Friday, August 6, 2010
Personal tips on how I save money and buy organic
Going green does not always mean that you have to spend a ton of money on organic foods and natural products. Not everyone is able, as we are, to spend a whole lot on groceries and natural products. Here are some personal things I do to save money and attempt to turn my family and home a little more green.
1. I only purchase specific items organic or I do my best to avoid produce with high pesticide levels in them. You can also buy frozen conventional fruits or vegetables since these are washed thoroughly before freezing and tend to contain less pesticides. Juices, such as apple juice, tend to contain less pesticides since the fruits are washed thoroughly and filtered. I do purchase dairy and meats organic because of the hormone content. I usually go for sales and compare prices before buying. Most companies offer coupons for their products online. I don’t buy deli meats or cheese organic because we don’t feel it’s necessary.
Research by the USDA revealed the top twelve produce that contained the most pesticide levels. Of course there are many other reasons besides pesticide levels to buy organic, especially when some produce today is genetically modified, which I will cover later on. However if you're going to take small steps, these below are must to buy organic for my family or avoid them.
1. Nectarines – 97.3% of nectarines sampled were found to contain pesticides.
2. Celery – 94.5% of celery sampled were found to contain pesticides.
3. Pears – 94.4% of pears sampled were found to contain pesticides.
4. Peaches – 93.7% of peaches sampled were found to contain pesticides.
5. Apples – 91% of apples sampled were found to contain pesticides.
6. Cherries – 91% of cherries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
7. Strawberries – 90% of strawberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
8. Imported Grapes – 86% of imported grapes (i.e. Chile) sampled were found to contain pesticides.
9. Spinach – 83.4% of spinach sampled were found to contain pesticides.
10. Potatoes – 79.3% of potatoes sampled were found to contain pesticides.
11. Bell Peppers – 68% of bell peppers sampled were found to contain pesticides.
12. Red Raspberries – 59% of red raspberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
I also buy eggs, meats and milk from local farmers or I'll buy them organic. To save money we also avoid eating eggs and meat daily. Instead, we try to eat beans or wild fish in place of meat.
The twelve with the least provided by the USDA are:
* Corn (However, almost all corn is genetically modified)
* Sweet Peas
(These I buy conventional to save money).
I read somewhere that by avoiding or eating the top twelve produce organically, you can reduce pesticide levels in your body by up to 80%.
2. I try to make my own cleaners and shampoos. I recently bought some castile soap, washing soda, baking soda, borax and white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and some oils. A combination of these items can make shampoos, laundry soap, dish soap, window cleaners, ect. These items are all inexpensive and there are so many recipes using these items. I also eliminated buying shampoos in place of castile soap. You can even make your own body wash with castile soap and add your own fragrances, eliminating the use for soap. I use eggs, mayo and other foods to make my deep conditioners and mix them with natural conditioners to avoid using up the conditioner everyday. On shampoo days, I portion out a little shampoo in a cup and dilute it with water. I mix it with essential oils and oils, like extra virgin olive oil. This helps make the product last and allows me to alter the shampoo to fit my hair’s needs. If I’m having scalp problems, I use rosemary oil and tea tree oil, If I need extra nourishment, I add Olive oil and almond oil and if I need more moisture, I add glycerin and castor oil. I also add a scent, like lavender or sweet orange.
3. I stopped buying unnecessary hygiene items like shaving crème. I found that my olive oil soap is gentle enough to use in place of shaving crème. Lotions are also a waste of money for me. Instead, I use coconut oil or shea-butter mixed with oils on my skin. My skin is in so much better condition because of this. I also use it on my baby instead of lotion and massage her skin. It’s gentle and great for things like eczema. I also use my olive oil soap as a face wash and use jojoba or almond oil in place of face lotion. These oils are light and sink into my skin without leaving a greasy feeling.
4. I save all my plastic bags I get from the grocery store and use them as a shower cap for my deep treatments, as garbage bags and for storing lunch and other items such as, flour and bags of rice. I also re-use some bottles and pour in my own homemade stuff. I do the same thing whenever my product is finished. I re-use the bottle and pour in my own concoctions.
5. I buy used clothe and items. There are certain items you don’t want to buy used , like hats, bed mattresses, and of course, underwear :O. Places like Goodwill are great for our family because we can donate are old clothe and get a new wardrobe for very cheap. I love finding name brand clothes and accessories for so cheap. I also skip going to bookstores like Barns and Nobles and buy my children books from there. It’s also a great place to get decorations and dishes. Just make sure you sterilize them in the dishwasher first. I’ve found dish sets work hundreds of dollars for like thirty bucks. I think it is much better to buy used clothes, than buying brand new clothes labeled “Organic.” I think it’s pretty stupid to spend money on organic clothes that are pricey when you can buy used clothe.
Shopping online on sites like Ebay.com or Etsy.com is another great way to look for items you need at great prices.
