Friday, August 31, 2018

"Reaching Neutral": An Object Lesson for Kids About Conflict



Kids and Fights

Any time you have two children in a room, eventually they will have a disagreement.  I really am not a fan of refereeing fights.  In a previous post I told you about teaching our kids a conflict resolution technique we called, "Face to Face."  You can find the post here

 However there is another really helpful way to help kids take a deep breath and focus when they are in the middle of a fight.  I call it:  "Reaching Neutral". 

What is "Reaching Neutral"?

 "Reaching neutral" is an object lesson which will show our children how to take a deep breath, reflect on the feelings of the other person, and figure out what they need to "own" in a disagreement. 

The Lesson


(I've put instructions for the parent in regular print and what to say to the child in red italics.)

Get out your blender, fill it with water and add a few drops of food coloring.  Don't blend them.  You want the kids to see that the food coloring is just resting on the water, but isn't blended in with it.  When the blender is plugged in, it is hooked up to a power source, but it doesn't work until you push the button.  It is in "neutral".  Neutral is when something is not going forward and it's not going backward.  It is resting.  

When are are engaged in a battle of words with someone we are like the blender on top speed.  Turn the blender on.  If you are a super brave mom, (and you are doing this outside) take off the lid, and then warp that baby up to top speed.  This would certainly make your point fast.  But, if you don't want to clean up a mess, go ahead and put the lid on and push "high".  They will be able to see that the food coloring is mixed in with the water and hits the lid a full force.  They can imagine that the mess would quickly reach ceiling level.  

This is what happens when we begin to engage in a hasty, disrespectful way with others. We act fast, we stir things up, we can do a lot of damage in just a few seconds.  

Now, I want you to see what happens when we put ourselves in neutral right away. 

Pour out the contents of the blender and then refill it. Push the pulse function on your blender for just a second.  This should barely disturb the water.  The water is just a little stirred up, but the damage is much less.  Why?  Because as soon as we began to see that the water was getting stirred up, we put the blender back into neutral.  

 When you are upset with someone else, put yourself into neutral.  Stop seeing yourself as 'right' and them as 'wrong'.  Stop throwing words back a them.  Take a deep breath.  If you need to step away, don't do it in anger.  Tell the other person, "I need a few minutes to think."  Try to consider the disagreement from their perspective.  Don't spend your time thinking of nasty comments, snappy retorts, or mean insults.  Instead, ask God to show you what part you played in the argument and what you need to "own" - that means we figure out what we need to say "sorry" for. 

After you have put yourself in neutral, go back to the other person.  Speak calmly.  Ask about their feelings. Arguments are seldom about events, they are about how it made the other person feel.  If you need to apologize, do so.  You will soon find that, our disagreements can often disappear and help us come together in a way that helpful and not harmful.  

Enjoy a snack together and answer their questions.  They may ask if you have ever reached a "speed of 10" in an argument.  Be honest.  My kids have learned a lot from my failings.  

They may ask what do to if the other person is unwilling to work through the disagreement.  Once again, be candid.  We all know other adults who have not yet mastered the ability to put themselves into neutral.  From my experience, I am not responsible for the other person's reactions to my honest efforts at harmony and peace.  I am not the Holy Spirit.  It is not my job to convict them to mop up messes.  Peacefully walk away and trust that sooner or later they will be ready to solve issues.  Pray for them and when you see them, be kind.  

I hope that this will be helpful for you and your family.  Leave your comments and feedback below. 


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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Cheap Eats: Cucumber Tomato Salad with lime dressing

Cucumber Tomato Salad with Lime Dressing

I designed this salad to take advantage of the late summer crop of cucumbers and tomatoes.  It is very reminiscent of my grandmother's marinated cucumber salad that she taught me to make when I was 10 years old.  But, I wanted to add an unexpected splash of flavor.  So, my 14 year old sous chef and I got out ingredients and created a lip-smacking lime dressing!   


Before you read the recipe instructions, head over to YouTube where we posted a video with step-by-step instructions for the salad.  My 14 year old sous chef and I create the salad for you!  I also answer a reader question on how to find produce at the lowest prices to freeze for winter consumption.  

