One month into my quest to buy less food and make space in our freezer and I’m making progress. I did end up buying more than usual during my shopping trips, but I hit the grocery store about half as many times. If I were as organized as Rebecca, I’d crunch the numbers and know for sure if I came out ahead. Maybe next time.
I think one of my biggest problems is that I have a hard time compromising on taste. For example, I bought crackers even though I already had some because I prefer the taste of water crackers with the goat cheese terrine I made for the 4th of July. I also bought ingredients for the dessert I wanted to make from scratch, even though I had plenty of frozen cookies. On the plus side, we used up some frozen ground beef and I ate several helpings of frozen ratatouille during the week. I’m trying to prioritize things that will be replaced soon during the summer harvest, and my latest count says I’m almost there.
Rummaging through the cupboard, I saw that there was very little road trip food so I ended up buying sandwich makings. In retrospect, I could have had PBJ sandwiches but I just thought of that this minute. I bought ingredients for a family reunion dinner since I didn’t have enough of any one thing for 40, but we managed to eat quite a bit of frozen stuff in the days leading up to the trip. It was so nice not to have to spend time cooking during a busy few days, and there wasn’t any food left in the fridge that would have spoiled in our absence.
One great thing about having tons of frozen treats (like cookies and roasted nuts) is that I was able to give goodies to our hosts. Plus, I didn’t have to rush out to the grocery store when we got home because there were plenty of frozen dinners and dried fruits.
Whether or not I actually saved money this month is questionable, but we did make a nice dent in our freezer.
Some people might call my husband and me hoarders, but we prefer the term “stockpilers”. We don’t save old newspapers or have 20 cats, and you probably wouldn’t know we had a stockpiling problem if you came to our house. One look in our garage betrays us, however. For every open case of toilet paper, there’s an unopened one behind it.
Things got a little worse as my pregnancy progressed. I read too much into the advice to “freeze some meals” and froze 100 dinners instead. And that’s not including the frozen lunches I stashed in the deep freeze! I also made sure our pantry had triples of everything we use, as if I would never set foot in a grocery store again. Since I like to cook, and I go to the store weekly for fresh produce, I make dinner most days and the freezer and pantry remain overflowing.
I finally decided to do something about our overstock because things are going to start expiring. And like Joy and Rebecca, I loathe to waste anything! I got sick last week because I refused to throw away a hard boiled egg that was questionable! Actually, what finally pushed me into this commitment is the motivation to save for a down payment on a house. Our current rental is too small for the three of us, and we hope to have another kid soon. Unless we want to drive each other crazy, we need more than one bedroom.
Rebecca, with her tales of eating on less than the cost of an iPhone plan, gave me the idea. I need some accountability. If I decide to write about it, maybe it will actually happen. So once a month I’m going to update you on my progress. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll manage to curb my shopping and beauty product addiction as well.
I hope you’ll provide me with lots of advice in the comments!
After a full summer day at the park, my children arrive home then coated in sand and cracker crumbs…and often partially wet from running through the fountains, but it’s far easier to clean them up then the entire house. They are then gloriously hungry, tired and ready for bed (Even if the summer sun is still pouring in their bedroom windows at 8pm.)
4. Swimsuits. Our favorite summer parks have water features that can keep my kids occupied for hours.
5. Towels. These will possibly be totally soppy, sandy, and disgusting by the end of the day, but it’s nice to have them on hand.
7. Band aids. Somehow this small piece of flexible plastic seems to convince my children that their wounds are instantly healed.
9. Mom gear. If I am going to spend six hours at the park, I have to remember those items that will keep me content. For me it’s almonds and chocolate, sunglasses, a charged cell phone, and maybe even a book.
10. Friends. O.K….these don’t really fit in a beach bag, but having a few friends for a casual playdate make the entire experience so much more fun. Children get to see their buddies and parents get a chance to celebrate the victories and failure of parenting. (Hopefully while laughing hysterically at both.)
Have I missed any key components? Are you packing cloth diapers, wipes, and other baby gear at this point as well?
How can you make Father’s Day special for a new dad while you’re sleep-deprived and have no time to shop? Honestly, I don’t even really remember our first Father’s day celebration as a new family, but after consulting my husband, these are the things he was most wanting back in those early days of parenthood.
Framed photos. Snap a couple shots of baby with dad (and grandpa too, if he lives close), print them out, and slip them into frames for an easy, but special, gift. If you have more time on your hands, make a bound photo book online.
A personalized picnic. Whether it’s gourmet potato chips or homemade pasta salad, your fellow has a few special entrees that may not cross the dinner table on a regular basis. Pick them up, pack them up, and head out for a hike..or just an afternoon at the park.
A date. Every dad (and mom!) deserves some time off. Create a homemade gift certificate for an afternoon or evening out. Do a babysitting trade or perhaps leave your tot with family so the two of you can hit all of his favorite pre-baby hang-outs. (The picture above is of a special date we had six months ago. We hiked the same trail we took on our first date!)
