Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Feeding an Army 30 meals a day close to $1.50 per person, per meal

Last week I posted this on Facebook:

LOL, and there was a lot of response.
Asking me meal plans, menus recipes, and all in all, HOW THE HECK do you do that?

I am going to preface, this is how I do things, it may not be the answer for you, it may not be what your family eats,our meals may be too strict for you, or not strict enough, and thats O.K.
I can only speak to what we have found works in our cray-cray casa, what foods work best for our health, our emotional, behavioral, and financial needs.

Our goals are to eat whole, healthy, mindful, meat on the side,primarily organic produce, cassin, gluten and refined sugar free.
I personally eat as vegan as possible.

We CHEAT. We are not perfect, if you are looking for a perfect model of Organic, whole foods NEVER an m&m, passes our lips...keep looking!
Yes we do, because we are human, and we like rewarding ourselves with treats, or are offered to pick or glean free food, we.will.take.it gratefully!
I love the term “flexitaran” my friend Christine uses.
Thats exactly what we are.
If you give us otter pops ( though I may cringe, and let my husband eat the blue and red ones, we will say thank you)

Our goals are healthy, aware of where most of our meat comes from, and yet sticking to a very strict budget, and if free food is available, we will do the hard work to preserve and use it.

I am a crazy person about food waste.
Like, cleaning the fridge out makes me cry.
I don't know if it is my experience working in Orphanages in Haiti, or growing up with a single mom, who supported us with her waitress job while she went to school, but.I.hate.waste.
One of the things I will share is HOW, to use the bits and pieces most people throw out.

One of the ways we limit expense, waste and the constant question of what to make and feed all of the people is a rotating Breakfast and Lunch menu.
I switch it up pending on Season, what we have in the garden, and orcahrd and free food that has come available.
What a rotating menu means is every Monday, we eat the same Breakfast and Lunch combination.
Monday through Sunday, is something different, but weekly that combination is what we and the kids expect to be eating and making.

We take lunches, we can our own jams, salsas, sauces, pickles, relish ect.
We also have chickens for eggs, glean potatoes in the fall, buy in bulk, and stock up on sale items.

We drink water with our meals.
No juice, soda, or milk.

This is what our rotating menu looks like right now:

Monday ~ Cereal ( usually Rice Chex) almond/coconut milk ( we don't drown our cereal, in milk, nothig bugs me more than dumping a bowl of milk down the sink), and banana (this is the only day of the week we eat cereal, and I buy iy in bulk when the boxes are $1.50 each)
Tuesday ~ Oatmeal sweetened with Organic Syrup, sometimes raisins and nuts tossed over ( in the summertime homemade granola)
Wednesday ~re-Heated pancakes or waffles w/ peanut-butter or berries , and eggs
Thursday ~ Baked Oatmeal with fresh or Preserved fruit from our Orchard
 ( summertime zucchini muffins, or oatmeal muffins, and coconut yogurt)
Friday ~ Breakfast Burrito or Hash-brown Casserole
Saturday~ Pancakes/waffles/french toast and Bacon or Sausage ( theses are always doubled or trippled and frozen for Wednesday breakfasts.
Sunday~ German Pancakes w/ fruit salad

Monday ~ P.B. Roll ups ( Peanut-butter in a corn tortilla), baby carrots, string cheese and trail mix ( homemade)
Tuesday ~ Turkey sandwich (
gf bread, romaine lettuce),Apple, Granola Bar
Wednesday ~ Rice Crackers, P.B. ,Snap peas , string cheese, trail mix
Thursday ~ Tuna Sandwich (
gf bread, romaine lettuce) clementine orange, string cheese, granola bar
Friday~ Rice Crackers, Hummus, cut up Cucumbers, string cheese, trail mix
Saturday~ Quesadilla's w/ beans, salad
Sunday~ Pizza and Kale Salad (
sometimes a GF frozen pizza, gilled zuchini homemade pizza, mini homade pizza)

When this rotation gets old, or the seasons change we switch it up.

My kids NEVER have to ask what is for breakfast or lunch...and that makes us all VERY happy.

