Category: Going Organic


We’re busy, busy, busy gearing up for a beach vacation and painting two rooms for my parents. More excellent reasons to know well in advance what we’ll be eating for our main meal of the day.

Sunday – Turkey burgers with carmelized onions, zucchini cakes, baby spinach and field mix salad

Here are the zucchini plants.

Monday – Rotini pasta and meatballs with sauce, salad

Tuesday – Ham and potato hash, pancakes

Wednesday – BBQ chicken, Aunt Connie’s Yukky Potatoes (recipe and story to follow), Fresh broccoli from dad’s garden, baby spinach and field mix salad

Thursday – Broccoli and cheese stuffed baked potatoes, salad

Friday – Hot dogs and beans

Saturday – Steak salads

What’s on your plate this week?

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It looks like it’s time to do some weeding already. Isn’t it amazing that this came from

this…?

Only a few short weeks ago we put the plants in. Those tiny little seedlings have grown and on some you can already see a few flowers.

The beans have sprouted too…

It won’t be long and we’ll be enjoying fresh veggies.

What’s growing in your garden?

This year we considered building a raised bed garden. It seemed like a great idea because you can plant more per square foot. It’s sort of like planting in a container. After figuring the cost of the wood and the soil we decided a traditional garden would serve our purposes and save quite a bit of money.

Once you know what kind of garden you want you need to decide how to get that area ready for planting. If you decide on a traditional garden I’d recommend borrowing a tiller and someone who is familiar with the operation of one. If you do this, or rent a tiller, I’d recommend making sure there are no large rocks, underground pipes, or anything else that might end up ruining your day. Double digging is another option, but it is quite labor intensive, especially if you want a larger garden.

My dad tilled my garden. He had to go over it several times to break up the sod. We didn’t plant anything last year and the grass really started to take root and fill in the area.

Another consideration is whether or not you need a fence. With two large dogs we decided a fence would be a good investment. I’m sure they could do a lot of damage in a short amount of time. We found some rather inexpensive fencing and used fence stakes to hold it in place. It took literally minutes to set up.

I had planned my garden layout in great detail earlier in the season. I failed to factor in my daughter’s graduation party and the need for quite a large tent to cover everyone in the event of inclement weather. In order for the tent to fit in the yard I had to alter my original plan, but it worked out nicely. I also did not plant everything I intended. My dad planted cabbage, and he has a much larger garden. Large vegetables such as heads of cabbage take up a lot of space.

We ended up with 4 zucchini plants, 12 pepper plants, 12 tomato plants, pole beans, lettuce, and spinach. I may see what else I can tuck in here and there. You want to make sure your plants are well spaced, but you don’t want to waste any space either.

The next step for me will be beautifying the garden. Sometimes when you till you have to go outside of the original boundaries to turn around and to avoid shrubs or other things that might get in your way. This happened to us and allowed for the potential of flower beds on either side of the garden. I also intend to mulch the perimeter to alleviate the need for grass trimming around the fence. If you don’t lay black plastic down before you plant, which is an excellent option to cut down on weeding, keep the soil warm and retain more moisture, you can always make a path through your garden with boards or stepping stones.

Be sure to check back for updates. What are you planting in your garden?

Free-range chicken

There is a poultry farm somewhat close to home that I have been wanting to visit. Their prices seem more reasonable than the organic selection at the grocery store, especially the eggs. Although I haven’t been able to visit yet I am confident in the product because I was able to sample it at another local business.

Here at my house we have been trying to make the conversion to all organic meat and dairy. It may seem simple but there are things to consider such as the source, increase of our grocery budget due to organic being more expensive and other factors, and availability of the product.

Source I want to buy organic meat and dairy, but I want to be sure about what I am getting. Organic beef is available at my local grocery store but it is meat from a different country. Somehow I feel that defeats the purpose.

Increase in Budget We are in a tough spot here financially due to recent medical expenses. I want to continue to feed my family the best food without making the situation worse. I know the deals are out there and I know we can eat less meat to stretch it and make it last longer. We decided not to head out to the poultry farm this past week because gas is almost four dollars a gallon and it just wasn’t in our budget. These are the hurdles we must get over.

Availability I recently noticed at the grocery store the other day that the gentleman behind me in line had all organic items lined up, except for cheese. There does not seem to be a good selection of organic cheeses in any grocery store in my area. You can find a block of this or a block of that, but if you want slices or shredded, forget it. That will be my next quest.

Today I decided to include a link to the local poultry farm. I’ll be able to fill you in more after I visit. I’ve communicated via email with the owner and they seem very friendly. I can’t wait to be able to visit them at the Landis Poultry Farm.

I’ve thought about cutting back on meat for a while now. Not having everyone in the family on board with this idea is a problem. Being the problem solver that I am, I set out to think of ways to help realize this goal and still have a happy family. I came up with a few easy ideas.