Here's the link:  Let me know what you think!  Still photos of the salad-making process are below.  There is even a link for a downloadable PDF.  

 We begin by creating the salad base.  

It is just four basic ingredients:  cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, and garlic.  That's it!  Green pepper is optional.  Some in my family are not fans.  So, I serve it on the side and let those who love it, add it at the table.  I, however, happen to be one of those who loves green or red peppers.  If you add red peppers, it's a nice splash of color in the salad, too. 

Dressing ingredients

The dressing contains lime juice, vinegar, water, real maple syrup, onion powder, and garlic powder. Using the zest of 1 of the limes is optional and I would suggest buying organic limes if you plan to use the zest. 

 Cucumber Tomato Salad with Lime Dressing



3 medium cucumbers
3 medium tomatoes
1/2 large white onion - diced 
2 cloves garlic

Peel and dice cucumbers.  Dice tomatoes.  Smash garlic and mince.  Add all ingredients to an attractive serving bowl. 



3 limes
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 - 3 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp real maple syrup (may substitute 3 Tbsp cane sugar)
 zest of 1 lime - optional

If you plan to add the lime zest to this recipe, then zest one lime before cutting it in half to juice it.  Set aside the zest.  Juice all three limes.  Pour juice into a glass measuring cup.  Add 2 Tbsp of white wine vinegar.  Add enough water so that the liquids reach the 1/2 cup mark on the measuring cup.  This will probably be  2 - 3 Tbsp. It will depend on how large and how juicy the limes were.  The whole idea is to reduce the acidity of the lime juice and vinegar.  Add the onion and garlic powders.  Finally, add the maple syrup and whisk until well blended.  Taste to see if you need to adjust for more water or more syrup. 

Pour over vegetables and stir everything together with a large spoon.  Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to blend.  

Here's a link to a downloadable PDF of the recipe.  Enjoy!

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

This Week's CSA Box: Six Summer Salads!!

All 11 items we received in this week' CSA box lend themselves perfectly to creating sumptuous summer salads!

What we got!

sweet potatoes - 4 medium
cucumbers - 3 medium
peaches - 4 medium
white onions - 2 large
green peppers - 4 medium
tomatoes - 6 medium 
cherry tomatoes - 1 pint
watermelon - 1 personal size
spaghetti squash - 1 medium
green tomatoes - 3 medium 
green beans - 1 nice "mess" 

What to do with it


Cucumber tomato salad with lime dressing - This is my recipe and it is this week's Cheap Eats post.  It uses cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes - all from this week's box. 


Sweet Potato Apple Salad - We have entered apple pickin' season and this recipe pairs great fall flavors!  It uses the sweet potatoes from the CSA box.  

Greek style salad with spaghetti squash -  A Mediterranean diet is good for the heart and soul!  This salad combines traditional Greek flavors with the unique addition of spaghetti squash.  It uses tomatoes, onion, green onion, squash, and cucumber from the box. Yum!  

Peach and Tomato Salad -  Grab peaches, tomatoes, and onion from the box.  Add basil, and feta cheese!  Oh my!!  I'll bet you could add some pieces of chicken and make this into a main dish salad sure to be loved by the meat-eaters in your family!  

Green Bean Salad - This dish is billed as, "a great marinated salad for a hot summer day," on the Allrecipes site.   I would add some canned white or black beans to give it some protein.  It uses tomatoes, onions, and green beans from the box.  

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint -  Salty sweet pairings are incredibly popular right now.  I will admit that I would never have considered these combinations: sweet watermelon and mint, salty olives and feta cheese, and tart onion and lemon juice.  Someone try it and let me know what you think!!!  


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Cheap Eats: Chickpea Soup

It's time for my world famous chickpea soup.  Okay, maybe regionally famous?

Truthfully, I have served this soup to many friends and relatives who would categorize themselves as meat eaters.  Nearly every single one of them has given this soup two enthusiastic thumbs up!

I created this recipe probably 20 years ago.  I love the flavor of rosemary and lots of garlic.  This soup features both flavors in a base of chickpeas and tomatoes.  The result is a flavorful, colorful, healthy bowl of goodness that will keep you feeling satisfied and full for hours!  It contains not an once of cholesterol, but does have 17.6 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber per  1 1/2 cup bowl!

Carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and spices!
 Here are the basic ingredients for the soup:  

carrots, celery, onion, garlic, rosemary, no salt seasoning, and Italian seasoning.  

We'll add these to water, a large can of crushed tomatoes and 4 cups of chickpeas.

Let's walk through the specifics.  

Chickpea Soup
10 – 12 servings
8 quarts

·      4 cups raw chickpeas (rinsed and sorted)
·      3 cups carrots – diced
·      1.5 cups celery – sliced
·      2 cups onion – chopped
·      4-5 cloves garlic – finely chopped (I like a LOT of garlic!)
·      1 large can – crushed tomatoes (I use a no salt brand)
·      1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
·      1 Tbsp. Dried Rosemary
·      1 Tbsp. no salt seasoning ( I like Trade East Zesty Country)
·      10 cups water
·      Fresh cracked black pepper – to taste

Rinse and sort the chickpeas.  If using a pressure cooker or slow cooker, go ahead and add to the pressure cooker.  If using stovetop method, soak the beans overnight in 10 cups of water.  These beans expand a LOT when soaked.  So, be sure to use a large enough container when soaking.  The next morning, drain off soaking water before continuing with the recipe.    

Chop veggies and add to pot.  Add the seasonings.  Add the water at the end, so that you don’t overfill your pot.  This recipe fills my 8 quart pressure cooker exactly up to the maximum fill line.  

Pressure cooker:  30 minutes with natural pressure release.

Slow cooker:  4-5 hours on high or 8 hours on low.  This fills an 8 qt. crockpot to the top.  If using a smaller slow cooker, then cut the recipe in half. 

Stove top:  Bring to boil and then simmer for 90-120 minutes until beans are soft and veggies are tender. 

Pass the pepper, so that guests can add freshly cracked black pepper to their individual taste. 


You may download a PDF of the recipe at this link

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Monday, August 20, 2018

This Week's CSA Box: Let's Do Brunch and Lunch!

I wanted to come up with some unique ideas for the produce in this week's box.  So, rather than focusing on main dishes, let's throw some ideas out there for breakfast and lunch!

Here's what we got!

3 green peppers
1 pint sweet cherry tomatoes
1 large white onion
4 sweet potatoes
8 medium tomatoes
6 sweet corn
1 medium hot pepper
3 yellow summer squash
5 peaches
8 apples
4 cucumbers
1 "mess" of green beans

Here's what to do with it!


1.  Blueberry Peach Oatmeal:  I love fresh fruit in my oatmeal.  This recipe from Eating Bird Food looks perfect!

2.  Pina Colada Zucchini Bread:  This recipe was apparently a winner at the Pennsylvania Farm Show and I can see why!  The tropical flavors have me salivating already!  

3.  Zucchini Frittata:  Frittatas are the Italian solution to using up small amounts of leftover veggies.  If you've never given it a try, let me assure you that creating a frittata is quick, easy, and delicious!  You can add all manner of leftover veggies to an egg base and then cook over low heat until the eggs are set.  This recipe features the zucchini from this week's box. Frittata is perfect for, literally, any meal of the day! 

4.  Apples 'n" Cream Pancakes:  A Dutch pancake is absolutely perfect for a Sunday brunch!  It is actually one large pancake, traditionally prepared in a cast iron skillet and then baked in the oven.  The result is a fluffy tasty delight!


1.  Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles:  I once had someone give me a huge amount of cucumbers at the end of the growing season.  I made two gallons of these refrigerator pickles and they were amazing!  No specialized canning equipment needed.  They will last in your fridge for 3 months. 

2. Baked Zucchini Fries:  Low carb Paleo fans take note!  This recipe is for you!  The zucchini offers you a veggie choice with low carbs.  Substitute a gluten free flour for the all-purpose flour and you have a sure winner!  I can make a few easy changes and it's even great for Vegans like me!  Eat it with the veggie "Big Mac" burger.

