Day Four: To Be Frugal, Healthy, or Happy…
A.K.A.: Making Donuts, Buying Donuts, and Skipping the Donuts
I mentioned that I am an optimist. But I am also a realist. Sometimes these two parts of me have to have a conversation together. It goes something like this:
OPTIMIST: No problem with these food allergies… I’ll just make donuts for the brunch on Sunday!
(My version of a donut recipe I found here.)
REALIST: We have a field trip on Friday, and a family thing on Saturday. You don’t have time to make donuts this weekend.
OPTIMIST: But I’m really really going to want donuts if everyone else is having them. And so will Little M.
REALIST: Then you’ll have to buy some.
OPTIMIST: Well, then, if my choices are no donuts, or buy donuts, I pick… BUY DONUTS!
“We’ve” had conversations about whether or not to make separate pastas for dinner (2 of the 5 of us are GF), whether to make or buy wheat bread for those who can, GF bread for those who can’t… the list goes on and on. And what
we I have realized is, sometimes you just can’t have it all. I can’t always make everything from scratch, but sometimes I can. I can’t always spend money on the ready-made allergy-free foods, but sometimes I can. Sometimes it is too stressful to try to be supermom and say “I can do it all.” Because, of course I can’t! (By the way, sometimes the answer for me is to go without, because I don’t really need donuts, and often an easier- and healthier- alternative is all I need… but you’re tracking with me, right?)
Over these 3 years I have gone from making everything from scratch (wheat and GF included), and cooking separate meals, to having everyone eat GF, and back again. I know have a “norm” for how I deal with most of these areas, but still, sometimes it comes down to, is it more important to be healthy, frugal or happy? Some weeks, the buying isnt’ an option due to the budget. Once in a while, I have to sacrifice the homemade for something from the store to keep my sanity (read: if momma ain’t happy…). Also, with a 6 year old who is GF, with older siblings who aren’t, I try to keep the “It’s not fair I can’t eat that and they can” to a minimum at home… it happens plenty of times out and about for her to learn how to deal with going without.
In general, my personal plan has come down to this:
I currently buy bread. Both GF and wheat. I am homeschooling an 8th grader, 4th grader, and 1st grader, I teach private piano lessons, run my home, chauffer for my kids’ activities, and belong to a homeschool co-op. Plus, we need just plain fun playdates, and I need break times. Bread is one area I finally decided was a compromise. I choose healthy and happy for bread.
We all eat the GF pasta. My non-GF daughter actually complained last week when I went for frugal and made two kinds of pasta… she wanted the “regular one” which is actually GF! I only have 4 burners on my stove (I refuse to cook in a microwave, although we have one) and taking up TWO burners for pasta drove me nuts… not to mention the two types cook different lengths of times, and we are all rather picky about wanting the pasta “just right”… none of that mush please! So for pasta we choose healthy and happy, and spend the extra, feeding everyone the more expensive GF pasta.
We no longer buy cereal. Being mostly dairy free (I do make homemade yogurt, which is well tolerated by my dairy-free peeps), rice milk can kill the grocery budget. So can cereal for that matter! For breakfast, I make homemade granola, muffins, waffles. I can make them with higher protein, no preservatives, no chemicals etc. It is much cheaper than buying these things, especially GF versions. We do all eat the same things. I no longer make two kinds of muffins, or waffles etc. This is slightly more expensive using my GF ingredients, but healthy and frugal win the day for breakfast. And really, homemade waffles and muffins and granola make me happy... I just have to plan ahead to make it less stressful. (Recipes coming soon!)
Obviously, happiness is a choice, and by “happy” I am referring to how much stress it puts on me to feed my family. I do really enjoy making healthy, homemade food for my family, but I have to be realistic, too. I make homemade food as often as possible. I work to plan ahead, bake and freeze so I’ll have things on hand. But sometimes, I have to stop and have the conversation… “Are we going for frugal, healthy, or happy today?”
What about you- how do you decide what to make, buy, or do without?
This is part of a 31 Days series on Less Stress in Allergy-Free Eating. To view a list of all the posts in the series you can go here. To subscribe to my posts via email, you can go to my homepage, and type in your email address in the box on the right-hand margin. To view the list of over 700 bloggers participating in this 31 Days blogging challenge go here!