Tag Archives: Saving money

Activism Green Living Healthy Meat Kids & Family Real Food

Waste Not, Want Not: Tips for Saving in The Kitchen

www.mypicshares.com

Do you ever wonder how people eat healthy and save money? There are many ways to cut corners and make food last longer, thus saving a few bucks.

One way is to waste nothing (or as little as possible). I’ve noticed that the less I waste, the longer my food lasts and the fewer trips I make to the store or the farm. It’s a pretty reliable system.

Here are just a few of money-saving tips I’ve learned over time and through trial and error:

Find a home for leftover meats. Omelets, soups, stews, casseroles, stir frys, rice dishes…endless possibilities.

Save leftover vegetables. These can also go in many foods like omelets, soups, casseroles, and stir frys.

Use the carcass. Chicken carcasses are great for soups and broths.

Keep bones. Bones are good for soups and broths. I save my meat bones every time we have a meal and put them in a container in my freezer.

Save fat. We keep bacon drippings in a jar to use with all kinds of cooking – vegetables, garlic, onions, scrambled eggs, even to cook with other meats. But my favorite way to use it is to make refried beans. Yum!! There are so many other possibilities with leftover fats – again, soups, stews, casseroles, sautees, stir frying, etc.

Have a few meatless meals. Instead of using meat with every meal, use bone broths, cheese, butter, and other dairy, olive oil, coconut oil, or even cook your rice and vegetables in lard or tallow for your healthy fats and loads of flavor.

Freeze anything you can’t use right away. If you make a large meal that has leftovers and you know you won’t be able to eat it in the next day or two, freeze it.

Make your own salad dressing. A bottle of salad dressing from the store costs anywhere from $1.99 and up, more for the “healthier” brands. I’m here to tell you that most of the brands on the market are not healthy, even the “organic” and natural brands because most of them contain vegetable oils = bad. And that $1.99 brand will cost you more down the road in chronic health problems.

Do yourself a favor and buy a bottle of olive oil, and a bottle of balsamic and red wine, or whatever your favorite vinegars might be. Mix these together in a 3 to 1 ratio (olive oil to vinegar), throw in some salt, pepper, spices, and you have a delicious salad dressing that is good for you. You can add many other ingredients to salad dressings. Get creative. Here is my home-made salad dressing recipe link. There’s even one there for home-made ranch dressing!

Use sour raw milk. This is a fantastic and versatile health food! Make yogurt or kefir, buttermilk or cream cheese, smoothies, and use in cooking – think pancakes, hot cereal, or mashed potatoes.

Buy in season. Buying in season guarantees a lower price. Foods that are not in season and that have to be shipped in are more expensive in more ways than one.

Buy local and buy direct. Local products are often cheaper because there are no transportation or other associated costs for the farmer/merchant. You may have to spend money on gas to go pick something up that is local, but you can plan your trips or carpool and make more than one stop on your way to other necessary obligations/tasks.

Cook from scratch. Anything you buy that’s already been prepared will cost more up front or on the back end (health problems later), or both. Here are some recipes for ideas.

Eat more nutrient-dense foods, and less junk. You will get full and stay that way longer, which will cut back on eating between meals and save money. If you are eating a lot of junk, you will be hungry more often, and have to keep eating more to get full – but you won’t be full, and your body will pay for it in the end.

Plan ahead and make lists. I don’t always do this, but when I do, I reap the benefits.

Consult the Dirty Dozen.  Although I always try to buy organic whenever I can, sometimes this is not possible. Find out which foods are best to buy organic, and which can be left to conventional selections if you are on a budget.

Plant a garden. If you grow your own food, the savings are substantial.

Grow and dry your own herbs. Wash them and shake them of moisture and dirt or insects that may have become trapped. You can bunch herbs together and secure with a tie, then hang them upside down for 1 – 3 weeks. Use care to tie the string securely around the herbs, but not too tightly which can cause broken stems. Best place to hang is in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area. Herbs are dry when they feel crumbly to the touch. You can also use a food dehydrator or oven (if you have a setting that goes down to 150 degrees). Wash, rinse and allow to dry thoroughly. When dry, place a parchment paper sheet in your dehydrator or oven. Place in the device of your choice for 40-45 minutes or until crumbly and dry. Make certain to spread well out and not overlap while drying. Store in an air-tight container, glass is best, or zippered plastic bag in a cool, dark place.

