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3 Tips for Eating Organic On A Budget

www.mypicshares.com

This topic is near and dear to my heart, for all those who feel defeated when they contemplate going sustainable or organic and believe they just can’t afford it (especially in this economy). There are many ways to achieve a goal, and I believe anything you really want to do begins with the earnest desire to do it.

I was just telling someone this week about how much more sustainable the food in our house is now than it was 6 years ago when I really started to go through my kitchen and throw garbage out, and was concerned about paying attention to where my food was coming from. Back then our family had a steady income, my husband was a programmer for a dental insurance company. He didn’t like his job, but felt he needed to stay so we could continue to pay our mortgage, other bills, and feed our family.

Now we are both self-employed. We own a solar installation/sales business (Treasure Valley Solar and 42solar.com – our online solar catalog) and green IT (TVS Green Tech – information technology). We are dedicated to finding energy efficiency solutions for people, as well as maintain and support computer systems for people that use smart technology and save money by utilizing the latest in efficient equipment. Oh, and I’m now getting paid to do nutrition/health writing for several remote clients, which is awesome. Our main business has been slow, and we’ve had periods of time with no paycheck (for months, in fact). But we have made it our goal to afford healthy food and made it our number one priority, period. It has been difficult, but so far the three of us (me, my husband, and 10-year-old son) have managed not to starve even once, and still for the most part, we are eating sustainably.

Ruth Ann Bowen is the cultivator of Nurturing Naturally, who along with co-founder Rebecca Wirtz, host an online community helping connect yesterday’s pantry to today’s kitchen. “We show people how to integrate modern day convenience with time-tested traditions of the past.” I was delighted to “meet” Ruth online just last week, and went to look at her web site, which I love. Together Ruth and Rebecca share advice and recipes focused on helping people get out of the fast lane and back in the kitchen…and garden.

I want to extend my thanks to Ruth Ann for offering to help me out this week when I’m on a writing project deadline (what Godsend!) and have no time for my blog, and also express how much I appreciate what she and Rebecca do for the sustainable food community. I hope you’ll enjoy this guest post that she graciously agreed to write for Agriculture Society. I promise to return the favor when I am less occupied…soon!

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“Organic food is so expensive!” That’s usually the first response we get when discussing the topic of organic food. We’ve spent many hours scouring and searching for organic deals and we’ve discovered these three tips for buying organic food on a budget. A few caveats, however, before we launch into our tips: First, we highly recommend frequenting your local farm markets for fresh produce. The quality is so much greater and we believe in fully supporting small farmers. Second, if you are able, grow your own garden! This is by far the cheapest way to feed your family nutrient dense, pesticide-free food. Third, when it comes to meat, we prefer buying a grass-fed cow from a local farm you trust. But knowing these aren’t an option for everyone, here are three ways we’ve found to enjoy a budget-friendly, organic household:

1. Think outside the grocery store.

Most large grocery stores feature an organic section these days. But many times, they aren’t the best place for deals. We’ve discovered stores like Big Lots http://www.biglots.com/ and Ollie’s http://www.olliesbargainoutlet.com/default.aspx carry a selection of organic products at greatly reduced prices. And we’ve been pleasantly surprised at the selection they offer including organic pasta, organic tea, organic cereal, organic soups, etc. all at great discounts.

Since discount stores won’t carry everything, check on-line for organic deals as well. We purchase quite at bit from Vitacost.com and we frequent a local organic food warehouse, Frankferd Farms who also features an online catalog.

2. Buy in Bulk

When you do find a good deal, buy in large quantities. There are two reasons for this: 1. To keep a good stock on hand (which is always a good idea), and 2. If you find a deal at a discount store, they may not carry that item again for awhile. These stores will buyout from manufacturers when they have overstocked on things, so get the bargain while you can. I have a friend who bought an entire box of the above-mentioned chicken stock and now I wish I had, too!

3. Check your cart

When discussing the price of organic food, take a look at your buying habits. Do you still have soda, chips, and canned soups in your cart? When organic food is just an add-on that’s when people see their grocery bill go up. Here’s a cost comparison of what approximately $20.00 could buy at our local western Pennsylvania supermarket, Giant Eagle:

Mainstream/Standard American Grocery Cart

6 pack of Coke in plastic bottles–$4.99
12 oz. Family Size (their description) Doritos–$3.99
4 pack Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup–$4.49
Giant Eagle brand diced peaches in juice (notice they didn’t say “syrup”)—2/$4.00
Edy’s Ice Cream (1.5 qt)–$3.33 (sale price)

TOTAL: $20.80

Organic Grocery Cart

Nature’s Basket 90% lean Ground Beef, 1 lb.—$4.72
Nature’s Basket Whole Chicken, 5.28 lb–$8.92
Organic Bartlett Pears, 1.92 lb–$2.48
Organic Red Delicious Apples, 1.52 lb.–$3.02
Organic Red Grapes, 2.22 lb.—$6.64

TOTAL: $21.06

Don’t just look at the dollar amount, though. Look at the actual items. The items in the organic cart are far more healthy and filling than soda and chips. So, if you have $20.00 to spend, why not spend it on healthier food that will fill you up? By ditching the soda, chips, ice cream, etc. you’ll find filling your cart with organic isn’t as expensive as once thought!

Finding organic food bargains is possible. And with these tips in hand, you’ll be on your way to a healthier body, slimmer waistline–and a fatter wallet–in no time.

Want more ideas for saving money on real food?

Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden costs of industrial food

Waste not, want not – tips for saving in the kitchen

Food budgets – using creativity and prioritizing for healthy eating

Sustainable farming – is it practical and can it feed us all?

