Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Organic Living

Before I begin, I want to remind our new readers that I am a self-proclaimed granola, or “crunchy” mom. I realize that not everyone takes these issues as seriously as I do, and that’s ok. It is not my intent to be self-righteous in this post, but only to discuss some of my recent thoughts on organic living…

I recently returned from a trip to upstate/western NY, where I visited my sister and her family in their small rural town. My sister and her husband are real granolas, and they take the art of food preparation to a truly new level. At her home we were served fresh bread made from home soaked whole grains, butter that smelled like cheese from a local family farm, unpasteurized milk, and eggs with deep yellow/orange yolks—again from a local farm. We dined on whole wheat buttermilk pancakes, and my sister, with the help of a local cow, made the buttermilk! We topped off our visit with homemade vanilla ice cream made from fresh cream and sweetened with maple syrup.

When we left, I realized that my sister lives really “close” to her food. Other than herbs, she doesn’t grow the food herself (she lives on a small lot), but she knows who does, and as a result she is deeply aware of where her food comes from and how to best prepare it. Her food is natural, usually organic, and local.

We live in a small urban town and during the summer we try to buy most of our food from the local farmer’s market. The framer’s market is great because it gives the local farmers a direct to customer outlet for their foods. It allows small local family farms to not only survive, but to thrive. The farmers make more money selling directly to us, and we buy things cheaper than we could at the local supermarket. I love buying lettuce that was picked fresh in the morning, and I love talking to the farmer who picked it. I love knowing what fruits and veggies are in season in our area and waiting for the locally grown peaches, rather than buying peaches from Peru in the wintertime.

All of these things are part of what I would consider “organic living.” I use this term to mean living as a good steward of creation. Understanding where your food comes from, respecting the land it was grown on, or the cow that provided the meat, and generally treating creation and our bodies with respect.

Lately, buying organic is the newest fad in “nutritionism.” Just like the low-fat craze of the 80’s, the “organic” craze has come to mean buying anything with an organic label. The box of organic teddy grams is better than non-organic locally grown lettuce because it has the label “organic.” Organic lettuce grown in Honduras and shipped to the East Coast is better than lettuce grown on a local farm moving towards organic certification. Don’t think about the energy involved in shipping that lettuce from Honduras. Don’t think about how they actually make an organic teddy gram, the processing involved, or the trash and debris involved in the packaging. Organic teddy grams are just about as far from “organic” or close-to-nature as you can get, except maybe a bag of organic Doritos (is that possible?). But our label conscience society wants us to believe that those teddy grams are somehow good for us because they have the label organic.

I’m not trying to say that I don’t buy organic crackers or teddy grams, because I do. And I’m sure those organic teddy grams are better for your body than the regular teddy grams loaded with dyes and other harsh chemical additives and “spices.” What I’m saying is that organic living is really about moving away from these pre-packaged things, and moving toward locally grown and homemade products. It is about taking the time to prepare our own food, to understand our food, and to respect our environment and neighbors. It is about slowing down and making food preparation a part of our family life. Our culture is constantly pressuring us to go, go, go, and to buy, buy, buy, things that will make our life easier, and that usually means pre-prepared food products, and organic teddy grams. There will always be days when this cannot be avoided, but wouldn’t it be great if we could avoid it on most days. Like most things, I’m aiming for the 80/20 rule (achieve the ideal 80% of the time, don’t sweat it the other 20%).

If you’ve never considered this before, think about one practical way you can get more in touch with your food. This might mean making something from scratch that you normally buy pre-prepared (and this usually saves money.) If there is a local farmer’s market in your area, check it out. If not, maybe try to shop at a local store, you know the kind of store where they know your name after only 2 trips. If this isn’t possible, try to buy locally grown products at your grocery store and take a pass on those peaches from Honduras in January. And remember, as mothers, we are the main purchasers of food, so we really do have the power to change the way food is bought and sold in this country.


Katherine said...

I recommend a book called In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. He was the one that opened my eyes to a fair amount of what you are talking about. I don't agree with everything in the book, but overall it was a very good read.

I'm hoping in a couple of years I will be able to grow my own veggies!

k said...

Great post Red and so timely considering this is a great time of year to meet your local farmers.

Having your children have a real sense of how food is grown, prepared and arrived onto their plate is a wonderful thing. I think I am only succeeding about 20/80 now :) but I am working hard at it!

B-Mama said...

