and another store offers it for less within a specified time the original store will refund the difference. Amazon is one place that offers price protection for 7 days. You have to check back and request the refund but it can definitely be worth the time.
  10. Get it free. We spend a lot of money on things we could get free. We rent DVD’s when our local libraries usually have a great selection. We pay for services like babysitting when we could barter with a trusted friend for it. Use your imagination and, instead of paying for a dinner out and a movie for the family go for a picnic and flying a kite instead.
  11. Think before you buy. I love to bake so I often find myself looking at everything baking related. I sometimes dream of an expensive stand mixer with all the attachments but the reality is I have a serviceable stand mixer right now and I’m not going to start making my own sausage anytime soon. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in glitz and glamor. This applies to pretty much anything you consider buying. Ask yourself if you really need it or just want it because of its famous name.
  12. Save, save, save. Whether it’s saving up for a special night on the town or saving money on meals to build your emergency fund, you should save as much as possible. Even $5 a week adds up over time. Let your children know that you’re saving money and why. It teaches them the importance of saving and that instant gratification isn’t necessary.

As Mama and Daddy got older they splurged more on themselves and the kids they still had at home. Their youngest son was born in 1944 and my sister and I came along in the 1950’s so, by the time my sister and I were in high school, they could spoil us. But I never forgot the stories my mama told me about the Great Depression and the things people did to save money. I use many of those lessons to this day. Thank you, Mama.

Homemade Baby Food

I am old, as my husband teasingly points out so I didn’t think making homemade baby food was something I’d end up doing again. But when he got head/neck cancer things changed. He was on a feeding tube for months and when he began eating “real” food again it was extremely difficult for him.

The radiation has destroyed his saliva glands and caused fluid retention in the tissue of his throat. Choking and/or aspirating food was a real danger. So I bought baby food. It was soft and easy for him to swallow but that stuff has gotten expensive in the last 31 years! So homemade baby food sounded like a really good idea!

Remember when introducing your baby to new foods it is best to only offer one at a time. Wait about four days before introducing another new food. You’ll be able to quickly tell if your baby is allergic to a new food if it’s the only one that he hasn’t had before.

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Here are some tips on how to make your own homemade baby food and some foods that are great as baby food.

Applesauce – This baby food favorite contains vitamins A, C, E, and Folate. Minerals found in apples are calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, and selenium. And, in small amounts, apples contain copper, iron, manganese, and zinc.

Method:

  1. Peel and core apples.
  2. Slice or cut into chunks.
  3. Place in a pan with enough water to slightly cover the apples.
  4. Cook the apples on medium heat until tender, stirring frequently and adjusting the water level if necessary.
  5. Reserve some of the cooking water.
  6. Place into a blender and puree, adding the reserved water if the applesauce needs to be thinned.

Applesauce may be thickened with cereal as your baby grows and adjusts to solid food.
Acorn, Butternut, and Hubbard Squash – The winter squashes are very high in fiber and contain vitamins A, C, and Folate. Iron and potassium are the major minerals found in these squash.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Do not peel.
  3. Lay squash halves cut side down on a baking pan with at least 1 ½” sides
  4. Add water to about one inch in the pan.
  5. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the skin puckers and the squash is soft. Check the water level while baking to maintain the level.
  6. When squash is soft scoop meat out of the skin with a wooden spoon.
  7. Reserve the cooking water for thinning the puree.
  8. Place meat in a blender and puree, adding cooking water as necessary.

* You can also cube the squash and boil it as you would potatoes.

Avocado – This wonder food has vitamins A, C, niacin, and folate. The minerals an avocado contains are calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous. It’s smooth and creamy so it’s a great first food and it’s easy to digest.

Method:

  1. Peel and take the pit out of a ripe avocado.
  2. The flesh can be mashed with a fork or pureed in a blender.
  3. Add a little breast milk or formula if the puree needs to be thinned.

*There is no need to cook the flesh of a ripe avocado.

Banana – This fruit is one that is very common as a first food for baby. Bananas contain vitamins A, C, and Folate and the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, and selenium. Bananas are easy to digest and the natural sweetness may help baby adjust to solid food. There is some debate about giving a sweet food like bananas as a first food so do your research before deciding to feed bananas.

Method:

  1. Peel and puree in a blender or simply mash with a fork.
  2. Add breastmilk or formula to thin or add the banana to cereal if baby is ready for something thicker.

Pears – This fruit is another favorite for baby’s first food. Pears contain vitamins A, C, and Folate and the minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

Method:

  1. Peel the pears and cut them into chunks, making sure there are no seeds in the chunks.
  2. Steam the pears until very soft and tender.
  3. Reserve the steaming water for thinning but you probably won’t need it for pears.
  4. Place the pear chunks in a blender and puree.
  5. If the pear puree is too thin, add a little bit of baby cereal to thicken.

Yams & Sweet Potatoes – In addition to being very high in fiber these tubers have vitamins A, C, and Folate and the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, and sodium. Selenium binds with proteins to antioxidant enzymes and can boost the immune system. While too much sodium isn’t good for babies, the amount in a normal feeding of yams or sweet potatoes is limited.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Wash the potato thoroughly. Do not peel.
  3. Poke holes around the potato with a fork and wrap it in foil.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes or until potato is soft or a knife inserted into it comes out clean.
  5. Cool the potato until it can be handled and then peel.
  6. Cut into small chunks and place in a pan with enough water to just cover it.
  7. Boil, checking water level frequently, until the potato is very tender.
  8. Reserve cooking water for thinning the puree.
  9. Place cooked chunks into a blender and puree, adding cooking water as necessary.

Many tropical fruits like mango and papaya are allergenic. Symptoms of a food allergy include:

Sudden loose, diarrhea stools and/or vomiting

Sudden rashes on the skin and bottom

Runny Nose

Hives

Irritability and/or gassiness after a new food/meal

Breathing or other respiratory troubles after a new food/meal

Swelling of the Face, Lips and/or Tongue

Closure or tightening of the throat