Frugally Food

Simple Priorities


This post should probably be sub-titled “Three ways to simplify in order to make your life better”.  There are many more ways than just three but three is a good place to start for inspiration.  So here goes:

  1. Stop watching tv.   You will not know how much stress created by the constant bombardment of commercials has placed on you until you unplug from the tv.  Not only is it beyond wonderful not to hear the same commercial six hundred times a day, you will have so much more time on your hands.  Time to exercise.  Time to spend with your loved ones.  Time to prepare healthy meals.
  2. Stop going to the mall for recreation.  You have all the clothes you need.  If there is a very real possibility that you might have to go to work tomorrow naked, then okay go to the mall.  Otherwise, you have enough clothes.  There are a million and one other ways to achieve self-actualization.  Pick one of them and use your time to work on that instead.
  3. Stop over-extending yourself.  Some people multi-task.  Others overbook their time with a million commitments.  To give you an example, on the bus the other day a young woman was carrying on a texting conversation while at the same time playing a video game while also checking her emails regularly.  It was non-stop frenetic activity.  So much so that she missed her stop!  Take a look at all of the things that you do and see if they are adding any value to your life or just creating more stress.

The common denominator in all these scenarios is time.  Time is the most precious commodity that you have.  You can’t go to the ATM and get out more time.  You can’t argue with the grim reaper to come back later because you need more time.  Your time is very precious because they’re not making any more of it.

So choose how you want to spend your time wisely.  Do you want to spend your time eating healthy and exercising so you’ll have the best quality of life that you can possibly have?  Or do you want to spend your time watching ads or propping up a clothing giant or stressing yourself with multi-tasking?

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Getting Rid of Fruit Flies


Today I have a quick tip for getting rid of the common kitchen nuisance: fruit flies.

These obnoxious little creatures have annoyed me for years but I figured out a way to get rid of them with this simple two step procedure.

Step One:  Always keep your bananas inside a bag.  I have a small cloth bag that I always put the bananas in as soon as I bring them home from the grocery store.  That way if there are any fruit flies on the bananas they won’t have free reign of your house.

Step Two:  Always put all your fruit and vegetable peelings and any green compost into a bag and store it in the freezer.  Only haul it out of the freezer when you are emptying your kitchen garbage out into your larger garbage bin.

The reason for keeping any compost in your freezer is this: if you throw your vegetable peels into the kitchen garbage you are creating the perfect environment for fruit flies…rotting food at room temperature…mmmm num num the fruit flies love it.

So remove the perfect conditions from your house.  Keep all your fruit and veggie bits and pieces in the freezer.  I just reuse one of the plastic bags that the veggies came in and I usually fill one of those up in a week.   Then whenever the kitchen garbage is being emptied I take out a frozen bag of compost, tie up the garbage so it is thoroughly sealed then bring out to the larger garbage bin.

Examples of what to keep in the freezer are:  used tea bags, banana peels, fruit and veggie peels, apple cores, etc.  You get the idea.

I’ve been doing this for a year and a half and I can’t remember the last time I saw a fruit fly.

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Holy Crepe Batman!


As I have already confessed my love of pancakes here, it occurred to me with some surprise the other week that I didn’t know how to make crepes.  I have certainly had some crepes in my lifetime…some savoury crepes I had once were absolutely fantastic!  Every time I think about them my mouth waters…but I digress.

So a short time ago I dug out a recipe for crepes and set out to remedy the situation.  I’ve tried a couple different recipes so far and both have been pretty darn good but I won’t be sharing the recipe for crepes yet until I get a good handle on the whole crepe situation.

I will however tell you about some crepe toppings that I tried that are fantastic!  For lunch today I made crepes with bananas and “whipped cream” and toasted almonds.   Boy was it good!  And the reason I put quotes around the “whipped cream” is because it was dairy free!  So check out the recipes below:

Toasted Almonds

Put some raw almonds on a baking dish and put into a 350 F  oven for 10 to 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them around the ten minute mark.  You want to take them out when you smell that warm, nutty toasted almond smell but before they start to burn.