Thanks for the good challenge, dear Red! I am always amazed at your crunchy ways and can't imagine how overwhelmed I would have been visiting your sister! Holy Cow! What an incredible way to live...

I'm looking forward to checking out our local farmers' market and you've inspired me to do this sooner than later. What amazed me about the venue back in IN was the affordability of the spices! My goodness!! Just shows how much supermarkets unfairly increase prices.

Lastly, we as a family could definitely move away from buying so many pre-packaged items. I'm a little shocked at how quickly my pantry has filled since moving--Costco has made it too easy to stock up! Yikes!

Juris Mater said...

Ditto, Katherine, to "In Defense of Food". I really enjoyed reading that. Exactly as you said, it was a bit extreme on some things, but what I took from it is much of what Red writes here. Our food is part of an ecological system, and it's good for us to know about and be a part of a thriving local "food chain".

Mad Cow, how's your local food chain, old friend? Do they import the grains and feces that you eat or do those come from under your own roof? Naturally-growing grass used to be just below cows like you on the food chain... how times have changed.

Also, I think our family needs to continue working on our relationship to our food in several ways--knowing where it has come from and who has produced it; my kids helping to pick it out in the store, bring it into the house and helping to prepare it; and continuing to strive for civilized mealtimes where we enjoy the food that we've collaborated to prepare as we enjoy one another's company. Relationship to food is so important, and it seems that almost nobody has a healthy relationship with food anymore.

Ann said...

I buy almost all of my produce organic. I honestly think there is a huge difference in taste. I think I will check out the local farmers market - I have never done that! I bet the kids will like it. Good idea, RSRed!
On a funnier note - My sisters were getting ready to make a spinach salad - and it is organic spinach - of course. When they took off the top what jumps out but a HUGE grasshopper!! Isn't that nuts?? I said - "well, that is a little too organic for me." ;)


Mary Alice said...

Ann, I definately find that there are more bugs on the organic lettuce!

We have had conventional apples in the house this week, they are supposed to be about the highest for chemicals, and I was amazed at how I could taste it, even after washing. It's no wonder my kids didn't want to eat the peel!

We are living in a great community for local food now, and I am looking forward to getting immersed in the culture, as well as to growing our own tomatoes and perhaps other salad vegetables.

On a related food note, yesterday I shopped at a smaller supermarket that had wonderful fresh meats and produce, an actual butcher and fresh fish counter. For dinner, we had tilapia, baked very simply, and the kids actually ate it!

Our math lesson was brownies from scratch, and in the past we have made our own peanut butter for math (measuring and following a recipe), it is amazing how different homemade pb tastes even from the natural jarred brands. I want to look into buying shelled peanuts in bulk to do this more often.

What really struck me about your sister is the TIME that went into all that food -- not just the prep, but purchasing it from the various local markets. I think that we would probably eat LESS if we had to really take the time to prepare all of our food -- tossing some teddy grahams (empty calories) on the table for the kids, and grabbing a few handfuls for me, is not a healthy way to live, compared to chopping up some fruit and cheese and sitting down together for a snack.

We have a TV set up now, and this week I have been making a trade -- allowing the kids to watch half hour of PBS so that I have dinner prep time. I need to wean off of this by giving them responsibilities in the kitchen, but four in the kitchen is too hard, perhaps I should give each a day? They are now all responsible for totally clearing the table and re-setting it for breakfast while I feed the baby his dinner!

Oh, one more thing (love this topic, could go on and on) -- the money you save on farmers market produce in season and not buying expensive prepared foods makes up for the higher cost of organic milk and meat, so I have found that I could switch alot of our food without an increase in cost. This is contrary to what the people on the organic "fad" are experiencing, having to drop Whole Foods now because it is too expensive. Also, I will still hit Costco for some things like a huge bottle of Olive Oil.

Oh, and I have been noticing that I am really enjoying using cloth for almost everything, diapers as well as napkins, dish cloths, and rags for heavy cleaning.

B-Mama said...

Way to go on the cloth front, MA!

I made the switch from paper products to cloths a few years ago and haven't looked back. If you think you're attached to paper towels--you're not! Just stock up on tons of wash cloths and you'll be set... I find them to be more durable and clean-ready anyway! We also prefer cloth napkins because they make dinner feel more elegant (anything it takes!)

Teresa said...

This is a timely post for me as I'm going to start my little one on solid foods soon, which has got me thinking about buying more organic food. We already drink local milk and buy very little processed food. I'll be checking out Whole Foods and the local farmer's market soon for produce. But I imagine that I won't be going 100% organic at once -- any other book recommendations or ideas on where to start? Thanks!