An Ipad. My husband claims that this gizmo is extremely practical for fathers taking the 3-5am shift. Sitting in the rocking chair while watching sports highlights made those late nights infinitely more bearable. This seems to be the least sentimental and the most expensive item on my idea list, and yet it is the thing that my husband most adores.
Do you have special Father’s Day traditions in your family? Any glorious gift ideas to share with the rest of us?
Our sloping backyard is full of lilies, winding paths, and decorative rocks without any space for swings or a trampoline. In the past my kids have found it hard to run spend hours in the garden without breaking into whining fits.
This summer, a few simple tricks have changed the entire dynamic.
Adopting a plant: The kids each got to select a few special flowers and one apple tree each from a nursery this spring. They helped with transplanting the new additions and have been very excited about watering and watching as blooms appear. Sometimes just asking them to go check on their plant is enough to get them outside, where they become distracted enough by blue jays and beetles to stay outside. (The picture above is from four years ago when my son was happy to drag his monster trucks through the garden for hours.)
Hunting for treasure: At thrift stores I pick up loads of colorful marbles or trickets and then hide them all over the back yard. The kids spend extended periods of time searching for loot (each having their own territory to avoid turf wars) and then hang out on the deck comparing and trading their treasures. When they later forget about said loot, I collect it from the corners of their bedroom and hold another treasure hunt!
Picnicking with popsicles: Sometimes just offering them a home blended popsicle (full of hidden vegetables and healthy fruits) is enough to get them out in the backyard.
Building fairy houses: Gathering up moss, twigs, and tiny flowers for fairy domiciles is something that can capture my children’s attention for hours. One house can easily start a fairy sub-development, which means that I get more time to garden!
Making a personalized garden spot: As you can see, at our old house, my son’s favorite spot was always in a tree. I haven’t done this yet at our new house, but am planning on letting each of my kids pick a special place in the garden that they can make their own. We can put down a stepping stone for them to sit on, ring it with the shells we collect from the beach at Grandma’s house, and finish by planting some of their favorites nearby. I would be happily willing to put cheezy gnomes, dragonflies or other such garden art if it meant they were excited about their garden spot.
Moving worms: I know this sounds slightly weird, but my kids love digging in dirt, finding worms, and then moving them to their favorite plants. Since they know worms help break up soil and make room for roots to grow, they are certain that this is hugely beneficial to their adopted plants. (I’m not sure it’s beneficial for the worms…)
Doing a bug scavenger hunt: This doesn’t have to be sophisticated, but giving young children a list of four different bugs and letting them search under rocks and bushes can take a very long time. (Again, this translates to hours of watering/weed pulling) Also, no bugs have to be caught and kept in glass jars…only to die tragic deaths later on when we all forget about them.
Eating straight out of the garden: I don’t expect to get a harvest of sweet peas, blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries, because I know they’ll be consumed before they ever make it to the kitchen. It is a thrill for my kids to literally eat the fruits of their labors and wonder at how much better garden food tastes than anything we buy in the store. That’s enough to get them back out there next spring!
Have you make a science out of getting your kids involved in gardening? What other tips do you have to help get your people in the garden for hours on end?
Joy and I started this website way back in 2007. Since that time, something funny happened: Our babies grew into little kids! Over the years, our thoughts have shifted from diapers and breastfeeding to school lunches and art supplies. That’s why we are happy to bring a new writer to the site, one who is back in the trenches of early parenting. I’ve known Michele her whole life, and I know she’ll bring some much-needed new-baby energy to the Green Baby Guide. Please join us in welcoming her aboard! –Rebecca
Michele: Since I’ve just joined the team here at Green Baby Guide, I should start by introducing myself. My name is Michele and I live in Northern Nevada. I’m married and have one child and two dogs.
As Rebecca’s cousin, I’ve been reading the Green Baby Guide website since before I even had a baby. My daughter was born at home at the end of February, and since then I’ve been checking the archives for good tips on cloth diapering, essential baby gear, green living and anything else I can think of when I’m sitting at the computer.
Now that Rebecca’s and Joy’s children are out of infancy, I’ll be blogging about all things baby. At this stage we’re into cloth diapering, breastfeeding and baby wearing (my daughter being only 11 weeks old, she doesn’t do much else at this point). We’re still figuring things out and trying to be as green and economical as possible. I look forward to hearing from the readers, so be sure to leave me plenty of comments!
And if there any particular topics you’d like me to write about, please let me know. I’m new to blogging and can use all the help I can get!
Looking for a simple, thoughtful gift for Mother’s Day this year?
The Pearhead Canvas Print Set is such a great idea! If you have multiple children, you can have each make a print, or simply make one print for each member of the family. The canvases come already primed with brightly colored paint, ready for you to make your prints! At just 19.59, this is a terrific gift that you can display for years! (And if you have more time than money, you could easily do this yourself by buying supplies at a local craft store.)
