There were so many great questions asked in the comments in my recent post How My Grocery Budget Works, that I felt the need to address them in a separate post. Here goes…

What is your dill pickle recipe?

Abbie-and-pickling-cukes I’ll post both this recipe, and our favorite Bread and Butter pickles recipes up within the next week! Both are cold-pack, refrigerator pickles and so easy to make. :)

(This pic is of Abbie last summer, with a bunch of our delicious pickling cucumbers from the garden)

Kelly had several questions:

First, do
you ever eat out (at restaurants, either with your husband or as a
family?) Fast food?

Yes, we do eat out sometimes. Fast food is a rarity and more of an emergency purchase, when we’re unexpectedly away from home for a long time and simply need something to tide us over and nothing else is available. We try as hard as we can to avoid it, and will sometimes just pop into a grocery store if we can, to get some healthier munchies instead, or plan ahead to bring snacks from home that travel well. But we do go out to nicer restaurants sometimes, for dates with my husband and once in a while with our kids or with family members for celebrations. This comes out of the Recreation portion of the budget, rather than our food budget.

When you eat at others homes, are you particular
about which items prepared you will eat (for example, if something is
pre-packaged or doesn’t fit within your daily eating system) or do you
eat everything (except things you have sensitivities to, obviously)?

When we are being graciously hosted by others, we will generally eat what is set before us, unless it is something that we are truly not able to eat (like a sensitivity). Our toddler can’t have wheat, for example, so we avoid that even when in another’s home. If asked, we will specify a few things that we can’t or prefer not to eat (non-kosher meats, wheat, a lot of sugar, etc.) but usually we just accept what we are given. For more of my thoughts on this, see this post on Eating Healthy in Social Situations.

Also, do you add extra to other categories when your produce expenses go down due to your garden producing?

I think I didn’t explain this very well in my post. When my produce expenses go down, my fruit/berry expenses go up. This is how I am able to purchase such a large amount of fresh fruit for freezing and canning every summer. Otherwise, it would totally bust my budget!

From EmilyOne thing I would love to hear more about is how you freeze/can/preserve your fruits, veggies, tomatoes.

Canned-pumpkin This question was repeated several times. Here are a few links to previous posts on this topic:
Pumpkin Canning
Canning Resources (this post links to the 4 books that I have used for the bulk of my preserving- not just canning, but also freezing and dehydrating as well)
Why I’ve been so busy

I will have to share more on this as I do it this summer. These posts give you just a little idea of what I do with the summer bounty. Truth is, I’ve only been canning and preserving these foods for a few years, and have only recently begun to feel really comfortable with the process. If you’re interested, I promise I’ll make it more of a blogging priority as I go along this year. :)

Erin asked: We are on a bi-weekly pay
schedule. How do you suggest I budget for bigger ticket items that I do
not purchase on a regular basis (such as 50 lbs. of wheat berries at
$40.45)? On weeks where I have to buy one of these items, I end up
having to skimp on the usual purchases and we eat a lot of beans and
rice for two weeks. :) Any suggestions?

I totally understand where you’re coming from, because I used to have to do that with my budget as well. What changed is that we’ve put ourselves on the You Need a Budget system, and part of that is that we live on last month’s income. We are able to budget for the current month on a monthly basis rather than bi-weekly (which is how we are paid also). This let’s me look at my month with the full $400 at a time, instead of only $200 for half of the month. It makes it easier to make large purchases, and then simply split up the remaining money that I have. If at all possible, I would talk to your husband about it and see if there’s a way to start each month with your full amount, instead of only getting it every second week. This will give you more freedom to make big purchases without having to scrimp as much later on.

Another way to do it would be to start setting aside small amounts of your budget for the purpose of bigger purchases. This is how I buy my grass-fed beef, because my monthly budget could never sustain it. I put aside $20-40 each month as I am able, and gradually I have enough money to make the big purchase. Before we switched over to a monthly budget, this was the way that I would save up to make most of my larger purchases.

So, instead of wheat…what do you serve? :-) (asks my sweet friend Lylah)

Bread-and-buns We primarily use kamut, which is an ancient form of wheat. It functions similarly (though it has a lower gluten content), and generally doesn’t cause sensitive or allergic reactions in most people. Before kamut, we used a lot of spelt, which is a very similar grain (also a form of wheat), but since grain prices have risen so much, I find kamut to be much more affordable.

Other grains that I make a lot of use of include: oats (steel-cut and rolled, primarily), rye (in my breads), barley (great for non-bread baking and also for pancakes and waffles), and sometimes millet or brown rice (mostly when baking for those who are gluten free).

Jena said- I was wondering how much that milk share would cost. Wouldn’t it be easier to own the cow?

I tend to think so, though my husband begs to differ! LOL! Having a cow, or even a goat, is simply not possible for us in this season, with where we live. One day, maybe… :)

Fruit leather? I’m intrigued! How do you make fruit leather? (says Audrey)

Oh, it’s soooo easy and cheap to make! Here are my simple directions!

More Q&A to come soon…