December 16, 2009

My Changes for the New Year...

As I wrote in my last post, I want to make some changes and start growing more of my own food in this next year.

There are also some other changes I would like to make, and have already been trying to make to cut down on waste (waste is MONEY!), and make my family healthier!

I am not an eco-conscious person, I mean I don't TRY to produce lots of waste or anything. But I think with waste, there is also a waste of money! I am horrible at purchasing produce, and it going bad before I ever get to use it. Or re purposing my left-overs. They usually go bad or end up getting tossed to our dogs. I also hate the waste of paper towels and plastic bags! Paper towels, cost me money, not a lot but money is money! And plastic bags from the store, don't even get me started... I like having a few around to line my bathroom trash can, but that's about it. They build up SO quickly in my trash closet! Then I end of with WAY more than I will ever use, and end up having to toss some.

So, here are a few things (as mentioned above) that I am going to try to do this year to cut costs, to save, and to make my family healthy! (in no particular order!)
  1. Use more of my reusable shopping bags. I have 4 now and when I went shopping yesterday, I only brought home 2 plastic bags! YAY!
  2. Once a month (or less!) I will purchase 2 rolls of paper towels. This will last us the entire month or MORE. How did we go from using paper towels like candy, and now using less than 2 (regular) rolls a month? I tool them away for a while! We used towels to wipe up spills and used napkins only when needed. Now we are still on our first roll, and I put that roll on the holder 3 weeks ago! I also want to MAKE some washable napkins. MUCH cheaper!
  3. We have been trying to recycle more! This is something in the past we never worried about. Like I said we aren't into the whole Al Gore/ global warming thing. Personally, I don't believe it. BUT, I DO believe that we are responsible for trash, trash, trash.... too much trash, no where to hide it! The other day, hubby and I were cleaning out a few glass jars for the trash, and he asked if I wanted to keep then for freezing/ canning. I looked at them, and their lids and I thought, "Why not?! " They are the perfect size, and some of the lids can be replaced with an actual canning lid for canning next year! Less money on buy MORE canning supplies!
  4. Make more food from scratch. This I have been trying to do more of, and I really think it is working. Not only is it SO much healthier for you, but it DOES also save money! Bread, for example, using my FAVORITE recipe to make several different types of breads, I spend no more that $1.99 on a 5 lb bag of unbleached white flour, the yeast I bought in the jar, with a coupon for cheap, the other ingredients cost pennies... And for $.50 or less, I can have fresh bread! GOOD FOR YOU too! The other night I made a recipe, from my SIL web site, requiring only hamburger, carrots, potatoes, and brown gravy. My hubby got a deer this fall, so we had nearly free meat in the freezer, carrots I bought, potatoes from our garden (FREE!), and brown gravy I bought in an envelope with coupons... I spent less than $2 on our dinner that night! Add in some homemade bread and you have a great meal for 6 for $2.50! You CANNOT buy a pre-made meal, or fast food for that price. You can't hardly feed ONE person for that price! Let alone 6! Don't be afraid of your kitchen, ladies! If you don't know how to cook very well, ask a friend to help teach you! Get a couple meals under your apron strings and save your family some dough! (pun intended...)
  5. When you have the chance and finances, get yourself some GOOD cookware. This is something I am working at doing! I would look up info on teflon, which is a toxic chemical... I am trying to steer clear of teflon (which I have right now). I am looking at getting some stainless steel pots and pans and/ or some cast iron pieces. Check out this site, I have been drooling over the Paula Deen cookware sets... Lovin' the cast iron casserole dish. This would get used SO often around here! But, my plan is to invest in those GOOD sets, that will NOT harm your family with chemicals AND will last a lifetime! I am also trying to keep away from plastic cups and plates, you can read my post on that HERE. So, we are using more of my ceramic plates and glass cups. Which, with little boys doesn't seem like the best idea, but they know they will break if they are dropped, and they have been very good with them this far! Health benefits rule over being afraid something will get broken...
  6. Garden! I LOVE to garden. I love to plant a seed and see it grow into a huge fruit or veggie producing plant! I love to eat a meal and KNOW that it came from our garden! Talk about cheap! Especially in the summer, I love sitting down to a meal at the picnic table and to be able to tell my family, this meal was FREE! That is something to give thanks for! Remember, you can have a garden on 10 acres, on 1 acre, on 1/10th of an acre or on a balcony! You can even do it on your windowsill in the winter! In fact, for the last few weeks I have been starting to make a list of seeds that I am going to be ordering... I have gotten several seed catalogs in the mail in the and have been DROOLING on the pages... well, not really, but almost! I am trying to keep in mind the veggies or fruits ability to freeze or can, as well as what we can enjoy fresh. If you don't know how to garden, talk to people! And then start small! Borrow a book from the library, look it up on the Internet... Short of PHYSICALLY not being able to garden, there is no good excuse! Think about the healthy benefits! Oh boy!
  7. Raise your own meat. This is a new one for us. My husband is the go-to guy in this department. I cannot do the "deed" in this one. We recently decided our chickens, after 3 years of faithful service, gave us many a good egg, but were failing in that department, because of their age. My husband decided to find out how to butcher a chicken and found a friend willing to help out. After an afternoon in the barnyard, hubby had brought several chickens, cleaned and ready for me to cook up. It wasn't as hard for me to cook as I had thought. I didn't have anything to do with the killing or cleaning process. I don't know that I could do that. Some women can, and more power to them! But thankfully, my hubby knows he is the ONE for the job and can do it. Now we have a means to providing meat, good meat, for ourselves. No growth hormones, no inhumane treatment. Just happy, free-ranged chickens! We will probably get some meat chicken in the Spring, as well as some turkeys. The cost will not be a LOT cheaper for your meat, BUT you DO know where it came from. Look HERE for info on free-range animal meat, and how much MORE vitamin benefit is in free-range animals meat. Very interesting!
  8. Use what I buy! Like I said before, I am horrible at buying produce and then it go to waste in the fridge. Or letting left-overs go bad. I am going to make an effort to eat all that I purchase! I mean not all by myself, but you know me and my family.... :) On THIS site, they said that the average American family throws away 14 percent of their food. In terms of money, that's almost $600 every year in meats, fruit, vegetables and grain products. WHAT!? Imagine how much money I could be saving my family by using what I buy! And you! How are you in the food waste department? Ouch! Have a Left Over night, where you eat those leftovers! That is what we have been trying to do... Or if you cook a chicken one night, and have leftovers, PLAN on a chicken dish the next night also. If there is leftover potatoes or rice, make those part of your meal the next night. Maybe change it up a little, if your family HATES leftovers. Make leftover potatoes into potato cakes! YUM! Or Add the rice to a soup to make it more filling!
  9. Turn off the lights! The tendency of my family is to enter a room and to turn on the light, even during the day! As I was sitting here typing this, in the daylight, I noticed 3 lights on that were serving no purpose! Ahh! This won't save you TONS of money, but every little bit helps right? Plus, where I live there is a shortage of energy! If we don't make a change soon, we will lose our power or be paying out the wa-zoo... I have went so far as to, if my kids leave their lights on in their rooms, I give them a warning or two, then I take the light bulb away for a while! I might need to do that with myself too!
  10. Get up off your bum! Yeah, this is my problem sometimes. I have all of these great ideas (like above) and then I am too lazy to do anything about it! Don't be lazy when it comes to the health of your family, or even when it comes to the hard-earned money that is your family's! My husband has a good job, but we don't have extreme luxuries like new vehicles, cable (or any channels for that matter!), we don't go out to eat much, or go on big vacations. If we do go on a vacation, it is because we saved for it. I have a basic cell phone, no frills. My husband works hard for his money, and I don't want to be wasting it away. I use coupons, I buy used items from ebay or garage sales. If something is broken, it is cheaper to fix it (most of the time) than to buy a new one. If you DO buy something new, make sure it is GOOD. (is there a warranty? Will this last a lifetime? Is this a luxury or necessity? Where can I get this CHEAPER?) But, don't be afraid to do the work yourself! You CAN do most things yourself! You either choose to learn or you choose to pay out your hard earned money to someone else to do it for you...
Well, I guess those are some of the things I am going to work on in this new year. What about you? Are you doing anything like I am doing? Please share!

