Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Recycled Convenience March 26, 2013

Filed under: family,green living,pantry building,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 9:11 pm
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I have been taking note of the prices of the serving size packages of yogurt and other foods that we enjoy. It is ridiculous to see how pricey most of these can be.

About 2 weeks ago, I stopped at a KFC to get some lunch for the kids and I. They have the small reuseable plastic containers for their individual orders of side dishes. We saved the containers to reuse when we got home.

I bought a quart size container of yogurt at the store for about $2.50. Using the containers from KFC, I filled up 4 of them to make the kids their own individual servings of yogurt. A 4-pack of yogurt, in the same measurement, costs $1.88 if you buy the Great Value brand from Walmart. The quart size yogurt container is still 3/4 full. This means that I should easily get 12 of those KFC containers worth of yogurt from that quart. If I bought 12 of the individual yogurts at a rate of $1.88 per 4-pack, that comes out to $5.64. By making up my own using recycled containers and buying a quart of the same brand of yogurt, I can get those 12 individual serving for $2.50 or a savings of $3.14. In other words, I can get double the amount (24 individual servings) and still be 64ยข under the price of buying 3 of the 4-packs of yogurt. If you make your own yogurts the savings are even better of course.

I do this same type of thing with jello and puddings. Instead of buying the snack containers, make a box of jello or pudding but divide it into individual serving containers before refrigerating. The convenience is still the same in that you have grab & go containers, but you are spending far less.

I look back at all the snack size packaging that we used to purchase and I cringe. We wasted so much money back then. Now, we are doing it a lot cheaper. The kids still have their snacks available, but we are smarter about the costs. Filling the containers takes only a couple of minutes of my time. Well worth the savings!

You can take this idea to other areas. One is to buy (or make your own) trail mix in large quantity. Using small containers, repackage the trail mix into serving size portions. This again will cut down the expense.

If you have access to a health food store that sells unflavored gelatin in bulk bins, buy it that way instead of buying boxes of jello or packets of knox gelatin. To make your own jello, mix 1 Tablespoon of unflavored gelatin to 2 cups of fruit juice. No sugar is used as the juice is already naturally sweet.

There are many homemade granola recipes available online. Add dried fruits and nuts of your choice to make your own healthy snacks or cereals. As with everything else, you can use recycled containers to make your own individual snack packets.

As you look around your kitchen or pantry, take note of the containers that you can reuse for other purposes. By contrast really noet how much trash you will be tossing out once the single use containers are emptied. It can be quite an education! I now look at most containers at the store. If I can get the same or similar product in a package that can be reused or better yet, composed or burned, then I will buy those before buying a container that is single use. This alone can save you money as well.


High Protein Salmon Cakes March 25, 2013

Filed under: cooking,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 4:22 am
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Our family loves salmon. Amazingly, it is one of the very few meat items that our son will eat. One day when visiting my in-laws, we were treated to some salmon cakes made with quinoa. We loved them! So, I began making them at home. I wanted to expand on the recipe and after finding several online, I tweaked the recipes until I got the taste I was looking for.

Quinoa-Salmon Cakes

2 large pouches of deboned salmon
1 large egg, beaten
1 sm. bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs (optional)
Olive oil & butter, for frying

Mix all of the ingredients, except panko bread crumbs, in a bowl. If the mixture is a little too dry, simple add a bit more yogurt until the mixture holds together.

If using the panko bread crumbs, place them into a pie plate. Form the salmon cakes into patties and coat in the panko bread crumbs before frying.

Some recipes call for frying the salmon cakes in oil, butter, or a mixture of the two. I prefer mix the olive oil and butter in a 50/50 ratio.

I make about 10-12 salmon cakes from this recipe. The amount you get will depend on the size and thickness you prefer. I have stretched this recipe out more by adding more quinoa and yogurt.

This recipe also works well with tuna.



Quinoa Cereal Recipe March 12, 2013

Filed under: cooking,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 12:38 am
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this past week, our family tried a new way of using Quinoa. We made hot cereal with it. It is not a really difficult thing. Quinoa is cooked exactly as you would rice, but unlike rice it is packed with protein.

To make the cereal, we cook the quinoa with 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. We set the water to boil, adding an extra 1/4 cup to the measurement, and toss in a handfull or two of finely diced dried fruits or raisins. When the water starts to boil, stir in the quinoa, remove from heat and cover. The quinoa will continue to cook just as rice does, absorbing all the liquid.

