Friday, March 27, 2009

How our nest does it...


So I've talked about WHY our nest does 100% organic, but HOW do we do it exactly?

Well, first of all, let's talk about our budget. For 2 adults and 1 breastfeeding/solid eating toddler, we spend an average of $100 a week on 100% organic groceries. Probably about $50 of that is spent on fresh vegetables and fruit. Lately, Lovebug has been eating alot more vegetables, so sometimes it's $125, but most of the time it's right at or around $100.

This amount does not include supplements or personal care products, as we get those from other sources. It also does not include any cleaning or laundry products since we make all of them with supplies mostly from Mountain Rose Herbs. Since we cloth diaper/wipe, this amount also does not include those, which saves us quite a bit of money. Further, that amount does not include any cooking/baking oils, herbs, spices, salt, pepper, and so forth, because we also get them all from Mountain Rose Herbs in bulk.

We do our weekly shopping at Central Market but make a monthly trip or so to Whole Foods as well. From April - November, we go to the local farmer's market every Saturday morning where we stand in the long line at the ONE organic stand. At any of these places, if they don't have it organic, we don't buy it. It's really that simple. Even if that means changing things up that we had intended on doing, we go in another direction or find an organic substitute that will work.

Things that help us buy 100% organic 100% of the time:

-My Love keeps great track of what we are spending. As he is the "top chef" around our nest, he also does our grocery shopping. Sometimes Lovebug and I tag along especially when it's farmer's market season, but alot of times, it's just my Love heading to the store early Saturday morning with the list we carefully made together. He has his ipod and listens to music while he tallys up things as they go into the basket. Somtimes he put things back if we're going to go over what we had intended and sometimes he calls me to say "do we want this or that this week?"...And we make that decision based upon what we really need. We never ever take anything away that is for Lovebug though as her health is our top priority!

-Simply, we don't overbuy. Probably most anyone that would come over to our nest and look in our refrigerator or pantry would probably think both are pretty bare, but to us, they're completely full. We just don't overbuy and keep to our list, which helps tremendously. Actually, come Saturday our refrigerator does look pretty empty! :)

-We buy in bulk. As mentioned above, about every month we load up on organic agave, maple syrup, and other things from Whole Foods. Also every month, I generally take a trip to another grocery store, Market Street, to load up on organic nuts and chocolate chips because they have the best prices on those. Then, every couple of months, we load up on LOTS of beans, lentils and such from Whole Foods. Buying in bulk truly helps! Plus, you're using less packaging (especially if you re-use your own bags).

-We keep our paper products to an absolute minimum at our nest and this helps our budget a great deal. So that means no TP (except for guests), no paper towels, no napkins, no paper plates, no diapers, and so forth. These things can quickly add up...

-As mentioned above, from April to November we go to the local farmer's market every Saturday morning to load up on organic vegetables. This helps our budget a TON because we can go and spend $35 on veggies with the same amount normally costing us $50 at Central Market! Find your local farmer's market here.

-Since we eat by far mostly vegan (with the very rare local eggs and fish we catch), our organic protein sources are much cheaper than meat-eaters. Organic beans cost a great deal less per pound than organic chicken or beef, so that's something to consider. Even if you can't go vegan, vegetarian, or pescetarian, then consider at least making more of your meals meat/chicken free per week than not. You'll end up saving money for sure!

-We drink a ton of water and don't buy bottled beverages hardly ever. We don't buy soda and I know this is kind of crazy to most people, but we just don't drink the stuff. We also don't buy bottled water, but instead have our reusable bottles that we re-fill. This saves us quite a bit! We do buy a carton of orange juice every week that we partake of a little bit every day, but a treat is when we can get an organic beer for my Love and a GT's Kombucha for me! :)

-We don't buy packaged foods - no cookies, crackers, cake mixes, boxed dinners, and so forth. That stuff can easily add up in more ways than one, so we just don't buy them. Plus, fresh is just best...

-This may seem minute, but we compost and recycle like crazy. Thus we don't buy trash bags but once a year. We only put out trash maybe once a month if that, so this is something little but a small money saver.

-We are still breastfeeding and practice baby-led eating/weaning. This also might seem minute, but it has saved us money for sure. However, financial savings is by far NOT the reason we have done either of these things, but rather, an added benefit. We have never done baby food, cereal, formula, bottle-feeding, and so forth, but instead have only breastfed and started to offer cut up fresh vegetables to Lovebug around 10 months once she started to show interest. She has always fed herself and decides how much/little she wants to eat. Her vegetable intake continues to increase although her breastfeeding really hasn't decreased much :), but we have definitely noticed a small difference ($15-25) here and there certain weeks in our grocery bill due to this and know it will only increase from here.

SO these are some things that came to mind in how we save and are able to keep to the 100% organic diet. However, we also have to do away with other things (like cable, etc.) to maintain it. There are certainly ways that we can improve though:

-We would love to get where we always make all of our breads. I make them here and there and always make our pizza dough and baked goods, but would love to make all of our tortillas, and sandwich and pita bread as well. Currently for these things, we buy Ezekial 4:9 which is sprouted and very delicious.

-Currently we buy a big thing of purified water every week, but really hope in the near future to install a whole house water filtration system so we don't have to do this. We had Eco Water Texas come out not long ago and test our water - eewwwww! Disgusting what's in it!! Really. I highly recommend getting your water tested and not drinking tap water!

So, maybe some of this will help a few of you. It IS really hard, especially with today's economy to stay within budget and make things work...but I truly believe if it's a priority, everyone's diet can be 100% or at least mainly organic.