Mary Alice said...

I have just started my baby on solids, so I have been thinking alot about this. A few things, first, you are going to peel everything, so that helps with the pesticide issue. I also made my own "baby" oatmeal by grinding up whole rolled oats (I used quaker old fashioned) in a food processor. Now, I have a jar full of oats, I just cook them with water for about 10 minutes, stirring. I have added prune juice, apple sauce and mashed banana to those. Since it is not apple season, I am not making my own apple sauce, but you can buy a big jar rather than buying baby food sized jars, it is more efficient. I just mash a banana with a fork. So far I have also done steamed acorn and butternut squash (conventional, can't get them from local farms until the fall), which I food processed to smooth, as well as sweet potato, which I microwaved and then just fork mashed. Avocado, mashed with a fork, and yesterday I gave some Amy's Organic lentil soup -- he loved it! I am going to look into making my own.

Hope that is helpful, I am finding it so much more fun and interesting to feed him now then I did feeding other babies from jars, and we are all probably eating better because we all had the squash that night, bananas with our oatmeal, etc. I figure he eats what we eat, just mashed.

Oh, I am also giving baby yogurt (plain) but I know some people prefer to wait on that.

He is 6 months and doing pretty well with texture.

Ellie Raduns said...

Since the beginning of the post is about me, I feel the need to comment. My husband and I, only 2years ago, were very far from where we are today in convictions about food and various other lifestyle options. I had always been interested in nutrition, and bought into the fact that large organizations like the FDA and the American heart association had our best interests in mind.
After becoming pregnant, and taking the ever so popular bradley class I began to question what I had taken as "truth" as far as healthy eating was concerned. I was being encouraged to eat fat, eggs, butter, cream, liver, and various other foods that were considered taboo in the politically correct world of nutrition that I so regularly researched and become accustomed to. Wouldn't I gain weight? or have my cholesterol increase? Needless to say I got extra curious and made "nutrition" in the truest sense of the word my hobby. I became willing to look beyond what is readily available to American consumers, and more at traditional cultures and studies that were done for more than a 10year time period. I pick 10 years for the simple reason that 10 years is the standard for long term study in the eyes of the FDA or the AHA.
Our world was rocked, and so was our kitchen. I won't go into too many details as I recognized I am probably already taking up too much space. I would encourage you all to look into and really study the evolution of the western diet, when heart disease and cancer really became rampant, the "GRAS" ratings of the FDA and what requires them, what really is in that low fat dairy product you are eating, and the information the consumers don't have a right to know according to the FDA. Search beyond the readily accessible government webpages, and find longterm studies. I will say this: ignorance is bliss, especially pertaining to food, you won't ever be able to look at that can of pop the same or even that conventionally grown orange which we assume has vitamin C. Study the effects of nitrogen fertilizers on soil and the food grown in it, the refining process used for most oils, and the labeling standards, or lack there of, of certain undesirable ingredients. I guarantee you will be surprised.

I am aware that I probably sound like a raving lunatic, but I guess you will never know for sure until you do the research yourself.

A neat place to start and or the "Nourishing Traditions" cookbook by Sally Fallon. Both will challenge and inspire, and if our family can do it, you can too!

Ellie Raduns said...

Baby food questions....
sorry I know this is my second post.

I highly reccomend the Westonaprice webiste for food introduction list and some recipes.

I'm sure this could be slightly controversial, but a lot of research lately indicates that children lack the proper amount of amalyse (the enzyeme necessary to digest starch) until post 1 year of age. Babies can digest protiens and fats much more readily. Which makes sense b/c this is primarily what breast milk is. Anyway. food ideas to consider. A egg yolk that has been soft boiled for about 3 minutes so the white is hard, but the yolk is runny. This can be mixed with banannas (excellent source of digestive enzyemes) or avocado. Ground liver or other meat is also highly reccomended as is a good source of grass fed yogurt. Check our "hawthorne Valley" for yogurt. If you have a Wegmans close by they sell it. Winter squash is also a wonderful food introduction.

For storing baby food. I collect people's glass baby food jars (as the plastic ones are made with number 7 plastic) and freeze excess. If you have a young baby freezing prepared pureed foods in ice cube trays also works well. Each ice cube tray is usually about 2 tbsp, and that is the reccomended serving for a young baby.