To serve, we add a bit of honey or you can use pure maple syrup for sweetening and a bit of milk. To make it vegan, simply use almond milk or your favorite alternative milk. The kids loved it! The cereal is equally good as a cold cereal. We made a large batch and refrigerated the extra for the next morning.

Next time, I will try teh same thing using only brown rice. In our efforts to find alternatives to gluten foods, these seem like a God-send.


Liebster Blog Award March 9, 2013

Filed under: ramblings — ourprairiehome @ 6:00 am
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I hadn’t thought that I would have time to do this extra blog post but after my third nomination for it, I thought I would go ahead and do this one as it is a fun one. Challenging, for me, but fun. Thanks Our Thrifty House for nudging me to participate & nominating me.


The Liebster Award is one given to bloggers who are just starting out as a way to help get their blog out there a bit more. The idea is that anyone who is nominated is to do 4 things. First, they list 11 facts about themselves that others may or may not already know. Secondly, they answer a list of questions posted by the blogger who nominated them. Third, you list some new blogs that you would like to see participate in the award. Finally, you give a list of questions that the bloggers you nominate are to answer in their post.

11 Facts about me:

1. I used to be a truck driver, team driving with my husband.
2. I am a Kindle junkie. I am constantly adding more books to it.
3. Most nights I can be found reading my Kindle by oil lamp light.
4. I once considered converting to Old Order Amish.
5. My favorite “date” with my husband is a trip to Lowe’s.
6. My favorite color is teal.
7. Only thing I miss about electricity is a hair dryer.
8. I have no clue how to be “girlie” or dress that way.
9. I have brooded a small clutch of chicks in my kitchen.
10. My favorite style of clothing is the gypsy/bohemian.
11. I am totally hooked on Starbuck’s Caramel Apple Cider.

Questions from Our Thrifty House

Where do you find inspiration? Mostly from questions I receive as well as our daily life.

What is the hardest part about blogging, if any? Finding time. By the time I am finished doing daily chores, tending the kids, and homeschooling them, I have trouble being awake enough to feel creative.
What if your favorite quote? “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta
What is your favorite dessert? Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate.
What celebrity would you like to meet? Hard question. Don’t really pay too much attention to celebrities. But if I had to pick, I would say actress Jane Seymour. I love her grace & dignity as well as humor.
What part of the day do you like best? The moment when the 1st pot of coffee is done brewing. LOL
If money was no issue, where would you like to travel? Switzerland
What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
What is your favorite indoor/outdoor activity? Indoors would be reading or sewing. Outdoors would be hiking.
What is your favorite store to shop? Lehmans, they sell non-electric items like the Amish use.
What was the last book you read? Dark Nights by Christine Feehan.

My blog nominees
Especially Made
The Making of a Home
Blueberry Acres farm
When Did This Become a Farm

My Quesions to the nominees:

Who inspires you?
What is the hardest part about blogging, if any?
What if your favorite quote?
What is your favorite dessert?
What skill do you wish you had taken the time to learn when you were growing up?
What is the one activity you wish you had the time to pursue?
If money was no issue, where would you like to travel?
What is your favorite holiday?
What is your favorite pastime?
What book are you currently reading?
Do you play a musical instrument?


Spring Menu Changes March 7, 2013

Filed under: cooking,family,pantry building,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 1:40 am
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I love the spring season. After a cold winter, it is so refreshing to have the warmer days. It also brings about changes in our diet. Throughout the winter we eat a lot of soups and stews. These not only are comfort foods but really seem to fit the season. As spring approaches however, I am planning out meals that are lighter. These meals will be a blessing come the hot days of summer!

We are also making a major dietary change for a month or so. Our autistic son is showing signs of having a sensitivity to gluten. Quite simply, everytime he eats foods containing gluten, he has gas issues that are far beyond the normal range. He gets cranky sometimes, especially if he has too many foods containing gluten in one day. Since there is no real test for sensitivity (other than the test for Celiac which is a much more severe reaction to gluten) I am taking the old fashioned approach. We will go without gluten for a month and see if anything changes. If his gas problems are solved, then I will gently start introducing gluten into his diet again. If the gas problems start back up, we know he is sensitive to it and will eliminate it from his diet.

Luckily, I have a lot of vegetarian & vegan recipes to choose from. I also have 2 books on gluten-free cooking. These are the resources I am using to revamp my family’s diet. It is taking me some time to put together a month’s worth of weekly menus, but will be posting them as soon as I am able. I will then give more detail on how to shop in bulk for the month. I had a wonderful response to the previous blog post about my monthly grocery shopping. I am hoping that the upcoming menu will help to explain it even more.