Saturday Pantry Suggestions

By on July 21, 2012

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.

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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’s 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. 🙂

Originally posted on Coffee Tea Books and Me.

About Brenda Nuland

Brenda is a Midwestern wife, mother, and grandmother who loves to write about living a life of faith, books, tea time, decorating, frugal living ideas, homeschooling, and everything having to do with making life more beautiful - especially in the midst of difficult circumstances. Her blog:

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Saturday Pantry Suggestions