Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Eat Well, Spend Less: You CAN Afford a Natural Life – How to Prioritize

April 19th, 2012 · 79 Comments · Frugality

sausage bean and kale soup (foodgawker) (900x675)

I got an email last month that really got me thinking:

Hi there, I love your blog! I have known about clean eating for years and have practiced it to a certain degree but you bring it to whole new level. It is overwhelming.

I have a new sense of urgency to incorporate “real” stuff in my home because I have recently be diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. I have had to cut my hours as an ER nurse a great deal so frugal living is important. I started couponing last May to try and help with budget but there is just a bunch of junk out there in regards to what you get with coupons and it is a ton of work.

I would much rather spend the time in the kitchen/home than in the stores and on the net trying to find deals. Do you coupon at all? A lot of your suggested personal care items are pretty spendy. I’m assuming you make up for it in the kitchen and with a tight budget? I am just wondering.

I am trying to wrap my brain around this and if it will actually help with a budget verses destroy our budget.

I felt kind of badly that it seemed KS was focusing on “spendy” personal products, because it is always my goal to help people balance their care for their family’s health with the environment AND their budget, all while trying not to spend forever in the kitchen.

If I’ve strayed into spending more, it’s time to turn the ship around and show you that yes, you CAN live a more natural life without filing for bankruptcy.

Here was my answer to the email:

I’m so sorry I took so long to answer your message! I read it right away, and you got me thinking. You see, most of the personal products I actually use regularly are super cheap and/or homemade, but I get to try out a bunch of fancy things as a blogger. Some, I’d spend the money on. Some, I honestly wouldn’t, or at least I wouldn’t have 4-5 years ago.

So really, just about everything I recommend on a basic level is just that – basic, and also inexpensive.

I thought so much about your question and worried that maybe things weren’t as clear as they should be at KS, that I decided this was the perfect topic for the year anniversary of the Eat Well, Spend Less series. If you haven’t seen that one, check them out here.

A post that will get you started on the food end is here: When to Splurge, Settle, and Skip.

To answer the rest, watch KS in mid-April and you’ll have a whole post (or two) detailing what things I do that cost less than the conventional lifestyle, what costs about the same and where you have to spend more to get more. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

For now, try things that are homemade on the list of green body products and skip the expensive stuff.

I used to coupon a bit, not with a huge binder, but definitely saving money every time I went to the store. I also got hoodwinked into buying things I didn’t need and didn’t love. Every step I take in the natural living journey, both in the kitchen and the rest of the house, seems to decrease the possible coupons I use. It got to the point where my mom would send me coupons for the select items I might use, and now, literally, I’m down to toilet paper.

I don’t even bother taking the time to skim the coupon booklets anymore, because there’s nothing there for me. I notice that when I’m in the store, my cart is FULL of produce, and potentially a few other items. It’s so incredibly different from other carts in the checkout line, and I’m always a bit proud of my fresh foods. I hardly ever enter a Walgreen’s or Rite Aid anymore, and they used to be weekly stops.

So thank you for the great inspiration, and I hope I’ve given you some budget hope and will share more in a few weeks!

My goal in this post is to list all the real food practices and foods that you really should be eating, no matter what, and divide them into those that will save money over a conventional diet and those where you must spend more to get more. Along with some cleaning and personal product frugality, you can trim here and spend there and still stay within a budget while eating a super healthy, real food diet.

 

