Friday, October 10, 2008

Going GREEN and saving $$ - FOOD

(going green does not have to mean your $$ is going)
I would have to say that other than the mortgage our biggest expense is food. Our family of 4 (+1 newborn) previously averaged a food bill of approx $1500.00 per month...whoa! After Lucy was born we really needed to start watching our budget. My business isn't making us income as of yet and like most Americans these days we were barely making it from one paycheck to another. Something had to give. So I started looking into ways that we could stretch our dollar with out sacrificing our health. One thing that I had noticed is that we ate out WAY too much and we bought a lot pre-packaged convience items. I had spent a decent amount of money shopping in the "organic" food section at Martins feeling guilty trying to do the right thing. Really what was I paying for? Convience of the store, product, packaging and the label "organic"...not to mention the unjustly inflated costs of buying things at retail prices. So what did I do to avoid this?

1. (if you can) BUY LOCALLY: Not only can you buy fruits, veggies, breads, eggs and dairy from local produce stands and farms. But you are buying it at cost...without the inflation of retail and gas surcharges. You are using less packaging, helping the local economy and saving money on gas (if you avoid making frequent trips). This summer the kids and I would make a weekly or bi-weekly trip to a local produce farm/market. It makes a great day out and a fun educational experience for the kids. An average trip we would pick: 12 Apples, 12 peaches, 12 nectarines, 3 bushels of blackberry's, 2 cantaloupe, 2 squash, 3lbs of green beans, 2 tomatoes, 2 doz carrots and a few peppers. At check out we would purchase 1 or 2 dozen brown farm eggs. And maybe some local pumpkin bread for breakfasts. The whole trip including gas was a whopping $60.00...what a difference! And we had fun! Now, a trip like that to the store would have been at least $100.00 or more. Going home and spending an hour cutting up some fruits and veggies then putting them into freezer bags and stocking my freezer really stretched my savings even more.

2. BUY IN BULK: If you don't have a Sam's or Costco membership I suggest making the small investment it takes and get one. Usually a wholesale membership will run you about $75.00 per year. As far as foods we buy at Costco...its a great bulk resource for buying foods when its out of season to shop local. I am a big fan of the FREEZER...If we buy a package of two loaves of bread at will stay out and the other will freeze to prevent molding...thus preventing waste and saving $$. Fresh chicken breast at the store will cost you up to $6.00 per/lb...if you buy the refriderated prepackaged fillet. At Costco you can buy 20 frozen chicken breasts for $15.00... they take just a few minutes to thaw...and they are really good...AND you've only used one large bag for packaging instead of all of that Styrofoam and plastic wrap.

3. STOP EATING OUT:(so much :) Pack your lunches in a re-usable can precut fruits and veggies to make them easy to grab and go. If you always have food handy when you are are less tempted to stop at the local Mc D's. :)

4. BREASTFEED: Its free, requires no preparation or artificial packaging

4. MAKE YOUR OWN BABYFOOD: If you are one to feel that your baby needs 4 square meals a day once solids are introduced.... its good to know that your leading brand babyfood company will charge you .23 an ounce for regular and .33 for organic store bought babyfood! If your children eat like mine may be finding yourself spending up to $150.00 a month for babyfood and snacks. Making your own babyfood is super easy!

WHAT DO I NEED? Bulk fruits and veggies, large pot, 4 ice cube trays and a blender.

STEP 1: Wash produce (large quantities IE: 3doz carrots)...cut up into large chunky pieces removing stems, core or seeds. I leave skin on for added texture and vitamins.

STEP 2: put produce into a large pot with a small amount of water at the bottom of the pot.(you should use filtered or bottled water) Cover and steam until super tender...approx 30mins (steaming helps hold the minerals)Do not drain the water.

STEP 3: If you have a stick blender simply blend food right in the cooking pot. Otherwise, pour produce (and water) into a blender or food processor. Blend until preferred texture... I did some "firstfoods" by blending longer... and some chunkier foods for later. Then spoon into your ice cube trays...and freeze.

STEP 4: When frozen solid... empty trays into labeled bags and put back into the freezer. (tip: it will make it easier to pop food from the tray if you run some warm water on the backside of the ice cube tray first.) 1 ice cube = approx 1oz. Soooo easy.

Here is Lucy tonite getting really excited about her homemade sweet pot and green beans.

UPDATE: I also wanted to say that I really appreciate what Mom4Life posted a few days ago about the economy...her post is what really spurred me to start posting about the $$ saving tips that I have been implimenting in my own life. Frankly I agree wholeheartedly on her message about not losing sight of the things that are really important during these "money crisis" situations. Its so hard not to get burried in worry and stress when times get tough. I do believe that its in Gods hands and I am so incredibly thankful for my family and supportive friends. Thank you Heather for reminding us not to lose site of the truely important things.


Mom 4 Life said...

Good tips! Thanks:)

Rebekah Gonzalez said...

Thanks :) I am hoping to do them weekly, not sure everyone has a farmers market locally to them but these are tips that worked for us...ready for your weekend?

Danielle said...

I have made some of my own baby food. Eliza is very funny about texture and rejects some of what I make. I also love some of the frozen organic companies like Happy Baby and Tasty Baby- but I must admit are more $$ then making my own.

Andrea said...

I know...buying food is a major expense, huh? I can't BELIEVE how much people spend on eating out sometimes...we pretty much never eat out and I'm certain it saves us a ton. :) Thanks for all the other great tips too!

Molly said...

Wow $1,500 a month!
You must of ate some really good food:)

We definately have cut down on our costs too.
We shop at costco and buy everything in bulk.

I only buy things at the grocery store that I have a coupon for.

I don't know how much our grocery bill is but I'm sure it is well under $100 a week for our family of 5.

Thankfully we don't have a mortgage. It would be really tough if we did.