Large Food Haul

Note to self: do not make impulse purchases at the local health food store!!

Today I decided I would show you what a large grocery haul looks like for us. We’ve been short of money for a couple weeks and really had to limit what we were buying, but it’s pay week so it was time to stock up and go a little crazy! Keep in mind, this is for a family of four; one very fussy eight year old, a healthy food loving six year old, a snacky three year old, and my trying to get healthy self.

The first store is our cheaper grocery store, where they sometimes have discounted produce and are always out of the advertised sales. Yes, the three main things I went there to buy were sold out. That leaves me with three very limited rain checks. But, we did get a lot of other good stuff.

*Sorry about the picture quality, this is my first haul post and one of these days I’ll work up the courage to do a video haul!*

18

Here we have two packages of romaine lettuce, two bags of chopped kale, about 8 tomatoes, one butternut squash (for soup!), one anise/fennel bulb, a big watermelon, about ten red bell peppers, 2lb bag of baby carrots, two bunches of celery, a container of strawberries, bag of grapes, a small eggplant, 3 onions.. cut out of the pic is a bag of four grapefruits and package of sliced mushrooms.. (cont’d)
20
One bag of avocados, three limes and three lemons, three bunches of green onions, one cucumber, head of cauliflower, five bunches of bananas… (cont’d)
22

Four cartons of organic vegetable broth (a lot of recipes that call for veggie broth), a box of Rice Krispies cereal, two boxes of Cap’N Crunch, and one box of Jordan’s Morning Crisp (chocolate curls), grape juice, organic apple juice, pasta sauce, two jars of olives, a jar of hot pepper rings, two loaves of bread.. (cont’d)

21

Kettle salted popcorn, blue corn chips (organic), two packages of tortilla wraps, one package of small pita’s. The total for this store was $148.90.

Because they didn’t have our almond milk that was on sale, we had to make a trip to Wal-Mart. Here’s how that went:
2423

I knew that they had ataulfo mangoes on sale – the whole box of 20 mangoes cost under $10! These are my favorite mangoes. Also I was looking for original rice cakes for the kids and none of the stores I’ve been two these past few weeks had them! So naturally, I grabbed a bag here. Then I picked up some Kettle chips for our snack/movie night; sea salt, salt and vinegar and salt & pepper. And of course, two cartons of almond milk. The total here was 32.03.

By the time we headed to third store I was getting really hungry! This was at our local health food store, and I repeat: Bad place for impulse purchases!!
26
Tonight is pizza night, so we needed to pick up some things like cheese, and the kids love taking wraps and sandwiches in their lunches with tofurky slices and cheese slices! The clif bar was my snack for all the hard work it takes to go grocery shopping 😉 Hey, it’s exhausting stuff! The gum was for my daughter who is a little gum obsessed these days, and the tooth brush is for my son who tends to walk around the house with his brush and lose it behind his bed or other weird places. So here’s a break down of what you see here.. Kale chips, organic bamboo wipes, made good chocolate chip granola bars, daiya cheese slices, tofurky slices, coconut clif bar, toothpaste for the kids, two bags of daiya cheese (shredded), a tooth brush, a bag of gum and a small package for me.
25
My fussy eater loves blueberry fig bars, so I got enough for each kid to have one each day in their lunches (which clearly, works out to three boxes). Two packages of garlic naan bread for pizza night, a smoothie for the little guy and a root beer for me, and the largest impulse purchases; two new nail polishes that came in at $10 each! Almost everything from this store was roughly $5 per item. The grand total? $112.34!

I know that adds up to a lot from all three stores. Some of the purchases won’t be used until next week, others next weekend, and some will last into the week beyond that. So while it is a lot, I consider this to be two weeks worth of groceries plus some unnecessary items.

If you like this post, please leave a comment below and I’ll do more food haul posts that are much more practical, along with money saving tips when it comes to vegan food! This is not what a typical week of groceries usually looks like for us, and I would love to share with you what we buy on a more regular basis. 

