Frugality and living organically - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 09-15-2005, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Well DH is finally crunching with me...
So all we eat is organic... well let's say 90% which I have to say is really killing my grocery budget. We don't eat meat, (no chicken, fish either) so I'm at the store like twice a week to get veggies and fruit cuz if I buy too much they go bad so quickly
We're doing organic detergents, body products, cleaning products, literally as much as possible.
What I'm looking for are ideas how to trim the grocery budget.
I'm going to make family wipes (I know DH won't use them, but the rest of us will) which will save on TP and cutting out paper towels.. but does anyone have an idea about saving $ on food???

We have NO whole foods store near us so I have to shop the organic section at Wegmans.

TIA for any suggestions
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#2 of 15 Old 09-15-2005, 03:16 PM
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#3 of 15 Old 09-15-2005, 06:36 PM
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do you have a coop or buying club in your area? basically a group of friends can arrange a bulk order and distribute from one person's home. we had a buying club in our area that evolved into a co-op, where you can work for a % off your groceries.

Also at the co-op the nice thing is that they give away things that are starting to get wilted but can be easily "revived" by cutting the stems and soaking in water. taking part in a community garden is another idea.

something that has saved us money is using more nonfat dry milk. we always buy organic whole milk for ds, which can add up. rather than buying lowfat milk separately for us, we just prepare the dry milk and add a little fresh. we always use dry milk in any recipes and have had good results.

another idea is to make more things from scratch rather than prepared. lately, we've started to make our own vanilla pudding and were amazed at how easy it is.
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#4 of 15 Old 09-15-2005, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
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I wish there was a coop in our area. Back in the early 80s there was one, but alas no more
I make everything from scratch, pizza, bread, quiche, stuffed squash etc. The only thing that is boxed ins organic mac and cheese (annies brand... little arthurs)

guess i'll have to lurk more!

edited to remove 1 finger typos
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#5 of 15 Old 09-15-2005, 08:57 PM
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If you would give a general location for where you are? It may help people give suggestions.

Can you grow a garden?
If you are in the West there is Azure that delvieres to a number of states at least once a month. they have loads of stuff and and good prices IMO.
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#6 of 15 Old 09-15-2005, 09:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Yea, sorry guess that would help.
I live in Bethlehem PA, have a very small yard that I will plant differently next year. There's really no room to grow squashes etc, but I could grow tomatoes, beans peppers stuff that doesn't take a huge amount of space.

DH has been looking around for organic farmers that we could buy directly from without too much luck. There are a couple but they usually sell on Sundays and we're out of town at church (50 miles away... he works there) until mid afternoon at the earliest.
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#7 of 15 Old 09-17-2005, 08:58 AM
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i don't know how much this will help but...

*make a meal plan if you don't already. it will help when shopping, especially if you are buying in bulk.
*organic potatoes are great and generally cheap. spiced bengal potatoes are delicious. potato spuds for dinner are also great and kids love them. get a good potato cookbook. you'd be amazed at how tasty and versatile they can be 3 out of 7 days a week.
*pumpkin is cheap too. pumpkin soup with freshly baked bread is yummy!
*maybe cutting down on the organic household stuff can help your grocery budget grow a little. i use organic laundry detergent, shampoo and toothpaste, but baking soda and general dishwashing detergent (phosphate free of course) for cleaning elsewhere.
*the place you are currently buying organic produce from - ask the manager if they would be interested in giving you a bulk discount for organic dried goods or fresh foods like potatoes and such. foods that will last for a good month or two.
*have you searched online for organic farmers in your state? contacted an organic body to see who supplies organic produce?
*buying organic milk when it is marked down (2 days before expiry) and making yoghurt to be consumed in the next 7 days? same with cream and making butter. just to share a little secret - we have had organic milk one week past its due date and it was perfectly fresh. i've noticed the organic stuff doesn't go off as fast as the conventional. and when it's marked down it's usually half price.
*juicing carrots have a few blemishes on them but are around $1 cheaper per kilo than table carrots. same with apples.
*try growing herbs and lettuce in pots. kale, chard also would work.
*maybe check out online suppliers of organic dried goods. sometimes they can be cheaper than the stores even with shipping.
*i've found organic passata (tomato puree) gives just as good results as organic canned tomatoes and it costs half of what canned tomato does. i use a 750g bottle ($2) of it for one dish, where as usually i'd use 2-3 cans ($4) of tomatoes for one dish.
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#8 of 15 Old 09-17-2005, 09:32 AM
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How close to Allentown are you? You can look up CSAs by town/zip on the Local Harvest website. Here's one farm with dropoffs in the Allentown area:

We have done two diff. CSAs in two diff. states, and love the quality and price of the food, relative to the price locally for buying at the store.

I'm familiar with Wegmans, and you should know that the prices of food in the Nature's Marketplace are, for the most part, competitive with the prices at our Whole Foods Market. Sometimes, WF is even more expensive. We started outsourcing for organic eggs, meat, and produce from local farms and it is so much cheaper.

I used to live in Roch. NY where Wegmans is from, and there were better prices at the co-op than at Wegmans, but I'm in a more populous place now, and there is no co-op close enough.
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#9 of 15 Old 09-17-2005, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Bekka - we're really close to Allentown. I love the idea gonna run it by DH today
I had remembered seeing that site b4 and lost the address (not on my puter) so I'm so happy to have it again!

mamamelia - thank you so much for the ideas... I was planning on the pumpkin soup b4. DD and I had it once when we ate out and she LOVED it (that's a miracle in itself) and I thought I could send it in a thermos for her lunch as well. But the rest of the ideas are great.

I tried to do herbs in the garden this summer but I have kind of a black thumb. I'm gonna try them indoors for the fall.... wish me luck. This is really my dream... that and owning enough land to grow all our own veggies, have a couple of goats and sheep and chickens... who knows? If you dream it you can do it.

Thanks mamas... you're all an inspiration

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#10 of 15 Old 09-17-2005, 11:13 AM
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Organic food is a huge part of our budget. It used to be so much less when they were small.

Cooking from scratch, which you are already doing, is the biggest money -saver. You probably already buy rice, seeds, nuts, flours, legumes etc in bulk, which is a huge savings. Not buying meat helps.

I have a garden, too.

I spend a lot of money on food, even when I try not to. Even when I don't buy the nice oils and such that we love.

I don't buy a lot of body products. That adds up fast! I do buy essential oils, shampoos, toothpaste and soap. But that's about it. Maybe a nice lotion once in a while. Bronners in bulk etc.

The cheapest dishwashing liquid is Ecover, which i use sparingly. I use Arm & Hammer for the clothes. I don't buy many cleaning products except Bon ami and Ecover multipurpose spray. I have hard wood floors and use an oil soap occas, but mostly i just damp mop. I use vinegar, alcohol, baking soda etc ., which are all cheap.
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#11 of 15 Old 09-17-2005, 07:21 PM
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You've gotten great tips. I'll just add one -- if you want to grown squash, it can be trellised, saving a lot of space.

Food is a huge expense for us. We're probably 97% organic. With the prices of everything going up, we're going to have to take money out of savings this year, I think. We spend, on average 525ish a month on food for 2 adults and a toddler. Ouch. I can't get it down, though, without sacrificing quality.
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#12 of 15 Old 09-19-2005, 02:49 PM
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For cleaning products and body products, our only purchases are Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils. (Exceptions are laundry detergent and shampoo, which can be eliminated to save more money.)

If you can't form a buying club or co-op, you can buy bulk dried organics from a place like Azure Standard.

We are considering the purchase of 1/8 or 1/4 of a grass-fed cow for meat, once we get our freezer back after moving. It will make quality meet much more affordable, and we'll have lots of bones for soup broths, I hope.

