42 Easy Ways to Cut Down on Food Waste (Seriously, We All Need To)

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DIY Pink Lemonade Sugar Scrub

Great Idea!

livelifeforless

sugar scrub

Ever use sugar scrub? I feel like it’s something a lot of women don’t acknowledge or know too much about, but it’s great stuff! It’s a perfect product for exfoliating, smells amazing, and leaves your skin feeling incredibly smooth. Sugar scrub is a great choice if your have sensitive skin, and wonderful to use for dry skin, as the sugar and oil combined really hydrates. However, sugar scrub isn’t the cheapest product in the world.

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Sephora offers this fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish for $65.00 and Ulta offers their Whish Sugar Scrub for $38.00. This DIY Pink Lemonade Sugar Scrub will cost you a grand total of $11.99. But, the best part about making sugar scrub is you probably already have all the ingredients in your kitchen already! To make basic, non-scented sugar scrub, all you need is two ingredients: sugar (you guessed it) and any kind of oil.

This particular…

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Eating Well on the Cheap

Eating Well on the Cheap

Saving Money on Healthy Food

Improving Emotional HealthIn the current economy, many of us are living on a budget and looking for ways to reduce food expenses while still enjoying tasty, nutritious meals. With the right tips and a little planning, it is possible to enjoy healthy food on the cheap. The more you focus on purchasing local, unprocessed food and preparing meals at home, the healthier and tastier your meals will be, the better you’ll feel, and the more money you’ll save.

You can save money and still enjoy healthy, delicious food

Making smart choices saves money. Evaluate how you spend your money on food. What unnecessary items do you purchase? Do you eat out often? The first way to save money on food is to limit or cut out unnecessary food spending. Some specific ways to do this:

  • Cut the junk. Evaluate how much money you are spending on items such as soda (regular or diet), cookies, crackers, prepackaged meals, processed foods, etc. Limit or completely cut out these unhealthy foods. Your wallet and your body will thank you.
  • Eat out less. Even just reducing your meals out by 1 or 2 times per week can save you about $15 – $25 per week. This is an easy way to save money and even have some extra to spend on higher quality foods.
  • Stick to your grocery list. The more prepared you are when you get to the store the less impulse purchases you will make. So write out a grocery list and stick to it!
  • Shop the perimeter of the store first. This way you will fill your cart with healthy whole foods like fresh produce and meat, leaving less room for the “junk food fillers” and thus saving money.
  • Cook large portions. It saves time to cook once and eat multiple times. One idea is to make a big pot of soup at the beginning of the week or whenever you go food shopping. When you don’t feel like cooking, help yourself to a hearty bowlful along with a green salad. This makes a nutritious but inexpensive lunch or dinner anytime.
  • Beware of hidden sugars. Many packaged or processed foods contain high levels of hidden sugar. They may be easy to prepare and fill your family up for cheap, but too much sugar causes rapid swings in energy and blood sugar, and can contribute to many serious health problems. Hidden sugar may be listed as corn syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, cane juice, fructose, dextrose, or maltose. Avoid foods such as instant mashed potatoes, white bread, canned soups and vegetables, refined pasta, and sugary cereals. Satisfy your sweet tooth with naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers, and sweet potatoes.

Know your good carbs from your bad carbs

Healthy carbs (sometimes known as good carbs) include whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy carbs are digested slowly, providing long-lasting energy and keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable.

Unhealthy carbs (or bad carbs) are foods such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. Unhealthy carbs digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and only short-lived energy.

Purchasing the healthiest food possible

When eating on the cheap it is still important to think about the quality/purity of the food you purchase. How foods are grown or raised has an impact on their quality and an impact your health. Organically grown food reduces the potential health and environmental hazards posed by pesticides, genetically modified food, irradiation, and additives. An investment in your food now could save you money on health bills later.

Here are a few ways to stretch your money when purchasing high quality, organic foods:

  • Buy the highest quality possible for the foods you eat the most. This way you reduce your exposure to things such as pesticides, herbicides, and antibiotics, while increasing the nutritional value of your food. Organic foods have higher levels of antioxidants and various vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and iron.
  • Use excess food money to buy higher quality food. If possible, focus on purchasing organic/grass-fed/free-range sources of meat and dairy in order to avoid the possibility of high concentrations of antibiotics and hormones being passed on to you.
  • Educate yourself. When you know which fruits and vegetables have the most chemical residue (and which have the least) you can choose to buy certain things organic (or from local farmers who do not use chemicals), and others conventionally grown.