 3. The Best Veggie "Big Mac" Burger with Radicchio Slaw:  Even if you aren't a veggie burger fan, this looks mouth-watering!  The photos alone are worth heading over to the recipe on the link.  This burger uses zucchini, onion, and carrot from the CSA Box. 

 4.  Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes:  It's a meal on one plate!  Simple, 30-minute baked sweet potatoes topped with roasted chickpeas, a simple garlic-herb sauce and a parsley-tomato salad. Delicious, fresh, healthy, and naturally vegan and gluten free. I served it with mixed raw veggies, a fruit salad, and green beans simmered with onion and tomatoes. 

5. Brown Rice Stuffed Green Peppers:  Using the corn, tomatoes, and peppers from the CSA box, this is a healthy version of your Grandmother's stuffed peppers.  They've taken out the meat and added brown rice and extra veggies.  Yum!



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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Best Deals of the Week: GFS and Mediterranean Mart

It was a crazy week.  But, I finally went grocery shopping on Saturday.  This week's best deals came from two of my favorite local stores.  It made me remember that I wanted to remind you that not only does shopping at locally-owned establishments directly effect the economy of your city, you can also find some terrific bargains!  

  Store #1: Mediterranean Mart

If you want good deals, then trek right over to your local, family-owned ethnic market.  You'll be amazed at foods that you have never seen before, service that is out of this world, and prices the rival those of grocery stores.

For years, I have been going regularly to see Sieed at his store, Mediterranean Mart.  He offers a large variety of hard-to-find Mediterranean food, international brands, and fresh produce.  The flatbread is always fresh, with amazing texture and taste.  He stocks the shelves with new goodies from the Windy City once a week.  Sieed will never sell you something that isn't right for you.  He'll ask you how you cook, what you plan to do with ingredients, and if there is a better alternative (even if it's less expensive), he will always sell you the product that best suits your needs.  He mentions new items that you might like to try, in a friendly, "neighborly" way.  He takes a vested interest in every single customer.  You feel like family from the minute you walk in.

For readers who are locals, Mediterranean Mart is located at the corner of Glen and University Streets in Peoria.  Do be sure to stop by and check them out!  

My purchase from The Mediterranean Mart

Here is today's purchase:

2 packages of pita bread
6 pounds of farina
2 pounds red lentils
3 pounds green lentils

My cost:  $18.00

Store #2:  GFS (Gordon Food Service)


GFS  (Gordon Food Service) is a regional, employee-owned grocery store.  Like SAMS, they stock a lot of cases, family-size portions, and large quantities of products.  But, unlike SAMS, you don't need a membership to shop there.  The selection is great and the employees are always super helpful and friendly.  A couple of years ago they underwent a major renovation and broadened their inventory, stocking a lot of new and interesting products along with smaller packages of many items.  

I've used GFS multiple times for planning large parties.  All you have to do is ask at the front desk.   A store employee will find out the date of your event, size of your group and your theme.  Then they will personally escort you around the store while you select exactly what you'd like to order.  Their staff will have your entire order pulled and ready to pick up on the designated day and time.  All you do is show up, pay, and load everything in your vehicle.  Forget an item?  No problem!  You can add to your order up to a few days before your event.  

You can also special order items that they don't regularly stock on their shelves.  About twice a year I order 50 pounds of steel cut oats for about $38.00. 

 GFS always haa bananas and potatoes at a lower price than anywhere else in town. They were out of their 8 pounds of potatoes for $2.49.  But, I hit the jackpot on bananas!  Marked down bananas are like manna from heaven!  I picked two bunches which really didn't look too overly ripe.  We'll eat these up within 48 hours.  The others will be frozen for later use in baked goods and smoothies.  I peel them before freezing, but you can also just throw them in the freezer with the peel in tact.  The peel with discolor and turn brown when you freeze them, but don't worry, the fruit is perfectly fine to use.  

Whenever I stop by, I always check out their shelves of marked down merchandise.  That's where I spied the soy sauce!  That's also where I got the infamous 30 pounds of mixed frozen vegetables.  (Here's a link to that story!)  

Here is today's purchase:   

4 bunches of bananas marked down to $.50 a bunch
2 large bottles of sodium reduced soy sauce - $4.00 each. 

