We need a nutrition intervention. Can you all help? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 31 Old 02-20-2010, 04:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Like many of my posts, this post could probably go in "Personal Growth" but I figure I'll get more specific answers to my issues here.

We have horrible eating habits. DD1 (she's 2) included.

When DD was a baby (pre 1yo), we fed her wonderfully, compared to now. Organic everything, nutritious foods, she was a great eater. Now, both her and us are eating things that I couldn't picture us eating before. Probably 5% of what's in our house is organic. She has high fructose corn syrup in her diet. Food additives. Coloring. And I know it's effecting her moods etc. adversely. We rarely eat fresh fruit/veggies. Heck, DD won't touch any vegetable that isn't corn on the cob or mashed potatoes. We eat alot of convenience foods/processed foods. Juice. DH & I have a bad soda addiction.

We're very tight on money. Very very very.
We are living in a basement apartment which is not considered legal, and it is all we can afford. MIL rents to us, she lives upstairs. Her mother lives above her. Since our apartment is illegal, we don't have a stove or kitchen sink. I rely 100% on a microwave (I know.. like I said we need an intervention), toaster oven, and electric skillet.
We are not eligible for food stamps because of our living situation, they will not give them to us. Ditto WIC. I once went to a food pantry to see what we could get and the selection was horrible.. almost as bad as what we were eating in the first place, if not worse. It was also in an upscale neighborhood and considered one of the better ones.

Cooking is VERY VERY difficult with our situation- the electric skillet is awesome, and it's really my main cooking source. It's very wide and shallow so anything that would need to be done in a deeper pot needs to be done in the microwave (i.e. instant mashed potatoes, and yes, like I said, we need an intervention). The electric skillet has a nonstick finish so I hate boiling in there.. I try to only pan-fry things in it (chicken, when I make it, eggs, potatoes). I know how harmful the nonstick coating is.. but it's really all we have-working around that is another thing I need help with.

Right now we have next to nothing in our fridge. I am planning on going to the store tomorrow. I have to walk with two kids in the stroller (which is huge and I use it often when I shop because it can fit alot in it). I've got $60max to spend on food that will last at least a week. Hopefully two, but I think that's pushing it.

Could you all please, pretty please, help me out? I don't know what to do for meals. DD doesn't care whats in front of her, if she's hungry she eats. Dh doesn't care either, as long as there is food.

Right now, when I don't cook, we eat upstairs in MILs house.. which is tremendously unhealthy. Today we ate stuffed chili peppers (not spicy), with tons of cheese in them, fried in a batter of who knows what and slathered in some orange sauce, rice (fake coloring and seasoning), and beans (with heaps of lard in there).

Please, MDC, I'm not going to be picky, but I need some ideas!!! I need to buy good nutritious food for my family to eat. I can cook, that's not an issue.. it's my resources.

Thanks in advance, I really love you all.

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#2 of 31 Old 02-20-2010, 04:55 AM
 
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I'm far from a nutrition expert, but I do live on a fairly tight budget (it seems enormous comparatively, but still). I couldn't go by without first offering a hug - sounds like a crappy cooking/living situation - and offering random thoughts.

The first thing that comes to mind is to make some type of whole grain pancakes for breakfast each morning (I consider this my "near free" meal of the day). They can easily be made on the griddle. My recipe is 1/2 cup whole wheat, 1/3 cup unbleached white, 1/4 cup old fashioned oats, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, baking soda, baking powder, 1 egg, and 1 cup of milk. Put the oats in the milk first so they can soak up and be softer. Then add everything else and stir. We generally top with fruit including finely chopped apples which are cheap. You can sprinkle with a bit of sugar or syrup if that is available.

Do you have a crock pot? Could you search craigslist or freecycle for one? Dried beans are cheap and nutritious and could easily be cooked in a crock pot. Soak over night, through in the crock pot in the morning with some seasonings (whatever you have) and they should be done by the evening meal. The ability to cook beans also means you could make bean dip out of garbanzo beans by smashing them and adding a little oil and seasoning to dip a cheap veggie like carrots.