Eating well on the cheap tip #1: Shop wisely

The conventional grocery store is not the only place to buy food. Many other venues may offer a significantly cheaper way to purchase food. Search out different types of stores and markets in your area and compare prices. It can save you a lot of money.

  • Discount stores. Warehouse or club stores like Costco and Sam’s offer great bargains. Just be sure to only purchase what you will use. Seasonal produce is often cheaper at these stores, as are foods such as boneless, skinless chicken breasts and reduced-fat cheese. Due to the very large portions you will need to carefully plan how you will use all of the food to avoid waste. It can be helpful to freeze some products in smaller, more manageable portion sizes.
  • Search out Farmers’ Markets. Many cities, as well as small towns, host weekly Farmers’ Markets. Local farmers bring their wares to specific locations, typically open-air street markets, and sell fresh food directly to you, often for less than you’d pay in the grocery store or supermarket. If you go towards the end of the market, some venders may sell their remaining perishable items at a discount. Bonus: you are supporting your local economy, the environment, and it’s a great opportunity to socialize and get to know like-minded people in your neighborhood who might want to join a CSA (community supported agriculture) group or start a buying club with you.
  • Ethnic markets and corner stores are worth looking into. Many of them feature an impressive, affordable selection of fruits and vegetables, as well as some other products.
  • Purchase generic/store brands. When you shop at conventional grocery stores, compare the unit prices on items. Often the store brand or generic brand will be cheaper than the name brand for the same quality product. Also, join the savings clubs to save some additional money.

Eating well on the cheap tip #2: Find cheaper protein options

One of most effective ways to save money on food is to learn how to purchase protein in the most affordable way.

Protein: how to save money and have high quality protein in your diet

Protein is a vital part of a healthy diet. Whether it is from meat or vegetarian sources, our body relies on protein for many of its functions. As we know, meat can be quite expensive. However, many of us in Western countries consume more animal protein than we need so by making a few adjustments to our diets we can save money AND still have plenty of protein in our diet.

  • Purchase less expensive cuts of meat and practice portion control. Not only do you save money on the cut of meat, but you can also stretch the meat for more meals when you make tasty things such as casseroles, sauces, soups, stews, and stir-fries. It is easy to add extra vegetables, beans, and whole grains to create delicious, hearty, and filling meals.
  • Experiment with vegetarian sources of protein. Veggie proteins, such as beans, are quite inexpensive, highly nutritious, easy to prepare, and taste great. Stock up on dried and/or canned beans and lentils. You’ll not only save money, but calories too. Other great sources of less expensive, high quality protein are nuts and seeds, as well as eggs. Try going meatless once a week: e.g. “Meatless Mondays.”
  • Canned fish and chicken are a great option for things like sandwiches, enchiladas, casseroles, and salads. These items last for a long time on the shelf so can be bought well ahead of time.

Eating well on the cheap tip #3: Buy in bulk

Doing things in bulk saves time and money. Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper. There are many items that can be bought in bulk – grains, dairy products, and meat, for example. You can freeze perishable items, such as meat, milk, and bread, in smaller portions to use as they are needed. It is always a good idea to buy non-perishable items, such as dried beans, grains, and canned foods, in bulk.

  • Shop for produce in season and buy by the bag. When produce is in season it is at its cheapest, as well as its best flavor and nutritional value. It’s cheaper to purchase fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges, grapefruit, potatoes, and onions by the bag, not by the piece. You will fill more lunch bags and cover more meals.
  • Check the freezer aisle. Look for the largest packages of vegetables in the frozen foods section. These are great for stir-fries and soups. Frozen and fresh veggies are equally nutritious, still taste good, and often the largest frozen bags will offer the best value.
  • Buy all your grains in bulk (including cereals) and store them in airtight containers. Examples are whole grain brown rice, millet, barley, and rolled oats. Brown Rice can be a little more expensive than white rice, but the higher nutritional value is well worth it. Whole grains are an excellent source of nutrients, including protein.
  • Bulk protein comes in many forms. Meat is often sold in larger packages/portions at a lower price. Split packages up into meal-size portions and freeze for later use. For example, you can buy a whole chicken and have the butcher cut it up for you. Dried legumes (beans) and peas can easily be bought in bulk packages or bulk bins at grocery stores. Canned beans can be bought in flats at warehouse stores. Also look for two-for-one specials on dairy products, which you can store by freezing.