For a casserole use half as much meat and increase the vegetables. You still get some meat for flavor and the fiber in the veg will fill you up. You can also increase all of the other ingredients, but I find if I only increase the veg it doesn’t seem to alter the recipe as much, as far as the liquid goes.

Use chopped mushrooms. If you like mushrooms, they have a meaty texture and taste great with ground meat. Use them to stretch burgers, meatloaf or chop fine and add to stretch the meat you would use in tater tot casserole.

Use whole grains. Use brown rice or oatmeal in a meatloaf, meatballs or to add more body to a casserole or taco filling. Use mostly brown rice and chopped veggies in stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage rolls.

Beans. When making chili increase the beans. Add several kinds and colors of beans. Add beans to sloppy joes and tacos.

Use a soy substitute (TVP) in casseroles.  Try using half regular ground beef and half of the substitute first to see if they even notice. There are many meat alternatives available to “take the place” of some of your favorite foods. I happen to love Amy’s California Burgers. Saute some mushrooms, onions, top with baby spinach and serve on a whole grain bun. Yum.

Roast a chicken or turkey and shred the meat to use in things instead of meat being the main course. Then boil the bones to make soup. You can get many meals out of just one bird this way. You could serve the parts like the legs, wings and thighs with the first meal. Shred the rest to use in casseroles, enchiladas, tacos, chili, maybe even a bbq chicken pizza, or some wraps with lots of veggies.

Gradually serve smaller portions of meat while increasing the vegetable serving size and use smaller plates.

What do you do to cut back on meat servings for your health or to save?

Project Roundup

Let’s find our bearings and see just where we are at in all of our adventures.

Gardening

The weatherman is calling for snow tomorrow. It’s only an inch, but a gentle reminder that spring is still far away. I’ll be heading to the garden center of my favorite home improvement store soon to pick up some soil amendments and black plastic. I already have my fencing to keep my pups out of the garden. My herb kit is calling to me to start it. I’ll give that a go here at the end of the month. As soon as the weather breaks and spring is here we can get back into the How Does Our Garden Grow series.

Going Organic

The transition to organic meat and dairy is going well. We still have a lot of that conventional meat in the freezer and of course the frugal gal in me said we are going to eat it until it is gone. I am planning a trip to a local organic poultry farm on Friday. Hopefully I will have some pictures for you before the weekend.

Savings

You know the old saying that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Between the unexpected and medical bills this month I’m going to be looking into even more ways to save. We are thinking about doing away with our land line and getting our daughter a cell phone with a $25 per month charge and unlimited texting. We would see a $15 per month savings. We are also looking into talking to our insurance agent to see if there are bells and whistles on our policy that we really don’t need, It recently renewed and went up $5 a month. We have older vehicles and haven’t had any accidents so we’ll be giving him a call. We also have the option of signing up for automatic withdrawal from our bank account, which would save us a monthly fee and also allow us to skip a month. Then there is the modem rental for our internet service. My parents recently were able to purchase their own modem, and get it for free after a mail in rebate. There has also been talk about bundling some services, but I’m just not sure I’d like to go down that road yet. Anyone have any experience with bundling? Now if we could only stop procrastinating and put these savings ideas into effect. What better to talk about next..

Goal Setting

How did we arrive here? We all know the answer to that one. My grocery list of under $40 for the week is written and ready to roll. I have only a few chapters of my book to finish. It’s Fearless by Max Lucado – Imagine Your Life Without Fear. My daughter recently enlisted in the navy and gave me the book for a Christmas present. Do you wonder if she is trying to tell me something? She does know he’s one of my favorite authors though. I’ve managed to exercise 30 minutes a day, but no more. I plan to declutter my computer desk tomorrow. We haven’t gone out to eat or gotten take-out except for the wings on Sunday for which we had planned ahead. We took that out of our entertainment fund. After all, it was Super Bowl Sunday, the second most feasting day in the country. Can anyone guess what the first most feasting day is?

Where are you in this great adventure we call life?

Lunchtime can be full of obstacles to healthful eating. Any meal can be really, but lunchtime often finds us away from home at work or school, or we might be running errands, at children’s activities, or on day trips on the weekends. So what do we do? What are some options?

We are in the process of switching over to all organic meats. Have you seen the price of organic lunchmeat at the deli section of your local supermarket? Ouch! Thankfully there are many alternatives that probably turn out to be a whole lot healthier too.

Make your own lunchmeat. Roast the organic meat you enjoy, have some for dinner and use the leftovers for sandwich filling. How does a southwestern chicken wrap sound. Take a tortilla and spread it with your favorite dressing. Ranch would work well for this. Add shredded chicken, lettuce, tomato, red onion and sliced avocado. Wrap, slice and enjoy.