In the Summer and harvest, meals are planned around harvest.

We large eat salads at almost every single meal, with occasional meat, or grains.
Majority of our meat is from Family raised animals, purchased organically from the Farmers market ( I always buy in bulk from these farmers and they cut me a deal, especially at the end of the market season)

In the Winter and colder months meals are based on food storage items, and we eat a lot of home grown frozen, or bought organic veggies.

In Winter and Colder months soups and chili's, potato's, brown rice, corn tortillas or chips, beans, brown rice pasta are the vehicles for our meals.
I bulk shop twice a month at Costco.

Winter Meals have a theme, I generally stick to:
Monday ~ Mama's break, usually something simple, from the freezer ( pre-made) or left overs, one of my casseroles, pre cut up frozen veggies or salad, over romaine, or pasta.

Tuesday ~ Taco night ~ which pretty much means anything with Mexican food influence, stuffed bell peppers, Tortilla or black bean soup, Enchiladas, Taco Salad, Tamales

Wednesday ~ Rice. Usually a Vegetable Stir-fry, maybe Sweet Thai Meatballs from the crock pot, Haitian Rice and Beans, Risotto.

Thursday ~ Soup, Chili, Potatoes, Something created out of the pantry...
(we always have the makings for a Baked Potato, or a Roasted veggie Melody, or a Potato Soup or Chili)

Friday ~Veggie-mania, sometimes fresh sauce over pasta, sometimes as a dip-dip night with lots of fresh vegetables, and a lot of fun dips. Cold pasta salad, Artichoke Hearts in a dairy free Alfredo Sauce.

Saturday~Clean out the fridge, and eat left overs, Get creative, check out what is around, and use it.Sunday~ Big meal. Usually Crock pot or grill a meat, a whole baked chicken, Asian BBQ Chicken wings, Pot Roast, Shredded Pork sliders, Grilled Steak, or Salmon, Open face Burgers, or BLT's....its a meat day. :)

To extend specifically ground meats I use brown rice, lentils,and beans. I never use more than 1 lb of ground meat during a meal.

One thing I have learned over the last 5 years cooking for 10 people, 30 meals a day , is CUT IT ALL UP.
If you are already in the kitchen, chopping up, an onion, peppers, cucumbers, pineapple, watermelon. Take the extra 5 minutes and cut all of it up.
You aren’t going to want to chop up a half used week old onion in a plastic bag in your fridge...BUT you will toss in fresh frozen chopped onion in a soup, or while browning meat, or in a stir fry.
You will eat that already chopped up pineapple waiting for you in the fridge, if you are already in the kitchen use the time.

If you are already making a big pot of Potato soup, make 3, and freeze it.
Enchiladas? Lasagna? Tuna Cassarole? MAKE 3 and FREEZE them!
Oh my goodness will you be singing yourself praises, of already making your family a meal you just have to heat up, on a rough day.

You made a baked chicken? Save the bones, toss them back in, and make a broth over night to use in a soup the next day, or freeze for fresh broth.

Here is a great example of flexible meal planning:
On Mothers Day Sunday my husband took 4 steaks too many out of the freezer, and grilled them up, anyway, and chopped them into strips.

On Tuesday I cut bell peppers and red onion in strips, and made Fajita's with the leftover steak.
We had 3 peppers and half an onion left, and so I chopped them up, and tossed them in a plastic saver.
Saturday I sauteed the peppers and onions, and garlic in butter, and used 6 cans of black beans with juices, chili powder, cumin, and other spices..and made an amazing black bean soup served with tortilla chips.

Good staples I always have in my pantry:
Organic Brown Rice
Organic Black Beans
Organic Kidney Beans
Brown rice Pasta
Maple Syrup

I can, and freeze:
Spaghetti Sauce
Jams- savory and sweet
pickles and relish
Grape Juice
Hash browns
French fries
Veggie melodies
Stirfy veggies

We constantly double or tripple batches of:

Black bean veggie bugers
In the fall we don't say no to anything.... if someone is allowing people to glean potato fields, we are on it,someone has grapes they dont want to pick, extra produce, that we have to work for or process...we do it.