Here’s Where You Save

  • Homemade yogurt: I save $700 on 12 jars/2 weeks with conventional milk/conventional yogurt, pricing both yogurt 32 oz. and 1 gallon milk at about $3 apiece, or I save $780-1092 using organic raw milk at $6/gallon vs. organic yogurt at $4-5/quart. Because it only takes me 20 minutes or so per gallon, I’m getting “paid” about $35/hour to make yogurt. Not bad for a stay-at-home mom! Here are the new yogurt making updates with the Cliff’s notes version of the process, more pictures, and testimonials from people other than me that it really is easy! Also see the new troubleshooting guide for homemade yogurt and how to make creamy raw milk yogurt.
  • Homemade chicken stock: it’s practically free. I probably spend maybe a buck more to buy the bones themselves, another buck in onions, carrots and celery (if that), less than a buck, hopefully, on power for the stove, and I get at least 1-2 gallons of stock. For organic, no-MSG broth at the store, that would cost $12-25 easily, maybe more. Since it does take a good hour to complete all the parts, I only earn about $20/hour. “Only.” And of course, if you use the bones more than once…you’re saving even more by making food from garbage!
  • Cooking with dry beans: I paid $1.35/lb. for 25 lbs. of organic black beans from Country Life. Cans cost over $2 if you get good organic ones, about $0.69 if you get conventional on a really good sale. I won’t spend more than $1/lb. on dry beans at the store. One pound of beans generally makes the equivalent of about 4 cans. My organic beans cost 50% less than conventional canned beans, and they save almost $7 vs. organic canned beans without BPA (Eden Organic brand from Tropical Traditions). Shave off a few cents for stove energy (always cook at least a pound, if not two, at a time, and you’ve got enough to buy The Everything Beans Book after just a pound of beans! ;) Or, you can say you “make” about $6-30/hour by taking two 5-minute sessions to cook dry beans. For me, because I do this far too often and have to spend 15 minutes cleaning it up, my pay is docked down to about $5/hour, but it’s my own dumb fault. Winking smile
  • Picking and freezing your own fruit IF you live in the right area: A friend of mine just moved to Virginia and discovered (after picking) that peaches were less per pound at the store! Here in Michigan, we can save a ton of money on U-pick apples, blueberries, and strawberries, and by buying peaches and organic peppers to freeze and organic tomatoes to can at the Farmer’s Market.
  • Fermenting vegetables (and fruit) is definitely something I need to do more of. Not only does fermentation wildly increase nutrients, but it’s quick, easy, and super frugal, helping to preserve the harvest and allowing you to buy cheap veggies like cabbage and make them into a superfood.
  • Buying in season and in bulk. I’m so excited to have our own house again so I can do things like buying 50 pounds of oatmeal or 25 pounds of beans. I’m also saving up for an upright freezer instead of my very small chest freezer so I can really tank up on the summer peppers (and other things) even more and maybe buy a quarter of a cow or something. (Do you get jazzed about silly things like that too?) I wrote extensively last year on midwest food sources and buying in bulk; that post is definitely worth perusing as you seek to trim your budget on real foods.
  • Make from scratch: You kind of have to in order to eat real food, but just remember that your time in the kitchen is saving money! Here are some considerations when cooking to make sure you’re saving money (the second list of 5). You can try my real food donation printables for some inexpensive and filling meal ideas for your family.
  • Be sure to check out 5 frugal tips for purchasing food from last year, including the reduced produce section, local butchers, buying in bulk with friends, and buying a portion of a cow.
Save on Personal Products to Spend More on Food

Although I do review some spendy items, like the reader above pointed out, I really mainly use super inexpensive cleaning and personal care items. Use these to save in one category so you can splurge a little more on food:

  • Homemade deodorant (incredibly cheap)
  • No poo shampoo method (even more incredibly cheap)
  • Vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda for most day-to-day cleaning
  • Soap nuts for laundry – they are lasting me forever, partly because I know the trick for how to tell if soap nuts are still active – each load costs pennies. I do buy oxygen bleach for soaking stains and Biokleen Bac-Out for spraying stains, but I dilute the Biokleen 3:1 with water and it really does last a long time as well.
  • Shaklee Basic H, about a Tablespoon diluted in a whole foaming pump for hand soap. Expensive to buy a big jug (maybe $35 for 32 ounces?) but it will last us forever. Castile soap or other natural liquid concentrates work well also, but the foaming pump is the key. This has to save at least $50 a year, based on the one bottle of “natural” foaming soap I bought when we were living at my in-laws and how FAST it needed a refill! This practice also helps you avoid triclosan and artificial colors that are in many soaps.
  • Homemade baby wipes (I probably spend $12/year on baby wipes for a full time diapered kid)
  • Oil cleansing method to wash your face (EVOO is expensive, but you use so very little, it’s cheap in the long run)
  • Zit treatment and acne cream: I’ve been using Redmond Clay, and you can be economical by buying it dry and mixing it with water yourself. (Here’s a You Tube video showing how.)
  • Why use body wash? Just buy regular soap, or nice homemade soap if you have a local supplier (or try MadeOn‘s goat milk soap). Erin also posted on an easy, non-toxic homemade body wash that is great for babies or adults.
  • My hard lotion (also from MadeOn) may cost more than the super cheap stuff I used to buy, but it also works better and I don’t worry when Jonathan sucks on my hand after I’ve put some on. For me, MadeOn products are not that much of a splurge, and I always buy the refill packs, which are less expensive.
  • The only two places I can’t find an inexpensive alternative are dishsoap and dishwasher detergent. We just have to suck it up, buy in bulk, or buy on Amazon with Swagbucks for those items.
  • What did I miss?
And Here’s Where You Spend

There’s no getting around it – high quality animal products always cost more, as does organic produce. It’s a bummer, but you can still balance the budget while milk jar (2)eating well if you focus on spending more here:

  • grassfed, organic meat
  • pastured eggs (or raise your own chickens, but do the math – I know people who found they spent as much on chicken feed as they would buying high quality eggs down the road!)
  • raw milk
  • real organic cheese
  • organic produce
Can You Eat Well AND Spend Less?

Let’s look at each “splurge” above and find one way to splurge less…

  • Meat:
    • Buy only whole chickens, make stock as above, and use them for multiple meals. You should be able to get 3 dinners with leftovers for a family of 4 with one chicken, if meat is not the centerpiece of the meal.
    • Use half or three-quarters of a pound of ground beef or sausage in recipes that call for a pound, like soups and casseroles. Cut taco meat or sloppy joes with cooked lentils.
    • Make “meat-centric” meals rare. Bacon becomes a seasoning.
    • Strrrrrrrretch the meat! I use one pound of ground pork, make my own homemade sausage, and put half a pound in sausage, kale and bean soup (top photo), sausage spinach pasta toss or savory Greek sausage-stuffed squash, THEN use 1/4 pound in two awesome breakfast with eggs, peppers, etc. or the grain-free quiche from Real Food…Real Easy! That’s one pound of meat for three meals…
    • Some people wondered how my meat expenditures from this week’s 2011 real food budgetcould possibly be so low. I use the strategies above, plus
      • we bought 1/16 cow in December 2010
      • we get venison from my brother from time to time
      • I made some cheap grocery store compromises
      • lots of beans
      • lots of soups
      • a meatless meal or two per week
      • On a related issue, we bought about 60 pounds of almonds in fall 2010 (for $2.99/lb!!!) that lasted us pretty much through the summer, so our nuts expenditures were much, much less in 2011 than we consumed.
  • Eggs:
    • There’s not much you can do here, honestly. I console myself that eggs are super healthy and pound for pound generally cost less than meat. But we’re pushing a dozen for scrambled eggs, so that’s a $4 breakfast, and certainly not frugal! The grain-free lifestyle doesn’t lend itself to eating less than 4 dozen eggs a week…
  • Milk:
    • Obviously, make your own yogurt, and only buy what you can afford. My kids know that they can choose milk as a drink for one meal a day. If we use too much, we run out before milk day. It is what it is… When I make a cream of potato soup nowadays, I use more broth than milk, and it’s more nutritious, just as delicious, and more frugal. Try water instead of dairy in biscuits or pancake recipes – you’ll find you can often get away with it!
  • Cheese:
    • I do buy a decent amount of store cheese and just decide I’m not going to worry too much about it. I’m trying to focus more on raw milk and organic cheeses, but this has been as our budget gets more wiggle room. If I wanted only organic and was on a budget, I wouldn’t eat very much cheese.
    • Use a microplane grater to grate cheese directly on someone’s plate rather than incorporating a cup of shredded cheese into or onto a dish that calls for it. The eater still sees and feels the cheese in the mouth, but you can use a LOT less with similar taste.
    • If you don’t have a source for raw cheese, I just found this one online with pretty good prices and sometimes free shipping. I just got it in the mail and will let you know how it tastes!
  • Produce:
    • Buy in season from local farmersask your farmer questions to find those that grow organically but don’t pay for certification. That saves you money, too.
    • Grow your own – here’s the organic gardening series at KS
    • Focus on the dirty dozen – don’t worry as much about conventional broccoli, cauliflower, avocados, onions, etc. Splurge a bit on potatoes, apples, greens.
    • Watch for reduced racks and learn what day your health food stored reduces their slightly older produce, then use or freeze it right away at home.

