Friday, July 27, 2007

from NPR: more supermarkets selling local produce

To follow up on my previous post "number of farmers markets more than doubles", I'm posting a link to a great NPR segment I heard this morning. Their story, "Supermarkets Tout Fresh, Local Offerings," outlines how some large grocery chains are sourcing more of their produce locally, from smaller producers.

This is great news for everyone, and especially for people who don't live close to a farmers' market. I wonder what the cost difference is between local produce sold at grocery stores versus farmers' markets? I would bet that, on average, most produce at farmers' markets costs less per pound than what they're selling at the big stores. I hope stories like this can help more people consider their local greenmarket as a viable, economical alternative to grocery stores (at least for meat and produce), rather than just a quaint diversion during the summer months. For us, the local markets have been critical in helping us stay within our $60 per week grocery budget.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

helpful site for reviewing skin/cosmetic products

Stay-At-Home-Mom would like to pass along a great link for anyone concerned with the toxicity of everyday skin care products and cosmetics. The Skin Deep database is a safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products brought to you by researchers at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization.

According to their site, "Skin Deep pairs ingredients in nearly 25,000 products against 50 definitive toxicity and regulatory databases, making it the largest integrated data resource of its kind."

This isn't exactly a resource specific to single-income families, but the information contained in this database will definitely help you evaluate whether or not you should be using certain products, which could save you money.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

the cost of staying home? $1 million, but don't worry - it's worth it

Good morning. MSN Money recently posted a fairly balanced article about the economic costs of being a stay at home mom. Here's an excerpt:

Now, can you afford this? Your initial response, and the response of many two-income couples, might be no. But two incomes can be deceiving. You earn more, but you also probably spend more. When you look at what many SAHM Web sites call “the cost of work” -- what you pay in travel, wardrobe and eating out more frequently, plus the cost of child care -- your salary may not be the big asset you thought it was. Add to that the fact that your income is taxed at a higher rate thanks to that marriage penalty, and you might be dismayed to see what your second income (or his, if it's the smaller one) boils down to.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

number of farmers markets more than doubles

A friend recently told me that the present number of farmers markets in the US is more than double the number in the early 1990s. I did a brief search and found a great chart from the USDA detailing the growth of markets from 1994 to 2006. It's quite impressive. I was at our local market this morning and it was absolutely packed, so the growth is definitely believable.

This trend is very reassuring. Once you've started shopping at the farmer's market, it's hard to imagine buying meat and produce from anywhere else - at least during the summer.

The USDA site also has page where you can find a market in your state and city.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

recipe: steamed potatoes with butter and green onions

This is so easy it's a joke.


  • 2 pounds of baby potatoes (yukon gold or red)
  • 4 green onions (or 3 spring onions), thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp quality butter
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper

1. Wash potatoes and, using a steamer insert or other contraption, steam them in a large pot for 8-10 minutes until tender (don't overcook, they should still be firm and the skins intact).

2. Drain potatoes and place in the now empty/dry pot. Slice them in half and toss with the butter to evenly coat each piece of potato. Mix in the green onions and salt/pepper. Serve hot, luke warm or room temperature.

*They reheat well, so feel free to make enough to have leftovers.

*No recipe source? Nope. This is a HOUSEKEPT original, sucka. Who cares if it only contains 3 ingredients? I don't. And you'll love us for it.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

a week of cheap meals: friday, saturday

Well, the week ended and overall I feel pretty good about what we ate and how much it cost. On Friday I intended to use the baby yukon gold potatoes we bought as a side for a simple meal of boiled bratwurst and salad, but the week proved exhausting for the whole family, so I caved in and bought two monster burritos from the street vendor who often parks his mobile burrito kitchen about two blocks from my house. They were friggin' good, but his prices have gone up (from $6 to $7 for one burrito). I guess you pay for convenience.

As expected, we cooked the brats and potatoes this afternoon for an early dinner. I still had three spring onions left, so I steamed the potatoes whole and tossed them with butter and sliced onions. I'll post the recipe asap.

Friday, June 29, 2007

recipe: spaghetti with tomatoes, chives and basil

*Serves 4 (dinner portions) or 8 (first course portions)
*I copied this recipe from
Mario Batali's "The Babbo Cookbook."


  • kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds small tomatoes (the best you can find in season)
  • 1 bunch chives, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 bunch basil leaves, finely shredded with a knife
  • black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 2 pounds spaghetti
  • optional: leftover zucchini or other summer vegetables

1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

2. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Lower the heat to medium-high and add the garlic cloves. Cook for 2 minutes, or until softened and slightly browned. Add the tomatoes, chives and basil and cook over high heat until the tomatoes are just beginning to burst. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in the boiling water according to package directions until it is tender yet al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the tomatoes. Toss over high heat for 1 minute, then divide evenly among four warmed pasta bowls and serve immediately.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

a week of cheap meals: wednesday, thursday

Pasta offers another simple way for single income families to eat well. While the traditionally American "spaghetti with jarred tomato sauce and hamburger" is tasty enough, and very inexpensive, pasta also can be a great vehicle for leftovers or random vegetables hiding around the kitchen. Despite the recent trend away from pasta and other "high carb" foods, it's important to remember that dried pasta, in moderation, is a cost-effective way to eat well on a tight budget. This makes sense, as the Italian countryside is not a particularly wealthy place - people eat pasta because it is inexpensive, has a long shelf life, can be used with an infinite number of sauces and, least important, it tastes great.

For dinner on Wednesday, I cooked a simple spaghetti recipe starring the tomatoes we purchased at the farmer's market, some leftover grilled zucchini and herbs from the garden. The end result was a super-cheap meal for two, with ample leftovers to serve as dinner on Thursday.

I'll post the recipe shortly.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

a week of cheap meals: tuesday

With the chicken totally gone, we chose to cook the pork steaks on Tuesday. To be honest, I haven't cooked this cut of pork before, but I was eager to try it given its very low cost - we bought three for $6.00 at the farmer's market.

Regrettably, the recipe we used did not turn out as delicious as I had hoped. A few months ago Mark Bittman, who I trust and respect as a food writer and recipe author, featured a recipe for pork steaks braised in red wine. The recipe was so simple there didn't appear to be much room for error; however, the meat was bland and the sauce was overly acidic. For that reason I won't post the recipe here. It was a bummer, but we choked it down for the sake of our budget... Next time I'll try steaks from a another producer and use a different recipe.

a week of cheap meals: monday

Since only two members of our family eat solid food at this point, we decided to use the leftover chicken to make a dinner salad topped with sliced grilled chicken. It's essentially the same salad and dressing as the previously posted green salad with egg and bacon, except with chicken. Feel free to top it with other goodies, such as olives, capers, cheese, pickled peppers or anything else you have around.

We typically eat a salad like this once per week, as a way to stretch the budget and use any leftovers well suited to salad. At first glance, many people (especially men) don't consider a salad to be an adequate meal, but with the right amount of tasty protein, it can be very delicious, filling and healthy. Such salads have the added benefit of requiring zero cooking, so you don't have to heat up your kitchen on warm summer nights or hot afternoons.

Monday, June 25, 2007

recipe: charcoal grilled chicken alla diavola

*Serves 4
*This is an easy recipe to make, but since you have to brine the chicken, I recommend making it for an early weekend dinner.

Before lighting coals, make sure that the grill is cleaned of residual ash from previous use; if left in the bottom, residual ash catches fat drippings and causes flare-ups that can singe the chicken. For this recipe, we prefer the even, slower heat generated by charcoal briquettes over faster-burning hardwood charcoal.

Chicken and Brine:

  • 2 medium garlic heads
  • 3 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 whole chicken (3-4 pounds), butterflied and pounded (see below)
Garlic-Pepper Oil
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • vegetable oil for grill grate
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for garnish
Use kitchen shears to cut through bones on either side of backbone, then remove and discard backbone. Flip chicken over and use heel of your hand to flatten breastbone. Cover chicken with paper towels to protect skin, then pound flat using meat pounder or rubber mallet.

*Note: This may seem tedious the first time you do it, but you'll get much quicker after making this recipe a few times.