Avocado mashed and pureed put into the freezer keeps extremely well without oxidation as do bananas and apples. This technique allows you to keep the food raw without all the yucky browning.

The best book for making your own baby food I have seen is "super baby food" I reccomend this with caution. I think she has some great time and money saving suggestions, recipies, and ideas, but her overall philosophy on introduction schedule and vegetarian push I do not agree with even a little. She also highly reccomends unfermented soy products, which based on all my research is a big no no in general, but especially for kids.

4ddintx said...

Ellie Raduns, Thanks for your comments. I'm on the Nourishing Traditions bandwagon to some extent. Some things are just not available in the West Texas Desert (raw milk, sigh). I keep looking,though. Can you recommend any other books on the assaults that happen on our food supply (the processed stuff)?

Thanks for this whole post and comment thread. I also highly recommend Michael Pollan's book _The Omnivore's Dilemma_. I learned so much about our food chain from that _In Defense of Food_ is a great follow-up.

Ellie Raduns said...

4ddintx, some basic book reccomends:
Know Your Fats, The Complete Guide to Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol by Mary.G.Enig

Fighting the Food Giants by Paul Stitt

Excitottoxins: The taste that kills by Russell L. Blaylock

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A Price

Dismantling a Myth: The role of fat and Carbohyrates in our Diet by Wolfgang Lutz.

Sugar Blues by William Duffy.

Those are the ones that I personally can reccomend, but if you have the nourishing traditions cookbook, there is a list of about 100 books in the back that she references that are worth taking a look at I'm sure

Beyond the book reccomends, I have heard many of you talk about farmers markets, which are wonderful, but Community Supported Agriculutre programs are even more helpful to the farmers in your area. The basis is you pre-pay for the entire growing season, and they provide you with a predetermined amount of produce weekly. This ensures them the money for planting and harvesting, and your family with a wide variety of yummy produce to eat. Ask at your local farmer's market for more information about them. Usually the farmers bring with them what wasn't pre-sold.

Also some of you have commented about raw milk, and not being able to obtain it. Check out to see if there are any participating farmers near you!

From that website you might also be able to obtain information about "cow share" programs.

Anonymous said...

Barbara Kingsolver's year of eating locally - "Animal Vegetable, Miracle" is a great book and easy read. I'm glad to see this topic covered here in this very interesting blog. I think the more you know about this topic, the harder it is to eat any other way. The number one emailed article in the New York Times right now is titled "Yes, We have no Bananas" - about how bananas (which Barbara Kingsolver describes as the "humvees" of the vegetable world for their ginormous carbon footprint) came to be marketed to the American public and how the downfall of the bananas is nigh! Sobering words for one as dependent on them as our smoothie-addicted family!

AWOL Mommy said...

Since all of us mothers of many have so much time to read, I thought I might as well heap on another book recommendation. _The Unsettling of America_ by Wendell Berry is totally ground-shaking. He goes into great detail about the sociological impacts of industrialized food production. How our country's move away from small farms has devalued rural professions in general, increased ignorance about food content and growing conditions and made the home a place of consumption rather than production. This book sprang to my mind as soon as I read Red's original post here, because he gets at the idea that fresh, local, small-farm produced should sometimes trump "organic". Nonetheless, Red, I don't think you should underestimate the importance of the "organic" stamp, even if it has become trendy, there are some serious standards there. The last thing I will say is this: how hysterical are those packagings that label the contents as 70% organic?! I see it mostly on crackers and chips and other husband favorites. I always think, "hmm, I think that that 30% of chemicals, plastics, and additives is still a little bit of a downside." Maybe it is just me.. Wendell Berry, you would be horrified.

Mary Alice said...

I have to say, though, that I love the Organic Tostitos, not for the lack of pesticides, but because they are just such a good, substantial, corn-y chip, they are like restaurant style chips. In New York City, you can get Rosa Mexicana's chips from Fresh Direct, but I think anything that is bringing good tortilla chips to the masses is a good thing, especially if you make your own salsa this summer, so maybe Red will post her recipe? K makes a great mango salsa as well.

Mary Alice said...

BTW, is anyone using cloth wipes? I have some that I use for hands and faces, but I was thinking of switching to them for bottoms as I now have a diaper pail in my nursery that only has wipes going in to it, which seems dumb. Questions -- do you do the wet in the warmer method or some sort of spray?

Anonymous said...