Eating well on the cheap tip #4: Stretch your money when you cook

Preparing large portions of food to use over multiple meals saves time and energy. When cooking, it’s also important to think about how to incorporate leftovers into new meals. Finally, presentation has a big effect on the appeal of a meal, so putting a little effort into the way a meal looks can make a huge difference.

Save money by cooking in bulk

It can be a good idea to pick one or two days a week to cook meals that can be eaten on multiple days. Some easy ideas for cooking in bulk:

  • Cook once and eat multiple times. Cook a large meal at the beginning of the week. It is easy to double a recipe so that you have extra to use later in the week for quick lunches or dinners when you don’t feel like cooking. You can also freeze half for another day. Add a green salad or other side dish and you have a delicious, easy meal.
  • One-pot dishes, such as soups, stews, or casseroles, are especially good because they generally save preparation time, money, and dishwashing. Plus they make great leftovers. You can even cook one pot of oatmeal and heat up a serving size each morning. Rolled or steel cut oats are nutritious, very inexpensive, and are easily varied by adding seasonal fresh fruit, nuts, or seeds to create a wonderful breakfast. This is both cheaper and more nutritious than dry cereal or flavored packets of instant oatmeal.

Make new meals from previous ones

Another key to saving money on food is to make sure you are not wasting anything. All leftovers can be used for another meal. Once you have a few easy recipes to use for leftovers, they can often become some of the yummiest meals of the week. Some ideas:

  • Soups, stews, or stir-fries: These meals are ideal for using leftovers. Create a base with broth or a sauce, or by sautéing onion or garlic, then add any leftovers you have, such as whole grains, veggies, and meat. A small amount of meat is perfect to add flavor and substance, but be sure to cut it into small pieces so it goes further. You can also be very creative with herbs and spices to create unique flavors. With any recipe, make sure you reheat all leftovers thoroughly.
  • Everything burritos: Most leftovers make very tasty burritos. Simply put everything into a tortilla shell (try to get whole grain) with a little low-fat cheese and enjoy. For example, cut up leftover meat into small pieces, add a can of beans and  any leftover grains and veggies.
  • Experiment with combinations: You may be surprised how many foods with different flavors go well together. For example, try making a large green salad and adding cooked whole grains and veggies on the top, as well as pieces of meat from another meal. Add your favorite healthy dressing and you have a wonderful new dish.

Food presentation: Make meals look festive and inviting

Remember that presentation makes a huge difference in the appeal of a meal. Eating on a budget can still be elegant, romantic, fun, and of course tasty. Some easy ways to spice up the table:

  • Colorful meals: Using small amounts of contrasting colors can be pleasing on the eye. Add some bright green herbs or some yellow frozen corn to a dish of black beans or lentils, for example, and save some to sprinkle on top for a garnish. Use carrots, red tomatoes, or red and yellow peppers to brighten a green leafy salad.
  • Inviting table setting: There are many creative ways to set your table so that it is inviting and beautiful. Place a candle or some fresh flowers in the center of the table. Use a colorful tablecloth or place mats. Fold colorful napkins at each place setting.
  • Involve the kids: Invite children to set the table. Let them decorate it in their own unique way.

Eating well on the cheap tip #5: Dessert can be affordable, healthy, and delicious

Dessert can be affordable, healthy, and deliciousCutting out sugary junk food does not mean that you have to cut out all desserts. We all enjoy sweet treats, so it is important to know how to include scrumptious, healthy, and affordable desserts in your menu. Instead of expensive, processed desserts packed with sugar, such as cakes, cookies, pastries, and muffins, try ending a meal with delicious fresh fruit or by making your own healthier and more affordable desserts.

  • Popsicles. Freeze your own 100% fruit juice popsicles. If you don’t have a Popsicle tray you can use an ice-cube tray and freeze with small plastic spoons as handles.
  • Home baked items. Oatmeal cookies with rolled oats (whole grains) are a good example of a healthier, home baked dessert. Try reducing the amount of sugar any recipe calls for—many desserts taste just as good with less sugar.
  • Yogurt. Buy a large container of plain yogurt and make each serving unique by adding a little sweetener such as honey or seasonal fruit. You can even make your own frozen yogurt, too.
  • Frozen treats such as fruit, yogurt, and smoothies. Try freezing grapes or berries or cutting bananas or peaches into pieces and then freezing. For an amazing dessert pour a little dark chocolate sauce over the frozen fruit.
  • Chocolate. Many of us have chocolate cravings. Dark chocolate is actually quite high in anti-oxidants so enjoy the occasional square of dark chocolate (70% or higher is best) as a wonderful treat.