My final thought is that something like a tuna sandwich where you added in chopped up celery and/or frozen veggies might be a reasonable thing to have in your situation.

Good luck. Hopefully others will have more ideas.

Nicole, dissertating mama to M (Nov 2007) and expecting another (Mar 2012)

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#3 of 31 Old 02-20-2010, 03:19 PM
 
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A crock pot sounds like a great idea, you can cook whole meals in there.

Have you checked out any microwave cooking books at the library?They are often surprisingly wide-ranging and healthful. Scrambled eggs in the microwave for breakfast burritos would be great.
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#4 of 31 Old 02-20-2010, 03:42 PM
 
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Keep in mind that you can cook things like rice, quinoa, beans, etc. in the microwave. A rice cooker or rice cooker/veggie steamer might also be an option, or a crock pot as others have said. You can get a small crock pot at walmart for $10.

I don't get why your living situation would bar you from WIC and food stamps. They don't care about the legality of your basement apartment, all it should take is a statement from your mother-in-law that you live with her and pay X for rent and Y for utilities and cook/eat separately. That makes you a separate household for WIC and food stamp/medicaid purposes.

*A whole grain breakfast is a good start (we usually have whole wheat pancakes with applesauce or fruit on top, and for me peanut butter (DD doesn't like it), or steel-cut oatmeal).
*Shop what's in season and on sale and fresh fruits and veggies become a lot more affordable.
*Also mind your portion sizes. Most Americans eat more than they really need to. Eat off of 6 inch plates instead of 9 or 10 inch.
*Skip processed junk foods. With the $3 you spend on a 12 pack of soda, you could buy a gallon of milk and a pound of apples, or six pounds of bananas, or a 5 lb. bag of potatoes and a pound of lentils, etc. Do some comparison shopping, especially with the ad flyers from your local stores. If you can't afford to make many stops, take those ads to wal-mart and ad-match.
*Unless it's free from WIC, juice isn't nutritionally worth bothering with. It's sugar water with a bit of vitamin C thrown in, basically. Buy actual fruit. It's cheaper and more nutritious. And drink water, it's almost free.
*If you don't want your daughter eating it, don't buy it and bring it into the house. If it's not there, you're not going to give in and give it to her (or eat it yourself).
*Buy organic when you can, but if you have to choose between a couple of organic items, and fresh, nutritious conventional food, go with the latter. I find it better for us to buy a gallon of regular milk and $4 of fresh fruits/veggies, than just a gallon of organic milk, kwim?
*If you really can't get her to eat veggies, hide them. Get a small food processor and blender, and you can put all sorts of things in oatmeal, pancakes, yogurt, pasta sauce, etc.

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#5 of 31 Old 02-20-2010, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all soo much. This morning we both had fresh fruit that I got from MIL and some oatmeal.

Thank you for all of the suggestions.

We were able to get Public Aid Medical for myself and the girls, but we had to lie to my caseworker and tell her that we are in one household with two floors, otherwise she said we would be denied. Since we are two families, our family counts as one case and MIL & FIL count as another, but that's only for medical. For Food Stamps (Illinois Link Card) they count us all as a household. Which is seven of us, total... MIL would have to do the shopping, and she can't be trusted like that if we want to eat healthier, she doesn't "get it". MIL also doesn't want to enroll in the Food Stamp program because she lost her job last year, is rec'ving unemployment, is getting rent from us in our illegal apartment as well as her brother in law who isn't a citizen, and FIL works as a contractor, yes, you guessed it, illegally. And as for WIC, I know a few people who have gotten their homes inspected by WIC representatives (or an inspector that WIC sent, somebody, not sure who), and had their WIC benefits removed because their home was illegal.

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#6 of 31 Old 02-20-2010, 04:57 PM
 
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I'm just spouting random ideas.

Ditto the crock pot. It seems like thrift stores usually have them so getting one cheap should be do-able.

Then you can do soups, stews, chili, roasts. You can slow cook pork or chicken and then shred it and use for BBQ sandwiches or add some beans and veggies and roll into tortillas for burritos.

