Thursday, October 16, 2008

thrifting for thursday

Please keep the ideas for living on less coming... you can email me at whimsyattack AT gmail DOT com. Each week (Thursday) I'm going to do a Thrift post, and I'll include some of the ideas that you guys have given me, too.

Our first guest suggestion is from Anonymous. She gave me a whole bunch of ideas,
but I'm going to highlight her suggestions about food for this week, since that's what I'm going to talk about.

She writes:
  • Never buy processed foods. Generally the more processed the more expensive and the worse it is for you. I make our bread and any sweets we might consume. I cook all meals from real ingredients not from prepackaged nastiness. I never do frozen foods (except for vegetables and soy and I buy generic of those). We don't eat any boxed meals except for Mac and Cheese and I wait for it to be on sale or have a coupon. Also, buy locally grown whenever you can-- it's cheaper and fresher.
Thank you, Anonymous! Dear Anonymous is writing, um, anonymously because she was worried that people would hate her ideas. Here's what I think: everything is a matter of moderation. First off, decide where you are on the Consumer Spectrum. Maybe you eat out every night - so a way to live on less, for you, is to cook at least three meals at home each week. Maybe you already do this - so a way for you to live on less is to start buying less processed foods - more actual ingredients... you get the idea. In the end, none of this is about making anyone feel guilty. It's about action. Doing something - anything - to reduce your consumption/expenses and decrease your NEED of HAVING. I know you understand.

Now my first idea for being a more conservative consumer is to make your own baby food. I know this isn't something that's going to help everyone, but it's a start. And it's where I started when Alice began solid food.

Those wee glass jars of baby food are seriously pricey, yo. And on top of this, we're trying to go with organic and locally grown produce, whenever possible, which... the organic baby food can be TWICE as expensive as the other stuff. Occasionally we still have to feed Alice the jarred stuff (when we're traveling) - and I've found a favorite organic brand that is pretty local to this area, and it's the best tasting (and most REAL tasting out of all of them), but I only buy it if I can get it on sale.

Anyway... about the making of the baby food. Is it really a Thrifty thing to do? Yes, absolutely. I shop for produce (both fresh and frozen) when it's on sale, and then I buy a whole bunch of it and make the baby food then, freezing for later use. I've worked it out that I'm saving at least $0.35 on each little ziploc container that I make - and that's the low end, it can reach upwards of $0.50 per container - and that's a savings, mind you, especially when you can spend over $0.85 per jar of the store bought stuff.

As for HOW to make the baby food? It's so much easier than you ever imagined.

Purchase produce: fresh or frozen, make sure it's on sale. And then buy a bunch of it.

Heat water in pan with a steam basket.

Add vegies or fruit. (If you're doing fresh vegies or fruit, make sure you was
h, peel -if necessary-, and chop up the items before putting them in the steamer basket.)

Steam. (With lid ON - I took it off to show you how pretty the green beans are!)

When complete, allow to cool a bit and put them in your blender.

If the item is thick (green beans, peas, sweet potatoes, squash), you'll want to add a little of the cooking water. Eyeball this and see what consistency looks best for your baby.


Don't scare your child with the blender.

Once blended, pour concoction into ziploc storage containers. I use these because they're easy and reusable, but some people put the food into ice trays and, once frozen, place the little food cubes into freezer bags. I think the ziploc containers are a little easier, but that's just me.

Notice the difference between the store bought green beans and the homemade ones. Which ones would YOU want to eat? Yeah, I thought so.

Allow to cool before placing in the freezer.

When you're ready to use a packet of food, remove from freezer and allow to thaw in the refrigerator. I usually take a couple of packets out of the freezer before I go to bed at night and they're all ready to go in the morning. Done!

Next week: we're going to talk about (gulp) ENTERTAINMENT. If you have any ideas about fun things to do that require less dough, let me know.


Alice said...

i really really hope that if/when i have kids, i can convince myself to get off my ass and make my own food. EVERYONE agrees it's a good idea, and easy, and cheap. hopefully when it comes to the health and welfare of a wee little person i'll have more ambition than when it comes to myself :-)

i love this series already. for reals.

wandering nana said...

For a party idea... to keep cost down, let someone else have the party (hehehehehehe) "}

It's fun to party and have everyone bring something. It helps keep cost down. We've also done the party where we go to the grocery store and everyone each person has $5 and you buy food... then go back to someone's house and you put it all together. Cheap but fun.

Megan said...

I think I might try this. You make it sound so easy. What happens to be some of Alice's favorites? Any easier to do than others? THANKS!! You have such great ideas!

Maggie said...

Entertainment ideas (I know, I am jumping ahead...but you asked!)

*local library: ours has movies, tv on dvd, the works. And they will get things for you interlibrary loan. Also? Free story hours, kids activities, etc.

*community activities: my community offers a free children's farm, free trails that network the entire area, free concerts during the spring, fall and summer

*for kids: almost every community has a XXX Parent magazine (or something similar) -- usually with an associated website. If you look on the website, there is frequently a daily calendar of free or very cheap kids activities for every day of the week!

*I enjoy movies and tv shows on dvd, so I have a subscription to Blockbuster Online, which has been not very expensive and highly enjoyable

Pickles and Dimes said...

That was a cool step-by-step tutorial. Your beans look so much better!

For entertainment, I don't know if this is just a Minneapolis thing, but the libraries here have this thing where on a certain day, they will have a certain number of free passes available to local museums. You can get up to 4 free passes for something like the Science Museum, which usually costs about $20/person. Other places have special days and times when admittance is free.

Sam said...

Oh, you just gave me an idea. With my firstborn ,Sam, I made his food and did the ice cube tray thingy method.

I am getting ready to start my second, Harper, on solids and I love your little ziploc storage thingy idea. Looks so much easier.


Amanda said...

My kids are beyond baby food but I have several friends who do this and find that it's much easier than they ever thought. The ones I know do the ice cube tray trick and swear by it.

I think Jerry Seinfeld's wife wrote a book on other ways to use purees in your cooking.

tearese said...

my neighbor in Everett always bought her 15 month old individual toddler the stew with applesauce or something...and said it was cheap because they were only like 1.50 each. And he ate them for every meal. Guess its just a different perspective?