My cost:  $10.30

Time for your feedback.

Do you have any secret shopping treasure troves in your area?  Leave comments below and let us know about them.  


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Friday, August 17, 2018

Music Appreciation for Little or no Money

Many folks living under the median believe that music education and appreciation for their children are simply beyond their grasp.  Not so!  I have raised four music-loving young men on an annual income which was well below 50K much of the time

So, how do you go about introducing future music lovers to the classics, jazz, rock, and more, while not spending and arm and a leg? 

My son, James on his 18th birthday with PSO conductor, George Stelluto

 There are many opportunities for your children to soak up some good vibrations!

 Take into consideration that student tickets are generally very reasonable.  By the time my sons were in high school they had figured out that for just a little more than the price of a movie, they and a group of their friends could attend the symphony! 

Schools and  Colleges

If you want to hear great performers at very little or no cost, check out your local schools, including two or four year colleges!  You can hear everything from great jazz to vocal performances!  

Here is an example:  My husband took our piano-loving son to hear this world famous Steinway pianist at a college in our town.  They paid just $5 each for entrance and even got to talk to him personally after the concert!  He, of course, encouraged my son to continue working hard on his piano lessons.  :-) 

Every college has an on-line schedule of performances along with prices.  I perused the schedule at Bradley University from last April and found 22 separate events!  Most were free! The highest admission price I found was $10.  Often students or children 12 and under were offered free admission.  Opportunities included an opera workshop, student voice recitals, student instrument recitals, a chorale festival, small group music ensembles, and band concerts.  Musical styles ranged from jazz to chamber music to liturgical music of the 13th century!  

Because schools are typically not in session in the summer, you won't find much on their calendar from June to August.  But, you'll find some absolute gems if you check their schedule each month. 

Municipal Bands

Nearly every hamlet has a band comprised of musicians from around the area.  When I was a kid on hot summer nights these talented groups had free weekly concerts at the little park in the center of town. Folks brought food, drinks, lawn chairs, and blankets.   I vividly remember dancing and running around the bandstand with all the other neighborhood children.  What fun!  

In our somewhat larger town we have a municipal band, but there is also a similar band in every small town surrounding us!  Do some research and take your pick of days and times!


Park Districts, Libraries, Fairs, and Festivals! 

Park Districts often have yearly events, which feature musical talent.  Our Nature Center has monthly concerts with music centered around a bluegrass genre.  Sometimes there is a small charge.  Other times, like during the annual Christmas lumiere walk, they are free. 

Our local library has family oriented concerts one Sunday afternoon a month.  Most groups are regionally known and some have even toured nationally.  In this situation, generally little ones who are a little squirmy are welcomed and even appreciated. 

During the summer and early autumn you can soak up local flavor and food while listening to really fun music!  It won't all be Nashville, but your kids will love just being in the great outdoors, while clapping their hands and stomping their feet.  

Peoria Symphony Orchestra free outdoor concert

 Even our local symphony orchestra gets in on the act!  Once a year, they host a free classical concert by the riverfront.  People bring along a picnic supper and feast while listening to Bach!  It is great fun!! 

Community Organizations

  Your children can maybe even flex some of their own musical muscles!  Many communities boast very fine instructors who want to invest in the lives of future musicians.  They often offer participation in ensembles or choirs.

Heritage Youth Ensemble
Heritage Ensemble concert

My son, Daniel, is in this photo, singing with the Heritage Youth Emsemble.  Conductor, Sharon Reed, is a well-seasoned professional.  There is no cost to the youth for being in the choir and there are two major performances yearly. 



In one piece the high school age young men of the youth ensemble were paired with the men of the adult Heritage Ensemble.  I loved seeing my son be with mentors, who were well-practiced musicians and also wonderful role models!  





My son in a local production of the Christmas opera, "Amal and the Night Visitors"


Churches, synagogues, and para-church organizations regularly offer free or low-cost musical experiences.  Although most concerts will feature religious music, some will showcase other genres.  Admission is generally free or reasonably priced. An offering may be taken.  As an added bonus: Local children are often offered free participation in the program. Instruction in singing, acting, or musical instruments is an added perk.  

Listen to Everything!!

