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Fresh Eyes on Food

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

I’m the oldest of five children, and growing up, my parents made fresh bread, homemade granola, cookies, and yoghurt, and most meals from scratch. My siblings and I were in on this jam, too. Part of our regular chore routine was preparing dinner for the family once a week. We had a kid friendly recipe book we could follow, and after a while, we had some recipes memorized, knowing where and how we could fudge the ingredient list to still have a tasty meal. Writing this blog post felt like a full circle moment, a coming home to something I learned and practiced long ago. Enjoy!


As we’ve looked over our spending these past few months, anticipating living off of one income, it seemed like our food costs might be a place where we could save some money, if we re-imagined our food purchasing habits, including where we shopped and how often we ate out. While we plan to remain Costco members, and there are some things we will continue to buy at Costco, way too often we’ve filled up our cart with more food than we could eat before it went bad, as well as items that were highly processed and nutritionally deficient (usually snacks or items for the boy’s lunches).


So the “fresh eyes” experiment that we are trying right now involves this two step process:

1) shop at Costco less and Aldi more (Aldi is a new to me grocery store that I am loving; they have a fine organic selection, quality food, and really cheap prices); and

2), prepare the majority of our meals at home.


I’m keenly aware that one of the reasons I/we can do this is because I’m not working a paid fulltime job, so I’m able to convert some of my time into such things as fresh, homemade apple sauce, apple butter, and apple fruit leather (a favorite in the boy’s lunches.) I’m able to transform my time into homemade bread and pizza (yes, I am still gluten free, and yes, it’s hard to resist an oven fresh pizza, and yes, despite all of this, it brings me great joy to feed my family and friends.) The hours at home get turned into enchiladas, chicken noodle soup, bean salads, veggie soups, homemade sauces and pesto with tomatoes and basil picked twenty feet from our kitchen, just out the front door.


The Instant Pot is constantly cooking beans, rice, and a variety of “set the timer and walk away” dishes. In this new life I am living, I embrace the task of making a massive batch of granola, six quarts of yogurt at a time, chocolate chip cookies for a lunchbox snack, and preparing meals to freeze so on some nights dinner can be easy peasy.


I joke with friends that I’ve become something of a “foodie,” though I’m hardly a gourmet!

Here is what has caught my attention: in some of my wonderings through the internet, I’m come across families of four who have claimed that they’ve been able to feed their family on $500 a month. I am slightly skeptical of this number, but these families are transparent about what they are eating, what it costs, and how they do it on a regular basis, even with both parents working. So it seems feasible.


Those of you who know me, know that I love playing games, love a good challenge, and that I have a solid competitive streak in me. “Fresh Eyes” on food means I am looking at the resources we have (less money and more time), with the needs we have (feed a family of four with healthy, nutritious food), and am actively exploring different ways to make that equation work. It’s a game, if you will, with a variety of variables and levers I get to pull and push to to shape the outcome.


Bringing “Fresh Eyes” to food has shifted us away from a “food on auto-pilot” life to a much more intentional and conscious relationship with our food, its preparation, its consumption, and the joy that this journey can bring us.


Apple preparation

Fruit leather drying out in the oven

Winter stash of applesauce

Winter stash of applesauce, continued!

Fresh pizza

Rich, veggie soup

Tomato sauce

Classic chocolate chip recipe

This is from a few months ago, and the blueberries are from our yard

Even granola for an army

Fresh salsa from the garden

Don’t even get me started on how much I like the Blackstone Grill!


A sampling of some of the foods we’ve been making….


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