Buy whole foods, and buy in bulk when appropriate. Some bulk items are cheaper, but some are lower quality. Weigh those factors with whether to buy from bulk bins, frozen, fresh, or from the farm directly. A bag of prepared lettuce may seem more convenient, but a head of lettuce is usually cheaper and the savings on packaging is better on the environment.

Instead of toxic, costly cleaners, use vinegar to clean everything in your house. Use about 6 – 7 to 1 ratio of water to vinegar for cleaning. Walls, floors, counters, glass containers, bathrooms, sinks, toilets, and almost any surface you can think of.

Reuse containers. We have a bunch of glass containers and jars in our house that we’ve saved from products we’ve purchased, and they come in handy in many instances. My daily water container, for example, is a 32 ounce (liter) glass jar from unsweetened cranberry juices I buy. Use single-serving juice jars for drinks and baby food and small jars for lunches and to-go food packs. If you must use something disposable, use parchment or glass lids (plates turned upside down work too!), or paper bags. They are reusable, biodegradable, and better for health.

Throw all your organic matter into a compost bin. It’s amazing how fast you can create a wonderful, healthy pile of dirt for your garden by depositing your mustard and carrot greens, avocado peels, apple cores, coffee grounds, and egg shells into your compost bin.

Share with others. If you are going to pick up meat, milk, or produce from a local farm, find others in your area who also want to do this and share responsibility for pick up/delivery. We share our milk delivery with three other families, and thus only have to pick up milk once a month from the farm that is 30+ miles away.

Be willing to volunteer and you’ll reap benefits. A few years back, a woman who was selling locally-produced vegetables and fruits needed delivery drivers to take items around to subscribers on her CSA routes. I volunteered to be a driver to take produce crates around in my own neighborhood and in exchange I got a free crate of fruits/vegetables in return every week. I also made a new friend.  :)

More money saving tips:

Food budgets – using creativity and prioritizing for healthy eating

Proof that nourishing food doesn’t have to cost bundle, is nourishing, and satisfies!

Time and money saving tips – the real health and financial implications of food allergies

Eating healthy in a time of recession

Time and money saving tips – getting the most out of your vegetables

Want to know more about real food?

How well do you know your food? Find out!

What are your tricks and tips for saving in the kitchen? Please share!

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please visit Kristen’s site and read all the other real food posts linked there.

What are your tricks and tips for saving in the kitchen? Please share!

Activism Green Living Kids & Family Real Food

Organic Is Only Part Of The Story…

www.mypicshares.com

We hear a lot about organic this and organic that…but I think the most confusing thing is that a lot of people believe just because something is organic, it must be healthy…

Right?

It’s true that to be assured you are getting something that is at least 95 percent organic or better, you should look for the USDA symbol on the package or food you are buying. It is a green and white label. But is that the only thing you need to worry about when choosing food?

That can be a really tricky question, and one that needs a bit of discussion since organic, by its very mention, sounds like it’s all good and healthy.

Processed foods with “organic” on the label

Good examples of processed foods are cereals, crackers, cookies, or other similar products.  Does the organic label make these foods healthier? Why or why not?

These and other foods like potato chips, tortilla chips, rice cakes, granola and food bars, pretzels, and other snacks are processed foods whether they are conventional or organic. They are almost, if not equally as processed, as their conventional counterparts.

There’s no room for fudging on this one. If you don’t believe me, just read the ingredients. What you’ll find in these products are a lot of unhealthy, rancid vegetable oils like canola oil, sunflower, safflower, soybean and cottonseed oil. These oils, besides being rancid because of the high heat they are subjected to during processed are also too high in Omega 6s – a major cause of inflammation in the body and one of the major sources of disease and illness we have in the modern world.

You’ll also find a lot of other junk like hydrolyzed vegetable and soy protein (sometimes called soy protein isolate), whey protein (which is healthy if eaten from real whey, not the processed kind),  rennet (which, if not animal-sourced – and there’s probably no way to tell if it is – can be derived from ingredients like soy), non-fat milk, skim milk, powdered milks or cheese, and even undesirable sweeteners like dextrose, fructose, sucrose, corn syrup, agave nectar, or high fructose corn syrup (whoever heard of organic corn syrup? Horrifyingly enough,  yes, it exists!).