You can do it! I mentioned on last year’s real food budget that as we started switching over, I prioritized real food so much so that I put tax refund and garage sale money into the grocery budget instead of somewhere like entertainment. Make it important, spend some time cooking and meal planning, and you CAN stay within a normal budget and eat almost exclusively whole foods, and hopefully even good, real, well-grown food.

Remember than an apple, even a conventionally grown one, is always better than a jar of applesauce with X chemical on sale with a coupon.

It’s the last day for the Simplify Your Family Life eBook sale, over $350 in ebooks for $29! Check out my recommendations here.

[interactive_links style='side_count']

Pin It

The rest of the team is wrapping up this week, too:

eatwellspendless_150

 

 

Tags: ····


79 Comments so far ↓

  • Christen via Facebook

    excellent!

  • Katie via Facebook

    I’ve found that my local farmers will cut me a great deal on meat if I buy in bulk (20 lbs or more). My freezer is stocked and I paid less for grass fed than junk at the store. Love your blog! Thanks for all your help!

  • Becky via Facebook

    great post!!!

  • Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

    Hi Katie. I had to stop on over and leave a comment in the hopes that your reader will read my comment. I would love to help her with adrenal fatigue if she would like to correspond with me.

    If you are reading this, please feel free to contact me at wholenewmom at gmail dot com. Adrenal fatigue is for sure no fun and is tough to deal with. I’d be happy to help you with what I’ve learned.

    Take care and take it easy–above all.

  • Lisa

    We’re lucky in that we live on a farm. We raise our own beef, lamb, chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese. We buy meat birds and we have layers for eggs.
    We do have to buy our milk but there are stores that have non-hormone milk and we watch for which store has it on sale. I would LOVE raw milk but in Wisconsin, it’s illegal to purchase.

    In regards to your comment about cheese. I’ve found that cheese from the cheese store is comparable in price to the cheese at the store. Sometimes it’s cheaper. I often buy colby-jack because it’s the most versitle and I can buy “end pieces” which are cheaper yet and taste just the same as the middle, just doen’t look as pretty.

    I found that in switching to more whole foods, it’s just the switch that takes more work. It’s sometimes breaking a habit and maybe having to do a little homework initially to find the best price, source etc.

    Angie Reply:

    I have problems finding milk too. I’m in Minnesota, and though Cedar Ridge Dairy is nearby it’s not close enough to feasibly drive there every week for milk. I’m not even sure they would sell it to us raw. Here you can buy milk raw IF you’re buying it directly from the farm and only then. Even their organic grass fed milk is $6/half gallon at the coop, and I don’t really trust the Roundy’s “organic” milk very much. I want to get in on the raw milk black market, but just don’t know how. :(

  • Candace via Facebook

    very good post!