Combine garlic heads, bay leaves, and salt in gallon-size zipper lock bag; press out air and seal bag. Using rubber mallet or meat pounder, pound mixture until garlic cloves are crushed; transfer mixture to large container or stockpot and stir in 2 quarts cold water until salt is dissolved. Immerse chicken in brine and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 2 hours.

While chicken is brining, heat garlic, black pepper, pepper flakes, and oil in small saucepan over medium heat until garlic is fragrant and sizzling and mixture registers about 200 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, about 40 minutes. Measure 2 tablespoons garlic-pepper oil into 2 small bowls and set aside.

Remove chicken from brine and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Loosen the skin around the breast and thighs. Apply two tablespoons of the pepper oil underneath the loosened skin.

Ignite about 6 quarts (1 large chimney, or about 6 pounds) charcoal briquettes and burn until covered with thin coating of light gray ash, about 20 minutes. Empty coals into grill and bank half of coals on either side of grill, leaving midsection of grill free of coals. Position grill grate over coals, cover grill, and heat grate until hot, about 5 minutes; scrape grate clean with grill brush. Lightly dip small wad paper towels in vegetable oil; holding wad with tongs, wipe grill grate. Position chicken skin-side down on grill grate over area with no coals; cover grill and fully open lid vents.

Cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 170 to 175 degrees, 30 to 45 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board; let rest 10 minutes. Carve chicken into four pieces, drizzle with remaining pepper oil and garnish with lemon wedges.
*For a quick side, place some fresh vegetables over the coal banks on each side of the grill during last 10 minutes of cooking.
*This recipe appeared in its entirety in the July/August 2003 issue of Cooks Illustrated

Sunday, June 24, 2007

a week of cheap meals: sunday

Inspired by the pile of produce and fresh meat we brought home from the farmer's market, I decided to put our $32 worth to the test. Could we eat for an entire week using what we purchased, plus a few pantry items? I believe so. The next several posts document exactly what we ate on each particular day of the week, and how we prepared it.

We tend to cook our biggest meal of the on this day, so I decided to put the chicken and zucchini on the grill, Italian style.

What we ate/drank:

Chicken alla Diavola (spicy devil chicken)
You're really missing out if you haven't ever grilled a whole chicken before. It's such a bargain, the meat stays incredibly moist and you can use the leftover scraps to top a green salad or to make chicken salad. Also, you can use the carcass to make delicious chicken stock. Recipe to follow....

Grilled Baby Zucchini
This is too friggin' good and easy. Just slice them length wise (1/2 inch slices), brush with olive oil and grill until lightly charred...

You can warm this up on the grill.

Red Wine

Have you heard of Tisdale? This stuff is a godsend. At about $2.50 per bottle, you'd think it'd be dumpster juice, but this stuff is actually palatable. When asked to guess how much Tisdale costs after tasting it, several of our friends thought it was worth perhaps 8 or 10 dollars. Strange enough, the Tisdale winemakers don't have a web site that I can find, but a quick Google search did pull a few online wine shop sites that sell it. The cabernet is particularly good.

We intended to have strawberries with whip cream for dessert, but we decided to save it for later in the week... Stay tuned for recipes from the week.

recipe: green salad with egg and bacon

We were starving upon returning home from the market, so I made one of my favorite salads with some the the items we purchased. Eating a "main course" salad is an excellent way to eat healthy and save money, and this one makes a great weekend lunch or a light dinner.


  • 2 eggs
  • 4 strips of bacon (or 4-6 oz slab bacon)
  • lettuce
  • parmesan cheese (or any other firm white cheese)
  • olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove
  • coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • pepper

Wash, trim and tear the lettuce into small pieces. Dice the bacon into small pieces and fry in a small nonstick frying pan until crisp - place bacon in a small bowl and wipe out pan.

While bacon is cooking, make the dressing:
Smash the garlic clove with your hand or a chef's knife and place in a small cup/bowl. Add one ounce of red wine vinegar and set aside for 15-30 minutes. Then add 1 teaspoon mustard and whisk vigorously. Then slowly drizzle olive oil into vinegar (while whisking quickly) until desired consistence/taste is achieved. Set aside.

Fry the eggs:
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. Crack both eggs into the pan and fry until the whites are cooked, but the yolks are still runny. Remove pan from heat.