We eat cherry cobbler at Christmas from our Cherry trees, frozen.
My kids eat Peanut butter and Plum jam, sandwiches , from our trees.
Our freezer is full of Elk Sausage, Organic Whole chickens, gallon bags of frozen pea's, corn, green beans, pumpkin, berry's, hand processed hash-brown's and fries from fall harvest.

It isn’t easy.
We do fancy meals for holidays and birthdays.
We realize the “American expectation of Meat, starch, and side veggie, isn't whats most important in a meal.
We eat an entire broccoli salad until we could burst.
We have a full meal of grilled corn, asparagus, and tomatoes, and know that, is a full meal.

We make an amazing trail mix, full of protein and fiber for snacks, we also pop organic pop corn, eat fruit, and oatmeal cookies with raw honey, and peanut-butter.

Things we cheat on:
String Cheese.

Skippy Peanut-butter ( I know its total crap, but it is a concession in the war on health I am willing to make. )
Kirkland Mexi-Cheese
non organic Eggs when my lady's aren’t laying as much in cold weather.


Heck yes, we occasionally buy our kids ice cream cones, or chocolate, we make homemade snow cones with juiced watermelon or homemade peach, or lemonade.

Junk food, is a novelty, as it should be.
Potato chips are a giant treat, for a trip, or a family BBQ.
Sugar cereal too, a special snack that they are excited for.

My kids LOVE and live to eat, they also have developed such a taste for real, and good, the times they have BEGGED for school lunch, they have never asked again.

I don't know if I helped a single person, or made an sense of our madness...but this in a little blue print, in the how's, of what our clan eats.

Lets me know if you have any questions.
<3 Linds

Monday, April 6, 2015

Dear Church, do you want to know why those of us that have adopted the fatherless....

Aren't “there” Sunday morning?
Aren't as easy to ask to participate in service?
Aren't as open to people in our home, community activities and it seems our beliefs, our demeanor or just “we” have changed.
Yes. Yes, we have.
Those of us that have brought a hurting and healing child into our homes, are working on constantly healing things most people can't even begin to understand that have been broken, or teaching and adding things that were never even there in a neglected, or abused child...and then healing the new broken in our own homes, and then in ourselves.

You see. We can't be the same.
We may have been called, felt an inkling, had an ENORMOUS boulder placed in our path saying “ADOPT”....we may have taken in family members, experienced infertility, all these things, choices, good and right and in biblical terms “Godly choices”.

We also have had dreams and expectations, with no real idea of the sacrifices that would be made, the losses we would experience, the judgment we would face in the name of loving or helping a child.
We also had very little real understanding of the weight it would put on our marriages, other children, and friendships, as well as our relationship with God.

What you may not understand is simply by living the lives that we do, we feel like strangers to our community now, heck until we find ourselves again, or recreate ourselves,our old selves are strangers to our new stronger, wiser, more eyes wide opened selves. We are struggling to re define, everything.

I remember the out pouring of prayers and support when we were waiting, to be chosen by a birth mother, parental rights to be terminated or for our children to come home. When my pain and hope was palpable as I walked down those church hallways, the way I threw myself into callings and service,hoping my efforts would somehow bring miracles faster....and when they came home, the balloons and dinners, and pats on the back of “Aren't you so grateful? God is SO Good!”

and I would nod. Because of course I am grateful, how could I not be? And yes, he is good...but could ya ask him...that maybe they would scream for only 23 hours a day instead of 24?

I couldn't tell all of these shiny eyed so happy for me members...that “OH MY HELL, THEY ARE PEEING ON EVERYTHING, 5 x a day a toilet is plugged on purpose, I am flipped off and called a whore by my four year old, The adorable 18 month old that makes you “want one too” has required me to get stitches 4 times.” Yes. I.am.so.grateful.

