Archives for May 2009

The Saturday Question: How Do You De-Clutter Your Home?

Beyond dusting and scrubbing, spring cleaning also means getting rid of the junk that accumulates while we’re coping with the rigors of raising a family.  How do you manage to purge the extra stuff from your home?  How have you dealt with extra baby gear, maternity clothes, or toys?   Do you tackle the whole house at once or have you created a nifty system for handling one area at a time?  Please share your tips!

Saving Money on Breakfasts, Lunches, and Snacks

In this post I discussed my dinner menus that save me money on groceries.  What do we eat the rest of the time?

Breakfast foods.  We don’t eat a wide variety of foods for breakfast.  My daughter and I eat toast with peanut butter or microwave oatmeal most mornings.   Sometimes I’ll make homemade waffles or wholegrain pancakes. My husband eats granola (or other organic convenience foods) at work.

Lunch foods.  Andy eats a black bean burrito (which we make in big batches and freeze) every day for lunch–and after about six years, he has still not grown tired of them!  Audrey eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, macaroni and cheese, a quesadilla, or something like that along with apple slices, carrot sticks, or other snack-like items.  I tend to eat leftovers from dinner for lunch.

Advocating for Family Leave Time

It was heart-wrenching to go back to my career after my baby arrived, but luckily I had worked out a solution that gave me as much time off as possible over the course of his first year.  It required some creative thinking, some begging, and some negotiation, but it was worth it!

As you may have read in my last post, I found that the time I spent at home increased the quality of our lives and the quality of the environment. We were able to prepare homemade meals, hang cloth diapers out to dry, and generally spend less money. 

So how do you ask your supervisor for the best solution for your family?  Here are a few tips that worked for me.


Menu Planning with Your CSA or Organic Veggie Delivery

I have a friend–let’s call her “Glee”–who recently admitted to me that she canceled her CSA membership because too many veggies were withering in the fridge.  “Meal planning is just impossible,” she said.  Many CSAs operate only during summer months, but in mild climates like ours, they go year-round.  Here in Oregon, your winter CSA selections will consist of many rutabagas, potatoes, and beets.

That does sound like a challenge!   I don’t belong to a CSA.  Since I don’t have a car, it just wouldn’t work for me.  However, I do have something similar, which I’ve mentioned before: every other week, I get a box of organic vegetables delivered to my door.  Now, unlike a CSA, 100% of the vegetables are not local, which means I get a little extra variety, although I suppose I lose a few eco-points for that luxury.

Fabulous Green Baby Shower

Although I’ve often written about planning a green baby shower, I’ve never gotten to experience once firsthand.  Thanks to my incredible, intelligent, caring, physically fit, and highly attractive teaching colleagues I had the chance to attend one thrown in my baby’s honor. 

Now it’s quite humbling to have friends take the time to organize a baby shower, especially when those friends are all middle school teachers challenged with managing spring behaviors at the end of the school year.  It’s even more of a gift when said friends are thoughtful enough to take the time to make it green.

Here are some of the eco-friendly ideas they worked into the shower:


Book Title Brainstorm

 Help!  We need a new title for our book!  After two years of working on The Green Baby Guide; Down-To-Earth Ways to Save Time, Money, and the Planet our publisher’s sales team has informed us that our title has to change—and we have less than two weeks to come up with another one.  Apparently “green fatigue” is in full swing, and they want to keep the word “green” out of the title.

The unique aspect of our eco-friendly guide is that it’s focused on frugal, eco-friendly baby rearing—which seems to be just what parents need in this economic recession.  Most green baby guides focus on buying high end organic products, which isn’t really accessible for all families.  How can we express that in a catchy title?  So far we’ve come up with the following:


The Saturday Question: Which Are the Best Summer Baby Slings?

Although my first child loved his fleece pocket sling, our second will be born in the summer and may find it too warm. Does anyone have a suggestion for a great summer sling that might keep baby cooler than fleece could?  Your suggestions will help those of us preparing for warm-weather babies.

Getting Enough Protein on a Vegetarian Diet

According to Meatless Mondays, Americans eat 100-200% of the recommended daily allowance of  protein.  Too much protein can cause liver disease and osteoporosis. 

Here are some easy ways to get the protein you need:

  • Enjoy animal products other than meat (in moderation).  One egg has 6 grams of protein, an ounce of cheddar cheese has 7 grams, and a cup of 2% milk contains 8 grams.  Watch out, though–many dairy products are high in fat, and some cheeses cost more than meat.
  • Use whole-grain products.  Barilla Plus pasta contains 17 grams of protein per serving–10 more grams than regular pasta.  A cup of whole wheat flour has four more grams of protein than white flour.
  • (more…)

Suddenly Frugal By Necessity, Not By Choice

Upon hearing that my husband was laid off a few weeks ago, both of us found ourselves surprised by our own relief.  Obviously for many families losing a job can be tremendously stressful—especially with young children involved.  In fact, if my husband would have been laid off a few months later we would have been in serious trouble.  By that point I would have signed a half time teaching contract for next year which wouldn’t have been enough income to support our family.  Thank goodness I still have the option to teach full time next year and we have enough of an emergency fund to ease us through the summer. 


Saving Money on Organic Groceries

I spend $175 a month on groceries for my small family of three.  I wrote about spending less on groceries in this post about eating meat-free.  Several people (okay, two people) asked me how I manage to pull this off.  According the USDA’s “thrifty” meal plan, a family with a man, woman, and three-year-old would spend $414.20 per month.  (We’d spend $800 on the “liberal” plan!)  So it seems that we are spending less than half of what other “thrifty” eaters are spending–and we eat mostly organic food!

This is a bit puzzling to me, as we don’t do anything too extraordinary to save money on food.  I haven’t planted a garden since two summers ago (and it was a failure), I don’t clip coupons, and I don’t shop at Costco or other huge warehouse stores.  I also buy many expensive ingredients, like olive oil, nuts, and fancy cheese.  If I had to, I could save even more money if I got better at gardening, stopped buying organic foods, and cut out a few costlier items on my grocery list.