Wednesday, August 27, 2008

give me a crock-pot and some veggies and call me gerber!

one of my absolute favorite blogs is a year of crockpotting. this woman decided to cook in her crock-pot every day of 2008. she invited all of us to join in and learn from her journey. the best part, in my opinion, are not the pot roast or soup recipes (we've all seen those before), but the unique things she makes in there. for food! we've heard the benefits of making your own baby food many times, but that usually included slaving over a steamy stove and lots of messy pots and pans. not this way! even if you don't have a baby right now she mentions using these cooked and pureed veggies in a deceptively delicious way and "sneaking" them into food for extra nutrition for your family.

she also has posts about making crayons, cream of mushroom soup, and other such frugally green items. so-dust off your crock-pot and see it as your new green friend!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Saving "tons" on lunch

It's that time of year . . . the yellow school buses are rolling out of the bus barn, the pencil sharpener is waking up and moms and dads around the world are preparing to pack daily lunches once again. I think that we'd all agree that "brown bagging" it is definitely the least expensive way to eat lunch at school . . . not to mention the healthiest way! Hopefully after reading this post you'll have a few more ways to save some cash as well as the lovely planet. Let me explain . . .

Every kid produces an average of 67 pounds of lunchbox waste per year. That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school ( think baggies, wrappers, yogurt containers, juice boxes, plastic silverware, paper bags . . . enter Lunchopolis, Laptop Lunches, Lunchsense, Kid Conserve and other lunchbox systems.


Laptop Lunch System in Primary

Medium Lunchbox
Waste-Free Lunch Kit
These lunchbox systems will run you around $30 - $40 but believe me, you'll save that much and more . . . I'll explain:

First of all, Laptop Lunches are phthalate free, bisphenol-A (BPA) free and lead free. Lunchopolis is PVC and lead free. Lunchsense is BPA lead and PVC free. Kid Conserve is made of recycled cotton and non-leaching food grade stainless steel. You're saving your kiddo exposure to some fantastic chemicals - bravo!!!

Second you've got reusable containers that fit perfectly in the box so that saves trash and cash. No more buying lunch bags and Ziplocs to store lunch in. You can also buy a "back-up" set of containers so that while one set is being washed, the other set can be packed for the next day's lunch - handy dandy. Using one plastic sandwich bag per school day will cost approximately $10 a year. With a lunchbox system you never need to use plastic bags.

Third - more trash and cash savings: think juice boxes, yogurt, bottled water, granola bar wrappers, chip bags . . . using a lunchbox system encourages bulk buying. For example, packing one 8 ounce juice box in your child’s lunch every school day will cost approximately $224 a year. Refilling your reusable drinking bottle every school day from a 128 ounce bottle of juice would cost approximately $144 a year. That’s a savings of $80 (see you've paid for the lunchbox and it's guts already!!!). An individual serving of organic yogurt costs approximately $1.50. A 32 ounce container of the same yogurt costs approximately $3 and you get up to 5 servings to fill your reusable container. Individual 8 oz bottles of spring water will cost you approximately $47 a year. Using a reuseable waterbottle and water bought in a 1 to 5 gallon container will cost approximately $5 to $11 a year . . . . you get the point.

Other ways to save:
Pack a reusable cloth napkin
Pack real silverware - afraid your kid will lose your nice silverware (they will :)? Take a trip to your neighborhood thrift store and stock up so that you won't have to worry about granny's silver going missing.

Just think, if every child did this - Money normally spent on waste hauling could be used in the classroom instead.

If you are looking for some creative, healthy and fun lunch ideas for the 180 days that you all pack lunches, check here.
Learn to pack a no waste lunchbox here.

Packing lunches in containers means a bit more work . . . no more easy to throw in Quaker granola bars, snack packs of Doritos and Gogurt. However, calculating the cost to your wallet as well as to the environment shows that the extra effort pays off in the end.

Monday, August 18, 2008

move over mcnuggets!

i am on a mission to get convenience food without the cost to my wallet and health. i LOVE convenience food cuz i think it's so yummy and so....well....convenient! i've tried several things already and love having the power to make something "packaged" my very own self! it is very empowering. for some reason when i look at things in the store all neatly wrapped and labeled it never even occurs to me that I could make that. longer! i tried my very own "mcnuggets" and boy were they good! i even sliced up some apple dippers on the side:) they really tasted so good and even my boys liked them (after years of the ones from the golden arches). super easy...wanna try?

-put some corn flakes, special k, or other cereal in your blender/food processor. chop -them to oblivion. add some salt, pepper or other spices to taste and maybe a little flour as well.
-cut up some chicken (boneless, skinless is easiest)
-dip chicken bits in egg and roll in the crushed cereal mixture

wasn't that fun? you can buy or make your own sweet 'n sour, bbq, honey mustard, or any kind of sauce! i put mine in little ziplocs in portions of 8-10 so i can pull 'em out and microwave for a warm healthy, and oh-so-convenient meal for my boys!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

they're grrrrrrrrrrrreat!!!

i have no original creativity, but boy can i spot a good idea when i see one! check out a multitude of ways to repurpose all those cereal boxes you're tossing...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

t-shirt bags...who would have thought!?!

this is SUCH a great idea! it is reusing something we all have (t-shirts that aren't being worn), it is frugal (pretty much free) and it provides a an alternative to plastic bags. it even eliminates the need to produce and buy reusable grocery bags! so frugal and so green on so many levels! sigh. if only i had a sewing machine. if you do and you make one of these will you PLEASE email me the pic...i will post it and you will be famous! (ok, maybe not famous, but i will think you are really really cool.)

also-these are much more compact than the bags you can buy for the same purpose so you could actually just roll and put in your purse so that when you shop you would actually have the reusable bag you meant to use and if something leaks...throw it in with your laundry!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Car Lockdown Update

Well, we lasted 6 days. On Saturday we had to free our car in order to run a group of errands for the Family Business in the next town over. And on Sunday we drove it to a wedding near Salem. We figure we saved at least $40 worth of gas by not driving it for nearly a week.

Not driving helped us save money in other areas, too. For one, we didn't use any fast food drive throughs. Haven't you had those days when you've been shopping and you're stuck in traffic and the kids are whining that they're hungry and you spot a McDonalds and suddenly you've blown $10 and are now the proud owner of two horrid plastic kids meal toys?

Or how about this scenario: You're in Target getting toilet paper, dental floss, and a garden hose and your child sees some little trinket and it's only $2 so you let him get it. And oh look, this completely unecessary candle holder is so cute and its on clearance for only $4! So you throw it in your cart. You know what I'm talking about right?

Well, walking everywhere forced us to plan better. Since we were always close to home and there isn't really such a thing as pedestrian traffic jams, there was no excuse for fast food. (They were too far to walk to anyway.) Anything we might have purchased that was uncessary wasn't even a temptation because we knew would have to carry it home. When you've got to fit all your purchases into a backpack or a stroller basket you tend to only buy the things you really need.

We enjoyed walking everywhere so much than on Sunday night we locked the car up again. We know we'll have to use it on Tuesday and possibly Thursday, but it would be awesome to save another $40+ this week. How did you do? Want to join us for another week?

Friday, August 1, 2008

beautifying the earth

today we walked home from a playground and i started being disturbed by all of the trash along the way. ari (5 1/2) and i started talking about how ugly it made things and how people make choices that impact other people, animals, and plant life. finally when we were almost home we decided...hey! let's pick this stuff up! we didn't have a bag and we were almost home, but we came up with all of this in our little impromptu litter walk. we are going to be more intentional next time and the discussion sparked was even better than the beauty restored.