Fiat: Faith in All Things Faithfully Frugal

Hello, friends! We’re so sorry for the delay in posting today’s podcast! It’s been quite the week. We’ve been dealing with sickness and a death in the family, so please pardon this! Today, we’re piggy-backing on last week’s Frugal February mini-series (posts available here and here) to bring you a Fiat based on being faithfully frugal.

We invite you to grab a cup of tea (or a glass!) and enjoy this week’s podcast!

Please click here if the media player doesn’t load to listen to today’s Fiat podcast. Enjoy today’s conversation!

 

Kristi & Rachel

Meals Sans Meat

Today we’re talking about our experiences growing up being sans meat on Fridays in Lent and how we’ve made it our own now that we’re married.

Rachel

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear Lent is Meatless Fridays. Growing up I had my share of tuna briquette, tuna casseroles, and if we were extremely good that week, fish fries!!! I adore my momma but something I didn’t want to eat as an adult was tuna. Tuna is great, cheap, and can feed a large family in a hurry.

I totally understand why she chose sometimes to feed her family with the chicken of the sea. She also fed us wonderful meals of catfish, salmon, and tons of veggie dinners. My mom was one to make things simple but a variety of meals so her little angels would eat. I still remember my favorite of all-time: grilled cheese and tomato soup.

I want to bring back those fond memories that I had growing up for my family, but of course, put a twist on them. I am a firm believer in Pinterest. There are thousands and thousands of recipes on that website, for all different food allergies and for a variety of meals. I have a ton of resources at my fingertips (more than my mother did) and I take advantage of that all the time. I still cook with her voice in the back of my mind though; I make it simple and make sure it looks at least a little appealing.

In my home during Lent, we always abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays. We like to do both, even though the church doesn’t require Wednesdays. It tends to help with our budget and we put that money towards alms-giving during Lent.

We want to have firm traditions that are founded in our Faith. So while we are growing our family, I am trying some simple meatless meals that hardly include tuna. We like to go to at least one fish fry during lent to support our Knights of Columbus and also to have fellowship with our church community.

Kristi

For us growing up, it was canned salmon in the forms of salmon stew and salmon patties. I didn’t even realize that salmon was sold out of the can. I’d eaten smoked salmon as a fourth grader at Epcot in Norway, but I didn’t connect the dots. I don’t think I realized what salmon looked like out of the can until…well…college, I’m pretty sure. We also greatly loved Tuna Helper. This was actually my middle school and high school specialty.

Sometimes, we’d go out for our seafood. When we lived in Georgia, we’d get some popcorn shrimp and salad from the buffet at Shoney’s. Back in Texas, we frequented Cracker Barrel to take advantage of their Friday Fish Fry catfish special. If on the road, traveling, we’d grab a Fish Fillet from McDonald’s.

When I “grew up,” I began incorporating foods from other cultures into the Lenten rotation with cheese quesadillas and enchiladas, meatless spaghetti or eggplant parmesan, tabouli and falafel…except now, I can’t eat any of that due to my allergies, so I find myself back in the realm of my momma—seafood!

At our parish, as Rachel mentioned, we have a very active Knights of Columbus who do weekly Lenten fish fries. Last year, they got experimental and had fish tacos as well! They also sell huge cookies and do kids meals. There’s talk this year of changing it up to include a soup bar one Friday, a fish fry on another, a potato bar on another…I think that the variety offered will be nice, but (like Rachel), I really love the community aspect of this.

In both our households, we’ve got go-to meatless meals that we love. They’re simple (which is kind of a great thing to have during the solemn time of Lent) and while they may be less filling than a typical meal, we find that they help us keep our heads in the right place for the attitude of Lent. Here’s how we do our top meals:

1. Breakfast for Dinner

Kristi—this one is a nice choice for variety and my allergies alike! I love eggs, so I’m always excited for that. I like to put peas and savory seasonings in them to make them a little more nutrient dense, adding extra fiber and protein. We also enjoy grain-free (coconut flour, almond flour, or a combination of them) homemade pancakes. I put almond butter and syrup on mine and Little Miss prefers peanut butter. Superman likes to use apple butter.