Assemble the salad:

Divide the greens evenly between two dinner plates. Drizzle some dressing on each salad and use two forks to toss (important). Top each plate with bacon pieces and one egg. Crack pepper and sprinkle salt over each salad. Using a vegetable peeler, shave a little bit of cheese over each plate. Eat.

*Makes 2 servings
*Serve with a glass of red wine and bread for a complete meal.

a trip to the market

Where we live, prime season for Farmer's market shoppping begins in about mid-May and ends in late September. You can shop there year around, but the shopping during the fall/winter is typically limited to meat, cheese, eggs, squash, potatoes and onions. We visited the market this morning and were pleased to see so many delicious vegetables and other products at a relatively low cost. Since implementing our new grocery budget ($60.00 per week), we've aimed to spend about $20-$30 at the farmers market, and spend the remaining cash at the grocery store for milk, dry goods and other less perishable items. We were out of town last weekend, so we spent the entire budget at the supermarket.

Today's trip was fairly typical. Before leaving the house, I spent a few minutes trying to plan out our meals for the week, which makes shopping at the market a little easier (it's tempting to buy too much, since it all looks so fresh and good). With $40 cash in hand, we purchased the following (see picture):

  • 4 lb free-range chicken ($8.86)
  • 3 sirloin pork steaks ($6.16)
  • dozen eggs ($3.00)
  • 1# baby zucchini/squash ($2.00)
  • 1 bunch spring onions ($1.00)
  • huge bag of mixed lettuce ($2.00)
  • 1# plum tomatoes ($3.00)
  • 3# baby yukon gold potatoes ($3.00)
  • 1# strawberries ($4.00)
Total cost: $32.02

Now, I haven't yet done an empirical price comparison of farmer's market produce vs. the supermarket, but many of the farmer's market products are obviously a better deal. If money were no object, I would prefer to buy organic/natural/free range products exclusively, but at the supermarket this is typically cost-prohibitive. That said, I feel such products are a for the most part a better deal at the farmer's market, and there's the added benefit of buying from local producers (rather than agribusiness).

The main challenge to shopping/eating this way is you have less choice and unpredictable supply, so you have to be willing to create meals based on what's available, rather than what, exactly, you prefer or want to cook. I prefer this approach because I have to make less decisions about what to buy - they're made for me by the season and growing conditions. This takes a while to get used to, but I believe it's the most practical/frugal way to cook, especially for the single-income family, and your family learns more about where food comes from and when.

The best example of a good deal at the farmer's market is chicken. The fresh, free-range bird I bought today was killed just a few days ago and it cost about $2.25 per pound for a total cost of $8.86. By contrast, I saw an organic free range chicken at the supermarket last week for $18.00 ($4.50 per pound!). This represents exactly double the cost of the farmer's market chicken. Enough said. I'll be back again next week - it's a no-brainer.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

recipe: corn chowder


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced6 shallots (or 1 small onion), chopped
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, roasted (over a stove flame), peeled, seeded and minced
  • 2 cups chicken stock (if not homemade, use Swanson organic)
  • 6 cups corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups cream
  • chopped cilantro (for garnish)
  • sour cream (for garnish)
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and saute the garlic and shallots until tender. Stir in the jalapeno pepper and cook a minute longer.

Add the stock and corn to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Using a potato masher, mash the soup to soften and break up the corn mixture. Season with salt and add the cream. Reheat thoroughly but do not allow the soup to come to a boil. Serve hot topped with cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.

*makes 4 dinner servings
*for a complete meal, serve with good bread and a simple green salad vinagrette

Martha Stewart Living Cookbook

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

shopping update: actual cost of groceries

We just returned from the store and I am pleased to report that we actually spent less on our groceries than predicted. The following table shows the estimated cost of each item (from my last post) next to the actual price. Note: We omitted the cherries since they now seem to be out of season and were cost prohibitive.


est. cost

actual cost

head of lettuce






eggs (2 dozen)



limes (2)



garlic (1 head)



bananas (6)



shallots (5)












milk (gallon)



sour cream



natural peanut butter



sandwich bread (2)



baguettes (2)



Total cost



We also purchased a few additional items:

tortilla chips


greek olives




This brings our adjusted total cost to $47.66, which is well below our allotted $60. This is good news, as I'd like to swing by the farmer's market for a few items this weekend.