  • SweetJeanette

    Oh my goodness, gracious! This post was so packed with information, I’m just giddy! I grew up with a mom who did everything from scratch, but never allowed me in the kitchen. So I started my home learning from anyone and everyone, and every show and magazine and cookbook. I just love your practical information and, honestly, I am thinking about telling all young girls just getting married that your blog is “required reading” ! LOL
    I am pursuing a “Simpler” lifestyle now for my husband and I and so glad I receive your email updates! Thanks for being there!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    How sweet of you! ;) It would be fun to sit down with a bunch of newlyweds, seriously – I started out married life with hamburger helper often on the “meal plan” … :) Katie

  • Becca

    As I get paid by the hour and work from home, I’m somewhat obsessed with the time-cost it takes me to do certain things. A biggie with the dried beans is cooking them in the oven! Heat to 375, cover beans with an inch of cold water in a big pot, put the lid on and cook for 90 minutes. It’s perfect and so little effort – no soaking!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Becca,
    From what I understand, for health reasons, beans really should have a long soak and a long cook…although I admit, I’ve heard of people doing it in the slow cooker, but never the oven! 1.5 hours is quick! Even kidney beans? Huh. I’ve never found that soaking takes very long; even with the oven, you have to use a colander to rinse them anyway, so it’s probably only <5 minutes different, since you’re home anyway. But if it works for you, that’s awesome! :) Katie

    Becca Reply:

    Oh, that’s interesting! I hadn’t heard any health reasons before, except that some people report less gas ;) I think I eat so many that I’m kind of immune to it now! I haven’t tried it with kidney beans, but then I don’t really use them very often.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I’ve read that it’s really important to cook kidneys a long time b/c of something in them that would be toxic if not…so maybe don’t try those! :) Katie

  • Kami

    We eat all whole, real goods (we’re on GAPS) and I do my best to do all of these things and our food budget is STILL huge. We spend MUCH more than most people do but I am okay with it. We re-prioritize and cut down in other areas because food is our medicine. Yes it stinks to spend so much on food and I wish it was different but…we are healing!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kami,
    I’m sure we spend more than most on a conventional diet, too – and GAPS effectively knocks out two more inexpensive categories, potatoes and oatmeal/rice for us. You’re doing great!
    :) Katie

  • Beka

    Thanks for all this info! and for blogging in general, I love everything about this site! I just went through my food budget for the past year and I was astounded by how much I spent! I tell myself that it’s ok because we’re eating whole, real, healthy foods and before we weren’t, but it would be great to cut it at least a little bit. I have been trying to use less meat in a lot of meals, but how do you convince your husband that meat doesn’t make the meal? I try to sneak less meat in meals like spaghetti and casseroles, and he always notices! He keeps telling me that he just doesn’t feel satisfied unless there’s a certain amount of meat in it. Ideas?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Beka,
    I started with using .75 pounds in things like that, and sometimes I’d pump up the veggies, add beans, or add mushrooms (in spaghetti sauce) for bulk. We did talk about finances and how much it helps (like your own 50% off sale!) to get his brain into it…and I ‘boiled the frog.’ He used that term the other day – small changes, bit by bit, until he doesn’t even notice it’s happening. I’m hoping to write an update post on “feeding husbands” to follow up on the one I wrote two years ago now about getting him on board: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/01/29/how-to-feed-a-husband-real-food/

    Feeling satisfied is partly in one’s mind, in my opinion. If he can at least partially buy into the goal of what you’re trying to do, that will help. Good luck! :) Katie

  • Bebe

    What kind of cheese did you get from Real Milk Cheese? I ordered Colby (loved it!) and Pepper Jack, which we are still working our way through, it’s a very strong flavored cheese, more like an aged cheddar than any kind of pepper jack I’ve ever had before and honestly no one really cares for it so I’m going to have to grate it all up and store in the freezer to add in small amounts to dishes where it’s strong presence will go unnoticed.)
    Loved your concise post about where to save and where to bite the bullet and spend the money. I do the same things, even down to the baking soda and vinegar hair wash (I can’t bring myself to use the term “no poo”, it just chafes me ;) I have replaced all expensive cleaning products with the basics: baking soda, vinegar, essential oils, castille soap, grapefruit seed extract. I did buy some citric acid to use in homemade dishwasher detergent… trial running it right now, so far so good.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Bebe,
    Colby, pepper jack, and cheddar, but I’ve only opened cheddar. Should be able to get the pepper jack into refried beans and stuff; that’s what I’ve done with other raw cheeses that were just too “zippy” for our family. Now I’m curious to open the p. jack! :) Katie

  • Stephanie

    I love your blog, especially this series! We’re relatively new on the real food journey, and it’s been difficult to find good information on keeping it balanced with a frugal lifestyle. Thanks for doing this!