Rachel—we love making pancakes, bread pudding, and cinnamon rolls. Who says it has to be a savory meal? We love making Eggs Benedict without the ham (we use spinach or asparagus instead, yummy!!). Use your imagination. The possibilities are endless. Anything that you usually have meat in like bacon can be replaced by veggies. We like to grill asparagus and drizzle them with balsamic vinegar.

2. Pretend You’re a Vegetarian

Rachel—we love to grill; our favorites are portabella mushrooms or eggplant burgers. We clean the mushrooms and cover them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. On the grill it only takes 5-10 minutes for each side. We usually place our buns (we like onion buns) and we brush them with olive oil or butter and place them on the grill. For the eggplant burgers, we usually use the onion buns also. I take the eggplant and I peel it, then slice it in thick slices. I poke holes in the slices with a fork and put them in olive oil with salt and pepper. Place them on the grill for 10-20 minutes on each side. We use all the regular burger toppings! We also make cheese and veggie pizza at home. We just use a basic recipe for the pizza crusts, add the sauce, cheese, veggies and bake!! This is really simple; I mean who doesn’t like pizza?! Yum!!

Kristi—I love pizza and burgers, but they’re on my no-food list, so I turn to soups. I’m working hard to find a recipe for AIP-friendly bread so we can have sandwiches or toast to accompany these soups, but until then, soups are standalone dishes in our home. I usually make all of my soups using my homemade broth as a base (no tomato or dairy for me) and adding a plethora of vegetables. I can’t eat beans, so if we’re eating chili, it tends to have a sweet potato/butternut squash/beet base for thickening. We eat a few bowls of soup on these days to fill us up, and we’re generally light on the protein with these meals.  Salads also help these meals stretch out.

3. Stick with What You Know

Kristi—we’re now back where we started with seafood. Sometimes we bake fish fillets (usually in aluminum foil packets and usually with lemon, garlic, and onion) and prepare some nice veggies with it. Sometimes we make salmon patties (Superman’s are far superior to my own). Sometimes, when I’m feeling super fancy, we make zucchini noodle pasta and shrimp with a garlic-butter wine sauce. That’s pretty delicious, too.

Rachel—our final tried and true dinner is either catfish or salmon with a salad and grilled veggies. We love to either grill or roast our veggies with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. The fish depending on how we want to eat it that night could be fried or grilled. Salmon we always grill or we put it in a foil pack with butter and lemon in the oven to bake.

We know that you’re probably like us—you have a favorite recipe but are always on the lookout for more meatless inspiration. Please share your recipe with us or leave us a comment about how you abstain from meat in Lent. Also, check out our Pinterest board Meals sans Meat for inspiration!

 

We’re going to use the hashtags #HowWeLent and #HowILent on social media the entire Lenten season to spread the word in a searchable way about everything that we’re doing to celebrate this season. We invite you to join us!

 

Happy cooking!

 

Kristi & Rachel

Valentine’s Day from the Heart

It’s so easy to get caught up in the commercialism of Valentine’s Day. As young marrieds, we try to conserve resources as we save up for things like buying our own home, buying a second car, expanding our family, etc. yet still fall prey to the temptation of the sales and marketing people that tell us we need to shower our husbands with things rather than affection. We’re here to tell you that you can have a Valentine’s Day from the heart that is easier on your budget and worth so much more.

Both Rachel and the Scientist and Kristi and Superman tend to value quality over quantity. The main thing that we both want in our marriages at all times is investment in the relationship. The more you invest in your relationship the stronger it is. Both of us agree that we’d rather spend our money on things that will be lasting memories. Who really wants that 10′ tall Teddy bear who “loves you beary much!” or $100.00 worth of beautiful-but-dying roses?

Rachel & the Scientist | Kristi & Superman

Those are our adorable valentines!

Here are our tips on how to do Valentine’s Day in a simple, memorable, and reasonable way.