Recreating the Childhood Meal of My Dreams

I’m not a well traveled person, having never left Canada and only once my own province. However I will always remember my trip on the plane to British Columbia when I was twelve. While I have no memory of the flight itself or the views below, two things stand out; they were playing Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (much to the embarrassment of my parents) and the food. I had never had anything like it before. I felt pretty classy when a woman brought a dish of food and presented it in front of me as though I were in a fancy restaurant. I took a tentative bite and my mind was blown! I whispered to my Mom and asked her what was on this plate because it was delicious! She informed me that it was rice and chicken with cream of mushroom soup on top. It became one of my favorite dishes that day and my parents started making it for me at home.

Now of course I don’t eat chicken anymore or cream of anything, but tonight I was set on making a creamy sauce for noodles of some kind. I turned to the big wide web of recipes and no matter how many I found nothing seemed quite what I wanted. Then I came across a vegan cream of mushroom soup recipe and thought about the vegan “chicken breasts” I had in the freezer. It was time.

The recipe I used was this Best Ever Mushroom Soup only I did adapt it a little. We’re out of Braggs Soy Sauce so I used a scoop of miso and corn starch instead of tapioca flour.

My kids helped clean the mushrooms with a fresh dish towel while I did the chopping and as a team we made garlic seasoned rice, dreamy mushroom soup and I cooked one single “chicken breast” in the oven to be sliced for garnish and flavor.

I wasn’t sure if my kids would eat it, especially my boys who adamantly despise mushrooms but I was surprised when my boys loved it and my “eat all the raw mushrooms” girl wasn’t keen. I put it in sample sized bowls on the chance that they wouldn’t eat it.

14

This recipe was a big hit with my most finicky eater and I went back for seconds!

Bake Sale Adventures (And Food Porn!)

I won’t say “Happy Valentines Day” because let’s face it, Valentines Day is based on consumerist hype and who wants to celebrate the real meaning of St Valentine anyway?!

But it was a wonderful day. Another vegan friend and I braved the snow drifts to support our local Farm Sanctuary in their bake sale. It was a lot of fun!

First, we got stuck:

9

Then we went inside, to realize that (woops!) we were a little early, and the vegan bakers were a little late. But it was no problem, because it gave us an opportunity to sneak out to the barn and visit the residents. Unfortunately, I didn’t snap any pictures. It was quite dark in the barn and most of the residents were snuggled up to keep warm, but we were happily greeted by Eric the goat, who is an attention whore if you ask me. He happily offered us his snout to caress and closed his eyes blissfully at the stroke of my hand across his course hairy cheek. We were also greeted quite loudly by a little lamb, who I first met as a tiny wee thing and has now developed a fluffy cloud of wool around her mid section. The ducks and chickens, geese and other flighty folks welcomed us with squawks and honks.

We headed back to the events barn to buy our sweets and were greatly rewarded! For a donation of $20 (CAD) I filled up a container!

7

As you can see, it didn’t take long to dive in! While we were waiting for the tow truck to come and give us a pull, we were content to munch. Look at some of the beauties (but please refrain from drooling on your keyboard!).

5 4 3  12

Are you jealous? Damn right you are. But that’s not all. Since the wait was over an hour long, I had plenty of free time to scour the pages of this fabulous book, also purchased at the fundraiser..

8

I am thrilled to start preparing the recipes in this book! At a glance, the recipes are all made with natural whole foods, easy to prepare, and familiar enough that even my kids could get into them. I am truly excited. In the years that I have been vegan, and the many cookbooks that I have purchased, I would have to say that this one is my favorite. And not just because it’s all brand new and shiny! It can be a real struggle to find cookbooks that don’t rely on processed food or expensive specialty, imported type of ingredients.

And that was only the beginning to an amazing day.

– Peace and love.

