Sunday, January 27, 2013

Back in the saddle

Well, my lemon..I mean my computer, is up and taking nourishment again, after having been shipped off to the mysterious Dell computer hospital to be repaired.  Again.  Fourth time this year.  Thank goodness for the manufacturers warranty that covers working out the kinks the first year, but this is getting a little ridiculous.

Now that it's been so long since I've been blogging, I almost don't know what to talk about!! 

I guess I'll start with my most recent focus- our food consumption. Whether it's watching our budget to see how much we are spending on food, going through the seed catalogues to select which vegetables I will grow this summer in our garden, or watching documentaries on how our health is affected by what we eat, it's been a high priority lately. 

Then there's the whole "cooking the food" thing, but I try to avoid thinking about that because I don't like to cook :-(

First, how food affects our budgets. Prices have gone nuts this year and I know it affects everyone's budget.   I have set a limit of $650/month to feed our family of 8, and that includes paying for the school lunch tickets for my 3 public school kids and any random butchering charges when we take a steer in. Each month, I will run a report in my Quicken to see how we're doing, and so far, we are keeping our purchases under this amount each month, with the exception of December.  (Because Christmas seriously kills our budget in so many ways...and because of the many big meals we fix and the many cookies we bake,<GRIN> we tend to go over just a bit.) 

Now, this amount includes purchasing as much organic foods as possible, some of it through our Organic Coop, and also we purchase lots of fresh fruits and vegys, which are by no means cheap.  I avoid as many processed foods as possible, and when I purchase convenience foods, it means that I bought bread instead of baking it :-)  We rarely, RARELY eat out (too expensive and I don't trust the fast food industry) and our meals are usually items made from scratch, so this helps us to keep our expenses down. 

I tried the coupon gimmick, and from what I have read, it really works- in some places.  In our area, there are very few grocery chains, so the competition is low and thus, prices are kinda high.  They don't do the Double Coupon days, they don't give you a membership card for a users discount, and they only do a small amount of store sales, which usually limit how many you can purchase.  I found that I could save more money buying the stores version of a product instead of taking the coupons and using on name brand items, so that experiment was kind of a flop!  I do, however, watch for good store sales, and I buy alot of what I know I will use, and stock the pantry for future use. 

I also purchase as much as I can in bulk, such as my baking essentials, through our Coop and I get 25 and 50# bags for a better price.

I love this  first part of gardening- the planning part!!  No weeding required, and done in a bug-free environment- it just doesn't get better than that :-)  I love drawing out my garden plan, reading the descriptions in the seed catalog, and fantasizing about all the wonderful food that will be coming out of that garden.  I find that I'm moving towards producing more vegetables on our farm than producing meat, and that's a good step for our family.  I think that all of the wonderfully flavorful vegeys that we ate while we were in China have inspired me to try some different vegeys this year, including Baby Pak Choy and Celeriac. I'm also planting alot more cabbage to use in stir frys and casseroles, instead of just using it for coleslaw and the occasional Porcupine hot dish.

I gotta say, I did get sticker shock purchasing seeds this year- prices have REALLY gone up, but it's still a more economic way to produce the freshest vegetables, so I bite the bullet and place my order.  I do continue to order from Fedco, my favorite seed provider.  They refuse to sell any Monsanto or Seminis genetically modified seeds, which I greatly appreciate and respect, and their political views in regards to food safety are right in line with mine, so they get my business every time. 

I have gotten a chance to watch several through Netflix as I slip them into our Health curriculum for homeschool!  They continue to educate me on food safety, raising better food for my family, and how we can stay healthy by eating the right kind of food.  Here are a few that I would recommend to anyone:

"Fresh"- awesome and short- shows pioneers in the world of fresh food production and how they do their jobs so very well.  Gave me alot of great ideas for our small farm.

"Vegucated"- shows how 3 meat eaters were followed for 3 months while they lived a Vegan lifestyle- charted their experiences and showed how their health and weight changed for the better.  I will never become a vegan, because I think milk is an important part of my diet, but it did give alot of credance to the health benefits of less meat and processed food.

"Food Fight"- also shows the changes in food philosophy in regards to restaurants and school lunch programs.  A food movement is taking place in this country, and this highlights the people who are at the head of that movement.

"Farmageddon"- This documents farmers who have been targeted by the government's Ag industry and shut down for trying to produce fresh food.  Scary stuff.

And who can forget "Supersize Me" - the documentary of the guy who ate 3 meals a day at McDonalds for a month, and tracked how it affected his weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.  Crazy stuff but very effective.

I love a good documentary! 

Now if I could just find some enjoyment in cooking.  It truly is one area of my day that I don't enjoy.  I love growing the food and learning about the food, but I just would rather come into the house each evening and have the food waiting for me, prepared to perfection. However, unless I win the lottery, THAT'S not going to happen, so I will need to work on my attitude towards food preparation, I guess!  Maybe I could convince the kids to join the RAW food movement- then I wouldn't have to cook!! 

Until then, here's to healthy eating!

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