    On another note, a couple of times this week, when I tried to click over here from my google reader, your site was blocked as an “attack page,” saying you had had several instances of viruses being spread. Do you know anything about this? I thought you might want to check it out just in case.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Stephanie,
    I was hacked somehow, yuck, but we’ve got a service to tackle the problem, and hopefully it will be ancient history by Monday…

    Thanks! Katie

  • Emily

    I’ve been using a homemade dishwasher detergent found here:
    http://www.myblessedhome.net/?page_id=8713
    And so far it’s working pretty well. Fairly cheap too. I’m curious about one using citric acid, though, because I already have some.

  • Emily

    Thanks for this- it was exactly what I needed to read. We are currently living on ~1.25 incomes but when my husband starts law school in a few months we will go to living off my very part time income. While grass fed beef may be out of the budget for a while, this was a great list of good changes we can continue to make that will not only be good for us but will free up money for other things. Thanks!

  • HighOrderGuiltComplex

    Here is an easy way to cook dry beans with little fuss as well:

    dump bag of dry beans in crockpot and cover with water plus 3 or 4 inches above them and let soak overnight. drain and rinse beans in the morning, put them back in crockpot, recover with water at height about 2 or 3 inches above beans and let cook on low all day (8 to 10 hrs) or half day (5 to 6 hrs) on high. drain and done. no measuring, no boiling over, and they freeze real well. also cheap.

  • Kimberly

    First of all thank you so much for this post! I have been attempting to make better choices for myself and my family (all while staying within a super-tight grocery budget) for about a year now and have found your blog so helpful. This post is LOADED with useful information! I do have two questions though – well I guess really it’s just one: where do you purchase items like 50 lbs of oatmeal, or 60 lbs of almonds? Do you find them locally or purchase online?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kimberly,
    The 50 lbs of oatmeal is from Country LIfe (clnf.org), and the almonds were actually just a great sale at our local Meijer, bought one bag at a time!

    My last purchase of almonds was 25lbs for more like $6/lb, here: http://www.homegrownalmonds.com/ :) Katie

  • How Others are Eating Well and Spending Less (Frugal Friday) — Life As Mom

    [...] You Can Afford a Natural Life: How to Prioritize :: Kitchen Stewardship [...]

  • Heather

    You rock! This is exactly what I’m looking for:) I can’t very well be a good steward to my family if I’m not spending the cash right;) thank u!

  • Weekend Reading: April 21, 2012 | Life Your Way

    [...] You CAN Afford a Natural Life – How to Prioritize | Kitchen Stewardship [...]

  • charis

    i find a key is the theme you talk about all the time on your blog: baby steps. we have our own hens (one just escaped though so we are down to only 2!!), but we also are on wic so when i do supplement our amazing eggs with the free conventional eggs (gasp!) we get each month. we don’t eat many conventional eggs, but we do use the free ones we get. i figure the more good stuff we get in, i can make small compromises to make the budget still work until we can work up to more and more of the better stuff. great post!

    my recent post: introducing…

  • Stacy

    We do essentially the same thing for dish soap that we do for hand soap. A tablespoon or so of Sal Suds in the dish soap bottle, then fill the rest with water. It is very liquid-y but it does the trick and I’m sure it would work with any liquid castile type soap. Dishwasher soap, we use conventional. We tried homemade with no luck.

    We’ve gone back to conventional laundry detergent because nothing else seems to work with our extremely hard water. Even with baking soda soaks I still can’t get the sweaty smell out of my clothes.