We have always had very eclectic musical tastes.  We listen to everything:  classical, contemporary Christian, bluegrass, jazz, and classic rock.   One night it might be Peter, Paul, and Mary's protest songs  and the next night Brahms, Bach, and Beethoven.  Many years ago, one hot summer night we were once dancing wildly to some weird polka records that we had been given.  The windows were open and we heard our neighbors remark wryly as they strolled by, "You just never know what Hope and Larry are going to be listening to." 😄

My friend, Gayle, recently wrote to me, "This brought to mind how my parents would help me appreciate and enrich my musical awareness. They would play all types of music at home and in the car. This could be our local public radio station, or sorting through the cds/recordings at rummage sales. Live music is always preferred, but some of my most precious memories are my dad singing in the car with Robert Goulet "If Ever I Would Leave You". Then, we saw the show at the Muni in St Louis. What great memories."  

I love her perspective and she is absolutely correct!  Each genre of music that you play is like a hanger.  The original exposure gives children a "hook", a frame of reference if you will, on which to judge and evaluate each new piece.  When they encounter that style again, they match that new experience up to what they already know. Each new sound adds to their personal musical tapestry and allows it to grow richer and deeper.  

Be in the Know!  

I recommend you become very familiar with the websites of your local municipalities!  This can bring tremendous dividends when it comes to introducing your children to great music for free! Google things like "What to do in my area this weekend"  or "fairs and festivals in my area".  Once you find sites which are truly helpful, be sure to bookmark them and then write yourself a note right at the top of each month of your calendar to check the sites for fun events.  As soon as you see events that you like, fill them right in on your calendar for that month.  That way you won't miss a thing!  

Your turn!

What did I miss?  What are wonderful opportunities that you have found in your community?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section! 

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Cheap Eats: Mixed Vegetable Brown Rice Casserole

I created this recipe to help me begin to work through using 30 pounds of frozen mixed vegetables that I bought for just $16.50.  Here's a link to that story!

This was the first dish I made from my epic vegetable haul.  It is super easy, goes together in just minutes, and is both filling and versatile.

Mixed Vegetable Brown Rice Casserole


 2-3 Tbsp water
1/2 medium onion - diced
2 cloves garlic - minced
5 cups zucchini - chopped into small cubes
4 cups mixed frozen vegetables
1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp Bragg's aminos
4 cups cooked brown rice 


Add water, onion, and garlic to the bottom of a large skillet.  Cook on medium heat until the onion and garlic are softened.  Stir in onion powder, garlic powder, and Braggs aminos.  Stir in zucchini and frozen vegetables.  Stir everything together and reduce heat, stirring every few minutes.  The vegetables should be cooked through in 15 minutes.  Pour over cooked rice, stir, and serve.  

That's it!  It is so easy and seriously delicious! 

Click here for a downloadable version of the recipe as a PDF.  


Do all to the glory of God, 


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

My Kroger update and a video!!

Kroger has become one of my new favorite places to shop.  I had become pretty lazy, mainly shopping at SAMS, where I could get vast amounts of food, walk out, and  hopefully not see the inside of a store again for a couple of weeks.  This method of shopping may be expedient, but it's not really that helpful when you have a tight budget.  It's no wonder that I was constantly running low on grocery money for the last 10 days of every month!

Then came my big June food budget challenge!  I counted every penny and was really diligent to time my shopping trips to coincide with when employees did the store markdowns in the produce department at Kroger.  It paid some great dividends as I saved a ton of money each week.  I got to the end of June with money to spare, which was pretty amazing, given the fact that I had cut my food budget to just $320 to feed a family of seven for the entire month!  Needless to say, even after the challenge ended, Kroger has remained near the top of my store choices.   

  Here's a look at my current "Krogering". 

Kroger Gas Points

You, my amazing readers, gave me the low down on the Kroger gas program.  Thanks so much!

