Showing posts with label finance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label finance. Show all posts

Monday, 4 February 2013

Food Diary

So many people ask me 'what do you eat?' when they hear the list of foods that we cannot eat. GAPS is a really expensive diet (thank goodness it's only for two years!) and whilst there are ways to eat more cheaply, you will never be able to just fill up on cheap carbohydrates.

photo credit
I try to make savings where I can, by bulk buying anything I can - and not just food! We are fortunate to have a large airing cupboard where I can store large amounts of toilet rolls or dishwasher powder, and a basement where honey, fabric softener and laundry detergent are all stacked up. Saving money on cleaning products is an excellent way to boost your grocery budget.

I've talked before about buying smart and getting familiar with the 'clean fifteen' and 'dirty dozen', but recently people have been asking for an actual list of what we eat over a week. In all honesty I drew a blank. I don't meal plan (sorry) so I don't always know.

This week I determined to keep a food diary, for my friend Laura, so here it is:

Breakfast - Omelettes with cheese, tomato and onion
Lunch - Strawberry and Chocolate Kefir Smoothie [ frozen strawberries blended with kefir and a little cocoa powder]
Snack - Pear and Kiwi, cheese
Dinner - Roast Chicken with Carrots, broccoli and tomatoes, Jelly sweeties

Breakfast - bananas and custard
Lunch - Strawberry and Mango Kefir smoothie
Snacks - chocolate orange mousse [double cream, honey, cocoa powder and tangerine essential oil]
Dinner - Lemon and sage fish with roasted carrots and courgettes + salad

Breakfast - Clafoutis
Lunch - Kiwi, strawberry, pear and banana kefir smoothie, homemade chocolate
Dinner - Faux Mac and Cheese (without the nuts)

Breakfast - Fruit and yoghurt
Lunch - Sprouted Green Lentil Hummus and vegetables to dip, cheese, 
Snack - Kefir Milkshake
Dinner - Carrot Soup, Jelly Sweets

Breakfast - Scrambled eggs with cheese
Lunch - Chocolate Chia frozen shakes (with half milk replaced by kefir) 
Dinner - Meatballs (made from cow heart) in tomato sauce with cheese, salad

Breakfast - Fruit juice with kefir
Lunch - Omelettes with cheese and salad
Dinner - Hummus with veggies, fruit and cheese

Breakfast - yoghurt with fruit and honey
Lunch - Choc chia/kefir shakes, cheese, fruit
Dinner - Omelettes with cheese, fruit

Actually this has been a bit of a splurge week; we didn't eat soup nearly as often as we would normally. I'm not quite sure why that was, but it means I have a tonne of chicken stock from that roast chicken on Monday in my freezer! Weeks often look different depending on whether my children are having a growth spurt or not will vary it wildly.

So there you go. Very simple, basic food, but made with quality ingredients. Some days it doesn't look like they've eaten much (and sometimes they haven't) but you should also bear in mind that I don't limit them on quantity if it's wholesome food. I may have put 'scrambled eggs' but what you might not realise is that my five year old will eat four eggs by himself, or drink nearly a pint of smoothie.

The only things I limit them on are fruit (in it's whole state, without any yoghurt or kefir) and things containing honey.

Hope this helps.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Next week: We Go Below The Line

So there's only one week left until we start the 'Live Below The Line' challenge, and this year it's going to be harder than ever. This is on the most part because although I said I wasn't going to start the GAPS diet until after live below the line, we actually already started and seeing the improvement in our health, I don't want to go back.

I recently watched a documentary called 'Food Inc' too.

Now it's not just about health, but an ethical decision to want to stick to the diet. How can I justify getting sponsorship to raise awareness of extreme poverty, whilst buying products which exploit the worlds poorest and most vulnerable people?

That's right, people.

It's not just the animals that are abused in battery farming. Illegal immigrant workers are used for cheap labour in slaughter houses throughout the industry, whilst the subsidised corn prices in the US put third world farmers out of business and create famine, and genetic copyright laws are putting farmers under crippling debt or out of business.

If you haven't seen Food inc, you really should. You can watch it on netflix, who will give you a one month trial for free if you sign up with your facebook details, no obligation and you can cancel right after you watch it.

The most heart breaking section of the documentary is when they follow a family who have just $1 a day to buy food, so they buy fast food burgers from a 99c menu. The parents want to feed their children better, but they take a trip round a supermarket and show you that they can't afford broccoli ($1.29) or pears ($1 would only buy two, which wouldn't fill them up for the day). One of the reasons they can't afford any more is because the father is on medication for severe diabetes - caused by their diet. They can't afford the medication and a change of diet, and don't want to risk losing the father by coming off the meds.