Many ingredients contain soy, corn, wheat, or other highly allergenic and processed substances that are not easy to discern by reading. All products containing any type of grain, “granola”, muesli, or other similar substance – unless noted, are most likely extruded. These are not real foods. If you come across something like this, avoid it like the plague!

Unless the food has been made that day with freshly ground and soaked flour, for example, most of these kinds of foods go through something called an extrusion process whereby grains are forced through a little hole at high temperature and pressure. The process effectively strips nutrients out of the grains before they are put in the package. Then, the manufacturer adds synthetic nutrients back in to be able to claim the food has anything worthwhile in it. We all know synthetic vitamins and minerals aren’t something your body knows how to use.

Consuming extruded foods not only fails to provide the nutrition claimed on the label, it also contributes to nutritional deficiencies where minerals are leached from the body. Read more about why processed grains actually leach vitamins and minerals from your body in What Are Sprouted and Soaked Grains?

Organic milk

Is it healthier because it’s organic? Unfortunately, that probably isn’t the case. Organic milk, by organic standards, may not contain growth hormones, antibiotics, nor genetically-modified ingredients. However, at the very minimum, all milk sold in commercial environments is pasteurized, which destroys the valuable lactase enzyme, among others, and renders the milk indigestible to humans. Lactase is one of the main enzymes necessary for digestion of proteins and fats in milk. Many organic milks are ultra-high temperature pasteurized (usually labeled as UHT), which destroys even more of the essential bacteria critical to the digestion and absorption process.

Lactose-intolerance? If you or someone you know is “lactose-intolerant”, it is probably from consuming pasteurized milk. My son and husband were both diagnosed with a dairy “allergy” some years ago. My husband had congestion every day of his life for over 15 years. When he stopped consuming pasteurized dairy, his allergies went away. When we started consuming raw milk and other dairy, we have never had any issues whatsoever. For more information on the health benefits of drinking raw milk and consuming raw milk products, read The Truth About Raw Milk, Part I and Part II.

People can still have lactose intolerance or problems that result from consuming pasteurized dairy. They may not realize the connection between a symptom they believe is just “normal” or simply may not associate a health problem at all with the intake of pasteurized products.

How pasteurization destroys nutrients    High heat temperatures applied to milk actually completely destroy or denature important vitamins like A and can remove around 38 percent of B vitamin content. Heat also weakens or destroys Vitamin C. The enzyme phosphatase, necessary for absorbing calcium, is also destroyed. It changes or destroys many amino acids, reducing the digestibility of milk protein by about 17 percent. These modifications of the milk protein are responsible for causing an immune response. This response by the immune system causes allergies and digestive difficulties. It also contributes to many other health issues from eczema to osteoporosis to heart disease.

Milk naturally contains beneficial bacteria or probiotics necessary for digestion and health. When milk is heated, these beneficial bacteria also become denatured. This bacteria aids in keeping milk from going sour too soon. That’s why when raw milk finally does go sour, it is still a living food that can be used for all sorts of purposes – cooking, buttermilk, yogurt, clabbered milk, cheese, and the list goes on. If you drink pasteurized milk past the date on the label, it will be completely rancid.

And now, milks are not the only foods that are pasteurized – nuts, juices, pickles, and some canned foods as well. Pasteurization is an affect of our modern society’s need to control “bad” bacteria by heating up and “sanitizing” everything and anything possible. The bottom line is, this process removes all bacteria and leaves you with nothing except dead bacteria and no nutrition.

Homogenization   In this process, fat particles are broken down into even smaller pieces to allow them to be suspended. That’s why you don’t see the fat in homogenized milk – it’s been broken down by this process. Then, when the pasteurization occurs and the milk is heated, the fat becomes oxidized. Oxidized fat is rancid fat. Consuming rancid fats contributes to health problems like weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

What the cattle are fed    Even organic milk often comes from cows on feedlots who are still eating grain, soy, and/or corn.  The practice of feeding these substances fattens the animals up quickly, but they are not natural feed for cattle, who are ruminants and should be on pasture most of the time. Cattle that regularly consume something besides grass and pasture plants develop health problems which start in the gut. Corn, soy, and grain contribute to a variety of issues that make the digestive tract acidic and adversely affects the overall health of the cow and its milk.