Make it yummy with nut butters. There are many more choices than just plain old peanut butter. I must say though that peanut butter is a favorite of mine. You could buy organic or make your own. There is also almond butter, or hazelnut and cocoa spread, the later probably being a little high in sugar. Although a sandwich is just fine spread with a nut butter and some organic jam, you can also go another route. What about nontraditional ants on a long with some crisp organic celery spread with almond butter and topped with organic raisins? When it comes to dried fruits I always look for organic because when you dry a fruit it becomes concentrated. How appealing does concentrated pesticide sound? Yuk. Grapes and celery happen to be on the dirty dozen list anyway. If you are unfamiliar with that list you may want to take a look at it here.

Roasted vegetables. Don’t forget about good old veg. Make some ratatouille and serve it in a dish or on a baguette. Take tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onions, and garlic. Slice or cube them, coat with olive oil and roast in the oven until tender. Season with herbs and sprinkle with parmesan or mozzarella cheese. How about a grilled portabella mushroom cap used as a burger. You get that grilled, meaty flavor without the meat and without the price tag. Don’t forget all of your favorite toppings.

Other spreads. If you haven’t ever tasted hummus, why not give it a try? You can make homemade too. It comes in organic and in a variety of flavors. I would have to say red pepper is my favorite, or maybe pine nut. It’s a tough decision. Use it in a pita and pile on other veggies. Serve it in a container and use crackers and veg for dipping. Sunbutter is another treat and it is often used when there are those with nut allergies in the house. It makes a yummy sandwich and is great to try for something different.

Lunchtime isn’t just for eating anymore. Why not sneak in a little exercise on your lunch break? If you are at work take a walk outside, if possible, or take a stroll inside the building. Take the stairs. If you have to run an errand and you have the time, walk. At least get up, stretch, move around, and leave your work area. Find a coworker to walk with and use the time to chat about pleasant things. What a stress reliever. Make sure to talk to your doctor before starting any kind of new exercise.

I was excited about the change over so I scoured the web for some organic coupons yesterday afternoon. While running other errands we stopped at the grocery store and picked up a few items. I saved four dollars with coupons. I could not find any coupons for half and half or cream cheese as I had already reached my print limit for those items. I opted for store brand milk. I snapped a quick picture just to show the variety available. Note, to my knowledge, that the kefir is not organic. Upon arriving home and unloading my bounty I noticed no certified organic seal on the containers. It was in a case directly adjacent to the organic milk and creamers. It does not however contain any growth hormone. That will teach me to read labels more carefully instead of being so excited about a coupon and sale combination. I do enjoy the tangy flavor of the kefir and it makes a nice change for a breakfast drink in place of a smoothie. You have got to love all of the good stuff in yogurt and kefir.

I’m sure with a little more forethought I will be able to save much more in the future. My goal at this time was to have some organic choices available.  It is true that several fellow bloggers have found much better deals at their local whole foods store. There is one in my town, but I have yet to visit. Checking it out is on my list.

I had a completely organic breakfast today. It was delicious and filling. A gluten-free buckwheat waffle, yogurt and thawed raspberries. I had coupons for all of these ingredients and frozen raspberries were way more inexpensive than the fresh. I thawed them in the fridge. They are also great in smoothies.

What do you do to save money and save your health?

Organic Meats and Dairy

Almost a year ago my family switched to organic milk. I have always had problems with my skin, and it is painful to watch my teenage daughter struggle with the same. We tried the over-the-counter stuff, the trips to the dermatologist and all of the creams and antibiotics that were prescribed. Nothing seemed to work.

I read a lot. If there is a book about health that has to do with food I’ve probably glanced through it once or twice. I devour magazine articles like you’d think I get a prize of dark chocolate when I’m finished. I also watch a lot of documentaries. One day, and I do not remember exactly where, I came across some information about the hormones, antibiotics and other nasties in the milk that we consume. It went on about skin problems and even mentioned reproductive issues for young girls. I was astonished, the protective mom in me took over, and I decided to only buy organic. It is worth the couple extra dollars and is better for the environment too.

At my yearly physical appointment just a few weeks ago the physician’s assistant I see commented on how much my skin had improved. I told her we switched to organic milk, she applauded, asked if I saw certain documentaries and if I had a garden. We all know that it has not been proven that conventional milk does any harm but our skin has improved. Yes it has.

I have always struggled with my weight. I’m always striving to get more veg and fiber into our diets. I worry about what is in the foods we eat. Money is tight and as much as I would like to go completely organic it is simply not possible right now. I did go to my favorite grocery store’s web site and do a little research. I compiled a list of meals for the week that were completely organic. My grocery bill would double, even with all of the strategies I already use to keep it low. I will keep trying and looking for ways to do this. I will not give up, but for now we need to concentrate on what is doable. We will buy only organic dairy products and grass-fed, organic meats. We also have a goal of eating less meat and because grass-fed meat is more pricey this will all work out wonderfully. I have many ideas on how to stretch the meat and will share them in future posts. I find many organic dairy coupons, and we are going to check out a local organic poultry farm. Our journey begins this week and I will update our progress on this endeavour.

How do you make organic choices more affordable?

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