In case you are not aware of the details:

  • Gas points are loaded on your card based on how much you spend.
  • For every dollar you spend, 1 gas point is loaded on your Kroger loyalty card.  
  • Every 100 points get you a $.10 discount per gallon on gas at the Kroger filing station.
  • Watch the weekly Kroger flyer for special offers on gas points!  Last month you got double points when you shopped on a Friday or Saturday.  Special offers change periodically.  So, pay attention to that sales flyer.  
  • If you sign up on-line, Kroger will send you an e-mail when the new flyer is available.  
  • Kroger sales change to the newest flyer at midnight on Tuesdays.  Then, the current ads are in force until the following Tuesday at midnight.   
  • The goal is to collect as many points as you can in any given month.  
  • You only get 30 days to spend any gas points collected during the previous month.  
  • You can only use the points once.  Once you spend them, they are gone.  
  • You can check your points balance on-line when you sign up at  

Here's my personal Kroger gas update!  We got over 300 points last month. That's $.30 off per gallon!


Personalized Coupons

I've been telling you recently that using your Kroger store loyalty card can yield big dividends.  Kroger pays attention to what you buy.  Yes, they use that magic store loyalty card to do the tracking.  In return, they periodically send you high value coupons based on what you have bought in the past.

Whew hoo!  This envelope of Kroger coupons arrived in my mailbox today!

 I had no idea what was in the envelope and decided to open it on a "live" video.  Yes, I created a Youtube Channel for Under the Median! 

Here's the link to the video on my customized Kroger coupons.

Your Feedback:

It would be super helpful if you would watch the video and give me your thoughts.   I've been a public speaker all of my adult life.  But, this whole Youtube thing is new territory for me.  I've already figured out that my husband needs to set up an external mic for me.  It's so handy to have a hubby who worked in television and audio/visual for several decades! 😀

 So, give me your thoughts.  What topics would be most helpful to you?  What would you like to see me do a video about?  I'd be game to have you send me your questions on children, money, budgeting, etc.  Then, I'd answer them on a video.  Let me know! Leave your comments below or send me your questions through the contact link on the blog! 

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Meal Planning for Health and Wealth!

Each week I show you my weekly CSA box and tell you what I'm going to do with the produce. Why? There is one simple reason!  

I want to show you how easy it is to plan a week's worth of meals around just $25 of fresh produce!  

By making produce as the backbone of your menu, you will save some serious money and provide your family with more nutrients and better health.  It's a win-win!  

It's Healthier


Shop the produce aisle, where you'll find items full of fiber and free from fat and cholesterol.  

 According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), a 2017 study showed that just 9 percent of American adults were consuming the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables, putting them at increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.  

 On his webite, Nutrition, Dr. Michael Greger, author of How Not to Die, less than 3% of Americans get even the minimum recommended daily intake of fiber.  Those who eat a plant based diet get triple the amount of the fiber of that consumed by the average American.   Meat, dairy, and eggs contain no fiber. 

In addition to providing fiber, which keeps the gut clean, plants also contain phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.  They reduce inflammation, are low in fat, and help you lose weight.

 It Saves You Money!



This blog isn't really about nutrition.  It's about encouraging families who live under the US national median.  It's about saving money and living lean.  

So, let me intrigue you with the idea that when you create your weekly menu plan around vegetables, whole grains, and beans rather than meat and dairy, not only will you'll be eating more of the healthy stuff that they AMA recommends, you'll also be saving money!

Even if you don't choose a vegetarian lifestyle, planning some "meat-lite" or meatless meals throughout the week, will save save money.  

In October of 2015 Money Magazine reported on a recent study, which concluded that vegetarians can save at least $750 more than meat-eaters per year.  These calculations were made using the USDA's recommended weekly menu plans.  

I don't know about you, but I think that's some serious money!

Don't have a CSA membership?  No problem!  

Take $25 bucks to your local farmer's market.  See what bargains you can score!  You can do the same thing at your local grocery store.  Hang out in the produce department and purchase items which are on sale.  Before you leave home, read  this article.  I give you six things do do before you head out the door.  The article tells you exactly what I do every single week.  These steps save me a TON of money and work like a charm!  Remember, I have a family of five and my monthly food budget, including our CSA membership totals just $450 dollars a month

Why not consider moving produce from the background into the foreground of your family's meals?   

Happy Eating!  


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Follow me on Facebook at: 
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Do all to the glory of God,