My favorite veggie hiding trick is to use the grater to shred them into chili or tomato sauce. Carrots works great for this.

, it sounds like you're in a tough spot. I'm sure you've thought of this, but would you MIL be willing to let you use her kitchen to prepare some meals? Maybe you could offer to cook for everyone certain nights of the week.

Kristy, wife to Josh proud mama to Katie: since 3/08 and Emma since 8/12.

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#7 of 31 Old 02-20-2010, 11:16 PM
 
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Glad to hear some others had ideas.

One other meal that I liked in a toaster oven when I was single was slice a sweet potato into 1/2 inch slices, skin and all, brush with a little olive oil, lay flat on that little pan that comes with the oven, sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg and bake at 350 until done. Serve over rice. Super filling and healthy.

Nicole, dissertating mama to M (Nov 2007) and expecting another (Mar 2012)

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#8 of 31 Old 02-20-2010, 11:45 PM
 
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Again....get a crock pot! There is a lady who used hers every day for a year. Not just basic soups either. You could easily get a flow going where you made enough (assuming you got a larger one) to have leftovers so that you wouldn't needing to be cooking every single day.

If you can, a wok would be useful too. When we first married I would do a whole chicken in there (when my inlaws would come over) with all the veggies for the meal. One pot (pot being a flexible word here) are going to be your lifesaver.

Is there a reason you can't use your MIL's kitchen?

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#9 of 31 Old 02-21-2010, 03:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks I have used MILs kitchen a few times, when she wasn't home and had given me the o.k. to do so (for lunch and things). I for the life of me cannot figure out her stove- it is very old, and electric, and the burners are not consistent- the heating element is on it's last leg. She gets offended, which is understandable knowing the way she is. Aside from that, her brother in law lives with her and his room is next to the kitchen (okay, the doorway is literally a foot from the stove). He's always home, and he just has a ton of criticism (he used to be a cook in a restaurant). I need to put all of this aside and bite the bullet, at least two nights/days a week.

I had a crock pot while I was pregnant, and by the time the food was done cooking I was so nauseated by the smell of the food cooking all day that I couldn't eat. I think this may be easier in the summer where I can just be out with the littles all day and come home to food. The crock pot ended up breaking, so I do need to get a new one. I had a rice cooker, too, and that broke as well (same brand). Maybe I should hop back on the small appliances bandwagon

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#10 of 31 Old 02-21-2010, 04:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by WindyCityMom View Post
Thank you all soo much. This morning we both had fresh fruit that I got from MIL and some oatmeal.

Thank you for all of the suggestions.

We were able to get Public Aid Medical for myself and the girls, but we had to lie to my caseworker and tell her that we are in one household with two floors, otherwise she said we would be denied. Since we are two families, our family counts as one case and MIL & FIL count as another, but that's only for medical. For Food Stamps (Illinois Link Card) they count us all as a household. Which is seven of us, total... MIL would have to do the shopping, and she can't be trusted like that if we want to eat healthier, she doesn't "get it". MIL also doesn't want to enroll in the Food Stamp program because she lost her job last year, is rec'ving unemployment, is getting rent from us in our illegal apartment as well as her brother in law who isn't a citizen, and FIL works as a contractor, yes, you guessed it, illegally. And as for WIC, I know a few people who have gotten their homes inspected by WIC representatives (or an inspector that WIC sent, somebody, not sure who), and had their WIC benefits removed because their home was illegal.
I think it would be in your family's best interest to apply for Food Stamp program. To be honest, I think you're overthinking this. You did not lie to get on the medical assistance program. You rent your home from a family member, but you pay them rent, right? They are not providing resources (food, rent, etc) for the majority of your household, right? You're 2 households, plain and simple.

I think you should apply and be honest, but don't give them extraneous details. They're not going to care about your BIL living with your MIL and not having citizenship if you don't tell them because you're not going to be using the benefits for him. If you were going in to get benefits to give/sell to him then that would be fraud, him living above you while you use the benefits for your family is totally fine. They're not going to care that your apartment is technically illegal, all they care is that it is verifiable. You may have to bring in a rental agreement from your MIL and a statement to the effect that she accepts money for your housing and does not support you. That's what we had to do when we stayed with family and it wasn't an issue.