Also, don't forget to take part in the poll above! Please tell us how much of your own food your grow and eat!


Genesa said...

Great post Sarah!! I enjoyed it! Lot's of good things to think about!

Megan said...

Great Job Sarah! So did you guys like the ham gravy meal?!?!? We love it and it's sooooo easy!

carrie said...

I love my cast iron!!! most of it is older and passed down from my granny.the only thing with cast iron is the way you was and dry it and keeping it seasoned. if you do that right it can almost be easier to clean than non-stick. i have a cast iron skillet i only use for cornbread and it never touches the water. my bread never sticks and i have to just wipe it out with a dry towel and put it away! which by the way cornbread is easy and awesome!!! also campers cast iron is nice because it is so multi-functional!!! we use ours on the open camp fire!!! great investment!!!

carrie said...

that was supposed to say USE and dry it!!!! lol

prashant said...

So did you guys like the ham gravy meal?!?!? We love it and it's sooooo easy

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Tracey said...

What wonderful goals!! I have been eyeing some new cookware myself. As to meat, my husband is a hunter so I currently have a freezer full of venison, which we love. Happy New Year!

Phoebe @ Cents to Get Debt Free said...

I love the way you think!

Anonymous said...

About your #5. I use my cast iron pots and pans very often. I have had mine for years and after a while they work just like teflon if taken care of. The newer pans though, have a non slick bottom can feel the rings with your nail. They stick more than the older ones that are smooth. Try to get used for that reason if all you can find are the non slick bottom ones. You should not cook tomatoe products in them. Do not store things in the fridge in them. Moisture will rust them. After using them wash then,{never soak} dry totally and reoil them if needed. I use my ridged bottom skillet for cooking steak and sausages etc. Love it. it is a bit tricky to clean between the ridges but not that bad. I use a plastic tuffy like thing to clean between the ridges or make one out of cheap netting. My thing is by SOS and called is orange and yellow plastic string like in a ball shape. Once you get good cast iron they can be passed down through the generations. We have a 4 and a 5 gallon dutch over too with lids. Ours have handles that can be heated up to 500 degrees if needed. Watch as some pans have lids that cannot stand that high a temp. This is the temperature for baking the artesian no knead breads that are so popular that require a lid. A good investment. And Good Bread!!
I found you from The Urban Homestead comments and am enjoying your siteand infortmation very much. Thankyou. Jody