    Unfortunately, the savings on doing the “from scratch” things (most of which we do) doesn’t equal out the extra spending if we did everything in the “spend more here” category. We’re all but off of dairy other than yogurt, which we buy because when we made it it tended to go bad before we could eat it all. Raw milk here is upwards of $10/gallon + an hour’s drive across town to pick it up. We eat mostly produce and meat with minimal carbs and starches. We focus on the dirty dozen for organic produce, or things where the price jump isn’t that much to go from organic to conventional (varies by sale week). We juice, so we go through more produce than even your average whole-foods eating couple, but we’ve managed to do it without significantly increasing our grocery budget.

    Meat is the one area where we just can’t make the switch. We don’t eat a lot of meat as it is, but we just can’t afford to more than double the price to switch to organic or grassfed.

    Eggs- we chipped in with a friend who wanted to get her own chickens but couldn’t afford the startup costs. In exchange for a 1/3 contribution of the initial costs, we get 1/3 of the eggs- about a dozen a week. We occasionally buy extra eggs but can totally tell the difference even with the “good” grocery store eggs.

    Do nuts go rancid when stored over a long period of time? We occasionally have that problem with things here.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Stacy,
    re: nuts; I try to store them in the freezer once opened – walnuts especially have delicate omega-3 fats.

    I hear you on the eggs – nothing like the real thing!

    And yes, it doesn’t always quite balance the budget to do the cost-saving and all the “spend more.” I am amazed that making my own yogurt saves 1/5 of my entire food budget, though! That helps a lot. Yogurt shouldn’t really go bad…at least not for a month or more. Yours was going bad? Sounds odd that homemade would have problems any faster than storebought. Cultured dairy is by its nature going to last longer than uncultured.

    And yes, it’s definitely tough to eat mostly meats and veggies without killing the grocery budget! :) Katie

  • Chris

    Trying to be frugal and use my bones for broth even in the high heat of TX summers… Any ideas other than steamy soups or cups of broth. I use it in my rice, but what else in large quantities?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Chris,
    My best ideas, although from long ago, are here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/06/10/summer-foods-broth-and-beans/
    :) Katie

  • Jenn

    Funny you should mention dish soap and dishwasher detergent. I mix both of those at home. My dish soap is just Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds diluted in an old bottle. The dishwasher detergent is washing soda, baking soda, and borax: http://blog.bernat.net/2010/08/19/dishwasher-detergent/. On its own it’s ok but with orange vinegar as a rinse aid, it’s great!

  • April F

    Katie, I’m curious about what dishwasher detergent you use. I’ve been trying several natural brands, but haven’t found anything I like yet. What do you use?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    April,
    I was using Biokleen, but I’m on the hunt again. Provisionally, Ecover is in the lead. It came recommended by many readers. :) Katie

  • Michelle via Facebook

    How do you make your own yogurt?

  • Amy via Facebook

    We go thru SO much yogurt… just scared to try making my own

  • Deanna via Facebook

    Yogurt is so easy to make and I like it better than most commercial stuff.

  • Amy via Facebook

    I just can NOT seem to make yogurt the right way/well. It always ends up runny (even if I strain it) and just ‘off’ enough no one will eat it. Doesn’t save us any money to go to the effort of making it, storing it, buying the milk/cream if no one wants to eat it! hmm..wonder if a ‘yogurt machine’ could fix my problem?

  • Tammy via Facebook

    kefir is even easier.. and i believe better for you.

  • Kyrie via Facebook

    I kept making yogurt only to find it wasn’t saving us any money because…none of us like yogurt! Ha!

  • Amy via Facebook

    @Amy ~ I would totally give making yogurt a go! You can make a large batch with little work and all you’re out is a gallon of milk. I follow the directions from her site and I get the best results when I don’t force it, time wise (speeding up the cooling process and all that..) I like it best sweetened with honey.