And I doubt WIC is going to come in and do a home visit, really. I have used WIC in 3 states and they don't have the time, let alone the interest, to do home visits for everyone who applies.

And what's the worst that would happen if they say no? You're back to where you are now. But if you go and apply and it works out you are so much farther ahead. Good luck!
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#11 of 31 Old 02-21-2010, 06:03 AM
 
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Originally Posted by WindyCityMom View Post
Thanks I have used MILs kitchen a few times, when she wasn't home and had given me the o.k. to do so (for lunch and things). I for the life of me cannot figure out her stove- it is very old, and electric, and the burners are not consistent- the heating element is on it's last leg. She gets offended, which is understandable knowing the way she is. Aside from that, her brother in law lives with her and his room is next to the kitchen (okay, the doorway is literally a foot from the stove). He's always home, and he just has a ton of criticism (he used to be a cook in a restaurant). I need to put all of this aside and bite the bullet, at least two nights/days a week.

I had a crock pot while I was pregnant, and by the time the food was done cooking I was so nauseated by the smell of the food cooking all day that I couldn't eat. I think this may be easier in the summer where I can just be out with the littles all day and come home to food. The crock pot ended up breaking, so I do need to get a new one. I had a rice cooker, too, and that broke as well (same brand). Maybe I should hop back on the small appliances bandwagon

In that case.....suck it up. Sorry if that sounds mean but uh.....those are kind of lame reasons to not be using a kitchen. I know it can a pita as I've btdt but you can't really complain about something when you have the tools to avoid the situation. That's just silly really. Please, if you only use it twice a week (I'd be up there ever day personally) cook large enough portions that you can just reheat on your off days.

Also, I say this gently , if you only have $60 for the week buy some frozen veggies instead of soda. I have a soda habit myself but when it comes to what I deem important on the food list, it doesn't get bought. Obviously. Browse the veg*n forum as well. They have lots of recipes (that meat can be added to obviously if you eat it) that can be done on the cheap.

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#12 of 31 Old 02-21-2010, 11:25 AM
 
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How about getting one of these single electric burners? ($15 or $18)

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Aroma-Sing...-Plate/5871070

http://www.amazon.com/Proctor-Silex-...ref=pd_sim_k_1

Would it help if you looked at figuring out how to cook things on your equipment as a game? I read a blog where she tries to cook everything she can in her crockpot as a game or hobby to keep her mind off how desperately poor they are. To be honest, a lot of the food turns my stomach (pizza in a crockpot!), but she's feeling energized and challenged instead of defeated and hopeless.

I think you could actually cook most things in a microwave +toaster oven + electric frypan. Anything that gets boiled or cooked in a pot could be microwaved (potatoes for mashing, for example). Anything that gets cooked in an oven or broiled can go in a toaster oven. And anything that's sauteed or fried can go in the frypan.

Take pasta with meat sauce, for example. Saute the onions and garlic and brown the meat in the frypan, add the tomatoes and cook in the frypan (with lid on!). Cook the pasta in the microwave, and some garlic bread in the toaster oven.
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#13 of 31 Old 02-21-2010, 05:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks

About the Food Stamps
It is with the same caseworker for our medical. We would not get medical coverage if we were in an illegal apartment. We have one exit, and we need two. She asked us this, I told her we did (lied) and she told us we needed to bring a notarized letter. I didn't want to be held accountable for fraud or anything with a notarized letter so we came back the next day and I told her I misunderstood her and that we all lived together (really, those were my only two options, because we would be denied coverage otherwise). MIL has to apply for the food stamps (says caseworker) because we'd all count as a household.. and MIL won't do it because of the previously mentioned reasons AND she has to show bank statements and such.

Yes, I know about the sillyness of not using the kitchen- like I said, there's alot of personal growth issues here as well.

DelicateFlower, thanks for the suggestions It is doable, just kind of stinks because I can only use one appliance at a time or the power goes out. Fun, right?