These are the decisions faced by families in extreme poverty every day.

I'm going to be making some really difficult decisions about what I eat for the next week. I think thathomemade yoghurt is going to be key once again as it only costs me 55p to make just over a pint, but I'm honestly not sure where else I can save. Some very careful budgetting is going to need to happen if we are going to eat real food in an ethical way and stay below budget.

You can follow our progress by clicking on the 'Below the Line' tab at the top of this page, and if you'd like to sponsor me, you can do so with any credit/debit card or paypal account by clicking here and selecting the 'donate to me' button on the right hand side.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Live Below the Line 2012

In three months time it will be Live Below the Line 2012 (7th May-11th May), where we will be challenging ourselves to once again live on just £1 a day, to reflect the budget that 1.4 billion people have to live on.

This year will have the added twist that as we are trying to eat more 'Real food' now, we spend a little more things like milk, and because we make our own bread it won't be as easy as saying a 'loaf costs X amount, therefore a slice costs Y' because the slices won't be cut as evenly, and the cost of ingredients involved will be a huge task to work out. How do I account for my starter for example?

I've got three months to figure all that out though.
There are a few things we'd like for you to consider doing this year:
  1. Taking part in the challenge. You can sign up here and read the rules here.
  2. Consider sponsoring one or both of us (we are both raising money for the same charity, but can't help getting competitive about it!)
  3. Just follow our blog, Gracies Below The Line. Raising awareness of extreme poverty is one of the reasons we are taking on this challenge, so we'd love for you to keep reading and share with us in this experience. Posts might be fairly sporadic over the next few months, but we promise to update at least daily during the challenge.
If you do decide to sign up for the challenge, do get in touch. We'd love to encourage you and be encouraged by you. If you blog about it, let us know so that we can link back to you from our site.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Money Secrets of the Amish

Money Secrets of the Amish by Lorilee Craker is my latest book from booksneeze, which is about finding 'true abundance' in simplicity, sharing and saving.

If I'm perfectly honest, this book was a massive let down to me. I really hoped it would teach me something I didn't already know, but the ideas are obvious and although it might be helpful to hand to a teenager who has never dealt with money before ideas like 'pay your bills on time to avoid late charges' aren't exactly revolutionary.

The Amish theme is a complete gimmick, and Craker regularly offers advice and tips that are not in anyway related to the Amish, such as treating yourself regularly so that you don't feel completely deprived - a notion that she readily admits confused the Amish folk she interviewed, but she suggests you do it anyway.

She is also a little condescending and perhaps even mocking in the way she talks about the church history between Mennonites and the Amish, particularly in the first few chapters.

The book is very easy to read and not at all difficult to follow, unlike some other finance books I've read, but unless you are a complete novice at trying to watch your budget, I'd probably go for something else. I particularly like Alvin Hall's 'Your Money or Your Life' or even just sign up to the Money Saving Expert's forums. You'll get much better advice from there than you will in this book.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Living Below the Line

This week Matt & I will be taking on the 'Live below the Line' challenge in aid of The Salvation Army's Generation programme .

Live Below The Line

You can follow our progress here.

Today was our final day living 'above the line' and I went to tesco this morning to see what I could get to help us through the week. I was pretty shocked to be honest.

Not because we couldn't eat for less than a pound a day - we had plenty of practise during our first year of marriage and I was a student for 5 years - but because I suddenly realised that we could easily eat, but we couldn't feed the children.

Sounds like an oxymoron? It should be. Children eat less than us, right? Well, they do, but because of that their diet needs to be rich in nutrition. Whilst I will happily fill up on rice and beans, we can barely afford fresh fruit and vegetables. One red medium sized pepper would account for two and a half meals!

It also turns out you can't buy baby food or formula (except in bulk) for the price of a meal. If I were to buy ready made formula, Elisha would be able to have two bottles a day and nothing else. One ready made baby meal (organic) would cost her entire allowance for the day and 12p from tomorrow.

It's nothing new that baby food is cheaper to make, but I hadn't really noticed that people living 'below the line' don't have the option to choose. It's not just cheaper, it's essential. No wonder extended breastfeeding is encouraged by the WHO, when many children would simply starve without it.

I think it's going to be an eye opening week.

Monday, 31 January 2011

The Year in Review

I know I'm a little late doing this, but it's the first time I've had a chance to sit down this year and really review what's been going on - despite promising myself that I would take the time to do so quarterly!