The above is what currently works for our nest, but I would love to hear any tips of how you make it work for you and your families as well, so please share!

Oh and the photo is a little box I've been working on by making use of all of the organic produce stickers we go through :)...

15 comments:

Laura said...

Wow! Can I move in? A hubby that shops/cooks and an organic budget that works is so admirable! I was more on par with your sched when I was single and in college and then when I only had one baby and one job... but gosh darn life gets in the way. We don't do soda either and thank heavens my 9 year old never took to it. Her friends frown when told there is only juice or water... anyway, great job!

PS~Erin said...

Wow. Thanks for all of this info and the details on how you make it work. It is quite impressive to me. And it's motivating as well. We made some big changes a while back, but we've slipped back quite a bit. I appreciate you going through some of the logistics on how (and why) you make it work for you family.

I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow said...

Your guest get toilet paper but what do you do?

Jashley and Grant said...

Thank you so much for posting this one! I've always wondered how you budget your organic lifestyle! Thank you for all of the links! Great resources!

Erin said...

wow, you guys are so diligent and stead fast on your lifestyle. good for you! unfortunately, I cannot say the same for myself. thanks for sharing

Sarah said...

Thank you for this post! We've been trying to move closer towards a 100% organic diet, but the challenge is always to do it within the money you have. I guess it really is about doing without the unimportant things to allow for the most important things. We try to get things from as close to the source as possible (such as buying organic and free range meat directly from the farmer) and this often saves quite a bit.

Thimbleina said...

Thank you for sharing that. We too have a fairly bare fridge most of the time as I buy dry goods once a month and fresh goods each week depending on the menu drawn up so there is little waste. I do have a bit in the freezer as I save up portions of meals that are left over for lunches, or cook twice as much so rather than have takeaways when time is short I can warm something through in the oven.

We also do not buy any soda/fizzy pop and perhaps orange juice only once or twice a month we drink tap water or the kids drink milk, they actually when offered fizzy pop at parties won't drink it, they don't like it, which is not something I forced upon them, they have decided this themselves.

We don't use kitchen towel or clingfilm and I buy tin foil once a year to cover the Christmas turkey as I haven't found another way yet to cover it so it doesn't dry out. We have cloth napkins and handkerchiefs.

Interested in what you do instead of toilet paper - we still use this.

We did baby led weaning also with Master T (didn't know about it when Lady A was at that age).

I bake most of our bread, pizza dough and tortillas. We don't buy ready meals.

We do occasionally buy packet biscuits and crisps but try to keep them to a minimum. I try to bake most of the biscuits and cake that my gang love.

We also use some cloth bags that we put Christmas presents in that can be re-used each year instead of wasting all that Christmas paper and I try to re-use bags and paper that presents to the children have come in.

I also try to buy secondhand where I can and reuse things rather than throw them away i.e clothes either get remade into something else or used as rags for cleaning floors and messes.

It is interesting to hear how other people endeavour to keep green and or organic and try to live more sustainably. I'm way from perfect and we do, do some things more conventionally but I am trying to change some things gradually, we do buy some organic but nowhere near as much as you do.

heather jane said...

Do things have to be certified organic for you to consider them fit to eat? In other words, we eat from our farmer's market all summer, and we are expanding our own garden this year, but most of the vendors are not certified because of the cost. What's your take on that?

The Magic Onions said...

Your organic sticker box is SUCH a winner... I get so irritated having to peel off the stickers, now I am going to find a box and decorate it with organic stickers... thanks for the idea.
It was so nice to see how you do 100% organic, thanks for sharing. You are so disciplined... I need to be more like you. Thanks for the inspiration.

Maria Rose said...

Sounds a lot like what we do. Unfortunately we aren't able to compost just yet. Apartment living has not been compost friendly. Any suggestions?

Endearing Studios said...

Hey, Thanks for the post. It was great! This is Michelle (your wedding photographer =)... I couldn't find your e-mail but I wanted to ask for an organic cookbook you would recommend. I have picked up a couple but both were so overwhelming. Full of things I had no idea of and couldn't find anywhere. Is there a good "Starter" cookbook for someone who is trying to live a more green and organic lifestyle? You can e-mail me... myoung@endearingstudios.com

Stephanie said...

We are slowly moving toward eating more organic foods too, but we're not at 100%. But we do a lot of the same things you do to save $$$ and stay healthy (buying lots of fruits and veggies, not drinking soda, "extended" breastfeeding, etc.).

Thanks for outlining how you make your healthy lifestyle work for your family.

Jessy, Greg, Grace, Jack, Nora, and Lexi said...

Yay! I love this. We do a lot of what you do...lots of fresh fruits & veggies (in season & local), everything homemade (the kids love my tortillas & pizza), no meat (or fish). We haven't made the switch to strictly organic yet. But we have our own little organic garden growing out back so it's a start, right? :) I'm curious about your compost. Care to share directions on starting one? We really fall short on recycling and with a family of 6 we make a lot of trash.

hannah said...

awesome post. it's pretty amazing when you put it all down in writing. i also love the organic sticker box. i'm so stealing that idea. :D i'm about to embark on the no-tp challenge. my husband is not sold yet, so we may be easing into it. i think he'll come around when we have loads and loads of diapers to wash in july. :)

Anonymous said...

I am wondering your take on eating organic vs. local...knowing that organic food is often not local..at least where I am living in Canada. We do tend to buy quite a bit of organic food-I try to follow the "dirty dozen" list.. that helps with the budget for sure.. but hard when the organic apple is shipped from afar, using lots of fuel and such to get it to me, when the non-organic apple is down the road, grown by a farmer I know....