And as for the soda, we get it from upstairs. We rarely buy it (I mean only to contribute to a party in the backyard in the summer), but it is a shared thing and everyone in the house drinks the soda in MILs house (even MILs mother & DH's cousins, who live in the attic. Ohh man do I wish I could move).

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#14 of 31 Old 02-21-2010, 09:12 PM
 
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You don't need to be a citizen for WIC. I'm on wic and i'm only a resident. Also, they won't ask any questions about having two exits in your home for WIC either. All WIC does is ensure proper nutrition for kids and pregnant/lactating women. I'm not pregnant but my kids get WIC until they are 5 years old. Right now it saves us a good 60 bucks a month in groceries. I'd say get signed up for WIC ASAP to help you with the basics.

good luck.

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#15 of 31 Old 02-21-2010, 10:18 PM
 
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honestly I would just suck it up and use your MIL's stove as often as you are able to and store the the food you made food in your fridge/freezer and reheat as needed. Another poster suggested a crockpot and electric burner which both sound like excellent options for you.

I think right now you should focus on the preparing your own meals and not eating processed/ready made foods and then eventually work on the rest like eating organic. Honestly if my choice was between buying 1 bag of organic groceries and 4 bags of groceries considering your financial situation I would choose the non organic (non processed) food options. trust me I have btdt yrs ago when our financial situation was rough I had to prioritize our money for groceries and when I could buy a 5lb bag of apples for the same price of 1 lb of organic apples I had to choose the convential produce but nutritiously it was still better choice than junk.
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#16 of 31 Old 02-22-2010, 11:07 AM
 
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Some of our cheaper meals:

rice and beans (I do the beans in a crockpot; you can make rice in the microwave or a rice cooker). We top with salsa, cheese, and sour cream. This is a beloved meal in our house.

The next night, we eat beans in some sort of variation of tacos. Usually burritos or tostadas. If you buy corn tortillas, you can crisp them in the toaster oven. Mash/fry the beans in the electric skillet. Top each tortilla with beans, some cheese, lettuce, onions, salsa, and sour cream.

Egg tacos. Scramble eggs with some vegetables (sometimes I even *gasp* buy bags of frozen onions and peppers to make life easy). Spinach hides easily in these eggs, too. Put in a warmed corn tortilla (heat in microwave). Top with cheese and hot sauce.

Chilaquiles. To make this, I make a spicy tomato sauce, then put in "chips" I've made by toasting stale tortillas in the oven. Let it sit, covered, heat off, for 5 minutes, then serve. Here's the recipe. http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/chipotle-chilaquiles It's written in a complicated way, but it's a simple dish. You can top with chicken if you have it, but you don't have to.

Chicken leg quarters. You could boil up several on a day that you use the stove (or cook in a crockpot). Take the meat off the bone, put in tupperware in your fridge. Put the broth in another tupperware. Then, you can use the chicken for a couple of days. You could make a casserole (baked in your toaster oven), put it in tacos, top something like toatadas or chilaquiles or the like. You can make chicken salad, which is easy and no cooking, once the chicken is cooked.

If you cooked a whole chicken or, say, 3 lbs of chicken leg quarters, I bet you could get 3 meals out of it. Chicken salad, a casserole of some sort, and then, use the broth, add a few vegetables (simple ones--carrots, celery, onions), heat in the crockpot, and add noodles or rice.

Around here, WIC and Food stamps aren't the same at all. So, even if you wouldn't qualify for FS, you probably would for WIC. It's worth a try, I think, with as tight of a budget as you have.

Good luck to you!
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#17 of 31 Old 02-23-2010, 09:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Betsy- thanks for the ideas!

We loovvveee chilaquiles, we make them a bit differently though. We use green tomatillos (they're like green tomatoes with a puffy leaf shell- hard to explain), and jalapeño peppers. MIL usually makes this, I'm going to venture and try it myself though- minus the chiles so DD can eat as well. (Sometimes we add egg to the mix as well- it's great). We then top with mexican crema and chihuahua cheese

I've been doing pretty good- I'm not cooking all nights a week since we've been eating with MIL alot, but it's been going better. I think I just needed some motivation. Thanks again.

