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It’s finished (well, sort of!) + some favorite posts

Did you hear that huge sigh of relief coming from Kansas today?

I finished my manuscript and it’s now ready to head to the editor at my publishing house. There’s still plenty more work to be done before the book is actually published, but this was a huge step in the whole book-writing process. And I’m so excited about the book and can’t wait to tell you more about it soon!

For now, I’m just thankful to have it done and submitted and am looking forward to getting back to a more normal schedule after a few weeks of having to focus all of my extra time and energy on completing the manuscript.

Thank you so much for your patience while I stepped back from my usual blogging in April. I’ve missed interacting and writing here and can’t wait to get back to our scheduled series and topics. Plus, I’ve got some fun new ideas brewing for series and features that I hope to be unveiling soon!

In the mean time, here are a few posts I read recently that I really enjoyed or was challenged by. Some of these are off-topic, but I’m sharing them because I thought they might bless or encourage some of you. Enjoy — and have a restful Sunday!

Somebody Else’s Passion Can’t Fuel Your Dream — “One of the greatest ways you’re guaranteed to fail eventually is to chase someone else’s dream instead of your own.”

Own It — “Often I’m so busy worrying about what people think of a particular choice that I don’t really put everything I have into what I chose. I spend too much time apologizing rather than just saying ‘This is me.  This is my calling.’ I don’t own it.”

You Choose When You Refuse — “If you have debt and you refuse to change your lifestyle to get out of it, you are in essence choosing debt.”

How Hurting Women Can Help Each Other Heal — “…No one tells you that the shields you carry to keep you safe, become the the steel cages that keep you alone.”

photo credit

3 Ways to Cut the Meat Without Decreasing Nutrition

Guest Post by Katie Kimball from Kitchen Stewardship

When you check your receipts, I can almost guarantee that animal products make up the category that requires the largest funding from your food budget. Meat, milk and cheese are staples in most families’ meals, yet coupons are few and far between, and even great sales will rarely net you a pound of beef for mere pennies like you can accomplish on the inside aisles and pharmacy section.

Families with young children in particular need to include protein in their diets, and many meals feel incomplete without meat or cheese involved. How to cut the budget without lowering your family’s health?

1. Use homemade meat stocks.

Nothing is more frugal than making something out of nothing. I can turn virtual garbage into a pot of steaming, nutrient-dense, immunity-boosting homemade chicken stock for about a dollar.

I always buy chicken with bones, and those bones go in the stock pot with a few carrots, celery stalks and onions. (That’s where the dollar comes in, plus stove energy.) After simmering for 4-24 hours, I’ve got gorgeously rich chicken stock that can not only save me over $30 a batch versus buying cans of chicken broth, but it also serves to stretch the protein in meat.

Eating homemade chicken stock with just a little bit of meat allows the body to better assimilate the protein and vitamins in the meat, which means I can get away with using less and not feel like I’m short-changing my family’s health.

2. Cut the meat in half and pair with beans.

Although the protein in beans is not used as easily in the body as animal proteins, as little as 2% meat in a meal helps the body assimilate the vegetable protein in the beans completely. I always use half of the meat called for in chili and bean soups, often freezing the already-cooked other half for a quick spaghetti meal.

I’ve also learned to use a 1:1 ratio of meat to lentils when we have tacos, and once it’s all seasoned and wrapped up, no one knows I’ve fiddled with anything (unless they look closely, but you can’t taste them at all).

3. Try a meatless meal with legumes instead.

In spite of the fact that beans aren’t quite as quality protein as meat, they’re still a very good and nutritious source of protein, iron and fiber. Particularly if you start with bulk dry beans, they’re incredibly frugal.

I make it a point to include a bean-based meatless meal at least once a week in my meal planning, ranging from soups to veggie bean burritos to black bean burgers and even a pasta white sauce that uses blended beans as a base. That one is great for the bean haters of the world who can’t stand the texture of beans, because it tastes like a lovely cheesy Alfredo (see below).

Download a free sneak preview of my ebook which includes a recipe for the above-pictured Pasta With White Bean Sauce.

