Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekly Granola

For now my weekly natural/frugal living posts are going to be called "Weekly Granola", until I can come up with something a little bit more clever.

There are a few reasons why I have started to make changes in my home life towards the more natural. One of them is that it's cheap! A box of 2lb baking soda is currently selling at Wal-Mart for $2.12, combine this with a coupon and you get wonderful multi-purpose product (more on baking soda in a future post) for next to nothing. Another reason is that most products on store shelves these day have an amazing amount of ingredients in them not to mention that most of those ingredients are chemicals that are created in a lab. Not that I have anything against chemists, they need jobs too, I just don't really want to use all the products that are created by them. Another reason for using more natural products is that it's just plain simple. I posted last week that I have about a bizzilion cleaners under my kitchen sink. One day I dream about having just 3 or 4 cleaners, imagine all that storage I would then have under my sink! (If you saw my kitchen you would that the one thing I lack is storage!)

I know I promised that I would let you in on my hair cleaning routine this week, but I am not motivated to really elaborate on this post at this time. So stay tuned next week when I truly promise I will tell you how I get my hair so clean.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Weekly Blog

This evening I was in one of those rare moods where I actually wanted to wash the windows and base boards. My husband gladly volunteered to play Xbox and stay out of my way. When I went to pull out the glass cleaner and the wood cleaner from under the sink I realized I have way too many cleaners. Seriously, I don't know why I feel the need to buy so many different cleaners when I am confident that I could make my own multi-purpose cleaner on the cheap. Even though I plan on doing this I cannot justify throwing out a bunch of cleaners and start a new with just two or three different cleaners. I decided that I would use up what was under my sink. I did manage use up one can of Lemon Pledge, just three more different wood cleaners to go! As I was washing and scrubbing I had an idea! Why not start blogging about inexpensive all natural products. I could call it, cue awe inspiring music, I could call it...ummm....awe inspiring music fades...I have no clue what to call it. I was thinking it could be a weekly thing where I share what granola, er...natural things that I have incorporated into my daily life. I would like to point out at this time I am from Colorado. If you have spent anytime in Colorado then you know that there are some umm...interesting people there who are actually 100% crunchy granola. I am not one of them, however I have started to lean more that way as I increase in age. Also my mother is pretty granola herself. I remember one time after she finished reading her "Mother Earth News" periodical she wanted to build a house out of recycled tires that were really just old tires stacked on top of one another. She had to settle for a terraced hill out of old tires, pretty sure my dad was not going to go for a tire house. Anyway she has bestowed some of her granola wisdom on me and some of it I have just picked up here or there. Now what to call these weekly posts? I still don't have a clue, but maybe by next week I'll have something. And you'll have to come back next week when I let you know how in the world I haven't used shampoo in more than 6 months. There are more of these kinds of adventures I have to share with you, and let me tell you some of the natural things I've tried have been pretty adventurous.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Freezer Cooking Day Part 2

Freezer Cooking Day almost did not happen. I woke up and Saturday morning feeling dizzy and exhausted. I really felt run down and was not looking forward to spending part of my day at the grocery store and the other part in the kitchen. Because I wait until we have run out of everything in home before I grocery shopping we didn't have anything in the house for breakfast on Saturday. So I suggested to my husband that we go and get breakfast at IHOP. I love IHOP by the way, well I love breakfast food. After breakfast, it was really more like brunch because we didn't get out of the house until after 10am, I asked my husband if he would accompany me to Wal-Mart and then to Target to do the grocery shopping. I really felt like I needed his help because I wasn't feeling very stable on my feet. If for some reason my body decided that it didn't want to upright anymore he would be there to catch me, or at least cushion the blow of my body falling to the floor. It was slow going but we managed to get everything on the list, plus the one item my husband added when I wasn't looking (Cadbury Eggs). We managed to stay under budget until we went to Target to buy kitty litter, our cats seem to poop a lot and we go through litter like it was going out of style. So I ended up just a few dollars over my budget, but I feel confident I won't have to go to the store for a few weeks. After we got home my husband disappeared into the basement to feed his Xbox addiction and I went and rested for a few hours. I knew that if I just laid down for a little bit I would feel better. I got up at about 3:45 with my Freezer list in hand and I started in on the tortillas. While I was working on those I got the Brown Bag Burritos going.

After that I chopped up the potatoes, carrots and onions.
After about an hour and a half I really ran out of steam, I decided to call it quits. This is what I ended up with.
And also a sink full of dishes.
I know it doesn't seem like a lot, but this was my first time trying this and I didn't want to be overwhelmed. I think all in all I ended up with about 5 meals ready to go. I got about half of my meals done that I wanted to.

What I learned

This is something that I definitely have to plan for and make sure that I have all of the ingredients on hand. I ended up not making pizza dough because I forgot one of the most important ingredients that goes in pizza dough - yeast. I really thought I had some, but didn't check before hand, of course I didn't have any. Also my tortilla recipe didn't make as many tortillas as I had hoped. I guess I could call it a success, but really won't know if it was a success until the end of the month.

One last thought...since we have gotten rid of satellite I have noticed I have become very domesticated. I'm not sure how I feel about this, I think I will be discussing this in a future post.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Freezer Cooking Day Part 1

I have often read other people's blogs and thought to myself: "I would love to do what they do, if only I had the time..." Well now I do! There is a particular blog that I read everyday and that is Money Saving Mom. She has over the past couple of months posted how she plans and accomplishes her once a month Freezer Cooking Day. Basically she picks a day makes most of the meals for the month and then freezes them. Then when dinner time comes all she has to do is pull something out of the freezer. Brilliant! But however brilliant this idea is it does take some planning. On Saturday I am going to try my very first Freezer Cooking Day. Now I am not a mother of three children or even one so there is significantly less food that I have to make. I am, however, a mother of two mischievous cats, but meal prep for them easy and my husband takes care of that. The first thing I did to prepare for this day was take a survey as to what I already have on hand. I looked at recipes that have items in them that I already have. Then I printed out a blank calendar and planned our dinners for the rest of the month making sure that each meal uses something that I already have, that way I won't need to spend as much at the grocery store. I created a grocery list based on my menu planning calendar and have matched up some coupons with my grocery list. I am not as thrifty as some of my friends, especially not as thrifty as The Sneaky Mommy, but I do know how to find good deals. I am hoping that by doing the Freezer Cooking Day I can make my bi-weekly grocery budget stretch through the entire month. I know I have high hopes for my budget, but I think I can do it!

I only need to come up with 10 dinners for the rest of the month, which is not a whole lot as far as freezing goes, but it's my first time ever doing this and I don't want to over do it so that I will never want to do it again.
Here is what I am going to make and put in the freezer:

20 Tortillas (10 of them will be used in the Brown Bag Burritos)
10 Brown Bag Burritos
2 things of Pizza Dough
brown 3lbs of ground turkey
peel and slice 1lb of carrots
peel and slice 10 potatoes
peel and slice 1 onion

That should do it. Some of my meals incorporate the crock pot so I really do not need to do a whole lot of prep for that ahead of time. I'll use the vegetables that I chopped up in those crock pot meals, so I'll just drop in a bag of veggies and other ingredients and press start. I ♥ my crock pot!

I'll post an update on Saturday with the results of how I did as well as my thoughts on the whole process. I'll also let you know if I was able to stay within my budget :)