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#18 of 31 Old 02-24-2010, 03:18 AM
 
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Originally Posted by UrbanMamma View Post

The first thing that comes to mind is to make some type of whole grain pancakes for breakfast each morning (I consider this my "near free" meal of the day). They can easily be made on the griddle. My recipe is 1/2 cup whole wheat, 1/3 cup unbleached white, 1/4 cup old fashioned oats, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, baking soda, baking powder, 1 egg, and 1 cup of milk. Put the oats in the milk first so they can soak up and be softer. Then add everything else and stir. We generally top with fruit including finely chopped apples which are cheap. You can sprinkle with a bit of sugar or syrup if that is available.

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I've made those pancakes twice since it was posted and we absolutely LOVE THEM. My DS - who I usually have to talk into eating anything (he's just lazy, not picky) - had four pancakes this morning and my 18 mo DD had three. These pancakes are very very good. Thank you for posting this recipe.

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#19 of 31 Old 02-24-2010, 04:24 AM
 
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mama. that sounds hard. I'm glad it's going a little better

I would agree that there are times to worry about organic, and this doesn't seem to be one of them. If you can get enough healthy food into your family, you will be ok without organic food for a while. I grew up on pesticides and so did several generations. You and your family will be ok for a while, and will do much better for having whole food rather than organics that are processed.

In terms of nutritious cheap meals, I love eggs. Eggs are cheap and nutritious. Two eggs and some filler (veggies/carbs) will fill up an adult for dinner, and cost very very little. We love them scrambled for dinner (usually with some sauted onions and sauted greens, in a little butter, sometimes with bread), and one of my favorite ways to make eggs is called migas. I take some tortillas (corn or flour), cut them up into strips, and saute them in a little olive oil or butter. when they're nice and golden, I add a can of tomatos (pured, diced, whole, it doesn't really matter. I've even used a can of paste and some water in a pinch). Stir it up, add some salt and pepper, and then add some eggs and stir it up. when the eggs are cooked it's done. it's great with tomatillo salsa if you can find some inexpensive without crappy ingrediants, but it's good plain too. if you serve with beans it goes further. (it's kind of a weird color a pinkish color, but it's super tasty)

Also, if you have a store with a butcher, sometimes you can get chicken backs/carcasses or beef carcasses cheap. you could use those to make some stock if you get a crockpot, and in addition to tasting great and being really really healthy, stock helps stretch protein. so if you cook beans and grains with stock, you absorb more of the protien. (or if you just have a little bit of eggs or meat or cheese, the stock makes it worth a lot more in your body)

Around here, sweet potatos are quite cheap. we love them baked/roasted just like a baked potato (easy to do in toaster oven, I've done it many times), with butter. and they have a lot of nutrients. (and they're good with butter cold too.)

If you stop buying sweet processed foods (and even most savory processed foods are sweet), your daughter will likely eventually be more open to trying other veggies. it sounds like she's a bit addicted (like many of us) to sweet and carb-y foods, since both mashed potatos and corn are quite sweet.

with fruits and veggies, I would focus more on veggies than fruits. I've been learning lately that the whole emphasis on fruits is really unnessecary. you can get the same nutrition from veggies, without the sugar. fruits taste good, but they certainly are not nessecary. also, I wouldn't hesitate to use frozen veggies, if fresh are too expensive. Do you have stores that sell bargin produce (they might have it in back?) these are produce that are a bit past their prime, however often with a bit of selective chopping, they are quite yummy for a great deal. (and remember that as cheap as they are, onions are superfood veggies.)

Caroline, partner to J, post partum doula, kitchen manager, aspiring midwife, soon to be nursing student, mama to my furbaby, someday a mama to not so furry munchkins, G-d willing
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#20 of 31 Old 02-27-2010, 10:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks again! Slowly but surely, I've been doing better. Tonight was simple rice, chicken, peas. Not bad

Oh, and Mothering posted the link to this thread on facebook

I got excited!

