Pinching Pennies

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As I mentioned earlier, my main goal for 2010 is to prepare more nourishing, locally produced meals. This is not an easy goal in the middle of a New England winter!

First and foremost my goal is to keep as frugal as possible. Not easy with Wholefoods down the street and the endless options available right through the internet. Here are some of my thoughts in mastering my goal of frugality:

1. Cherish your food. By learning how your food is grown and where it came from is just the beginning of the journey. With food available so cheaply and with such ease, it’s so easy to take for granted the real value of food: it keeps us alive. When you cherish your food you are more likely to be careful on how your money is spent on it.

2. Make your own. When you have a box of cookies sitting around the house it so easy to just grab a few here and there.¬† Instead don’t buy anything that is premade or packaged, buy instead the ingredients and make the snacks yourself. Homemade snacks are more nourishing and satisfying anyways.

3. Grow your own. Nothing beats having your own vegetable garden! I have also started to grow sprouts on the kitchen table. Growing your own veggies is not only cheaper, but is much more healthier for you and the environment.

4. Join a CSA. Community Supported Agriculture is a fantastic way to receive fresh vegetables or meat from a local farm. There’s nothing better than supporting your local farmer! There are even CSA’s that provide other items such as seafood, eggs, and milk. This year my husband and I have joined a CSA with another family. We are splitting the cost and the amount of produce. This is another way to help us save on fresh veggies until our own garden is up and running.

5. Visit your local farm stands and farmers markets: What another great way to buy locally grown or raised food. Many farm stands and farmers markets will also sell eggs, homemade treats, flowers, and vegetables that you can plant in your own garden.

6. Keep things simple. This can be hard when your a foodie like me. I actually enjoy going to the grocery store and will spend hours reading up on recipes. But in the end the best meals are usually the simplest.¬† Keeping your meals simple helps to keep the ingredients to a minimum and in turn the grocery bill. To satisfy my need to cook fancy, I’ll pick one meal a week that will indulge slightly on. And for the rest of week I’ll try to use the same ingredients over and over in different ways.

7. Stay Traditional. I believe strongly in keeping food the way God intended it to be eaten. Eating naturally prepared whole grains, fresh vegetables, naturally ripened fruit, meat from cows that grazed on grass, eggs from chickens that enjoyed sunshine and picked at worms off the earth, fish caught from clean seas, and milk from pastured cows or goats is how generations before us have eaten. Or as my mother always reminds me “don’t buy anything that your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize.” I find when I stick to this excellent advice I tend to keep away from from the more costly food items or foods that have lots of packaging around them.

8. Stay home. Eating out is always more expensive and usually not as nourishing as a meal cooked at home. Although I do love it when my husband treats me to a meal out, as it gives me a break from the kitchen. When we do go out we’ll go for lunch or breakfast which is typically less expensive, and easier with a baby!

9. Don’t be afraid of the kitchen. I know this makes me laugh too! But this is something that I tell myself daily. As the old saying goes, “time is money” and so is the main reason why so many foods are prepared for us. As whole we are too busy to cook and make homemade breads and such. I’m fortunate that I grew up in a house where the kitchen was the main place of the house, not the television. Everyone was involved with mealtime. Of course I didn’t appreciate it then, but I can see how important it is to involve the whole family in preparing meals. Not everyone has to be a cook! For example, my husband doesn’t cook at all, but he’s fantastic at kneading bread, chopping onions, and he’s busy getting our garden ready. Spending more time in the kitchen simply means more nourishing, satisfying meals and it’s another way to bring the family together.

10. Make your own rules and stick to them: For example, one of my rules is to buy only grass-fed beef and free-range poultry. This can be expensive but it is extremely important to me that my family is eating quality meats. To help even out the rest of food bill, I’ll pass on buying organic produce (gasp!) if the price are significantly¬† higher than the conventionally grown produce. I also will only buy Whole Milk and Butter as I believe strongly in their health benefits and the quality of taste they bring to food.

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