More help for eating well

Resources and references

Cheap healthy foods

Meal Planning: Healthy Eating On A Budget – This article has useful tips on budget food shopping. (The Diet Channel)

Eat Like A King On A Budget: A Healthy Diet Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive – This article gives straightforward tips on healthy eating on a budget. (The Diet Channel)

Resources for healthy and alternative shopping in the U.S.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce – Helpful chart ranking the 12 fruits and vegetables that are highest and lowest in pesticide residue, including a downloadable wallet-size shopping guide or smartphone app. (Foodnews.org)

Community Supported Agriculture Farms Database – A searchable database of CSA farms by state. (Alternative Farming Systems Information Center/USDA)

Local Harvest: Real Food, Real Farmers, Real Community – A great resource for finding local growers, farmer’s markets, and CSAs in your area.

Coop Directory Service: Find A Natural Food Coop Near You – Searchable database of food cooperative distributors and information on how to start a buying club. (Coop Directory)

Eat Well Guide – Find local, organic, sustainable food from farms, markets, restaurants and more in the U.S. and Canada. (Eat Well Guide)

Resources for healthy and alternative shopping internationally

Local Food Directory (UK) – Find local farmer’s markets and farm shops in the UK. (LocalFoods.org.uk)

Australian Farmers’ Markets Directory – Find local farmers’ markets in Australia. (AFMA)

Farmers’ Markets Canada – Find farmers’ markets in your region of Canada. (Farmers’ Markets Canada)

The role of sugar and salt in a cheap, healthy diet

Sodium Content of Your Food – How sodium affects your body and how to cut down on dietary sodium. Included tips on reading nutrition labels, and suggestions for cooking and shopping. (University of Maine – PDF)

Sugar Stacks – Photos showing the amount of sugar in different foods. (Sugar Stacks)

The Dangers of Sugar and Salt – Article detailing evidence that too much of these ingredients can harm health. (Harvard School of Public Health)

Facts on Sugar and Salt – Includes how to interpret food labels. (Harvard School of Public Health)

Authors: Maya W. Paul, Robert Segal, M.A., and Melinda Smith, M.A. Last updated: February 2015.

Community Supported Agriculture from Local Harvest©

Community Supported Agriculture

Thinking about signing up for a CSA but want to learn more about the idea before you commit? Read on.

For over 25 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.

Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. In brief:

Advantages for farmers:
  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
Advantages for consumers:
  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
  • Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

It’s a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs, and in some areas of the country there is more demand than there are CSA farms to fill it. The government does not track CSAs, so there is no official count of how many CSAs there are in the U.S.. LocalHarvest has the most comprehensive directory of CSA farms, with over 4,000 listed in our grassroots database.

Variations

As you might expect with such a successful model, farmers have begun to introduce variations. One increasingly common one is the “mix and match,” or “market-style” CSA. Here, rather than making up a standard box of vegetables for every member each week, the members load their own boxes with some degree of personal choice. The farmer lays out baskets of the week’s vegetables. Some farmers encourage members to take a prescribed amount of what’s available, leaving behind just what their families do not care for. Some CSA farmers then donate this extra produce to a food bank. In other CSAs, the members have wider choice to fill their box with whatever appeals to them, within certain limitations. (e.g. “Just one basket of strawberries per family, please.”)

CSAs aren’t confined to produce. Some farmers include the option for shareholders to buy shares of eggs, homemade bread, meat, cheese, fruit, flowers or other farm products along with their veggies. Sometimes several farmers will offer their products together, to offer the widest variety to their members. For example, a produce farmer might create a partnership with a neighbor to deliver chickens to the CSA drop off point, so that the CSA members can purchase farm-fresh chickens when they come to get their CSA baskets. Other farmers are creating standalone CSAs for meat, flowers, eggs, and preserved farm products. In some parts of the country, non-farming third parties are setting up CSA-like businesses, where they act as middle men and sell boxes of local (and sometimes non-local) food for their members.

Shared Risk

There is an important concept woven into the CSA model that takes the arrangement beyond the usual commercial transaction. That is the notion of shared risk: in most CSAs, members pay up front for the whole season and the farmers do their best to provide an abundant box of produce each week. If things are slim, members are not typically reimbursed. The result is a feeling of “we’re in this together”. On some farms the idea of shared risk is stronger than others, and CSA members may be asked to sign a policy form indicating that they agree to accept without complaint whatever the farm can produce.