6. Avoid spoiling my children. This is a must for me. In our home, we adhere to Christian values and expect our children to appreciate what they have. We do not buy toys in our home very often, and if we do, most have some sort of educational purpose. Instead of forking over dollars on tons of action figures (though my son has a few), we try our best to get computer games, simple wooden blocks, puzzles, books, and art stuff. We give our old funky clothe to my son for dress up time. I do not like hoarding toys. Everything we buy I use and it has a purpose or it gets donated. This helps us to avoid clutters around the house. Since my son is home-schooled, I try to look for toys that double as an educational tool and something he loves to play with. I actually find that my four year old enjoys the simplest toys like popsicle sticks, dominos, board games and blocks. You can teach your kid to use his imagination to make things and challenge him to build stuff with simple items. You would be surprised what pleases your child if you sit down with him. He would rather sit down and play a board game with me than giving him a Wii to play with alone. On Christmas time we teach our children that it’s about giving. They get one large toy from us and he gets the rest from family members. The focus is not on how many presents they get,`` but on the spiritual meaning of Christ birth and incarnation.
We do buy presents for others instead of using the money to buy tons of gifts for ourselves.
7. We began eating out less. I didn’t realize that we were spending almost two hundred dollars more a month eating out. I decided to start cooking more often. I have developed an interest in finding recipes for our family. Fresh bread can be pricey and you never know what is in it. Instead I began making my own flat bread with this simple recipe: No rise time or yeast needed. It takes me a total of 15 minutes to make.
One cup of whole wheat flour
One cup of all purpose flour
1 tbs of baking powder
1tbs of olive oil
3tsp of salt
3tsp of sugar
And 1 cup of water. I stir everything with a wooden spoon, knead for 5 min and flatten out over some flour into 3 large flat pieces. I usually spread a little olive oil over it and sprinkle garlic powder and salt and ground up flax seed. Stick into a pre-heated oven 500 degrees for 7-10 min and that’s it. It taste like pitta bread and it’s yummy, quick and simple. You could even alter it to make it into a pizza crust or roll stuff into it like cheese and spinach. My son loves making recipes with me. I will probably be adding recipes to this blog later on.
8. Avoid vanity: honesty just keeping my wardrobe simple is important. I try to buy pieces of clothing I can mix and match easier. I buy scarves of different colors to add some flare and style without spending extra money. I try to buy sweaters and such to put over summer tops in the winter. In the summer I go for simple cotton dresses that I can use for Church and day-wear. I try to buy shoes that go with everything. The same applies to what my family buys. I own a few simple purses that go with everything. I really don’t care about name brand and what’s trendy. I try to buy clothe that are comfortable and look nice. Don’t get me wrong, I like to look nice, but clothe that tend to be exceptionally stylish or cut differently are more likely to go out of style quicker than those that have a simpler appearance. I do buy many of my stuff from Goodwill or Salvation Army, and pair it with new items. I do have lots of makeup but I have not purchased in a while since I don’t wear makeup daily so it lasts me forever.
9. Buying tips: We try to not over eat in our house and portion out our meals so that they last. I try to make exactly what we’ll eat and eat leftovers the next day for lunch. My son gets his meals and snacks portioned out. We only eat when we are hungry and not because we are bored. Of course I am flexible with this since we tend to crave treats and sweets. I don’t keep too many candies and cookies in the house. I try to buy snacks that are nutritious and organic. I also give him a variety of fruits and vegetables as a snack. Another trick I do is get a big box of organic cereal and give him a small bowl of dry pieces for a snack. Organic cookies can be pricey. You can save money by buying a box of organic cereal and portion it out as a snack. If you get sweet ones it’s basically like giving them small cookies without all the added sugar, and it has vitamins. I do the same for my infant daughter. Instead of buying Gerber puffs, I buy a big box of cheerios and she eats that for a snacks. We sometimes eat oatmeal for breakfast in place of cold cereal, since it's cheaper.
10. Make a shopping list and stick to it. I use to not make lists in the passed and would end up forgetting items and spending more than what I should have. I usually keep a generic shopping list saved on my desktop and go shopping for food every two weeks. I modify the list as necessary and print it out. I usually right out the price next to it and total everything out, that way I know how much I spending. Budgeting for us has become so important. Every so often, my husband and I get together and talk about our spending habits and what we can improve on. We try to buy things we need and not just wants. I allot each of us some free room of spending money, that way we don’t feel deprived. For example, my husband likes to buy energy drinks everyday, so he usually takes out thirty five dollars from the ATM every two weeks to purchase his drinks. that way he can keep track on how much he’s spending.
These are just some of the things I do to save money and still eat organic. If I think of anything else, I will update this post. The important thing for me to remember is not to obsess over it. This is just a guide for me. I think what comes out of our mouths triumphs what goes in it. We do stop for fast food when we need to and have no problem eating anything. I just try my best to make a healthier home and environment for my family.