Wife to j, homeschooling mom to five wonders

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#13 of 15 Old 09-19-2005, 05:01 PM
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I had to respond because we used to live in Pennsburg, just outside of Quakertown and also very close to Emmaus We're in NC now.

Shopping organic is expensive. I found Giant in Quakertown (a bit of a drive but I'm sure there are Giant stores closer) had a decent organic selection and their prices were good at times. I just bought what was on sale mostly. Wegman's is great but spendy, ditto for WFs and that's a haul for you. Trader Joe's is quite a jaunt too but maybe you could get down there 3x a year and stock up? We used to go to the one in Wayne. Their prices on dairy (which can be frozen!), etc. are pretty good. Produce and meats are sort of limited but the produce prices are good. Lots of other yummies too.

We got delivery from this company before and if we stayed in the area we might have been weekly buyers. I'm not sure.

They didn't deliver door to door in our area but shipped us stuff via UPS. There is a good variety and a decent amount in each box and you can customize it. I don't recall how it worked out exactly price-wise, but maybe consider ordering a one time only box and seeing how it compares to what you are paying now for similar amounts of produce?

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#14 of 15 Old 09-20-2005, 12:56 AM
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Wow you have gotten so many great responses.

lets see -skip all convience products and bottled drinks. juice is also a waste.

look into community gardens next year. freeze or can what you grow. same goes for buying cheap produce in season. they had large boxes of caning tomatoes (organic for $6) easily 1/2 bushels. Also get to know the old people in your neighhood. there may be some willing to share thier hobby garden produce and thier no longer needed canning supplies.

Apples - look around at real estate lots for trees with apples (or other fruit trees). If the house is empty the real estate agents usually love it when someone wants to pik them because otherwise they fall and rot and stink and that is not a selling point. you usually have to cut out bad spots and check for worms but they make great apple sauce, deserts, and apple butter. You can also juice them and freeze or can the juice.

there is a book about gardening in small spaces and making the most of your space. look in the "diggen in the eart " forum for all that good stuff.

start talking to everyone. my friends and I all went organic at once and could easily form our own co-op. It would be a considerable amount of work but we would cut our grocery bill in half. It would be worth a little expense (driving to pick it up) and 5-10 hours of work a week.

definitely get in touch with every family farm within driving distance. a good place to do this is if your area has a yearly yard and garden show, home and garden, farm and garden whatever.

cleaners - use regualr salt, baking soda and vinigar for cleaning if that is what you use. Dr. Bronners doesn't work so well with hard water and it has suddenly gotten very expensive around here. but if it works for you it can be found at a good price. If you prefer prepared cleaners I have done extensive price comparisons and ingrediant comparrisons and quality comparrisons and IMHO Method cleaners win hands down. and they are cheap. and they smell realy nice. Ecover is a close second. Even a tied first but not as available around here. They also smell nice.

family cloth. I can't believe how much we are saving on toilet paper and pads. Holy crap batman.

cut other places to make room for the most nutritious food.

speakign on co-ops. check the co-op boards here. sometimes they do organic and natrual foods that are shelf stable and not too much for shipping. also household nd body products.

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#15 of 15 Old 09-20-2005, 09:30 AM
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Hey- I used to live in Bethlehem- I saw someone mentioned the Coverd Bridge Produce. Also there are a few really good health food stores in the area- one in Allentown and one in Hellertown (at least there used to be.) I live in about 45 minutes away in the Boyertown/Pottstown area. I just joined a food co-op. If you are interested, I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem to email you the catalog. The prices are better than most small health food stores but not always as good as the big chains. PM me if you are interested!

I do just about all of my cleaing with watered-down vinegar, tea tree oil or lavendar oil. They are all natual disenfectents. Better Basics for the Home is a great book on making your own natural cleaning & beauty supplies!! I think it's alot cheaper than buying premade stuff
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