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday hop (this week featured on GNOWFLGLINS).

Alternative Medicine Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food Saving money

Our Consuming Natures – We Can Live More Sustainably

www.mypicshares.com

How much do you consume? If you could measure and keep track of it, do you think it would make a difference in your regular consumption levels? In our culture of mass consumption, we are so accustomed to buying products and having products around for our “convenience”, we seldom stop to think just how much we are consuming and how much waste we are producing as a result of that over-consumption.

Stop and think: do you really need to consume everything that you do? Challenge yourself to consume less of everything for one week. Keep a journal of the things you are doing without and ask yourself if you can do without those things permanently. At the end of the week, compare your reductions in consumption with your previous levels of consumption.

Here are some ideas for reducing levels of consumption:

  • Ride your bike or walk to work, the store, or to a friend’s house. I’ve even heard stories of people riding their horses – don’t laugh…do it, if you can!
  • When you do have to drive somewhere, combine trips to various locations that are in nearby locations. Instead of driving every day of the week, cut back your driving to 3 or 4 days a week.
  • Carpool whenever possible.
  • Use items over and over. Whenever you have containers, devices, or utilitarian items that can be used more than once, store them for later use to use again and again. This includes glass, paper, canvas, wood, metal, tin foil, boxes, plastic containers, clothing, and anything else you can think of. Find ways to reuse and re-purpose everything.
  • Replace plastic with paper, wood, canvas, cotton, glass, metal, ceramic, tin foil, or wax paper.
  • Stop buying dryer sheets. Hang your clothes in the backyard to dry on a clothes line. If you do use a clothes dryer, dry them without anything at all. I have been doing this for years with no adverse effects to my clothes. I don’t have static cling, and I am saving my family the hazards of toxic chemicals in dryer sheets (as well as a lot of $$).
  • Wash your clothes all in cold water. I have been doing this for over 10 years and my clothes always come clean. If they need a stain removed, I soak them in a non-toxic detergent or soap, and add a non-toxic stain remover to them before washing.
  • Use bar soaps for everything in your house including the shower and all the sinks. Good bar soaps are those made from natural ingredients – olive oil-based soaps are great for your body. If you do buy liquid soap, consider Dr. Bronner’s (buy in bulk) or make your own with purified or distilled water, herbs, and, essential oils. Here are some great recipes for homemade soaps using ordinary bar soap. Stop buying commercial liquid pump soaps. They are bad for you and the environment.
  • Make your own shampoo and wash your hair less. When you wash your hair less, you find the need to condition your hair less frequently or not at all, thus saving your health and your pocketbook.

Make a basic castille shampoo with 4 ounces castille soap flakes and one quart water. Bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat and pour water over the soap flakes. Stir until the soap flakes dissolve. Once the mixture has cooled, store it in a reusable bottle such as plastic (with no BPA), glass or ceramic, or stainless steel.

Add essential oils to the mixture for natural scents. Lavender is calming while oils like peppermint and citrus are more lively and promote blood circulation in the scalp. Try different oils to find those you prefer. To use essential oils in your recipe, mix 4 to 8 drops of the oil in to the soap mixture just after all the soap has dissolved.

You can also create an herbal shampoo using herbs. Instead of plain water, make an herbal infusion. For each quart of water, use approximately one-half ounce of dried herbs. Let the herbs steep for 20 minutes or more. Reheat the infusion if necessary, pour the hot infusion over flaked bar-soap or castille soap, and stir well. For dark hair, use rosemary and for lighter colored-hair, use  chamomile. For dry or oily hair, create an herbal infusion of comfrey and rosemary leaves, burdock root, and nettles. This will help return your hair’s natural balance to normal.

  • Turn off your television or computer (to save electricity and $$) and read a book, do an art or craft project, invite a friend over for tea or a snack, engage in a cleaning project you’ve been putting off, or take a walk or do some gardening and get some Vitamin D. Most of us are short on Vitamin D and need it for good health and to keep away illness and disease.
  • Consider alternative energywind, geothermal, solar, hydro, and other emerging technologies in alternative energy efforts. Incentives provided by the government can help offset the cost, and pay-back models for various alternative energy solutions are becoming more appealing and feasible as time goes on.
  • Make your own cleaners from items in your home. Vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and olive oil work well for many different uses, are non-toxic, and economical. Buy spray bottles, use filtered or distilled water, and add your ingredients to make great cleaners that will do the job without harsh chemicals and odors.
  • Stop using personal care products such as lotions, moisturizers, hand creams, and other similar items. Remember, most products on the market are designed to create a need in the consumer’s mind and make money. Most companies spend more money on their marketing and advertising budgets than on the quality of the product itself.
  • Pay more attention to eating natural foods with whole, natural fats in them to supplement your health and support healthy skin, hair, and nails. Consume more Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) such as raw butter, raw cheese, raw milk, sprouted nuts, grass-fed meats, and fresh fish, cod liver oil, and other seafood from safe sources. If you must moisturize your skin from the outside (topically), use fresh, real oils like coconut, olive oil, apricot kernel, and sweet almond oil, or shea butter. To support healthy skin, hair, and nails, you need healthy oils and fats in your diet. Drinking more water does not hydrate your skin because the water in our skin is generated from the consumption of fats.
  • Buy as many whole foods as possible, and less packaged and processed foods. You will save $$, your health, and the environment.

Want more information on reusing, re-purposing, saving money, and living sustainably?

Embrace and perfect your home-keeping skills

My kitchen staples – how I keep my family healthy

Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden costs of industrial food

Waste not, want not – tips for saving in the kitchen