Yes, I am an old school Star Trek fan. "These are the voyages of the . . ." Oh ok, I will come back down to Earth for a moment and talk about how I am feeding my family.
There are two ways that I can be frugal in the way I live my life. One way is to reduce, reuse and recycle, make my own things and save money for the things that really cost extra. This is the formula I use. I am frugal in every way, because number one it is in me to be like that, and number two it works and saves money for me. I love to save money but I am by no means a penny pincher. Shopping my way is, in my opinion, a frugal way, yet not by any means the cheapest way. But it is the best way I know to get the most nutrition into my family on a daily basis. I have found I can buy fewer very good and high priced foods and still spend less than when I am buying average foods that come in fancy ready to serve packages.
This is part of my philosophy: Keep food as close to it's natural form as possible. Sometimes I cannot do this, but I try. The fact is that the packaging on foods is very expensive. When a food is in a package, you know it has preservatives, and other things added that you may not like. I always have my most success when I plan out the most frugal way to eat. I have to consider time and quickness of preparation.
I have special needs in my home, both animal and human. There are varying degrees of consequences to eating the wrong foods, some of them serious and some of them simply more or less an annoyance. Protein has been easy to provide. I do little red meat and a lot of chicken, and eggs. I am going to look into turkey more often as it might be a better choice. This has not caused a problem as they are pretty happy with the protein in the meats we have at home.
Vegetables are so important. In our house, they are either loved or hated. Food is a great buzzword and always will be. People love to eat. My family is no exception. That being said, I think some of the members of my family do not consider vegetables as food. If they could, they would beam them off the face of the earth. There was a time at the store when I would hardly ever go into produce for anything really green, since no one really would eat anything that I brought home.
One of them is the grain we know of as corn. Some people consider it a fruit and a vegetable as well. It is a family favorite in small amounts. It is also one of the foods to cause allergies in animals we keep as pets. Not only is corn in everything, it is cheap and that is what we feed our farm animals. So even if you are not eating corn, you are, because what you are eating ate it to begin with, more than likely. Corn is also in the form of sugar, it shows up everywhere. It is because corn is one of the cheaper ways to do things in the food industry. From texture to browning to flavor. You can Google high fructose corn syrup and find everything from A to Z. I can tell you I have researched it as well, and it is not harmless. It raises levels of a certain acid in the body that can contribute to high blood pressure. I am not a fan of sugar at all anyway, regardless of how it is made. My German Shepherd, Dutchess, who is eight years old is highly allergic to corn and to any grain.
The first treatment for children with special needs ranging from ADD to Autism is usually taking them off of grain and milk for a while to see if that helps. It has corrected autism in some kids and really increased the quality of life in others. For the most part, special needs children have issues, on an enzymatic level a lot of times on a cellular level, and it ends up causing a terrible reaction behaviorally and physically for them, as well as mentalyif they consume a food they cannot for any reason use or digest. Even a food that is next to a food that is being processed at a factory, if it gets the least minute amount of an allergen like peanut butter, it can cause a very bad reaction. There are warning letters from the FDA that go out all the time regarding undisclosed allergens in foods. Sometimes people with children who have autism won't remember that corn is a grain and that it should be removed in a Gluten Free, Casein Free diet. Gluten is in bread and Casein is in cows milk. Ironically, my child who has special needs, is not at all reactive to grains or to milk or anything else like this. We did do the food challenges on her early on and every so often to make sure she is doing good.
We do not eat a lot of bread from a loaf package. That is a long story, one I will get into later on one of my blogs. When I say we do not eat a lot of bread, I mean we don't make a lot of sandwiches. We do eat it in the form of pizzas we bake in our toaster ovens, but it is not excessive. We all know that flour and water make a sort of glue, well that is what it can do when eaten in excessive amounts to our bodies. What happens to my Shepherd when she eats grain is that she will scratch and scratch and get yeast all over her fur, it will turn black around her ears, and if she is not bathed, it will build up and build up which is unhealthy for her skin. She is just miserable. There seems to be a problem with us as a whole culture consuming too much grain.