Many times, the idea of shared risk is part of what creates a sense of community among members, and between members and the farmers. If a hailstorm takes out all the peppers, everyone is disappointed together, and together cheer on the winter squash and broccoli. Most CSA farmers feel a great sense of responsibility to their members, and when certain crops are scarce, they make sure the CSA gets served first.

Still, it is worth noting that very occasionally things go wrong on a farm like they do in any kind of business and the expected is not delivered, and members feel shortchanged. At LocalHarvest we are in touch with CSA farmers and members from all over the country. Every year we hear get complaints about a few CSA farms (two to six farms a year, over the last nine years) where something happened and the produce was simply unacceptable. It might have been a catastrophic divorce, or an unexpected death in the family. Or the weather was abominable, or the farmer was inexperienced and got in over his/her head.

In our experience, if the situation seems regrettable but reasonable a bad thing that in good faith could have happened to anyone – most CSA members will rally, if they already know and trust the farmer. These people are more likely to take the long view, especially if they have received an abundance of produce in the past. They are naturally more likely to think, “It’ll be better next year,” than are new members who have nothing to which to compare a dismal experience. The take-home message is this: if the potential for “not getting your money’s worth” makes you feel anxious, then shared risk may not be for you and you should shop at the farmers market.

Sometimes we hear complaints from CSA members in situations where it appears to us that nothing really went wrong, but the member had unreasonable expectations. In the hope of minimizing disappointment and maximizing satisfaction, we’ve prepared the following tips and questions.

http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

Basic Laundry Soap – DIY

It’s pretty easy to make homemade laundry soap, so I’ve includes a basic recipe and a website that has directions with pictures that I like. Let’s start with the ingredients

Homemade Laundry Soap

1/3 bar Fels Naptha, Zote, or basic Ivory

½ cup washing soda (Not baking soda)

½ cup borax powder 

 

You can find all this near the detergent in most stores, even my supermarket had these ingredients. Give the soaps a sniff test, because I love the smell of fels naptha, but my family hates it while it’s being used; they don’t mind the finished, washed smell.

~You will also need a big container – 2 gallon-ish or 3 old detergent containers. I also recommend using a old pot expressly for soap making with its own stirring utensil, grater, and funnel~

 

Grate the soap and put it in a large pan (remember the soap pan, because you will never get that taste/smell out).  Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts, smaller grate – faster melt. Be careful at this point, because it can boil over fast (it will clean your stove, lol). Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour half a gallon of hot water into the container(s).   Now add your soap mixture and stir.  Now add 1.5 gallon of water and stir. You could do this in separate bottles just ball part it into equal amounts, this is why you might want a funnel and you can use the reused laundry caps to measure for your loads.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel.  You use ½ cup per load. Make sure to shake before use. Some people like to add a bit of essential oils, but not me. Just be careful to start with a few drops and add it after you try it if you would like more smell.

 

Here is one pictorial style directions http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/laundrysoap2.htm         There are tons of different, but similar recipes, so look around a bit.

Free? What a Waste – Let’s talk books

Wait! Don’t leave. I love books too!

The thing is that I own a lot. I mean a lot of books. So recently I’ve tried to pare down my books (still have a lot) while slowly working toward a minimalist life style. This end is actually going pretty well since I’m just getting rid of a box at a time, but there is one thing I want to pass along.

Free books! That’s right people, free books. Who doesn’t like free? How can you get said books? First, let’s go with the obvious. Use your LIBRARY! Not only can you go there, most libraries offer e-books, mags, and music. After that, there are tons of free places for e-books. If you haven’t heard of the Gutenburg project, you could look that now. But by far my favorite option is Amazon. Yes, Amazon has tons, tons of free books. Hit that up! They have all kinds of topics, so post me some of ur favorites or a internet site to mention in a follow-up.

An Accidental Re-do

Dwelling On A Dime

On Wednesday, we had an electrician come over to do some work for us upstairs. My newly-redone hall table was right outside the main bathroom. I always try to provide water, coffee, or beer to anyone working on the house. Hubby set the glass of ice water on the table. Despite layers of poly and wax, the water bubbled the top layer and it peeled RIGHT off the table.

-_- Do you know how long those paint jobs take? They’re not something you can patch up! I allowed myself my momentary freakout and went back to the drawing board. The best idea I had for the top was to decoupage it. Emily Dickinson is one of my favorite poets, so I put her poetry on the top, using lots of regular glue, reinforcing the seams, and 3-4 heavy coats of poly. I added the side stencils and then hand painted…

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