I really enjoy cooking. I have had my share of "Oh my gosh, this is gross" dinner disasters, but I really enjoy being in the kitchen. When we had Gatlin I knew that I really wanted to make his food. I have issues with some of the ingredients listed on the back of the commercial baby foods. Equally troublesome is the color of some of the green foods, that aren't exactly green anymore. Anywho, I had a lot to learn as far as preparing baby food. It has really been a fun learning experience. Making Gatlin's food has introduced John and I to some new foods as well.
The process has been pretty simple and affordable. I make a month's worth of food at a time. I use ice cube trays to freeze the food, and then transfer them to ziploc baggies. (TIP: Run water over the sides of the ice tray to help the food slide out of the tray easily)
Here is a list of things we have made so far:
Avocados and Bananas
We started Gatlin on these two foods at around 5 1/2 months. They are the easiest to prepare and you can mash them up without having to use a food processor. You simply peel the banana and mash with a fork. (TIP: Don't use a food processor or you will end up with banana soup!) The same goes for the avocados, you cut around the pit and them just mash the "meat" with a fork. (TIP: Make sure the avocado is ripe enough, if not it will be difficult to mash)
Apples and Pears
You are basically making applesauce. You wash and peel the fruit and then add about an inch of water in a pot. Boil/steam the fruit until fork tender. Then just pulse a few times in a food processor. This past week I made baked apples. You wash and core the apple (leave the peel intact) , cut in half and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake face down in deep pan with an inch of water until tender, then pulse in processor or mash. This is one of Gatlin's favorites!
I buy the baby carrots already washed and peeled so you just dump them in a steamer basket (I use our rice cooker) until fork tender, then pulse a few times in a processor or mash.
This may be be Gatlin's overall favorite so far! You slice in half and pit, then steam in steamer basket. Then peel the skin and pulse in a processor or mash.
Puncture the skin of the potato and bake the whole potato at 350 degrees until the skin separates from the potato. Then just peel the skin and mash.
Peas and Green Beans
Since it was the middle of winter when we started this, I purchased frozen bags of these veggies. You cook according to the directions then pulse in processor.
One butternut squash goes a long, long way! You cut in half and scrape out the gunk. Then just place face down in one inch of water and bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until tender. Then just scrape from the skin and mash.
Over the last few weeks we started adding quinoa to Gatlin's meals. It is a great source of protein, iron and fiber. I make it in the rice cooker with double the water to the quinoa. I make enough for a week's time and just heat up for each meal.
Gatlin is really not sure about yogurt yet... I am not sure if it is a texture or flavor issue, but we buy plain natural yogurt in a 32 ounce tub. He doesn't mind it if it is mixed with fruit, so I have been sneaking it in that way. (Be sure to check with your doctor about when to introduce dairy)
A typical lunch or dinner meal for Gatlin is one cube of a vegetable, one cube of a fruit, a tablespoon of yogurt, and a tablespoon of quinoa. I typically end up mixing the vegetable with the quinoa and the yogurt with the fruit.
For breakfast Gatlin usually has either baked apples or fruit and yogurt. Sometimes if he gets fussy in the afternoon I will give him a cube of banana in his snack holder thing. (Not sure what it is called but it is basically a little net with a handle that teaches him to feed himself)
So far introducing solids has not been very challenging as far as what Gatlin will eat. My biggest challenge is getting Gatlin to pay attention to me... not the dog during meal time!
I mentioned before that I want to share our strategies for how I am able to stay home. I feel that if a mom has the desire to stay with her children she should be able to. I understand it is not always possible for every family, but I think it should be noted that it doesn't come without sacrifice and a dedication to a common goal.
The major way I have made staying at home even a possibility is by
cutting down our monthly bills. Over the last 6 months this is where we were able to trim some fat from our monthly bills.
We don't have it! It saved me $75 per month by canceling. We use Netflix and Hulu for our tv watching needs.
Cell Phones: -40
of the nature of John's job, an iPhone is almost a necessity.
Otherwise, I am pretty certain he may go insane from boredom without
music, sermons, and sports radio. So for me I knew that asking him to
get rid of his data plan was just plain mean! So I cancelled my iPhone.
Because I will be staying at home, most everything I need I will be able
to access on our home computers. I was not eligible for an upgrade, so
buying a phone was a challenge. I really wanted to keep the ability to
take pictures/video, and wanted a touch screen with a full qwerty
keyboard. Another feature that was important was bluetooth since my car
is bluetooth compatible. I ended up purchasing an AT&T Go Phone. It
was $99 and had all the features I wanted, minus the $25 per month data
plan (which is really more like $40 per month after taxes). I simply put
my sim card into the new phone. It is an LG Prime and so far I have
been very happy with my purchase.
Auto Insurance: -$25
we had paid off the Dodge with the selling of the Focus I was able to
drop our coverage to liability. This saved me $25 per month. John drives
the Dodge to and from work and really not much further, so the coverage
finally have paid off and kept our credit cards paid off! This was
probably one of our first victories. In the past we had used our credit
cards for either major life events (owing taxes, hospital bills, etc) or
for frivolous things (ski trip, phones, birthday gifts). Now we still
have one credit card, but it is only used for hotel reservations or
may not be a possibility for everyone to see immediate savings, but it
has helped us! Over the past year we purchased a new heating/air
conditioning unit and had our 1950s house re-insulated. The total cost
was a little over $5000, but the savings are awesome. Our first month
our electric bill went down $100! We probably would not have made this
big investment if our heater had not kicked the bucket, however, now
that is done I am very glad we made the investment!
we first canceled our cable we upped our internet. We felt that we
needed a faster speed so that John and I could simultaneously be online.
Since then we have come to our senses! We can save $20 per month if we
are online together (i.e. watching shows together) or one of us can do
something unrelated to media while the other is online (i.e. sewing,
cleaning, playing with our son). It was pretty much a no brainer! These
days the slowest high speed internet is plenty fast for us!
This is very exciting for us! Most of my college was paid for with scholarships, so paying mine off was not really that big of a feat. However, John's scholarships only helped pay for his first year. The rest was on him. So he had a pretty hefty student loan. When we decided that I was going to stay home with Gatlin, we starting using any extra money we had from my pay check to pay off bills. With the help of our tax refund we are happy to report that John's student loan is gone! Again some people go to more expensive colleges than we did, so this may be more of a challenge, however, we never made just the minimum payment. We always rounded up to the next hundred dollars for the entire duration of the loans.
had to purchase a new car right before the birth of Gatlin in July. We
had sold our Ford Focus in March and had been sharing our Dodge Caliber
ever since. Thus we had eliminated our monthly car payment. We were
planning to save enough cash to eventually purchase a new vehicle. Then
the transmission in our Dodge threatened to go out and I refused to pay
$4500 for a transmission in a car worth $5000! So we decided would drive
it until she died. Also, since there was the threat of the car dying, I
refused to be driving a car that could die at anytime while 9 months
pregnant. We bit the bullet and purchased a Chevy Malibu after several
LONG weeks of car shopping. Thus we now have a car payment and two cars
since the Dodge is still kicking! Our goal is to have the Malibu paid for by the end of 2013.
Learning to live not just within our means, but below our means has not been an overnight process. It has taken prayer and self evaluation to decide how God wants us to spend the money he gives us. However, it is a great feeling to know that we are very close to being debt free and we are prepared for emergencies with adequate savings.