We do eat potatoes, but as you probably know they turn right into sugar faster than a few other foods might. But this does not keep us from eating them. They seem to help my daughter feel better when she is nervous, or needs to have some kind of comfort food. I always eat mashed potatoes when I am looking for a comfort food.
Green beans are great for me, but no one else would eat them. They wanted them out of a can or frozen. Of course, as time went on, we ended up doing frozen and keeping them in a yogurt container in the fridge. I liked the V8 Juices and the fruit mixtures but the salt content is too high for me.
I spend a lot of time researching, reading, networking with people, and comparing their experiences of nutrition on behavior and healing of many different kinds. It is one of the ways in which treating and correcting Autism's physical and nutritional problems have come so far. At first, when I was looking at my daughter's diet from a healing and behavior perspective, I was thinking fruit juice would be great and nutritional. Of course, I was wrong. Real fruits were better for her. I still get orange juice, because I take iron pills and they absorb better when taken with orange juice. I found out she could have no more than 1/4 cup with her meals, that is even less than 1/4 cup and I decided it was better for her to just do the fruit. We had her at the doctor once when her blood sugar was low and that is when it was decided that fruit juice was not the best choice for her to drink. Other than the orange juice, I just buy juices that are 100% real, occasionally, and with little sugar. I like to encourage tea but that is a losing battle. I have not stopped fighting yet. Tea has a lot of antioxidants, if I am correct. I model eating foods that I would like to see them eat, such as cucumbers, which are incredibly nutritious. They have seemed to settle on broccoli for now, which is good.
Milk, which is a cardinal sin, so to speak, for most kids on the spectrum of autism, is tolerated perfectly by my child. It is amazing, because when it is an allergy or a sensitivity, even a minute amount can cause terrible reactions and behaviors. I was buying the nonfat kind of milk, the two percent kind, but alas I was wrong there too. The vitamin D does not do well without fat being present. I am back to buying regular milk. I only let them drink it with their meals and sometimes with Ovaltine.
Where we are now, we are on high protein, in the morning, and then we can do the rest of the foods the rest of the day. Vegetables, need fat in order to be digested. So without fat there will be not much bile and that is necessary for digestion of any kind of vegetable that we would eat. All of this boils down to being frugal in choosing which foods I am going to serve. I would never have thought I would ever spend as much as I do at the grocery store, as I do now, on foods. I buy the expensive big container of orange juice. It lasts longer. I do not let them drink it like water, it is only given in small amounts. The rest of the fruit requirements are just apples, bananas, tangerines, etc.
I buy eggs all the time, two or three cartons each time I go to the store. We buy yogurt, even though it is off brand, because of the probiotic element, and the good bacteria. It is a wonderful digestion booster and since our immunity is mostly in our intestines anyway, it is a way to increase immunity. We really "up" our vitamin C and yogurt in the colder months. It goes without saying that yogurt gets consumed really fast because I require them to put it on every plate they eat during the day. When I go to the frozen section, I buy the chicken patties you can cook in the microwave, that are already actually cooked. These are not cheap by any means. I buy the regular milk, not the low fat milk, because of the vitamin D issue, being that vitamin D needs fat in order to work the best for us in our bodies.
I also, the other day, was in the pet aisle, and I looked in the refrigerated section for the pets and I bought the food called Freshpets. It is ready to eat food you slice and feed to the dogs. Dutchess, my husband's older German Shepherd, is the one who gets it, and a few chicken patties a day and yogurt as well. Dutchess has to have baths all the time, and the Tea Tree Oil shampoo at Drs. FosterSmith is not cheap. I could make my own but I trust their brand more. I use Tree Oil for everything from lice to disinfection of the bathtub.
Far from being cheap, being frugal and careful in choosing what foods and what products I buy, has paid off in the long run. I spend less on things overall, and they last longer. So what may not seem frugal at first, is often the most frugal choice in the long run.
By Robyn Fed from Tri-Cities, TN
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