  1. Get Creative. Rachel and the Scientist love to make cards for each other. It’s a big thing in their household, to outdo each other with homemade cards. They use things around their house to create these masterpieces: file folders, crayons, markers, newspaper clippings, quotes printed off the computer, etc. They schedule time in the evening to make our cards and turn it into a fun date night. This is a big thing to both of them, as they love to receive love letters from one another. Kristi and Superman have made cards as well (Superman is a fabulous sketch artist and Kristi likes to think she has a way with words). They save them to look back on as reminders for those days when marriage is hard and reminders are needed.
  2. The Stomach is the Way to the Heart. Both of us are foodie couples. We love to eat, love to cook, and love to do it with our spouses. We plan, shop, and cook our big Valentine’s dinner together. Honestly, that’s all that Kristi really wants for Valentine’s Day this year: a home-cooked meal that she and Superman prepared together. Rachel has a degree in culinary arts, so she and the Scientist love to make elaborate fancy meals for special occasions at home. We both feel that we can have a more meaningful and intimate time in our own home. Rachel and the Scientist usually start planning a couple weeks in advance what they would want for that night, then make a timeline for cooking and decorating our table. A couple of days or a week before, they buy the ingredients (usually things that are on sale and with coupons). Kristi and Superman like to have a basic outline (i.e., chicken and vegetables) and then be spontaneous in the kitchen that night. Sometimes they use a cookbook, but mostly, they wing it. Whichever way you choose to do it, cooking together brings us so close. We have great, quality time filled with laughter and conversation.
  3. Make it special. Rachel is also a master crafter, so they make their own decorations for our dinner table! She finds the more they invest in the nigh, the better it becomes. They usually do themes (“because they are dorky”) and save about $15.00 in our budget to buy things at the Dollar Tree to finish out our night because they truly love to make the night special. So it’s not like any other night, she tries to design the night so it will be a memory maker. Kristi is a decent crafter, too, but the way she interprets this is to add candles and Winking Owl, with music playing in the background.

But…what about presents?! Well…that depends on you and your husband.

Rachel—We have rings that reminds us of our covenant with God, so what we like to do is either save up money to go on a picnic or an experience later on. If we are in a no spend month, we like to make our own gifts. It could be a cute coupon books with things like massages, draw a nice relaxing bath, your turn to pick out the show on Netflix, etc. The Scientist’s hobby is actually making clay jewelry. I have gotten some amazing pieces over the years. I sometimes make him decorations for his work or for his office; something cute and fun.

Kristi—We actually decided against gifts for one another this year. I’ve gotten a lot of flack for it from those close to me, but I want to just enjoy the evening with my husband. We did, however, decide to give a small gift to Little Miss. We’ve arranged for a sitter and then we’ll eat our homemade meal, slow dance in our living room, and then enjoy some Netflix or Hulu magic.  Last year, I made a book filled with reasons why I love him. He sometimes draws me pictures. Those were sweet, too…just not what we’re picturing for us for this year.

We would love to hear from you, what are your ideas for a meaningful Valentines Day?

FIAT: Faith in All Things How Marriage Changed Us

Happy Friday! Sunday is the World Day of Marriage in the Catholic Church, so we thought we’d talk about marriage today. In our parish, at all the weekend Masses, married couples will be renewing their vows. How sweet is that? In honor of this sweet day to celebrate marriage, we’ll be chatting about how marriage changed us (so far). Today’s podcast is a little bit short (just under ten minutes), so you’ve got time for a quick cup of coffee. 

Sunday, February 12, is the World Day of Marriage!

 

Please click here if the media player doesn’t load to listen to Fiat: Season 1, Episode 6: How Marriage Changed Us

We’d love to know what has changed for you since tying the knot. Please leave us a comment below OR, help us get the hashtag #WorldDayofMarriage trending this weekend (but especially Sunday!) on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, by telling us on social media.

Happy World Day of Marriage, friends!

 

Kristi & Rachel

Shop Smarter to Save

Today I’m going to be sharing with you some ways that we keep it frugal in our house by shopping to save. Shopping is going to happen. It just is. It’s a necessity of life. So if you’re smart about HOW you do it, you’ll be on your way to savings in no time. We do use coupons in this house, but everyone knows that savings trick, so I’m not going to mention it.

Little Miss and I were pretty frugal when it was just the two of us. She’s loved and spoiled by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins alike, so she hardly ever needs new…anything. She also is the lucky recipient of awesome pre-loved clothes from cousins. She’s got my toys from my childhood (which she thinks is super cool) and plenty of her own. We’ve got Netflix, Hulu, and enough books to stock a classroom library. We’re also near several parks. There really isn’t a lot that we spend on entertainment because of those factors. None of that changed when I married Superman.