Honestly, I was a bit worried about hitting our budget, but our experience today leaves me further convinced that you (whether a single-income family or not) can make wholesome, nutritious dinners on a tight budget.

That's all for now. I'm going to celebrate our sensible grocery run by making the corn chowder I mentioned last night. I'll post the recipe and some pictures later tonight.

Monday, June 18, 2007

the challenge: one week of groceries for $60 or less

Tomorrow we're due for a small trip to the grocery store. I've put together a short list of items that, in combination with what's already in our pantry and fridge, should get us through the week. As mentioned in an earlier post, our grocery budget is $60.00 per week for our family of three. Even though our baby is only weeks old and doesn't eat solid food, I still count her because the breast milk she eats is a result of the same grocery budget. While we've been on this budget for a few weeks, the new baby hasn't allowed for much of a routine (and Stay-At-Home Mom just stopped receiving paychecks). As a result, we haven't exactly made sure we're eating within budget until now. I hope to keep closer tabs on this as the weeks pass.

Since I can't accurately list the cost of each item on the grocery list, I've taken a good guess and will post the actual costs when I return tomorrow. Should be a good test of cost estimation and perceived value....

head of lettuce - $2
mushrooms - $2
eggs (2 dozen) - $4
limes (2) - $1
garlic (1 head) - $.50
bananas (6) - $1.50
cherries (1 #) - $4.00
shallots (5) - $2.00
cilantro - $1.00
celery - $1.50
tortillas - $2.00
milk (gallon) - $4.00
sour cream - $2.00
natural peanut butter - $4.00
sandwich bread (2 loaves) - $4.00
baguettes (2) - $4.00

Total: $39.50

I'm hoping to make three big meals this week, with enough leftovers to cover most of the week's lunches and dinners. Here's what I'm planning to cook:

  • white corn chowder (2 dinners)
  • ground turkey burritos (2 dinners)
  • egg salad sandwiches (3 lunches)
I'll post the recipes as I make each meal. Stay tuned.

save money: ride a bike

Riding bicycles is an easy way for the single-income family to save money. Lately I've been trying to learn more about fixed gear cycling, and I came across an interesting blog by a bike shop called Cars R' Coffins, which featured a great post and pictures about moving your household possesions without the use of gasoline or motors.....

Here's a photo from the Cars R' Coffins blog:


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

grow your food

Given our new, poorer existence, I promised myself I would try to grow a small vegetable patch to supplement our produce supply and reduce grocery spending for at least one month (likely August). I've wanted to do this for some time, but haven't been able to make it a habit, which seems to be the key.

Coincidentally, we received a $25 gift certificate to a local greenhouse, so I decided to dedicate all of it to seedling vegetable plants. Starting your own plants from seed is definitely the most cost effective way to garden, but since I know next to nothing about gardening I thought it would be smart to start with some healthy plants grown under expert care.

As is, the space I have set aside for vegetables isn't much, but if this goes well, I'd like to expand the operation and include a wider variety of plants and a more graduated harvest. Rather than have too many vegetables in August, I've heard it's possible to plant different things at times, which results in a more steady supply of produce over a longer period.

Anyhoo, here's what I decided to plant:

(2) "beefmaster" tomato
(2) japanese eggplant
(6) sweet banana pepper
(1) hot red chile
(1) butternut squash
(1) rosemary
(1) mint
(1) basil

In addition to the new plants, I also have an existing chive patch and a small head of rhubarb. And I intended to have some lettuces, but the greenhouse didn't have any. Maybe I'll find some elsewhere... I also should mention that I tried to plant things that tend to be expensive at the grocery store - I'd rather not waste time with potatoes, onions, etc. since they usually cost less than $2 per pound.