Easy as can be and the taste is great!

Dairy Free “Whipped Cream”

Get a can of coconut milk.  Look for a premium brand, the higher the fat content the better.  Put it in the fridge several hours ahead of the time you’ll need it.   Just before you need it, open the can and you’ll notice that the milk has solidified.  This is a good thing.  Spoon some of the solidified milk into a bowl and start whipping it up with a spoon.  It takes a little elbow grease but you will end up with the appearance and consistency of whipped cream.   And when you bite into it it has the lovely flavour of coconut.  I made mine without any sugar added and if you were planning on drizzling chocolate sauce over the crepes then you definitely don’t need to add any sugar to the whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Redo Fast Food


How many times a week do you go out for fast food at lunch time?  Twice a week?  More?  Let’s say it’s twice a week.

In the big city where I am a fast food lunch of sub and soda would go for around $6.  So for two meals that is $12.  And let’s face it sub and soda are not the healthiest foods on the planet.

But you’re busy!  I know.  I hear you.

So how about I show you how to get two much healthier lunches that won’t take any time at all ( and will cost less).

The next time you go grocery shopping, go to the deli section and look for pre-cooked chicken.  The big grocery store near me sells precooked BBQ chicken that has been cut up into pieces.  I can get two legs with thighs attached for around $3.50.  Or two chicken breasts for slightly more.  So pick up one package that will be enough for two lunches.

Then head for the produce section and get yourself a bag of prewashed lettuce.  Having just come back from the grocery store, I am happy to report that there are available ceasar kits that come with the prewashed lettuce, the dressing, some parmesan and croutons…enough for two lunches for the price of ….wait for it….$2.97!  So get one of those and you’re all set.  Two lunches of chicken and ceasar salad for $6.50.

And your lunch is already packed and ready to go.  Just leave it in the grocery bag and put it in the fridge when you get home.  Then when you arrive at work, just put the grocery bag in the fridge at work.  Easy peasy.  And it took no more time than your regular grocery shopping.

Now instead of standing in line at the fast food place for your lunch you can go for a walk.  Or take care of other errands that need looking after.

And you save $5.50 per week.  If you save that every week, you’ll have $275 by the end of the year!  And that’s not nothing!

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The fall is the time of the year to practise the fine art of gleaning, otherwise known as harvesting wild foods from public land or from the yards of willing neighbours.

Usually in any neighbourhood there are more than enough crabapples to keep all the gleaners and any resident deer happy.  There are so many varieties of crabapple around that it is impossible to know from one tree to the next which will be the best.  A little trial and error is in order and definitely worth it.  Some of the best applesauce I’ve ever had came from lovely pink fleshed, thin skinned crabapples.

Saskatoons are another great gleaning find but much more rare since the location of any saskatoon bushes are usually a closely guarded family secret.  You of course need to know what you are doing.  Don’t eat anything unless you are 100% sure of what it is.

Nowadays the age old art of gleaning has gone high tech and there are organizations in a lot of cities that connect people who want free produce with people who have fruit bearing trees on their property with no intention of using the fruit.  A little labour on the part of the gleaner and voila everyone is happy.   I’ve just finished a breakfast of oatmeal and gleaned fruit from a pear tree and boy did it taste good.

And not much is better in the middle of a snowstorm than opening the freezer and heating up some homemade applesauce.  Makes you feel like summer is not too far away.


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Consequences of Meat


While reading “Forks over Knives” by Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn I was reminded about the environmental consequences of eating meat.

Raising animals for food consumes a huge amount of the earth’s freshwater resources.  According to this book 80% of US freshwater resources are used for agriculture.  To further illustrate this it says that one pound of processed beef requires 2500 gallons of water while one pound of soy requires 250 gallons and one pound of wheat requires 25 gallons.

Another thing to consider is the huge quantities of grain that farm animals consume would be put to better use if it was just used to feed people directly.  Worldwide farm animals consume 756 million tons of grain.  That amount of grain could provide 3 pounds of grain per day to 1.4 billion people.