Little Miss eats like a bird, and I have a lot of food allergies/intolerances due to an autoimmune disease (which I treat by following the autoimmune protocol on the Paleo diet), so our grocery budget was a bit high, but very manageable. We also had leftovers all the time. Enter Superman. He’s never met a meal (or a food, for that matter) that he didn’t like. He’s also got a very high metabolism. I’m still adjusting to cooking a meal large enough to have leftovers for our newly-expanded family. This is definitely one of our largest budget categories, so I’ve had to slightly tweak my strategies.

Here are a few tricks I keep up my sleeves to keep our budget intact.

            Trick #1: Where to Shop

Aldi—I love Aldi. It’s great for staples. Superman goes through milk for protein shakes and I consume eggs like they’re candy—okay, maybe not so much, but I do eat a lot of them. Little Miss has limited diary in her diet and I only eat grass-fed butter (Kerrygold is my favorite brand). The milk at Aldi is hormone-free (yay!) and while their eggs aren’t “free-range” or “cage-free,” I kind of see those labels as little more than labels unless you’re buying them directly from the farmer, and the price cannot be beat. Whenever we’ve got friends coming over or simply want a glass of wine with dinner, Aldi is our go-to. They’ve got a brand called Winking Owl that’s $2.99 per bottle. Their “spicy” mustard is the only mustard I can find without paprika (an allergen for me). We also typically buy our chips, nuts, and olives for entertaining (tortilla, potato, and sweet potato). Produce-wise, I love to keep onions, sweet potatoes, and avocadoes on hand and I can buy them cheaply and in bulk at Aldi. I’ve even converted my in-laws!

Target—In true Millennial style, I also adore Target. So much. They’ve got a great line of store brands. Their Market Pantry frozen vegetables are always $0.99 per bag, which is hard to beat. I can almost always find a sale or “manager pricing” on their Simply Balanced grass-fed ground beef, too. I am brand-loyal to my coconut milk. I use Goya, because they have absolutely no gums or stabilizers (although, they’ve recently begun to distribute one that does, so read the label!) and Target has the best price on this product consistently. The best part about this? All of the foods I’ve mentioned, plus the Archer Farms brand of maple syrup are consistently on Target’s savings app, Cartwheel. Cartwheel is amazing (more on that later!). Target is also a store that price-matches, although you’ve got to have the ads on your person.

Kroger—I am saddened that not everyone has a Kroger, because I love mine. They also have a fabulous brand called Simple Truth (which also has an organic line). They make a large rotisserie chicken that is made with only chicken, sea salt, and water. It’s delicious and feeds us for two meals. We use the leftovers to make a meal we call “Thank You Chicken” (recipe below). Kroger runs pretty decent sales and consistently has Larabars for $1.00 each, which are the cheapest I can find around here.  My favorite thing about Kroger, though, is the produce. I can always find manager’s specials on carrots, bagged salads, and mushrooms (sometimes as little as $0.25 per box!). They also have really good (and consistent) prices on cabbage (lower than Aldi!) and kale.

Click here for the Printable HailMarry Thank You Chicken Recipe ©2017

Trick #2: Apps to Save

Cartwheel—told you it was coming! I’m sure you’re aware of Cartwheel, but it. is. awesome. You’re given a small amount of deals that you can add. As you continue to use the app, add deals, and redeem them, you unlock more spaces for deals. We consistently save percentages—granted, they’re often small—on what we buy. Saving anything on something that you’re already going to buy is fantastic in my book. A lot of the times, they’ll have sale items on Cartwheel, too. It’s also a great way to save in general. Last week, Cartwheel featured a DC Superhero Girls Wonder Woman doll complete with the Invisible Jet. It was $39.99 but 60% off on Cartwheel. So what did we do? Bought Little Miss a birthday present and hid it away until the summer! That’s a win.

Kroger App—this is basically a digital Kroger Plus Card that works a lot like Cartwheel. It has digital coupons that you can add to your card. When you scan your actual card or enter your alternate ID number, the digital coupons are added in addition to the savings. The best part about this is that you can add extra fuel-boosting savings to your card through the app. This usually knocks off a small amount at the pump, but if you use it enough, you can increase that. Last summer I saved $0.35 per gallon at the pump. Yes, please.

