Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saturday Pantry Suggestions

I thought I'd answer two recent questions this Saturday.  The first one is...

What kind of pasta do you like and how can you eat it as a diabetic?

Over the years I have learned what is good for diabetics can also be healthier for the general population and by eating healthier, it may keep you from developing Type 2 diabetes.

I like the main brands like Barilla and De Cecco.  Pasta is one of the few places in the food budget that I prefer sticking to name brands instead of store brands only because I'm diabetic.  They can often be purchased on sale.

I also like to use whole wheat pasta in dishes that can handle the density.  I use whole wheat angel hair pasta and whole wheat rotini.  The more fiber, the better your blood sugar levels.

I purchase a favorite (local) brand of Amish dried noodles at Target.  I've also used Kluski type egg noodles (Pennsylvania Dutch is one brand).  The types of noodle are sturdier than others.

One of the first things I learned when going through diabetic nutrition classes at the Henry Ford Hospital (when we lived in Detroit) was that there are no foods a diabetic cannot eat.  It all depends on serving size, how a food is cooked, and what it is eaten with. (They suggested choosing one day a week to have your favorite dessert after a full meal so you don't feel deprived.)

For instance, it is not only good for diabetics to eat protein and carbs at the same time but it good for everyone.  This combination is so important that every nutritionist I've had since developing Type 1 diabetes has stressed the importance of combining the two at snacks as well as meals.

Then there is the way food is cooked.  Your pasta should only be cooked Al Dente, which literally means "to the tooth". It is that stage between the pasta being hard and squishy (a technical term, of course).

Pasta that is overcooked will hit the body in the same way as pure sugar (or a slice of white bread).  If I'm going to use the pasta in a casserole, I remove it from boiling water when it is a little undercooked.  If I'm serving it immediately, I remove it from the water at that point it is just ready to eat.

Sometimes I do what the Italians suggest... I remove it from the boiling water undercooked and immediately add it to the sauce in the skillet to finish cooking a few minutes.  Which means I have to keep an eye on it more than I used to when cooking pasta.

Serving size is also important and for a diabetic, it depends on how many carbs your nutritionist allows at each meal.  But diabetics and dieters alike benefit from pasta meals where we use a small amount of pasta but load it up with veggies... whether they are added raw to a veggie salad or loaded up in pasta sauce (if using store bought sauce, add an equal amount of canned tomatoes when cooking to lower sugar intake).

When I started serving pasta this way, I found I actually liked it better than a big plate of pasta with just sauce.

How do you budget on such a low income?

I've written about this before in some of my past posts about Stocking Up, Deepening the Pantry, and Recession Pondering.

The hardest part was when I stopped working full time when my daughter was very young.  I went from having more money than time to more time than money... and it is a completely different way of thinking!

That is why... if you have had to suddenly be a very frugal cook (like in a job loss), you may have to develop not only new skills but a new way of thinking.  Don't feel bad, your world has changed and the way you shop is completely different.

First, every bill but one is paid as soon as our Social Security check comes in (even if the amount is taken out electronically later in the month, it gets put in the checkbook as if that money is not available already).  That is the only way we keep the house, the lights on, and our credit rating decent.  We also try to stay away from debt.  We don't have credit cards but we have had to take loans due to hospital stays. 

Second, we account for every penny except for financial gifts.  I mean every penny!  Hubby gets every receipt and he keeps track of where money is spent.  Both of us will use gift money (ie: Birthday and Christmas) for something we really want and/or need.

Third, speaking of gifts... when asked what we want for our birthday or Christmas, we ask for items we need (or our deepest heart's desire).  One of the things I asked Stephanie for when she asked what I wanted for my birthday was a container of Charlie's Soap!

Fourth, we don't spend often.  As I said before, we don't have a credit card (tried that... still paying for it) so if we don't have the money, we do without.  If we need anything, we shop Goodwill and thrift stores first.  It is absolutely amazing how many times I've been in town and had a nudge to stop by Goodwill... only to find what I need!

Fifth, we stay home a lot.  I know that isn't possible for everyone but staying home means less money spent at stores, for gas, for food, etc.