My eBook, The Everything Beans Book, includes 30 recipes to help you easily incorporate the goodness of beans in your weekly menus, plus 20 pages of tips so you can effortlessly cook with dry beans. You’ll trim your budget and maybe even your waist at the same time. Enter to win a free copy of my ebook for the next 48 hours here.

Katie Kimball is a mom of two who spends a ton of time in the kitchen making real food with whole ingredients and then blogs about her successes and failures at Kitchen Stewardship.

Reader Tip: We save $200 per year by making our own yogurt


Here’s a great tip submitted by Robyn:

I save at least $200 per year by making my own yogurt rather than buying it from the store. A couple of years ago I spent about $30 on a yogurt maker (I have the Euro Cuisine YM-80, that can be found at Amazon.com), so there was some initial investment but it has more than paid for itself.

To make a batch of yogurt, I use 42 oz. of milk and 6 oz. of yogurt (usually saved from the previous batch). It “cooks” for 8 to 10 hours in the yogurt maker, requiring no attention during that time. When it’s done, I have seven 6-oz. jars of yogurt ready to go in the fridge! One jar goes to start the next batch, so from 42 oz. of milk I get 36 oz. of yogurt that we’ll eat.

I buy milk at Sam’s Club for $2.88 (whole) or $2.78 (2%) per gallon, so my cost per jar of yogurt is about $0.28. I used to pay $0.08 per ounce for the yogurt my husband liked, and about $0.11 per oz. for plain whole milk yogurt for the baby. This week, I saw a package of 6-oz. yogurt cups at Sam’s Club for $.07 per ounce, and my $200 calculation is based on that number and the assumption that I make an average of two batches of yogurt per week.

As an added bonus, my family is now eating plain yogurt with no added colors, preservatives, artificial flavors or sweeteners. Everyone loves it plain, or sometimes we add our own flavorings like honey and mashed banana, applesauce and cinnamon, berries, or whatever else we have around. Also, I haven’t tried these myself but the manual mentions that it’s possible to make flavored yogurt and to make yogurt from a number of milk substitutes. -Robyn

How do you save at least $100 per year? Submit your tip here and possibly be featured on my blog or in my upcoming book.

Meeting a dear online friend in real-life

I had the privilege of meeting Lindsey recently. She and I have known each other through blogging for four years, so we were excited when we found out that their family was going to be in our area so we could finally meet in person!

Lindsey has long been such a blessing and encouragement to me and I was thrilled to have to opportunity to get to chat with her over coffee at Starbucks for two hours. What an amazingly authentic, genuine, generous and sweet-hearted person she is!

Always a giver, Lindsey put together a gift sack of some of my very favorite-in-all-the-world foods (she knows me well!) plus other fun things — like these beautiful homemade cards.

I had to write her and ask her who made the fabulous cards. She told me that her friend, Amanda, made them. I like them all, but I especially loved the “Find Joy in the Little Things” card. Is that not the most creative idea for re-using a juice can lid ever?

(By the way, I found out that Amanda does occasionally make cards for other people. She’s a stay-at-home mom of four and this is a little side business she has. If anyone is interested in buying cards from her or inquiring about her prices, you can email Amanda at stamplady123@yahoo.com.)

Lindsey’s precious daughter. How cute is she?

Silas and me — photo taken by Lindsey. Love this photo even if Silas was being a little stinker and refusing to smile. 🙂

I feel so blessed that blogging has given me the opportunity to meet Lindsey and so many other wonderful people. Isn’t technology amazing?

Reader Tip: How I saved $156 per year by asking for introductory rates

Here’s a great tip that Rochelle emailed in:

I have been an AT&T customer for 10 years now. I have a bundle package with them, which includes home phone, cell phone and DSL. Every year the bill seems to go up, so I look it over and then give them a call. I contact their Retention Department and tell them I have been a long-time customer and then ask them if I can have their introductory rates (like the rates you see on TV for new customers).

Recently, I was able to reduce my bill by $13 per month ($156/year), plus they increased my DSL speed to a faster connection, just by making a phone call to their Rentention Dept. The new lower rates will be in effect for one year, then I will have to give them a call after my one year is up to ask for a discount again. -Rochelle

How do you save at least $100 per year? Submit your tip here and possibly be featured on my blog or in my upcoming book.