Like I said before, it's not much, but I'm hoping the crop will help with a few meals, and, more importantly, inspire me to crank it up next spring. I'll keep adding pictures and updates as things progress, as well as some recipes from the resulting meals. So far so good. In fact, my red chile plant just sprouted a few tiny pepper/bud things (they come out of the flowers)...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

all-nighters: part trois

In all honesty, I have really enjoyed certain aspects of cosleeping with our baby. It is wonderful to see your child sleeping softly right next to you, particularly first thing in the morning. Moreover, it is also very convenient for nursing and other matters of comfort. However, as a tall/large individual, the thought of rolling over my child is certainly top of mind. And, since the baby is laying between you and your spouse, it eliminates and possibility of cuddling, etc.

To ease our worries, we decided to order an Arm's Reach Co-sleeper. It's essentially a mini-bassinet that attaches to your bed and allows for all the advantages of co-sleeping without the worry (even if there isn't a risk, depending on what you believe).

We've been using this product for several days now, and I must say, it's given us convenience and piece of mind. We ordered one online for about $120.00 and I think it's well worth the price, which seems quite competitive for a high-quality new bassinet.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

update: gas prices ruin budget min-vacation

I found two provocative pieces of recent commentary regarding petroleum:

"How to Win the Energy War" is an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times on May 23.

And, I'm not familiar with the website, but I found this column about the relative cost of gasoline at different points in the 20th century at

Please let us know if you've read anything provocative on the subject.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

gas prices ruin budget min-vacation

I can't resist. To celebrate Memorial Day weekend, I have to add one post to the maelstrom of observation, speculation and general complaint regarding the current price of gasoline. Last Friday we made our first trip with the baby to grandma and grandpa's cabin in the north woods. We haven't made the trip in some time, and I hadn't thought much about the cost of driving up there until recently, when we outlined our new budget. I was shocked. Rapidly rising gas prices are quickly eroding the traditional expectation that a family could spend very little money on a short road trip.

at the cabin

Case in point: Round trip, travel to the cabin runs about 540 miles or about nine hours, and our semi-efficient vehicle needs about two tanks to complete the trip. Prior to departure we filled up in the city for $3.13 per gallon; a total of $32 to fill the tank of our four cylinder Japanese sedan.Factor in the inflated cost to fill the tank up north, which on Friday equaled $3.29 per gallon ($46 per tank), and our total gas expenditure was roughly $78 for round trip travel. Prior to the summer of 2006, we could buy a full tank for about $28, ($56 for a round trip to the cabin) so the current price of gas represents a 21% cost increase....

Now, let's assume gas prices do, in fact, hit $3.90 ($54.60 per tank) in the city, as many analysts are predicting. The total round trip cost then exceeds $109 and represents a 49% climb from 2005 prices.

The point? It's depressing to think that at some point we may have to limit the number of times we visit the cabin, as fuel for our seemingly cheap getaway may become cost prohibitive. On the other hand, the scenario described may require us to more consciously consider carpooling with family, which is perhaps the most sensible way to travel, regardless of the price at the pump.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

from Stay-At-Home Mom

As mentioned in our first post, this is a co-blog - we're hoping to provide a male and female perspective on single income and stay at home parenting. I expect Mom to post more in the future, but for the time being she's simply too busy feeding the baby and transitioning into her new role to post anything of real value; however, she does send a friendly "hello."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

easy: homemade granola

As promised, here's an excellent granola recipe from Jonni McCoy's "Miserly Meals" cookbook (see books on right). We've tried several different recipes, including a fairly good one from Mark Bittman, but this version has the right amount of sweetness for us. It tastes very good with plain yogurt and will keep indefinitely if refrigerated in an air-tight container.

Once you try it you'll be appalled that grocery stores and co-op's charge so much for boxed or bulk granola....

not just for hippies

5 C. rolled oats
3/4 C. brown sugar
1/3 C. concentrated apple juice
1/2 C. nonfat dry milk
1/3 C. honey
2 T. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. dried fruit
1 C. nuts (almonds, pecans, etc.)

Mix sugar, juice, dry milk and honey in saucepan and heat over medium heat only until sugar dissolves. Combine dry ingredients and fruit in mixing bowl. Pour sugar mixture slowly over dry mixture and blend well. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Options: Be creative by adding peanuts, sunflower seeds, coconut, sesame seeds, peanut butter, or whatever else your family enjoys.