For more information on real milk and the benefits of consuming it, visit the Real Milk site.

Meats and dairy products

In the past, organic did not specifically mean meat and dairy products were 100 percent grass-fed, pasture-raised, or humanely-raised. Organic meats and dairy products could still have originated from feedlots, as long as the animals or birds had outdoor “access”, which was vague.

For years, the organic label has meant only that animals raised for food could not be fed genetically-modified organisms, or administered hormones or antibiotics. Fortunately, things are starting to change. According to the Organic Consumers Association, organic milk will now be required to originate from cows on pasture eating grass, engaging in natural behavior and getting access to sunshine.

“We’ve been trying to get the pasture rule clarified and educate consumers about the organic frauds going on,” said Honor Schauland, campaign assistant at the Organic Consumers Association. “This is a big victory for us.”

This occurrence comes after a five-year consultation process and over 25,000 comments submitted by farmers, retailers and trade associations. New regulation laws now require access for dairy cows to grass for a minimum of 120 days during grazing season. Previously, the language stated it had to be merely “access to pasture”.

“There’s no longer this gray area of ‘what is the requirement’,” Schauland said. “The next step is enforcement.” While this change is definitely a move in the right direction, this is still not the most ideal situation available for animals being bred for meat and to produce milk. Why not allow the animals access to pasture most of the time, weather permitting, to allow for healthier conditions and consequently, healthier meat and milk?

However, because labeling is still vague and conditions where animals are raised are largely unknown when you buy meat and milk from somewhere you don’t know much about, the best solution is to know your farmer and buy meat and milk locally.

Canned, packaged, bottled, and frozen foods

These foods are what I would call a gray area because depending on what you are buying, they are processed to a certain extent. If you are talking about canned “meals” like soups, broths, boxed macaroni and cheese, salad dressings, syrups, mayonnaise, frozen dinners or breakfasts, side dishes, burritos, breakfast sandwiches, pizzas, and any other prepared food, these should always be suspect.

Vegetables, fruits, jams, sauces, legumes and other foods in cans or packages are also somewhat of a gray area. Many of these products, although organic, may have had something added to them that is not natural. To make certain they are just the whole food and nothing else, you have to check the label.

Many canned, jarred, and other types of packaging contain the chemical Bisphenol A – a hormone-like chemical that acts as a xeno or false estrogen – and therefore are subject to the contents being leached with this dangerous chemical. Adding additional estrogen to your body from an artificial source contributes to disease and illness – especially the development of cancer:

According to Greenhouse from USA Today, “Research has linked the chemical to cancer, heart disease, Type-II diabetes, obesity, sexual dysfunction and early-onset puberty. FDA officials said they are especially concerned about its developmental  impact on fetuses, infants and young children.”

“BPA, used to harden plastics, leaches from containers into food and drinks, even cold ones. It’s so ubiquitous that more than 90% of Americans have traces of it in their urine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Liz Szabo, a reporter from USA Today said that FDA said it has “some concerns” about health effects and “encouraged people to limit their exposure”.

Food in jars can also be sealed with BPA in the lid, so those are not always safe solutions. The only company I know of that doesn’t use BPA in their cans is Eden Organic.

Frozen foods can be an okay way to go as long as the food is just food, and no additives or preservatives. Check labels! Organic frozen food won’t contain pesticides or other chemicals, but can be more expensive and sometimes may have questionable packaging (again, think BPA). So look for sales, and also check the Dirty Dozen list to find out which produce should be bought organic and which are less critical.

What about truly organic foods with no preservatives, chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, or anything harmful?

I’ve looked at a lot of different brands of organic packaged foods like Amy’s, Cedarlane, Nature’s Path, Newman’s Own, Earth’s Best, Cascadian Farm, Walnut Acres, Eden Organic, Ezekiel grain products, and many others. These foods may be somewhat healthier than their conventional counterparts in varying degrees. In order to know the net load of your purchase, you must know the real expense of buying any processed food – which comes down to the following:

  • the upfront cost you pay at the store
  • the quality of the food you are getting versus what it does for your health
  • the after cost of the product – how it affects your health and how much it costs to dispose of the packaging

Cost of how it impacts your health down the road and cost of disposal of packaging is critical. To me, those are the real determinants of the effect the product you are buying has on your pocketbook, your well-being, and the planet. Remember that even foods that are completely healthy on the label may have some ingredients you really don’t know anything about as well as the packaging may be toxic in more ways than one.