So much has happened that I'm going to be mostly working in bullet point form. Not beautiful, but it is efficient. :D

In 2010 we:

  • Added Elisha to our family
  • Moved halfway across the country
  • Matt graduated his PGCE
  • Started a new job
  • Joined a new church
  • Invited a cell group to meet in our home
  • Started a new bible study group
  • We bought our first house
  • Joined a homeschool co-operative
  • Took part in a documentary about young Christians
  • Started 'man training' (discipleship group) for sixth formers
  • Organised our finances more efficiently
  • Found a new mentor
  • Begun discipling/mentoring three young women
  • Returned to leading worship (informally)
  • Home made many gifts (wedding, birthdays, Christmas)
  • Become more intentional about Wills education
  • Started a reading program with Elisha

So looking forward our goals for 2011 are to...

  • Renovate our house in preparation for residence
  • Become Involved with a more local HE network
  • Support a friends new bible study group
  • Take time to make more sentimental and home made gifts for people
  • Set aside regular 'lesson' time for Will
  • Give more financially
  • Set up garden to grow some food
  • Practice my sugar crafting skills so that I can make my sister the beautiful wedding cake she deserves
  • Take more control over my thought life
  • Be more intentional about keeping contact with specific women I am supporting (at least weekly)
  • Blog regularly and keep you all up to date

Sunday, 31 October 2010

To School or Not To School?

Home schooling is a frequent discussion topic in our house, not only amongst 'outsiders' but between me and Matt too. We want to make sure we are doing the right thing, and for the right reasons, so we regularly chat about our plans. 

There are days when the children have taken turns to scream at me for an hour, the laundry is piling up, the dishes need doing and the floor is a mess when I think to myself 'you know what, school is a great free baby-sitting service!' but that's just it, the pro's and con's list we make up is nowhere close to balanced. There are only two pro's I can see to sending my children to school. 
i) I get a break - this, I'm told by our society, is reasonable and in fact, my right. But what does the bible say about my rights? It says I am to lay them down and die to myself. A self-centred society tells me I need 'me time' and that 'happy mommy = happy family' but it's just a veiled way of saying 'live selfishly, everyone else will be fine'. 
ii) home schooling costs - I have no idea how much it will end up costing us, but it will certainly be more than if I sent them to school. Not just curriculum and resources that I need to buy, but field trips and lessons/coaching in things I can't provide (gymnastics, swimming, etc...) which are provided or heavily subsidised in school. Also, because I don't have the 'free child care' facility of school, it is unlikely that I will ever reach my full earning potential, so we have to rely (for the most part) on a single income.

I am always so encouraged though, when I read about other home schooling families who are trusting God for their provision, such as Kimberly Eddy, who writes that her family lives near the poverty level ("Can God Provide? Even Beyond the Budget?" ). Yet they are able to generously give to their church and show hospitality to others. She says that she could fill a book with her blessings and lists some. I will give just a few: 

  • God supernaturally blessed our garden, and we canned about 500 jars of vegetables, did a lot of dehydrating, and froze a lot too.
  • God provided clothing for my children all year long through people who just felt led to give us things though we never expressed a need.
  • Someone this past week gave us a couch, and it matches our living room!
  • We got a lot of free bricks to use for landscaping (also a want that was met without expressing it).
  • Our neighbor gave us five bushels of pears.
What this means is that, when you put God’s kingdom and His righteousness first, and home schooling is certainly a way to do that, God will provide your needs. Mother may have to quit her job, and you may have to lower your lifestyle, but God will provide. 

Zan Tyler lists five ways that financial constraints can actually be a blessing. I don’t want to plagiarize him, so I will list them in only abbreviated form, and you can read his entire article here: ( "The Blessing of Living on One Income" ).

  1. Financial constraints force us to choose wisely.
  2. Financial limitations cause families to work together as teams.
  3. Limited finances keep our children from being spoiled.
  4. Financial limitations can keep us focused spiritually.
  5. When we choose to homeschool and to live on one income, we freely choose to limit ourselves financially. We demonstrate powerfully to our children, on a daily basis, that we value them more than we value things.

I love that last one. Putting the kingdom of God first means that you will have your needs met. It does not mean that you will live like the rich and famous. It means that you will be showing to your children that being rich and famous in this world is not a priority. You will be showing them that the kingdom of God comes first.

So, how can I afford to homeschool? By knowing that God holds parents responsible for the way in which their children are brought up and educated and that this is a crucial way in which we put the kingdom of God and His righteousness first. Then I can have confidence that He will see to our needs.

I can afford to homeschool because God sees to it that I can afford to homeschool. It is as simple as that.

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