I remember sitting watching my 8 babes under 8, singing in their first church program.
Standing in the back, making sure every cherub could see their proud supportive mama's face, and looking down, and realizing, in the right light, my white linen dress had massive urine spots where one of the 8 cherub choir had obviously emptied their bladders, on my new dress, as a gift of their tangible hate, shame and anger towards me.
As hot tears dripped off of my chin, I remember a member kindly coming over , putting her arm around my shoulders and saying, “I can't imagine how many times you have dreamed about a moment like this.” and I JUST nodded...and instead of screaming “NO, not exactly, because one of those adorable little A-holes pissed all over my Easter dress, thank you very much.” I just continued to nod, and cry.

Why do you LOOK different? Have gotten a tattoo, eat different, moved, become a total hippie, home-school now, NOT home-school now, seem MORE alternative, seem to accept more things...ect.

Because, what this life has taught me is in the constant throughs of HARD, you have to hunt down joy like a man, thirsting for water in a desert. YOU.ARE.DESPERATE.FOR. JOY. Desperate for balance, peace, and HOPE.
You DO what is best for YOU, for THEM. and if that is MORE family time, you do that..if it is MORE structure in a school environment, you do that. If it was standing on our heads and painting ourselves purple would help we would do THAT.
If twinkies/gluten/dairy/red food dye are making them MORE crazy, you take that &*@% AWAY!
You don’t have time for judgment.
Time to worry that someone's daughter who wore an immodest dress to PROM, you are just hoping your teenager isn't sending topless pictures to the bishops son. Your focus becomes more on, NOT shaming people for their choices,but hoping that girl felt BEAUTIFUL in what she was wearing, and doesn’t hear any of the whispers. Life becomes TOO short, the church mouse drama, and gossip, SOO not a priority....and lets be honest...how much of it is now about us anyways?

Our ability to take our kids to activities on a regular basis changes. Too remember ALL of the THINGS, my scout didn't have his scarf? DUDE, he pants on...I am fist bumping myself right now.

HOW do I have someone understand? I AM so sorry, because I also have special needs kids at home, my one child that needs CONSTANT line of sight supervision (yes the charming one) can't be there, and my child that CAN attend, needs a ride home, because as unbelievable as it may sound, I can not drive in my car with one of my children to pick him up, without them trying to jump out of a moving car, or beating up everyone, including me, while I drive. It's O.K. If you sigh and roll your eyes every time I text or call and beg for a ride for him, every.single.week. but if you could JUST help me, I would be so grateful.
I need those prayers now.
I need those times you believed in what I was doing for my children before they came to me, to be JUST as strong now they are here.
I need you to understand, I am WAY more financially broke trying to help these kids heal, with constant therapies and tools, and simply fixing all of the things they break...than I ever was trying to raise money to adopt them.

I am more accepting of other people and lifestyles, because, everyday I have to accept and love someone that rejects me, seeks to hurt me, lies to me, steals from me...and creates barriers between me and others on purpose. I have to hug a child that on purpose threw my wedding ring away in the garbage, I say sweet dreams and tickle a kid who tried to light my house on fire, I pray for a child that broke my very bones...I NOW know how to LOVE PEOPLE and accept them AS IS, in all of their exactness and worthiness to be loved and accepted. That is a hard earned beautiful gift my children have given me.

I don't fit in anymore.
I DO want fellowship, badly, but please without that enormous pill of “We SURE have noticed you guys haven't been attending as regularly” THANKS, but no, I hand capsule my own guilt these days...and don't need any shame pills from you, or the “means well” congregation.
I need friends, people that say, “so good to see you, how are you all hanging in there?”

We need people to BELIEVE US, not lessen our concern, or boundaries for our kids, the MORE support and understanding you can provide, the MORE you are going to see us sitting in those benches.

Know that in the name of sheltering and loving and bringing into our homes a hurting and healing child, as the Bible councils us all to do, we also have lost and sacrificed much to do so.
This for us is our “calling” our life long work, and no, most the time it doesn’t get easier , or better, it just changes, the needs becoming sometimes less complex, often MORE. If you don't want us to give up on the church...don't give up on us.

This is such a lonely, loving, long suffering journey...how we would love a community surrounding us, and if not...we still have to walk this path,with, or without you.