Sixth, we have accepted help when offered.  That was really hard for both of us but we have learned when someone has given to us or helped in any way, they are God's servant and His Proxy.   He had to teach me that when I don't accept what another offers, I am not only stopping His blessings to me but I am blocking their reward from Him!

Seventh, search for help to stretch your income.  In our case, we go to a few food pantries.  Hubby ended up being asked to be part of a new committee whose goal is to improve food pantries and the food given out (of course, he told them less processed foods and more fresh veggies when possible).  Hubby also works a couple weeks at the beginning and end of semesters at the bookstore on campus.

Eighth, include all the family in the budgeting process.  Little kids don't have to know you are about to lose the house but they certainly can pray about God's provision.  Christopher was four years old when he prayed for groceries (after the company my husband worked for was sold and jobs lost) and you know what?  That afternoon someone from church brought bags of groceries because they couldn't get us out of their mind... and they were not among our close friends!

Now that I look back, it was a very good thing that both our kids worked part-time during their high school and college years for their spending money (including their clothing).  Both are hard workers and have learned not to give up when the going gets rough.  I think that's the secret for Christopher's success in his college classes as well as his work (while battling severe allergies and ADHD).

Your attitude toward adversity WILL be the difference in how your kids see it.  If the family gets closer, prays together, sees God's provision, and works hard when they can... that will be worth more than anything you can purchase for them.

Ninth, learn how to "do it yourself".  I've talked about this over and over but you save a bundle when you do anything yourself (even if there is a learning curve).  I purchase mostly foods I can combine "from scratch".

If you are recently on an extremely tight budget, it takes time to switch from Cheerios to oatmeal but you do learn.

There are so many books available at the library and websites on the Internet that talk about frugal living.  I will continue to write on the subject.

(Added:  There are things you should NOT try yourself, also.  Like anything having to do with the electrical system in your house.:)

Tenth, and most important, learn to ask the Lord for your provision and then expect an answer.  It may come completely differently than you thought it would.  I wish I'd kept a list over the years of answered prayers.

I once had a person tell me it seemed like we had a lot of miracles in our life and I told them it was because we NEEDED a lot of miracles.  :)


TeresaAngelina said...

Wonderful! My little apartment pantry is beginning to shape up because of reading your words. (By the way, no doubt you've thought of this or others have suggested it...or maybe it is in the works have the makings of a very good and timely book here. Just a suggestion. Once read about a nun who was asked by her Superior to write a book to win prize money so their convent roof could be fixed. She did and won and the book has touched my heart for years. It is called "The Right to be Merry.") As for prayer...yes, He does so wonderfully provide! Was in a tight stop recently...just seeing the end of it...asked for help...and...overtime...buckets of overtime.

Anonymous said...

Oh Brenda! Such gooooood information!!!! Thank you so much. Some of this I have never heard or if I had no one explained it so I understood it completely. Thank you again for this. You have helped not just me but my whole family with this. Sarah

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

This is good information. My Dad is a diabetic - he keeps his blood sugar under control, also takes meds.

I learn from you all the time. I didn't know that about cooking the pasta and the way it hits your blood stream - good information for all of us! I am making ziti today so I will cook it al dente!

We have a wee bit of credit card debt and are paying it off. We are realizing that in this economy we do not have the discretionary spending money we had before. Good thing we know how to look to the Lord and that he has been leading us down a path of simplicity for several years.

Have a lovely weekend!

Front Porch Grace said...

Excellent advice. Thank you.

Vee said...

It was you! (Who told me about cooking pasta.) So I've been trying it...the to the tooth part is usually a minute, sometimes a little more than a minute, less than the regular time for cooking pasta. I pay close attention to that cooking time now as I don't want things being processed by the body as straight sugar. I'm so glad that you mentioned it again. Now to see if I remember...

mdoe37 said...

