Those of you locals who read my blog know how eclectic I am in my grocery shopping. I like Trader Joe’s for some things, I do Azure Standard for lots of things, and for meat I usually buy it off the bone. All of this renders my “weekly shopping” down to a minimum since I pretty much go for fresh produce and fresh seafood, poultry, or beef cuts that I don’t have on hand. I do try to usually use what I have, so this keeps my weekly costs down. I realize that not all of my readers have access to Azure or the freezer space to store tons of whole chickens and hamburger meat, so I’m going to begin featuring a weekly “Thursday’s Thrifty Meals” featuring the weekly specials at New Seasons Market. This is part of a greater project in conjunction with $5 Dinners who features a “Weekly Bargain Meal of the Week”. Read the rest of this entry »
Everywhere we turn, it seems like we hear about going “green” or being sustainable. I very much agree with these notions, however I roll my eyes a little bit when businesses boast all of their “greenness” just to make a few extra dollars. And extra dollars you will pay, because if it’s “all natural” and free of all the “bad stuff”, it’s sure to cost you more!
Recently I had the epiphany that “less” shouldn’t always cost more; especially where cleaning products are concerned. Even though I love products such as 7th Generation and the like, I’m learning that it’s not too difficult to make one’s own cleaning products.
I will save all the details for a future post (as I’m learning more, I’ll share!) but I will offer a few useful ways to use items you probably have around the house in ways that you may not have thought of:
As the box says, there are lots of ways to use baking soda to clean. I like to mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a cup or two of baking soda to scauer the sink or bathtub.
Hydrogen Peroxide is an excellent disinfectant for countertops, shower curtains, cutting boards and toilet seats. Hydrogen Peroxide does not contain harmful toxins that other disinfectants have, which makes it safer to have around kids (although don’t drink it!) Do a 50/50 mix in a spray bottle and have it handy under your bathroom and kitchen sinks.
Corn Starch, according the the _Encyclopedia of Country Living_ can be used as an “extra-fine polish that imparts a sheen to glass and other surfaces”.
Vinegar (white) can be mixed with warm water to remove mildew in the shower or tub (2T vinegar to 1 quart of warm water).
Old Tee-Shirts and/or flannel receiving blankets ( www.freecycle.org) can be cut into cloths perfect for cleaning. (This one’s rather obvious)
Lemons smell wonderful and contain citric acid, which is known to oxidize. It can be rubbed on a wood cutting board to clean and disinfect.
To clean a toilet, lower the water level in the bowl. Sprinkle baking soda around the inside of the bowl. Pour in enough vinegar to dampen the baking soda and scrub with your toilet brush to remove stains. If you wish, you can always add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.
For more ideas, visit Metro’s sustainability webpage!
What are your thrifty household cleaning tips?
Well, technically it’s still Thursday! I am going to start a weekly feature with the aforementioned title, and it’s simply a snippit in keeping with the priciples of this blog. I will share something Thrifty that I think might be helpful to others striving to live in this ever-more-expensive world.
I try to eliminate the “middle-man” as much as possible; I find that is saves the most money. Whether that’s buying farm-direct, or through buying clubs (watch for more on these on future Thursdays), I find it’s not as complicated as one might think, and it saves bundles.
Another way I’ve saved money on the summer’s bounty of produce is to find “U-Pick” farms. Even though I love to go the the farmer’s market, there is often a bit of a mark-up there to cover the cost of transport, set-up, and operation. For instance, I used to work at a farmer’s market and we had to be there at 6 am, and the farmers were there even earlier! All that is to say that going directly to the farm often affords much savings. Many farms have “farm stores” or stands at which they sell their bounty, and those are almost always cheaper than farmer’s market prices.
I have found that the BEST deal, however, is U-Pick farms. Most U-pick farms that I know of feature berries and tree fruit, but there are those out there that offer the full spectrum of summer produce available for picking. And if your favorite farmer’s market farm doesn’t advertise U-Pick, you might try asking about it anyway. If you are the picker, that’s one less person they need to pay for labor! If it’s fresh milk or eggs you’re after, why not offer to barter work for food? It’s worth a try, anyway! I know some farmers pay their workers partially in food to ensure that they are getting healhty nutrition.
Anyway, in this spirit, I found a very helpful website called Pick Your Own. It’s a very helpful resource (and a dot org) that lists U-Pick farms by state. I was surprised to find many farms right in my backyard that I was not familiar with! I found a place right around the corner practically that sells pastured eggs (and delivers them!) for cheaper than I was paying! It even lists the farms by county, so you can really hone in on the local farm scene near you.
Read about The Foodbank Farm that’s doing great things for the hungry, and that offers a U-Pick CSA. I don’t doubt that there are others around the country with similar programs.
Not only is U-pick more affordable, it’s totally a fun family activity. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old, and I “drag” them out about once a week for picking and they love it! It’s amazing how much you can get in just an hour’s time. I have done mostly different types of berries in hopes that I’ll have a nice freezer stash for smoothies. It’s an incredible savings, considering what a flat of berries will cost you at the store or farmer’s market.
Have fun visiting the Pick Your Own website. It’s packed with info. But don’t delay! Fruit/veggies don’t last forever (like they do at the grocery store) so you need to get those blueberries while they’re here!