Cost analysis (1 pound): homemade = $1.00 Store-bought = $2.39 or more

p.s. Speaking of Mark Bittman, I saw this article yesterday on NYT online. I'll bet one could eat very well in Istria on $60 dollars per week. Too bad it costs more than sixty bucks to get there...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

it's what's for dinner

Last night was good. We fed the baby regularly during the day and she let us sleep during two lengthy periods: 12-3 and 4-7. As a result, my mind is working again and I feel strong enough to cook something for mom and baby. My mother-in-law (who is very sweet) deposited in our fridge, among other things, two well marbled steaks and a lovely wedge of blue cheese. To round it out, I found some fat asparagus leftover from the farmer's market and discovered a baguette in the freezer.

steak dinner

The menu:

first course

  • pan-seared steaks with chive butter
  • blanched asparagus with lemon and olive oil
second course
  • bread and blue cheese
dessert course
  • strawberries and yogurt

Lastly, upon reading my last post, Stay-At-Home Mom reminded me that we have also made the "Miserly Meals" recipe for granola. This is the best-tasting version I had yet, and it goes very well with plain, unsweetened yogurt... Recipe to follow.

Monday, May 14, 2007

all-nighters part deux

With some apprehension, we let the baby sleep between us from 2:30 am to 8:30 am. It was a vacation. The thought of doing it again tonight is very tempting, but I need to spend some more time reading about cosleeping before I rest easy (figuratively), as it seems to be very common despite what you may hear. Even our pediatrician, who cannot officially endorse the practice, alluded to the fact that it is safe if done correctly. Stay tuned for an update...


The whole situation leaves me very hungry, and for the single income family, the lack of sleep poses a nutritional challenge: to eat well on minimal sleep for minimal dollars. Our present budget provides the three of us with $60.00 per week, so ordering takeout is definitely out of the question. We typically cook most of our meals from scratch (or near-scratch), which requires a considerable amount of time and motivation but is ultimately the most cost effective option. Thankfully, our parents and friends have stuffed our refrigerator and freezer with all sorts of good, wholesome meals, and an ample supply of leftover pizza from a Mother's Day family gathering. These rations will likely keep us alive until Friday, when we must officially begin our more modest menu.

I like to cook, so I'm looking forward to the challenge. Rest assured. The best recipes will end up here.

p.s. In case you didn't see it, the "Miserly Meals" book featured on the link to the right is an excellent resource for cooking healthy meals on a budget, including many meals you can make for less than 75 cents per serving. So far, we've only made the hummus recipe, but it tasted great...

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Side note - This is a co-blog, so moving forward, any content posted by me will have a "Working Dad" tag and anything posted by my wife will have a "Stay-At-Home Mom" tag.

OK, the main point? I'm presently laying in bed realizing how frustrating it is to be forced to stay up all night. Trying to calm, swaddle and feed your baby until 4 is not the same deal as sipping pints at the 'ol watering hole. It's a raw deal.

I'm guessing that most parents (at least in the US), regardless of lifestyle, face a dilemna about whether to cosleep with their infant. Personally, I'm too tired to decide right now, but an article I just read in Mothering Magazine has nearly convinced me that cosleeping safely is perhaps the best thing for my daughter, who has just fallen asleep on our bed.

I'll let you know how it turns out in the morning...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

numero uno

Let's start from the beginning. A short while ago we decided it was time to start a family. We were both working and recently move into our first home. After a quick assessment we laid the groundwork in early 2006. Upon becoming pregnant, several questions became clear: Will we have enough money? Who will take care of our child? Why is everything so expensive?

congratulations, it's a girl

Following our newfound parental instincts, we decided it would be best - for us - to live off one income. The benefits were clear: more time with child, more time with spouse, less work-related stress. The drawbacks were daunting, but not inhospitable: less money (much less), massive lifestyle overhaul (as a result of drawback number 1).

One year has passed since that time, and our daughter only recently arrived. We're not living off one income yet, but the July 1 deadline is fast approaching. Therein lies the purpose of this blog. To document the experience and hopefully, share one approach to living in this way.

Are you raising a family with only one breadwinner?

Are you thinking about starting a family on one income?

Have you raised a family on one income?

Let us know what you're thinking, or if you have any advice. We need it.