If you’re as overwhelmed by framing as the rest of us, digital frames like this Coby Widescreen Digital Frame for about $25, can help you spend less time printing and framing and more time watching all your favorite images flip by. Disclaimer..this is NOT greener than a traditional frame, but more practical for families with limited time and growing kids.
Let your child make a stepping stone for mom for less than $12! (and it may be even less expensive if you hunt down the materials at a hardware store.) Midwest Products Kids Garden Stepping Stone Kit is just $11.00 and will be a fun memento tucked in amongst the zucchini and cucumbers in your veggie patch.
(Shameless marketing plug coming…) For moms-to-be, our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, is a fantastic gift. It’s currently on sale for about $8.00 on amazon and is packed with recipes for homemade baby food, green product recommendations,and facts about buying and caring for cloth diapers. We’re completely biased, but it’s the book we both wish we would have had as expectant mothers.
What is the best Mother’s Day gift you have ever received? We hope that this year you at least have the time to put your feet up, sip a bit of tea, and maybe even enjoy something as decadent as an afternoon nap.
Can you answer this question for me? I’m baffled by baby registries that include requests for designer diaper bags. Like this Kate Spade Diaper Bag, below that costs $418 dollars. That’s more than I spent (total) on cloth diapering both my babies!
Important disclaimer: I live in Eugene, Oregon where Birkenstocks, yoga pants, and french braids are considered high fashion. Maybe if I did live in a more urban area, I would feel the pressure to have a top of the line diaper bag. But really, when I think of the conditions that a diaper bag has to endure (without giving specifics, but mentioning the word “blow-out”), I can’t imagine investing so much in a bag. (Especially when it can’t be thrown in the washer!)
If you enjoy changing diapers while wearing a vintage western jacket with leather fringe, I think the above Timi and Leslie Diaper Bag is just perfect for you. And at just $159, it’s a fraction of the price of the first option!
The Skip Hop Duo Double Diaper bag is infinitely more practical, and costs just $59.99.
We opted for a beach bag with pockets, like the one above, that will cost you $4.99. That left us plenty of money to buy a few wet bags for cloth diapers(below) and a changing pad. Total cost, far, far less than any of the above options! (and washable!)
Did you find a diaper bag that was worth the investment? Did you use a backpack or some bag that you already had? Thanks for your diaper bag tips!
I’ve known for years that smoothies are a great way to slip spinach, cucumbers, squash and other veggies into my children’s diet. I get to clean out the remnants of my produce drawers and everyone feels like they’re getting dessert. The smoothie mustaches are just a bonus! (This photo was from last summer…before I had totally forgotten the magic that a blender can create!)
So why is it that I so often forget this simple trick?
Luckily Rebecca’s last post bolstered my memories of smoothie success! We whirled up brown bananas, greek yogurt, peanut butter, honey, and cocoa and my children declared all day how delicious their “milk-shakes” were. We poured the leftovers into popsicle molds and the kids were beyond thrilled to eat “fudgecicles” for breakfast. Victory for all! Thanks for the reminder Rebecca!
A cold bit of crust from my son’s grilled cheese sandwich stares at me from an otherwise empty plate. Why toss it when it can provide me with sustenance and save my bokashi bin from having to digest another hunk of food?
A. I’ve already eaten lunch and am not remotely hungry.
B. These “recycling efforts” have caused my belly to grow while my pants are inexplicably shrinking.
D. Eating this gross bit of cold, partially gnawed sandwich will not save the planet.
E. All of the above.
That Robin’s egg blue sweater in my closet has only been there for a year. Why would I get rid of it when I could still get so much use out of it?
A. In the past 12 months, I’ve worn it twice.
B. The sleeves are two inches too short, it’s endlessly itchy, and I detest wearing it.
D. On a half off sale at a thrift store, I paid just three bucks for it.
E. All of the above.
Every month we end up with a tiny sliver of soap in the dish. Why would I discard them when I can melt them down, put them in the blender, and remold them into fresh bards of soap?
A. With two small kids and a nearly full time job, I barely have time to brush my teeth, let alone engage in multi-step soap projects.
B. I could just stick that sliver onto a new bar of soap, and my life would be infinitely easier.
C. Elaborate soap sliver recycling efforts may not make as much as an impact as other simple things I could do.
D. All of the above.
The annoying singleton socks that lurk in my son’s drawers serve no reasonable purpose. Why get rid of them when then could make several dozen multicolored puppets?
A. Spilling out of his desk drawer are 56 recycled sock puppets from an art project two weeks ago.
B. It is endlessly annoying to nudge random socks out of the way every time we search for clothing.
C. These socks have been without pairs for so long that they no longer fit my son’s feet. In fact, some may be baby booties.
E. All of the above, and more.
Can you tell I’m trying to overcome some extreme non-wasting tendencies? My inner hoarder would rather re-purpose every single item in our home, but the walls are closing in! Do you struggle with the urge to save/repurpose everything versus the need to maintain some sense of order?