  • Dawn via Facebook

    We use Cultures for Health Greek yogurt cultures and make it in the 2 qt YoGourmet. It is very easy, and if you buy good quality cultures, they continue to thrive and be reused indefinitely. I was hesitant to buy the YoGourmet, not sure it would be worth it, but with one child on goat milk, I took the plunge, and am SO glad I did. I don’t keep track as well as you, Katie, but I know it has saved far more money than it cost! (Of course, if you buy it, go through an Amazon link on the KS page!) http://www.amazon.com/Yogourmet-104-Electric-Yogurt-Maker/dp/B000N25AGO%3FSubscriptionId%3D15HRV3AZSMPK0GXTY102%26tag%3Damznf-us-tbsearchsea-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB000N25AGO

  • Dawn via Facebook

    Our goat yogurt is usually a little runnier than I’d like, but that’s because it’s goat milk and I don’t add anything to thicken. But ours never has an off flavor, I would definitely try a yogurt maker so you can use thermophilic cultures, such as greek and such.

  • Deanna via Facebook

    I use a yogurt machine, Yogourmet dried starter and ultra-pasteurized organic milk. All I do is mix the milk and starter, pour into jars and plug in the machine overnight. Perfect every time.

  • Camille via Facebook

    That’s a lot of yogurt!

  • Lindsey via Facebook

    Do you know if you can make yogurt using almond milk?

  • Chapin via Facebook

    I have been making crock pot yogurt for a couple years and love it. I make cultured cream cheese from the yogurt too.

  • via Facebook

    This is great! Thank you!

  • Condo Blues

    My family prefers fresh produce but I have basic frozen veggies on hand like peas, green beans, broccoli – the type without sauces – on hand to stretch out the grocery shopping schedule when we’re in a savings cycle. I use frozen veggies for soups, stir frys, etc. This works for us because we don’t have room for a large veggie garden nor an extra freezer to freeze a lot of in season produce for winter.

  • Rebecca via Facebook

    Anyone else find that they spend more while pregnant? Less food I tolerate, less energy to cook and for some reason a huge craving for cheese, fruit and v8 fusion (I normally do not tolerate most fruit at all). We where laughing as we walked out of the store because at least half of the cart was “pregnancy” food. But I agree making yogurt is a huge savings to the point I am tempted to splurge on a yogurt maker, I need something where I don’t have to keep an eye on the temperature as closely as I do in the crock pot (big reason for it not being thick) never fails I get involved in something and forget to check it.

  • Jeni via Facebook

    Now that is impressive.

  • Heather via Facebook

    Dude!!! Love it!

  • Angelia via Facebook

    Going to try the home made deoderant!! For my teenager and myself also started making my own yogurt infact made a gallon today!! I can’t believe I didn’t do it earlier so easy!!! Thankd for your post

  • Jennifer via Facebook

    I keep trying, and it keeps coming out runny.

  • Christine via Facebook

    Is really like to try it, but I’m so intimidated!

  • Vicky via Facebook

    I add instant dry milk to the jars when I am making it to make a thick yogurt. Of course you spend more buying the dry milk but it lasts a long time as I only use about a tablespoon (maybe a little more, I’ve never measured, just eyeballed it) per pint jar.

  • Annie

    Something I have found in my house is that my kids can’t eat as much organic/local food as they can conventionally produced. Take a whole chicken for example. If I make a whole chicken from the grocery store my family of 8 will pick it clean, but if I get a local well raised chicken I can turn the same chicken into 2 or 3 meals (also starting with the roasted chicken just like with the conventional).

    I have been getting cheese from Azure Standard. I am paying about $4 a pound for cheese at the grocery store. The organic cheese in 5-6 pound packages from Azure is a little over $5. This makes it doable for me, hope it helps someone else.

  • Annie

    Sorry, that should have said “a little over $5 PER POUND”

  • via Facebook

    Jennifer Martin Knox – are you doing raw yogurt or pasteurized? My raw comes out runny every time. I’m doing a yogurt update tutorial sometime this month with more runny yogurt troubleshooting, so keep an eye out… :)

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

PTE350
Squooshi reusable food pouches