**This is an archived blog post from December 18, 2010**
I often dream about and visualize a self-sustainable home and farm out in the country. I see solar panels, a wind turbine, rain barrels, and a green roof. I see a huge vegetable garden, goats and sheep acting as lawn mowers, and just an overall fulfilling and peaceful existence with my beloved fellas. I’ve got big plans and a long road to get there. Although it will take quite some time to achieve all that I dream of, there are things my family and I do now to save money, reduce our energy usage and have less of a negative impact on the earth that gives us life. All that we do now will only help us with our future homestead. You can do these things too, even if you don’t have a dream like mine, but you want to do more positive things for the environment and your own body. I may have to split this up into different posts since I hope to cover a lot of topics and information.
- Buy Organic whenever possible and to the extent of your purchasing power. Organic produce and other food goods are often more expensive, which is admittedly hard to manage when you have a budget and/or multiple mouths to feed at home. Trust me, I understand this well and my own family has a very strict budget. However, we understand the importance and value of what we choose to buy and eat. Even if you can’t buy all organic food, but you want to start buying some, the Dirty Dozen is a list you may find helpful. It tells you which produce items are the most important to buy organic.
- Eat more fresh fruits and veggies. This may seem counter-productive in terms of cost-effectiveness, but it’s just plain better for your health. On an average day I eat at least two bananas, one apple and a ton of baby carrots. Those are some of the cheaper produce items you can find, and it’s relatively easy to find them organic at places like Kroger. If you go to Whole Foods or other health-food stores, take advantage of their sales. There are always sales going on at Whole Foods and I will alter my upcoming meal plans to accomodate what I was able to find for a good price.
- Eat more veggie or grain based dishes. Another health related issue. My husband and I have cut out all meat and most dairy from our family’s diet for health, ethical, and monetary reasons. We have found many delicious and nutritious vegetarian recipes, and we also take old recipes and make them vegetarian simple by cutting out or substituting the meat. Don’t believe that you have to have meat to fulfill your protein requirements…there are several grains and vegetable sources that have superior protein content than that of any meat product. My husband and I eat a lot of beans, legumes, and grains such as millet and quinoa.
- Make more meals from scratch. Boxed dinners have never been allowed in my home. Making dinner doesn’t have to be difficult. There are plenty of easy and tasty recipes out there. Google it! There are a couple of sites I particularly love: Happy Foody, The Post Punk Kitchen, and Yum Universe. Believe it or not, making meals from scratch saves money as long as you are smart about the ingredients you choose. Besides, you then have a closer connection to what you are eating and there are no questions about what you are putting into your body to nurish it.
- Grow your own food. This, I will say, sounds like a very tall order…and it can be. Planting a garden can be very difficult, but if you plan it out you will have less problems and it gets easier with time. There are many sites and resources available with a plethora of information about growing all kinds of fruits, veggies, and grains. There is no wrong or right size for a garden, although I would advise you to start small. Even if you don’t have a big yard or any yard at all, you can just have a couple tomato plants or herbs on your porch or balcony…every little bit counts! Here is a starting point if you are interested in starting your own garden (but keep in mind you could find many many more if you just google it): Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Garden Guides, and The Backyard Gardener.
We must eat to live, so why not eat well?