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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Waste not – and visit Yosemite with your food budget!

I don’t know about you, but whenever I try to do a “budget” for our household, FOOD is always the biggest category.

I spend most of our monthly budget on food. Granted, buying “real food” is more expensive than purchasing coupon support packaged food, but I know that part of my big price tag is mis-management.

I know this because my fridge is packed, as is my freezer, AND my pantry…..YET….the most common statement in my house from the kitchen: “We have NOTHING to eat!!!”

And, I throw a good amout of food away. It is a damn shame, really. It comes from stocking up, or buying things with a meal in mind that never happens.  Or, because I go purchase things while I am hungry. Sometimes, the food I grow comes in fast, and I don’t have the time or space to preserve it. If I can’t get it to friends or neighbors quick enough, it goes to waste.

Thankfully, I have chickens and a thriving compost, so at least the food does not go into the garbage.

I have decided to cut our food budget (with the saved money going into a vacation fund. I have never been to Yosemite, and will remedy that) and create

Fridge Challenge Meal

less food waste.

Steps:

  1. Use what is in the fridge/freezer/pantry NOW, only supplementing with fresh items that need to be replenished, like salads, milk, etc. Creativity, and the open mind of the family is important here :). 
  2. Every time I throw food away (aka, give it to the chickens or compost), I will write down the dollar amount on a piece of paper on my fridge. 
  3. Menu planning. It will kill me, but in the end, I think it will make things much easier. 
  4. Clear out freezer. I really need an upright freezer. I have chest freezer now, and I swear, I don’t know what is at the bottom. I am going to explore. Mainly, I am going to make it my mission to use all the meat, veggies, and fruit stored before I get more. 
  5. Prepare pantry for more bulk foods.  Ok, I just ate jam this morning that I made in 2010. :)…yes, it was still good, but really, it is time to hit that stash. Also asking friends if they would like some, because a girl can only eat so many sweet & sour pickles.

I could get more vigilante about it, but realistically, I won’t sick to it. These steps are doable right now, and will clear my freezer and pantry space in a about a month for a more organized food space.

I will be posting some of my “clear the fridge meals” on Instagram as I go.  Here are some things that I have noticed in the last days of putting together ingredients:

  1. Cut stale bread in cubes, keep airtight and add to soups. Makes them “meaty”, according to my son :). 
  2. Keep fresh ginger. It can be added to soups, veggies, salad dressings, and gives anything zing!
  3. Turmeric, again, a great spice for veggie combos, soups, stews, or meat. 
  4. Use your crockpot!!! Mine is now slowing cooking bone broth, a good base. 
  5. Family can get grumpy. Especially meat eating husbands. Make sure to find ways to make “real food” (which is what I cook all the time, but if it does not have SOLID meat, so no stew, it is not real for husband) and keep him happy. I will also show mine the dollar list from my fridge and vacation jar full of money…that works.  Get kids involved by letting them make up a meal with available ingredients. 
  6. Cook big pots of rice. Rice can be fried, added to soups, or made into delicious rice pudding :)…great for fruit compot that you make with aged fruit!

We live in an abundant world, now we have to learn to live in it :).
Warmly,
Heike

P.S. Due to the high amount of comment spam, I have closed comments for now. I DO WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!  🙂 Please come comment on Facebook!

Homelessnes & Vacancies, coming to a home near you.

This morning, I donned my big boots, a pair of industrial work gloves, grabbed a rake and some garbage bags, and walked up my street to a neighbor’s house.

The neighbor is in jail, and the house has been empty for about 3 years.

When I say I am a “suburban” farmer/witch/gypsy, I mean it. I live in suburbia somewhere in a city near you. Small ranch house development, built in the 50’s. I am farming a small plot of land, and live in a house that is not even 900sq/ft. I live very close to a city, actually, the freeway is about 3 miles from me.

When I moved to this neighborhood, very pregnant with my 16 year old, about 50% of the people living here were original owners. Yep, they bought their houses here when they were brand spankin’ new. The houses were well kept, the neighborhood was quaint, and the nearby park was fantastic for me and my two big dogs.  It was great for history lessons, not so great for my kids :). When many of these older people either passed away or moved to care, the houses were either rented by their children that lived out of state, or they went into probate hell. Together with the housing bust, my neighborhood quickly became just a little “ghetto”.  Sadly.

Empty houses began to fill with homeless people looking for shelter. Though I have compassion for the fact that they want to sleep under something, I do not have compassion for what they did to my neighborhood. Trash galore, feces in backyards & broken in homes. Lots of rats :(. Fires. Property & food stolen from our porches & backyards. It go really bad.

I began to get proactive, had the Sheriff on speed dial. When I walked Rex in the park and saw a drug deal or gang activity (seems like they follow the homeless), I was like a Super Spy. Walked on by, memorized license plates & physical attributes, and called the cops. I began attending park board meetings, and raising my voice.

Lastly, I became the lead in the online neighborhood program, Nextdoor.com. I printed flyers and went to all 200 homes in my little quadrant personally. Of those 200, 19 signed on.

It is sad to see the apathy of people in our suburban neighborhoods! People get out of their cars and go into their homes, and do not know anything about the world around their homes. Or they are afraid to do/say anything.

Neighborhoods like mine get lots and lots of business license permits for liquor stores, massage parlors, hookah bars, and check cashing. It is sad, and I do not live in a “bad” neighborhood at all. This was once the “posh” side of town outside of the city limits. The governance people in charge live elsewhere.

We have two empty problem houses down the street. After much discussion online about how the Code Enforcement & County offices aren’t doing tiddly shit to take care of things, I sent out a message to my neighborhoods that I would go out there in the morning and pick up the trash myself.

When I got there, two of my neighbors, from other neighborhoods that are linked with ours, were there to help me. THAT is what change is about. PEOPLE make it happen. Not agencies, government, rule makers. Honestly, they get paid not matter what happens to you personally. PEOPLE who care, they are the ones that will make things better. And when PEOPLE become active and start working/talking/celebrating together, neighborhoods really become communities again.

One empty house at a time…….

Before. This is what I drove/walked by every day.

It gets worse around the corner.

This is the trash we collected from the front this morning.

The difference a little time & work make, eh? Still not beautiful, but cleaner.

P.S. Due to lots of spam messages trying to get published, I have closed the blog for comments. PLEASE DO COME COMMENT ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE at http://www.facebook.com/thegoddessinthegroove. I would LOVE to hear from you!!