Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Money Saving Ideas

Sometimes when eating organically it seems as though prices are just going up. It was a real price shock moving from California to New York. It’s amazing to me how much more produce is. Not to mention, even things like crackers and bread. What I wouldn’t give for a Trader Joes. If you have a Trader Joes, I highly recommend you shopping there. Otherwise, here are some ideas I’ve used over the years:
-The crockpot has become my fan. Not just for cooking meals. Honestly I don’t actually cook many meals in them. But I cook things like dried beans and then freeze in 2 cup portions. After moving to NY I found that canned organic beans were $2 a can! Augh! I can spend less than 50¢ for each 2 cup portion. Before cooking, rinse the beans, soak for atleast 6 hours, drain,rinse, put back in crockpot, fill with water (atleast an inch over the surface of the beans). Add salt and any seasonings you may like. I generally add a little garlic powder and cumin. If you want to make refried beans, I suggest throwing in half an onion (only chop it up if you intend to keep it in with the beans when you process them) and a couple cloves of garlic. You could certainly add a jalapeno or two if you’d like spicey refried beans. Cook on low for 6 hours or so. Check every couple hours if you can to make sure they don’t need more water. After 6 hours taste a bean to make sure it’s to your likeness ( I can’t stand hard beans, but that’s just me). You can also cook any kind of soup and portion it out and freeze it too. Much better for you than canned soup and cheaper. Here I pay $3+ for a can of soup. We’re a family of five, we can split one can of soup. So that makes soup a bit pricey. I actually prefer the cartons of soup, which are still $3+. Depending on the type of soup you make you’ll probably be spending anywhere from less than 50¢ to a dollar or so for a portion. My next venture in the crockpot is to try to make tomato sauce. I don’t like spending $2 a can for that either. Obviously I use a lot of tomato sauce and beans. But we can’t get organic tomatoes yet so I’ll wait a little later in the year. Which brings me to my next idea…
-Buy produce when in season and freeze or can for when it is not available…or when the price is doubled or tripled. This is especially important if you live summer with real seasons…like winter for instance. I was clueless moving to NY. I had no idea that some produce was not available in the winter. Totally makes sense but I had never dealt with that before. Find organic u-pick farms for berries and apples. I can’t believe I have to pay $5 for a container of strawberries. I WILL find an organic strawberry farm this summer and freeze a ton of them! Produce stand have great prices too. Or…
-Grow it yourself! Even if you don’t have room for a big garden you can plant a small one, or container garden. My goal last winter was to attempt growing tomatoes inside in a really sunny room. The winter got away from me and I never did it. But I may try it this summer just to see if I can do it. I read an article once saying that it was entirely possible, and pretty easy too. I’ve seen hanging containers for strawberries and tomatoes, anyone has room for those, inside or out. An herb garden works great in a sunny window inside. If you end up with more herbs than you can use, dehydrate them. Same with extra produce…if you don’t freeze or can it, you can dehydrate it. I love my dehydrator…
-Invest in a dehydrator. Organic dried fruits and veggies are expensive to buy. But to dehydrate them yourself is super easy and super cheap. Beef jerky too. Way expensive to buy, not cheap to make, but cheaper than buying and you can season to taste. Bonus if you find an organic farm you can meat from directly. Most grocery stores now carry organic meat too.
-Coupons! I went years thinking I could never use coupons because you just don’t see coupons for organic brands in the newspaper. I found that you can contact your favorite companies directly, usually through their website, and they will mail you coupons. Some will even email them to you. I also found that my grocery store’s natural department puts out a monthly magazine with great articles…AND coupons! So they are out there, you just have to look, they aren’t just handed to you like with the cruddy unhealthy brands.
-Use a water filter and reusable bottles. If going for plastic, find #2 plastic. Sigg and Klean Kanteen make good bottles too. They even make sippy cups for kids. When at home, opt for glass if possible. I’m sure you can only imagine how much you will save not buying water in disposable bottle, not to mention the environmental reasons to.
-Make your own condiments. I got really tired of paying $8 for a tiny jar of organic mayonaisse. I got a great recipe from a friend and now make it myself. It’s really easy and SO much cheaper. Ketchup and mustard aren’t that expensive for me so I haven’t tried them yet, but I know people that have. Salsa and hot sauce are also pretty easy, and much cheaper to make. You can play with the recipes until you have something you absolutely love and you’ll never go back to buying it premade!
-Buy organic eggs straight from the farm. In the winter, when the chickens are producing less and I can’t get them from the farm I buy them from the store for $4 a dozen. From the farm I pay $2. We go through about 4 dozen eggs a week, that’s a huge savings! If you have room, get your own chickens. We now have our own chickens. We have 16 (we did have 26, stupid fox). We get about a dozen eggs a day, it's great!

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