Ibotta—okay, y’all. This one is new for me. I’ve heard about this one for at least a year and was skeptical. I reluctantly signed up for it and OMG! The catch is that you have to be willing to give away some personal data (surveys and polls are part of the unlocking process).  For me, that’s okay. Facebook and Google are already mining my data, so at least I’m getting some money back this way! The way it works is that you unlock deals based on stores (through surveys, recipes, and videos). Then, you shop. You scan the barcode for the items you’ve unlocked and then scan your receipt to verify when, where, and that you purchased the item. You can also unlock bonuses each month, a welcome bonus, and referral bonuses to add to your savings total. It is a rebate app, though, and not a coupon app, so you’re making money back. To redeem it, you have to reach a total of $20.00. You can link a PayPal or Venmo account to the app and have the savings deposited into them or you can opt for the total to be loaded onto a giftcard (some require a $25 balance). You have about ten giftcard options (which would be perfect for our frugal dates…and make them even more frugal!). With two shopping trips and one welcome bonus, I’ve already gotten $18.25. Every little bit helps, right? You can also invite friends and start a team just for using the app. Here’s a link to sign up for Ibotta here (note: this is an affiliate link with a rewards code for my Ibotta account, where we’ll be teammates!).

Wal-Mart App—The Target-fan in me cringes a bit at the thought of going into a Wal-Mart, but I cannot deny that they price match and usually have lower prices on a lot. Therefore, if you shop at Wal-Mart, you should definitely get the app. Within the app you’ll find the ad, but also Savings Catcher. Savings Catcher has you scan your receipt into the app and then checks the ads of the stores in your area to see if there’s a lower advertised price on an item you purchased on that receipt. If so, Wal-Mart loads the difference in the advertised price and the price you paid onto a Wal-Mart giftcard. Another yes, please!

Trick #3: Clearance is Your Friend!

Sales are great, but clearance is even better. It’s pretty much how I buy for Christmas and birthdays. Target puts their toys on clearance twice a year (I’m pretty sure it’s in January or February and August). I find dolls, Lego sets, games, puzzles, cars, and even outdoor toys. Sometimes the prices are so low that I buy more and save them for our Toys for Tots donations at Christmas.

We also buy the “clearance” food. Kroger has unsightly, on-the-brink-of-going-bad produce bagged in red mesh bags for $0.99 each. If cooked or frozen very soon after purchase, there’s nothing wrong with this produce. They also have bins of nearing-expiration food (usually located near the health and beauty area). We’ve found protein shake powder for $10 and coconut flour for $3.50 before.

Trick #4: Resale and Consign

Whether it’s toy organization for Little Miss’s room, baby gear for godchildren (or future children) that may come along, shoes (especially shoes!), toys, or clothing, resale shops and consignment sales rock. This is the first place I go if I’m in need of any of the aforementioned items. I’ve gotten furniture like an art desk, a play vanity, and a toy organizer for under $20 each. I’ve gotten a travel system, a high chair, a baby swing, and a Pack and Play (for less than $35 each). I’ve also sold plenty of outgrown baby shoes, toys, and nearly all of what was originally purchased at the resale shops. We also have a lot of Half-Price Books stores around here and sell books that we’ve read and aren’t likely to read again. In both cases, it’s not a huge amount of cash in my pocket, but it is a nice way to add some money to a vacation fund or some other type of short-term savings. It’s also great because it’s eco-friendly.

Trick #5: Meal Plan, then Grocery Shop

I know that Rachel has already talked about this in her previous post on Organization and Saving Money, but planning our meals helps save my sanity and our money. How, you ask? I know exactly what we’re having for dinner each night and don’t have to worry about rushing to throw something together with enough time to get Little Miss ready for bed. It saves money because there are no last-minute runs to the store for a crucial ingredient that I need for that night’s dinner.

I plan based on what I have in my fridge and my pantry and based on what’s on sale. After planning, I make my grocery list and then go shopping. I stick to the list (because I’ve already taken the sales into account), use any and all applicable apps, loyalty cards, and/or manufacturer’s coupons. The shopping, feeding, cooking, and eating portion of my week is much more simplistic when I do this.

What are some ways that you keep things frugal in your house? We’d love to hear about it. Rachel and I are ALWAYS on the lookout for ways to shop, spend, and save smarter. Leave us a comment below with your tips and check out our Pinterest board on budget and finance for more inspiration.

Also, don’t forget to enter our giveaway with Catholic Etsy shop My Little Felt Friends (with a coupon code, too!) which ends tonight!!!

 

Kristi