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#21 of 31 Old 02-27-2010, 10:40 PM
 
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Something like this would be great since it is such a multi-tasker. I have something similar & love it!

Cheryl, wife to an amazing man, homeschooling SAHM to Gavin 12/03, Rhys 09/06, and Ian Aug 11, 2010.

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#22 of 31 Old 02-27-2010, 10:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maciascl View Post
Something like this would be great since it is such a multi-tasker. I have something similar & love it!
I might just get one of those- sounds neat!

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#23 of 31 Old 02-27-2010, 10:57 PM
 
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I saw the post on FB!

Ok, I only skimmed the other posts, but the first thing that came to my mind as well is, yes, CROCKPOT!
You can cook everything in there. You can even put oatmeal in there the night before and have it ready for a busy morning!
This site has tons of recipes: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

As others have mentioned, I've cooked whole potatoes and scrambled eggs in the micro. You can also get those steamer bags of frozen veggies. They seem to go on sale a lot at my local grocery store.

Brown rice and dried beans is my go-to when we need to cut back. There are lots of recipes and I always do them a little different. I get canned tomatoes at Big Lots. They often have organic ones even. The key to making them tasty is spices. I put a little oregano, parsley, garlic, onions and definitely cumin! Sometimes chili powder or some red pepper flakes if I feel like spicy. Black beans are our favorite, but we eat all kinds.
Sometimes sour cream or avacado or shredded cheese or plain yogurt on top... you get the idea.

Is there a angelfoodministries.com location near you? I've ordered from them before. There is no income requirement or anything. It's discounted first quality food. You just order and pick up. They even have fresh fruits and veggies boxes. It's not always healthy food in the main boxes, but you can see what is available before you order.

My final suggestion would be to eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Raw is healthy and takes minimal prep work. Look for a local produce outlet. Produce Junction is a chain near us, but there are also privately owned ones. You can get a big bag of whatever for a few bucks. Bananas are cheap and easy!

You can do it mama! It does take some creativity to eat well on a tight budget, but it can be done.

~Kaiya~

 

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#24 of 31 Old 02-27-2010, 11:06 PM
 
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Oh and I forgot HillbillyHousewife.com! Tons of recipes for cooking from scratch on the cheap.

~Kaiya~

 

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#25 of 31 Old 02-27-2010, 11:15 PM
 
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Someone already mentioned it but I thought of http://www.angelfoodministries.com/ as well. You get $65 worth of groceries for $30.

Lisa, proud Army wife to DH and stay-at-home-mama to Alex (4), Cassidy (2), and brand spankin' new Bridgette.
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#26 of 31 Old 02-27-2010, 11:17 PM
 
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Look for recipes that use more raw foods. Buy lettuce and a cucumber or whatever other veggies you like and make a salad that day. Put in the fridge, and then when you're hungry go to that instead of other foods. Splurge on a salad dressing that you really like (it's creamy poppyseed for me), and you are more likely to eat the salad.

Also, make sure you are getting out of the house every day. I think about food way more when I am sitting at home. Go for a walk, play in the snow, find a mom's group, do something so that you are out of your house, and have a chance to think clearly, and not be bored and eat (or want to eat)

Hope that helps!

April

April. Homeschooling mama who is living for balance in life.

 

~Live simply...so others may simply live.~

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#27 of 31 Old 02-28-2010, 12:02 AM
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If you're feeling bad about not having organic, I've attached the list of the "dirty dozen" (foods you should try to buy organic when you can) and it has a link of 12 foods you don't need to worry about buying organic. It also has some good health info about some of the foods (like how good sweet potatoes are for you!). Even when I can't afford to buy any organic foods, this makes me feel better and I try to stock up on the ones that are not so bad. http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy...ty-Dozen-Foods

Another money saver is to ask your deli person for cheese or meat ends, these are usually much cheaper than sliced deli stuff but are fine quality just the uneven ends.