 

Dune Buggy And Responsibility

Me: “Hey guys, I have been looking for a job and I want to talk to you. When I do we’ll be pretty busy and I’m going to need you guys to step up a little bit and start helping out more. Picking up your things and helping each other.”

7 Year Old: “When?”

Me: “Well I don’t know, it depends on when somebody wants me to work for them.”

7 Year Old: “Well if it’s in a really long time from now, I can give you a ride to work in my dune buggy. If you want.”

Me: “That sounds like a lot of fun sweetie.”

Clearing Out the Toys

As I go about my journey to live a more minimalist lifestyle, I realize that it is going to have to be a slow one.

For fear of sending my children into shock, I will be purging in slow motion, going through one drawer at a time, or one shelf, and so on.

But despite this, I did an experiment. One day while my children were at school, I went through their rooms and gathered up all of their toys (before Christmas). I put it all into large bins and stashed them in the basement. At the time, this was for the purpose of clearing space for the upcoming holiday gifts.

I decided from there that those toys would stay in the basement, to be sorted through a few months later when the kids hopefully had a new perspective. Only when the holiday came, they got flooded with new things. Within a week, the house was a disaster. Broken toys, clothes all over their floors, half of what they got was lost under their beds and nothing had a place.

Tired of looking at the mess, I did it again. I went through and removed every single toy from their rooms into bins. All they were interested in was the Xbox anyway! I left them with their massive bin of Lego, and their favourite stuffy to sleep with.

And they loved it! Their rooms stayed clean, they were doing more creative activities, their attitudes improved and I was a happier Mom for not stressing out about the clutter and the “why won’t they play with all these toys?!” despair.

Over the next few weeks, they would ask about one toy or another. When they did, I gladly brought that toy back for them. If they miss it, then it must be something that they care about. Then I got sorting. Most of the toys in the bins were things that they hadn’t played with in months. What no longer held meaning, I donated or sold.

Now that they are used to having a clean room, and very little stuff, they see the value in minimalism. They will each receive one drawer for toys in their rooms, and what remains of the toys in the bins will be sorted accordingly. If it doesn’t fit, it must go. There have been fewer fights over whose toy belongs to whom, and who left what mess.

Try it! Don’t be afraid to take all of your kid’s toys away. They’ll be okay and even happier in the long run. Kids don’t need toys to be happy! They need experiences, love, and imagination. Let’s stop robbing them of their childhood with cheap plastic.

My Journey to A Minimalist Household

(But I kept the kids!)

I consider myself a relatively straight forward person; I don’t need much to be happy. So why do I have so much shit?! Minimalism is the next step for me in my life-journey.

So there I am, twenty seven years old with three children and a teeny tiny house full of lots and lots of stuff. We were buried deep in accumulated things from thrift stores or gifts, stuff that my frugal Mom picked up for me here and there, odds and ends and things that did not make sense at all.

It was truly overwhelming and I felt that no matter how hard I tried I could not keep with the picking up. The house always looked dirty and cluttered and quite honestly close to a hoarder’s house. I would move things out, but more things would always come back in. I could not figure out what I was doing wrong.

The idea of living minimally appealed to me more and more as time went by. A plan was forming somewhere in my mind, just out of reach. I started to get the travel bug, even though it is not feasible at this point in my life. Inspired by a friend who went travelling via thumb transportation from Ontario to Banff with nothing but a 30 lb backpack and left the rest behind; it really inspired me to look at what is necessary in our lives and what is not.

And there starts our journey to minimalism as a family.

Now don’t get me wrong, stuff can be good! For instance, I believe it is important to have a well stocked pantry for times of unexpected financial crisis or severe power outages and natural disasters. And when you have kids, stuff is bound to accumulate! Being a single Mom, when friends and family offer clothes and ‘hand me downs’ it doesn’t matter if they’re a size or two too big. They’ll keep well in the closet and it saves me a ton of money. However, I only keep what we’ll need.

Minimalism can be a lot of fun if you sit back and enjoy the process.