Perfect timing!! Just dumped the last couple of boxes of macaroni in the canister. :)

I Goodwill as well. I've had tremendous luck with clothes, especially the husband's XXLT shirts. You would have been so proud the other day. I was cruising through the housewares and . . . there. . . on the shelf. . . was a Butter Bell. I was looking for something neat and tidy for that goopy butter dish. $2.99 They are $24.95 + $7.99 shipping on the website. Sqweeee!!

Funny about what people think of Goodwill. I was skimming the shorts the other day and I looked up and spotted an acquaintance. I don't know if she was mortified to be seen there (they are tight for cash) or if she was mortified to see me there. She scooted out the door at the first possible moment. I've pulled many $35 shirt/jeans off the racks for $3. I can spend that savings better elsewhere I think. I don't think anyone notices that my Woolrich shirt didn't come from a "real" store.

Anonymous said...

Once again Brenda you have given some wise advice as only one who has lived in adversity can. My hubby and I had tight times in the beginning of our marriage so I can understand what you deal with on a weekly basis. Even though we are now stable financially, we live still live frugally...its where we feel comfortable. As you have said so often, you can have a very nice life with less.

Thanks for the pasta tips. I buy Barilla, but have never seen De Cecco so will have to look around. I do agree on the pasta, its the one thing I stick with brand names on.
Blessings, Marsha

janice15 said...

Thank you for sharing this information. My Mom is diabetic a little over border line and takes a pill now and I could possibly in the future become..I had gestational diabetes with two of my pregnancies. So now that I'm older I'm trying to lean what I can and do what I can. Happy Saturday with love Janice

Anonymous said...

Being my diabetes 2 is not under control yet, I am working on many parts of our eating. We mostly do not eat pasta or rice. We have given up potatoes, for now. One thing we use ocassionaly is buckwheat noodles (trying to avoid wheat too, so have to look hard to find the 100% buckwheat ones) and I have a yummy noodle salad for this one. We have experimented some using the spaghetti squash as a substitute too...several recipes to try out yet on that. We are trying to use sweet potatoes more. And you can use them anywhere you would white potatoes, including potato salad which is more tasty than you might think. Trying to use more Olive Oil, Grapeseed oil, and very seldom butter etc. You are right, eating protein alongside something dessert-wise does help. We are using Xylitol and Stevia more, a tiny bit of honey or maple syrup at times. Using the whole sugars in small amounts, like Turbinado and Coconut sugar. It is a constant battle, but we hope to loose enough eventually to be able to get off most of our meds and avoid insulin shots. Thanks for sharing things you have found that help!!

Anonymous said...

PS...if you have larger, more expensive stores like Kohls which just came to our small area, there are ways to shop there too. Example: $10 coupon came in mail, good for a couple weeks. Sale began at 3 PM. Happened to be in the store, as we figured we could at least get a pair or 2 of socks for that coupon...noticed that some very nice Croft and Barrow Men's shirts were on sale at $13.99 beginning at 3 PM...we waited and our total cost of that GOOD quality NEW shirt was with tax, only $4.26!! THAT beats Goodwill prices here!! So keep out a sharp eye and use sights like Moneysavingmom for sales others know are coming, etc...and you can do well, even at top notch stores, sometimes!!

Cheryl said...

Great post! Such helpful, practical tips!

And you have those gorgeous brown transfer ware pieces to prove your finesse (or perseverance) at the Goodwill store! :D

Judy said...

Brenda, you have such a sweet spirit in adversity. Gratitude to the Lord for His provision, and contentedness in a quiet life are marks of Christian maturity in your life.

I'm glad that you have been able to make quality pasta a priority for your health and pleasure. I am a fan of DeCecco pastas too.

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

Good post (as usual)!

I buy Barilla too even though we're not diabetic. It's frequently on sale and I've found it at the dollar store as well. We recently tried black bean pasta and that's quite good. We tried Ezekiel pasta and that was just...nasty!

Sharon said...

Great advice Brenda.As Steve and I are in the same situation as you and your husband I was happy to see that we both practice many of the same things.As I read this post I thought"Wow,she does many of the same things we do!"The life we live is not easy but God always provides(as humbling as that is sometimes). Thinking of you~Sharon Goemaere

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brenda (for answering my question!)