One of our favorite budget meals is a little garlic with vegetable oil sauteed with a few canned diced or crushed (which ever is cheaper) tomatoes and a bit of frozen spinach if you can mixed with pasta (bought in the supersize package for a good price). What's nice about it too is that you if you okay with repeats, you can make this a couple nights in a row to use up a whole can of tomatoes so you can buy the big can, which is cheaper in the long run.
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#29 of 31 Old 02-28-2010, 03:10 AM
 
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Maybe it's easier to get them in my state but typically WIC is just your immediate family and Food stamps is only for people who share grocery bills. If you are renting you are a seperate household. I have NEVER heard of home inspections for either wic or foodstamps and I've been on both.

I totally understand not wanting to use your MIL's kitchen. It's tough enough living in the basement, i'm sure you both need bounderies for your sanity. Check craigslist for small appliances. Maybe a rice steamer, hot plate, bread machine. Who knows what you might find. The salvation army is another good source for cheap. I got a pressure cooker and it's cut my cooking time down to almost nothing including cooking beans, rice and pot roasts. Check your state's food stamp website or get in touch with your town or city for private food assistance programs. In my state most of them don't check income or housing status.

Hillbilly housewife is awesome as is fun with food storage. Stock up on apples, pears, oranges and bananas (no refrigeration needed) and snack on those. Rice and pasta are great cheap staples. I've learned to make some awesome dishes with rice, ranging from risotto and pilaf to main dishes like cowgirl beans and rice. Tuna and canned salmon are cheap and can be put in macaroni salad or made into patties for dinners. You can get canned chicken too.

It's not ideal but you can make due with less then ideal and still provide nourishing food for your family.

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#30 of 31 Old 02-28-2010, 04:02 PM
 
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We have had to live like you with no kitchen to use and it is so hard, but with an electric skillet, microwave, toaster oven, hotplate, waffle maker/griddle and crockpot, we managed quite well. (this was before we knew how icky the non-stick and microwave were!--however you use what you have to in situations like this)
We didn't have a fridge, but did have a freezer, so we kept a lot in the freezer. We used a shelf in my mom's fridge for some items. (We also didn't have runny water or a bathroom in our apartment! So we carried what we needed from my mom's place.) We did have WIC and food stamps at the time (yes times were hard!). I told them simply that we rented an apartment from my mother. We had separate cooking space and I kept my food separate from all the other food in the house. This was all that was required. Being able to keep *your* food separate. So that is something to keep in mind. Heck, maybe you can find a small fridge on Freecycle and put it in your apartment! Don't be afraid to ask for items on freecycle.org too! You would be surprised what you can come up with. Craigslist is good too, but there is usually a cost. Freecycle is free.

As for cooking. Get the best ingredients you can get. You will save money by avoiding soda pop and all other junk--processed foods anyway! Make each meal the best you can nutritionally. Most bang for your buck so to speak. Eggs are such a perfect food and can be eaten in so many ways. Get as many of them in as you can. Buy organic foods in places where they are most dangerous eating them non-organic. Use oatmeal and other hot cereals for breakfast--cold cereals cost too much money and nutritionally void. Whole grain pancakes and waffles, biscuits, etc are always a good hit. Make puddings, make your own flat breads like tortillas--add some good cheese and you have a nice lunch with a healthy soup and it is even better. There are a lot of ways to make simple easy meals using what you have cooking wise. You just have to be creative. Taking some time to really research things and make a plan will go a long way. You have made the first step by asking for help and ideas here.
Making a weekly meal plan is a good idea too, so you shop all at once and of course don't go when you are hungry. Avoid convenience foods. Think cooking from scratch. It is a bit of work with your situation, but worth it.

We live on a tight budget here now. DH is disabled and a house full of youngins. I can totally relate to doing it on a tight budget. Once we gave up all convenience foods and make it all from scratch, we need less and it takes less money. We raise our own foods, eat all organic cooking like they used to eat before all the "convenience" came to be. I know this isn't possible where you are right now, but it is something to think about for the future.

Good luck!

I also wonder if there is any way some mamas here could help by sharing with you items we don't use anymore? Just a thought. Especially with anyone that might live near you.
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