I was goofing around on the internet, and I realized I was searching for something. Something beautiful, and deep, meaningful and profound. And I thought, “I should create content like that! I will do some artwork!” So of course that made me think of the burning hatred I have for The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Non-parents probably don’t have this level of passion when it comes to children’s books. They probably glance at them fondly at the store saying “Oh, I remember this! I love that book”, then they set it down, never to be opened again. I have an adorable little spawn, however, and I read several books to him every night. Even though we own about 30 books or so, there is a LOT of repetition, so minor annoyances in books become crimes against humanity. What’s wrong with the Very Hungry Caterpillar? Take a look:
The wings are UPSIDE DOWN. Are you kidding me?? Have you ever seen a butterfly like this? No, because it would die.
This is a real butterfly. Not enough evidence for you? Do a Google search. I’ll wait.
SEE?? WHY. WHY DID ERIC CARLE DO THIS TO MEEEEE.
So here is my contribution to the wonder, beauty, and excitement of the world; something parents everywhere have been begging for since 1969:
Using my meager skills and MS Paint I was able to accomplish this wonder. Sure, the antennas got cut off, and the butterfly now has two legs growing out of his back, but this is a vast improvement. Feel free to print it out and glue it into your copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Maybe I can save a few people from rage aneurysms. I know I feel better just looking at this.
If you google “overnight oats” or something similar, you’ll turn up tons of recipes, but they seem to be a little too granola for me, and I don’t mean the cereal.
“Go to your neighborhood oat collective and hand harvest 1 cup of organic, steel cut Irish oats, NOT regular oats. Add the milk from your household goat, some homemade, probiotic, kombucha yogurt, periwinkle zest, and foraged acorns. Leave it in the fridge overnight, and you’re done!”
Ok…that sounds great and all, but for those of us who get food at the grocery store, here’s how I made it:
- 1/2 cup yogurt (this will basically be doing all the flavor work. I used vanilla)
- 1/2 cup oats (I used “Old-fashioned oats”, not instant, cause you know, back in the 1500’s they microwaved oatmeal for FIVE minutes, rather than just ONE. Talk about the Dark Ages)
- Dash of milk
- Handful dried cranberries
- Handful pumpkin seeds (can also use walnuts, or whatever you have on hand)
- Applesauce, or canned pumpkin
- Fruit chunks
- Ground flax seed, protein powder, whatever floats your organic, farm-raised, free-roaming goat
As you can see, this is YET ANOTHER of my what-do-I-have-laying-around-I’ll-do-anything-to-avoid-going-to-the-store recipes. Use up what you have laying around. Mix everything together in a small container, preferably a little tupperware you can just eat it straight out of tomorrow morning. You want the consistency to be a little like a runny stew, not soupy. The oats, nuts, and dried fruit will absorb the moisture overnight.
I love this stuff for those bleary mornings where you wake up, inexplicably starving, there’s no coffee ready yet, you were up to late, and you don’t want to think. AKA a typical weekday. It really takes the edge off before second breakfast.
A friend of mine was recently asking how people save money on groceries. Me being the frugal guru I am, I of course had plenty of advice for her. As I’ve mentioned before, a price book can be a huge help with this. Here’s a link to mine, so people with access to HEB grocery stores can probably use this, but everyone else can use it as a template. A price book might seem like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. I generally add a couple items to it each time I go shopping. I didn’t run around the store with paper and pen writing down the unit prices of everything they stock. That would be madness!
- I don’t have to remember prices on everything.
- I can compare different items. For example, brown rice is waaaaay cheaper per pound than quinoa, so can I substitute that in some recipes?
- I can compare within items. How much cheaper are dried beans than canned? Is it worth the extra time required to cook them myself? (Hint: Yes)
- Is that sale item really a deal?
- Is the coupon worth it?
As you can see, I only shop at HEB and Costco. If I happen to find myself in a Target or Sprouts, I’ll glance around, but generally I’ve found that these are the two cheapest places, and they BOTH offer fantastic quality. Don’t forget to always look at the unit price when shopping. Often, the larger package is NOT more cost-effective. I noticed that with frozen corn this week.
If a price book seems too nit-picky to you, or while you’re in the midst of building one, you can use a few guidelines while shopping to reduce your costs:
- Produce for $1 a pound or less.
- Meats for $2 a pound or less (keep in mind if it has bones, you’re getting less meat).
- Only X number of snack items, or they can only cost X per ounce.
- If that thing you use all the time is on sale (For REAL on sale, not like a nickel cheaper) STOCK UP.
- Feel free to make your own rules. Only 1 item that’s not on the grocery list, or only 1 item under $5, or only items with <10 grams of sugar per serving, whatever you’d like.
- Keep an eye out for clearance or sale items you would normally buy anyway, or that will be a cheaper substitute for something you’d normally buy. If goat cheese is on sale for only $8, but you normally would have bought feta and only spent $4, you didn’t save money. You spent twice as much as you could have. However, if it’s on sale for $3, stock up!
Of course, dietary restrictions, personal preferences, and number of family members will all impact your spending. I’m shopping for 2 adults, 1 enormous baby, 3 ungrateful cats, and 1 spoiled corgi, so our bills are not as cheap as I’d like.
Other ways to save money on food:
- Use up what you have. Have a “clean out the fridge” buffet every 2 weeks or so. Maybe you’re eating cucumber slices, strawberry jell-o, and stir fry, but at least it’s getting eaten. Not every meal has to be beautifully plated or instagram-worthy. The important part is that it is getting eaten.
- Shoplift! Nothing’s better than free food! (I’m totally kidding, please don’t
- Use recipes that utilize cheaper ingredients, or substitute them yourself. Raisins are generally cheaper than dried cranberries or blueberries, so can you use them instead?
- Make from scratch when it’s more cost effective. A bag of dried beans is generally cheaper than canned beans, and it only takes water to make them. Look at some of your regular purchases, and consider reverse-engineering them.
Food can be pretty pricey, and it seems to take a lot of work to eat cheaply and healthily. Here’s a free, online cookbook for more ideas, and of course, my blog is chock-full of wonders and amazement. Can’t you just feel it radiating out of your monitor?? Good luck, Happy New Year, and stay frugal!