Impact on the environment

It may seem as though organic foods have less impact on the environment than conventional, and in general that is true. However, when you support the processed food industry, you are really just helping to contribute to more pollution and toxicity. Processed organic foods have to be packaged and sold in boxes, cans, plastic, and other containers – some of which just end up in landfills and pollute our soil, water, and air.

Those same packages also require transportation dollars and create emissions and pollution to be shipped all over the world. So that means the use of more petroleum and other forms of energy expended to bring those products to their destination.

Recycling helps these issues, but in my opinion reducing your overall use of containers that cannot be recycled, those which have a long disintegration cycle, and those that don’t get recycled has a better overall impact. Avoiding processed foods as much as possible, whether organic or conventional, will reduce the overall toxic load of our planet.

Visit the EPA Waste site for What you Can Do to learn more ideas about reducing the amount of waste you and your family produce.

What’s really in your organic food?

Even if your food is truly sustainable and organic, you are not getting benefit from your food without the all-important presence of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Dr. Weston A. Price who traveled the world in the 1930s to various locations discovered that all healthy populations had something specific in common – they consumed these nutrients in greater amounts than those living in developed countries such as the U.S. – in some cases, TEN times the amount.

This meant that the foods those people consumed were high in real fats - raw dairy foods like butter, milk, and cream from pasture-raised cattle, fish roe (eggs),  animal fats such as lard, tallow (beef fat), chicken, and others, organ meats, cod liver oil, egg yolks from hens raised in the open and eating a natural diet, seafood, and grass and pasture raised meats and poultry.

These foods have not only sustained but allowed civilizations to thrive and have robust health. These foods support conception, pregnancy, and nursing mothers, and also their unborn fetuses and children.

Today, the emphasis on health that comes from nearly all angles is on processed, low-fat foods. When you lose the fat, you lose nutrients. As a result, your health will eventually decline and you will experience chronic disease.

So even though something says organic, it won’t support your health unless you include with regularity these critical components of overall health – nutrients that support digestion, immunity, reproductive, excretory and detoxification, circulatory, pulmonary, endocrine (hormonal), brain and nervous system health; these essential fat soluble vitamins that Dr. Price discovered in all healthy populations worldwide.

Conclusion

Because many foods labeled organic do not meet the kind of standards you would expect, the best policy is to avoid processed foods as much as possible and buy food in the most whole form available. This means making efforts to buy your food direct from the source whenever you are able.

Other healthy choices include foods that are produced sustainably without chemicals, hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics. You can find good choices in this category by knowing where your food comes from and how the farmer or food producer uses farming practices. If you are buying something that is not local and you’ve checked the ingredients, the best thing to do is some research by contacting the company or food producer where the food is made if you want to be assured the food is safe and nutritious to eat. You can also find out about packaging and materials used to package your food.

To review, here’s how to make sure what you are eating is safe and healthy:

  • Learn about where your food comes from – for more information, read How Well Do You Know Your Food? Find Out!
  • Support local agriculture and farming efforts by looking on the Internet, Craigslist, and checking out your local farmer’s market
  • Avoid packaged and processed foods to save money and health – read Reading Labels in The Store – Don’t Be Fooled By Marketing Lingo!
  • If you aren’t doing so already, learn to cook and make foods at home from scratch so you know what you are putting in
  • Make a food budget – use creativity and prioritize to save money on healthy food; create schedules and plan your cooking and food preparations
  • Embrace and perfect your home-keeping skills
  • Use networking and resource opportunities with others – in real life and on the Internet – to make this process easier. Start a blog or get on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. You can find like-minded people on these sites to help find the things you are looking for.
  • Learn to can and jar fresh foods for later use in winter months. Check out Marisa’s site – an excellent resource for this process!
  • Plant a garden or plants in pots to enable yourself to save money on food, or get involved in a local garden effort in your area
  • Start a compost bin to enable your garden to produce healthier food

Do you have ideas to share? What ways do you save money, your health, and the environment?