I use cloth wipes and love them. If you're cloth diapering, there's no reason not to also use cloth wipes. Your question makes me laugh because it's your 5th baby, right? I can't believe anyone uses the wipe warmer past the first infant! What a loving mom! I just run the wipes under the sink, but I change diapers in the bathroom (BTW, this is the preferred Montessori method, b/c this way the baby associates "going to the bathroom" with the bathroom early on). California Baby also makes a diaper spray that is amazing - I've used it on my face, my kids' hands, etc. - and it gets meconium off in a flash. So, you could spray with that and then use the cloth wipes. There's a great SAHM on ebay who sells adorable cloth wipes, I'm sure a quick search would reveal her.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the organic lifestyle -- I'm reading Gorgeously Green by Sophie Uliano. She has some really good ideas about living a green lifestyle (though you'll definitely want to ignore the parts on TM in the yoga section, and another part on sex ...ugh). I like that she includes websites, because we are military and currently live in rural Texas, where organic/natural/local food is non-existant!
Regarding cloth wipes -- I use flannel wipes. Wash them like you wash cloth diapers. I use water and Kissaluvs Diaper Lotion Potion -- Love it!
That's all for now. I just discovered this blog and I'm loving it! :)

Mary Alice said...

Okay, so following the links Ellie suggested I learned that NJ state law prohibits the sale of raw milk. We are totally over regulated in this state, but that is a matter for another day.

We are going to the farmers market tomorrow and I hope to talk to some of the people from local dairies about at least getting local cheese, etc. K, any thoughts?

When my family came to the US in the 1850s they had a dairy farm in Upstate New York, and while it is no longer farmed, we still spend time there in the summer. The dairy farms are getting fewer and fewer, the area is significantly depressed. I was surprised to see in the listings for NY State that the raw milk sold directly at the farms costs less per half gallon then the milk I buy in the grocery store, perhaps because even though growing organic is expensive, so it the pasturization process as well as the transport and grocery store middle man?

I definately want to read more about this.

AWOL Mommy said...

where are these salsa recipes?!

k said...

Alice, I'm sure we will chat more about this but at the Saturday market in Princeton Junction there is a local cheese person. I don't know if he sells at the Sunday lawrenceville market (I'll call you since I think we are going tomorrow morning).

There is also a dairy that sells to a few of our local grocery stores called "Trickling Springs Creamery" which is a local dairy, they buy milk within a small radius of their plant, and the only "pasteurize" not "ultra-pasteurize" there milk. They apparently sell a bunch of other dairy products but I've only ever seen the milk.

Red are they down near you? They are in Chambersburg, PA I idea where that is :)

What I would love to find is someone at least semi-nearby that is doing some grain...perhaps grain is just not a jersey thing.

mad cow said...

Juris Mater,

Thanks for the shout out. To answer your question, our feces is home-grown. We used to import it, but that's how I got my name. :(

Mad Cow

Maria said...

In states where the sale of "raw milk" is prohibited, you can often get around it by "buying shares" in an actual cow at a local dairy. As part-owner of the cow, you have legitimate rights to its product. So the farmer isn't selling you milk, he's selling you a cow and you are just getting the product of your cow. Clever.

I used to live in OH where they outlawed raw milk while I was working for a State Senator. I know several people who started legally getting their raw milk in this way. You should check with local dairys.

Ellie Raduns said...

I second what Maria said. The "Cow Share" program is really a great idea. In addition to milk supply for your family, it also turns into a meat supply when the cow is finally butchered. Usually it only provides hamburger due to the toughness and age of cow, but it is still neat. If any of you live near Amish or mennonite communities they are usually willing to do something like this with their cows. That is how we get our milk here in NY. We really love it!

For those of you who are in NJ there is a campaign going on to legalize the sale of raw milk.
It will tell you how to get involved:)

Also keep in mind that if you don't have access to raw dairy, you can always stick with cultured dairy products for all the calcium with the correct bacteria counts to aid in digestion.

As many people has already pointed out ultra pasteurized products have no nutritional benefit to them. Interesting fact: they don't even required refrigeration and expiration dates are typically 2 months or more post packaging date...Raw milk sours 1-1.5 weeks post milking...scary thought.

4ddintx said...

I love all this talk about raw milk, though it is also my largest food buying frustration. There are no cow shares or raw milk producers around here. The only organic milk I can buy is ultra-pasteurized. I can get milk that is from a local dairy and merely pasteurized, but it is by no means close to organic. It's frustrating when you know what you want to feed your family but are unable to do so.