Now I’ve never eaten a lot of meat largely because meat is one of the most expensive items on the food budget but reading this book has made me cut back even more.  To give you food for thought, if everyone in the US ate a plant based diet for just one day the following resources could be conserved:

  • 100 billion gallons of drinking water
  • 1.5 billion pounds of crops
  • 70 million gallons of gasoline
  • 33 tons of antibiotics! (yikes that’s scary!)

So in case you want to get started right away, here is a tasty and easy to make recipe from the book to try:

The Quickest Black Bean Salad

2 cans black beans rinsed well and drained
1 large tomato

1 package frozen corn

1/2 onion, chopped

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 lime, juice and zest

3 Tbsps balsamic vinegar

Add all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together thoroughly.  This recipe serves 4.  Enjoy!

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Sugar Free Life


For years now I have been working my way toward eliminating sugar from my life.  It’s been a slow and challenging process because those sugar cravings are nothing if not persistent.  But even though it’s been difficult at times it has been SO worth it.  At 45 I feel better now than I have at any other time of my life.

So to give you just a short list of the ways that being sugar free has improved my life:

  • I have so much more energy.
  • I don’t feel bone-tired and weary anymore
  • I am a lot less irritable
  • I sleep better
  • I am more calm
  • I don’t get stressed out as much
  • No more aches and pains

These days pretty well any sugar I get comes from the fresh fruit that I eat.  Of course it is a case of always being on the lookout for hidden sugars.  Dried fruit for example has a lot of concentrated sugars and since you usually eat a lot more dried fruit in one sitting than fresh fruit, it’s a lot more of a sugar load.

But nowadays when I do trip up and have a load of sugar, hidden or otherwise, I sure know about it very quickly.  Within hours I feel just awful and all those side effects return starting with the fatigue.  As soon as I’m dragging myself around I know I’ve had some sugar somewhere and I go and search it out.

So speaking from personal experience, it takes awhile to get over the sugar addiction but once you do, you won’t go back because being sugar free is like living in the warm sunshine of a perpetual summer.  Eating sugar is like living in a damp, dark cave on the North side of a mountain.

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The Best You Can Be


The other day I was reading one my favourite fashion/sewing blogs and was dismayed to read that she is converting a bedroom into a closet.

Now this woman is one of the best seamstresses I have ever seen.  She designs a lot of her own creations.  She often modifies ready made patterns in order to get a better fit or to tweek the style.  She has worked with every type of fabric and made it look fantastic ( and if you’ve ever done any sewing you’ll know how almost impossible that is).  I sincerely hope there is a pile of clothes that didn’t work out that she is hiding in a closet somewhere because otherwise she is reaching superhuman status with these creations.

And yet about 50% of the time I don’t like her outfit of the day.  The 50% of the time when she looks fantastic is when she is wearing something that flatters her body shape in a colour that looks good on her.  The other 50% of the time when she doesn’t look good is when she is wearing some fad – like a ridiculous colour that doesn’t make anyone look good (like fluorescent – hello ladies – fluorescent colours do not make anyone look good).  Or when she wearing some fad like jeggings (same note applies to jeggings).

And yet she has all this stuff so she can be trendy even though it doesn’t make her look good and is just a waste of time and money.  If she only kept the clothes that made her look good she would need a lot less space to store it and she wouldn’t need to make a bedroom into a closet.

She could instead spend more time on each piece.  I could totally see this woman creating masterpieces that would not be out of place in the world of couture.  She is THAT good.  So why does she waste her time on fads when she could concentrate on achieving greatness.

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Simply Better


Every time a discussion of simplicity or minimalism comes up  there always seems to be a segment of society that is shocked and appalled that someone would voluntarily choose to live with less stuff.  Simplicity and minimalism means different things to different people but a theme common to all is the wish to create the best life they can with the least amount of drain on the earth’s resources.