Thanks for all of the book recommendations throughout this whole comment thread. I have read maybe a third of those mentioned but now have a great reading list for my next set of inter-library loan requests!

Courtney said...

I know some mentioned buying directly from Farmer's Markets and buying fruit that's in season as a way to buy organic and nutritious food economically, but are there additional ways to buy healthy food for our families without spending so much (especially with the price of groceries and gas right now)? Also, can anyone point to a good source for determining which fruits are in season during different times of the year? Thanks!

Mary Alice said...

How we finance all this is a great question, and one that is on my heart and mind at the moment, so let me share a few thoughts.

Veggies: As Ellie mentioned, you can buy a share in a farm crop (often called a CSA) where you get a box of produce from the farm every week through the growing season, which in the northeast is may-november. Today I met a woman who buys no other produce besides her CSA for the whole season and has enough left to freeze or preserve for much of the winter. She said that it was a tremendous savings over buying organic at the grocery store.

You can find a CSA farm near you through Local Harvest

Also, fruit and vegetables in season are much less expensive -- my grocery now has strawberries for 99 cents, they were $4 in the winter. Here is a guide where you can click on produce to see the season .

Milk and Dairy: We have recently decided to switch from organic milk at the grocery store to hormone free milk at a local "micro-dairy", for a savings of several hundred dollars a year. I plan to put the savings towards other food purchases.

The farm I will buy the cheese from also sells eggs. The eggs are $5 a dozen. This strikes me as somewhat obscene, except that when I compare that to what I spend on boxed cold cereal, an egg breakfast with homemade bread would cost about the same as a box of cereal for our family of six eaters, so we could do that once or twice a week, especially if we had oatmeal or homemade granola on other days, which are both way cheaper than Special K.

Bread: We use a bread machine to bake our own whole wheat bread with flax and wheat germ. We love the taste, and it is definately a savings compared with how expensive the breads with real ingredients are becoming. Also, it is so wonderful to come home from church on sunday to the smell of a loaf of bread.

Meat: This is a really tough one. I don't know for sure, but I have heard that a whole chicken from an organic farm can cost $20 So, that is basically my meat budget for the whole week! I could make up part of the difference by adding in some more meatless meals, especially using dried bean recipes. I also don't need to cook as heavily as I often do, considering that four out of the six people in my house are little kids and the other two of us could stand to shed a few, a hearty root vegetable soup served with salad and bread should be a fine dinner, as would a mexican dish made with beans instead of meat. Even when we do have meat, if we ate a real serving (size of our fist) along with plenty of vegetables, even preparing the vegetables with some good fats for taste and heartiness, our meat purchases would go much further. If I buy a flank steak, I could probably use half and freeze half. Growing up, there was rarely more than one serving of meat per person, and that usualy went to Dad, so you had to fill up on salad and side dishes if you were still hungry.

Other savings: I am also saving a lot at the check out by my switch to cloth diapers and using more rags than paper towels. We don't use any paper napkins or plates. We don't eat out often and when we go on outings I try to bring lunch whenever possible. This was a crazy change, because at first our grocery bill went way up, since we were putting restaurants in a different budget category, but of course one affects the other!

Anyone else have thoughts on working these changes in to your routine in a way that won't break your family?

Right Said Red said...

MaryAlice made some great points, so please read her comment. I will add that the more things you can make from scratch, the more money you will save. Buying pre-prepared things with an organic label is REALLY expensive.

One way we save a lot of money is on breakfast--don't buy pre-prepared breakfast bars (granola bars) or cereals. You can make your own granola (I can post a recipe if you are interested), and you can also make oatmeal, pancakes, etc., all whole grain and good for you, and all of them are much cheaper than cereal. Cereal is really a rip-off and most kinds have very little nutritional value.

Another way to save is to cut meat out at least one night per week, possibly two. Learn to cook more meals with beans (those you soak yourself which are really cheap!). This allows you to buy good organic or natural meat on the other nights.

Don't spend money on drinks (cut back on juice/sodas/etc)

Make your own sauces, seasoning "packets" etc. from scratch. This really saves a lot of money.

Those are my tips. Good luck!

texas mommy said...

I'm sorry I've missed most of this discussion. I have been planning on switching to raw milk (especially as I just had to start shelling out $15 a month to consume more bacteria in pill form). Here is an article on raw milk that Mr. Incredible forwarded me awhile ago. Fortunately, it is legal in Texas!