For me I was sick of the relentless neverending societal “encouragement” to acquire stuff and whenever I did get this stuff that was supposed to make me happy – big surprise – it never did.  Adopting a more minimalist lifestyle and living simply however does make me happier and has improved my life in so many ways:

Now I have a lot more TIME.  I don’t need to go to the mall because I have all the clothes I need to be warm and fashionable.  Since they are good quality and I take care of them they probably won’t be wearing out anytime soon so I can spend my time on things that are more important.

Now I have a lot more ENERGY.  Before I always had a million things on my to do list running the gamut from acquiring stuff to maintaining stuff to getting other people to maintain my stuff.  Now I have less stuff and I take care of it myself.

Now I have a lot less STRESS.  Before I was always anxious and worried because the stuff I had wasn’t as new or as flashy as the stuff that other people had.  Now I just have the things I need to make my life work efficiently and I don’t care if it’s five years old or twenty years old.  These days often the older it is, the better quality it is.

So now because of simplicity and minimalism I can concentrate on the things that really matter like eating healthy and exercising and achieving my goals and artistic pursuits.  You know LIFE.  Real life.

There are many other people embracing simplicity and minimalism.  One of them is Courtney Carver over at the blog Be More with Less.  I asked her the number one way that simplicity has improved her life.  She said, “Simplicity has provided so many benefits, but the most important is that it has
allowed me to eliminate so much stress in my life. Without debt and clutter, I
am much healthier and happier. ”

If you want to learn more about simplicity Courtney’s blog Be More with Less is full of inspirational articles and practical advice on how to get started down the road to being simply better.

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The Curse Of Perfectionism


The wonderful Courtney Carver over at the blog Be More with Less recently wrote a post about punching perfection in the face which resonated with me since perfectionism is a curse upon the land in more ways than one.

Why are we so obsessed with being perfect?  When even the supermodels we see in magazines don’t look as good as their own pictures after every wrinkle and “imperfection” is airbrushed away.

We are even perfectionistic about being perfect.  Not only do we want the perfect hairdo and the perfect outfit.  We also want to be having the perfect time while we eat our perfect meals with the perfect mate by our side.

And why not?  Every ad and DIY program and magazine says that we can be perfect and we can have it all.  Not only can we but we deserve it as well.

But let’s take a closer look at the things we consider to be perfect.

What is the definition of the perfect lawn?  Lush, green and weed free.  Even though to achieve this requires dumping a LOT of poisons all over your yard and wasting water in obscene quantities.

What is the definition of the perfect job?  Something that makes more money than all your friends with an impressive job title so you’ll have a great answer to the question “What do you do?” at the next cocktail party.  Even though the “perfect” job might leave you bored out of your skull for ten hours a day while you waste your life commuting and you waste your talents and natural abilities which are the gifts you were put on this earth to share with the world to make it a better place.

What is the definition of the perfect house?  Something that has all the latest and greatest gadgets in the latest colours and styles.  Even though to achieve this requires people taking on crushing debts that they can never pay off thereby making them slaves to their stuff.

But stop for a minute and take a deep breath because here is the truth that every advertiser in the world is desperate for you not to find out:


People are supposed to get wrinkles.  Laugh lines are a visible sign of a happy life and isn’t that what you’re trying to achieve with all this perfectionism?  Happiness!

People are supposed to enjoy their lives and not spend every waking minute slaving away to buy the latest electronic gadget or have a fancy job title on a business card.

So take a look around you.  What are you wasting your life on trying to achieve perfection?  Spending hours and hours creating the “perfect” lawn when you could be going for a leisurely walk with your sweetheart instead.  Spending hours and hours in overtime so you can buy the perfect gadget when you could be spending more time with your kids.

Put perfectionism in its place and get on with living your life.

Because if one person wants a perfect lawn it means poisons are dumped and water is misused on one small piece of the earth.  Multiply that by millions and millions of lawns and it becomes a BIG problem.  An unsustainable problem.  For you.  For me.  For everyone.

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