Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to be a rock star in someone else’s world today.
It felt great to write that again after taking a much-needed break for most of December! Ah, absence makes the heart grow fonder!
Today’s Monday Mission is a bit of a flip on its head – rather than giving you a new task to complete or attempt in the kitchen, I’m asking you to branch out to help your own friends/community. I’m kind of excited about this mission, so bear with me as I explain what I’m thinking.
I noticed someone on my own (personal) Facebook page this week asking for best tips to trim the budget. This particular gal already does an amazing number of frugal tips, so I wasn’t sure how much she’d learn, but the question itself inspired me to think outside the box this Monday.
I want YOU to think about your own frugal journey, whether you’re at the beginning of learning budgeting (or reducing the budget for whatever reason), in the midst of the journey, or at a comfortable place but can still remember the leaner days.
Type out your TOP 3 frugal tips, especially if they have to do with the kitchen or fit within the natural living field – anything having to do with simple cleaners, reusing stuff, reducing your waste, etc. You might also share ways you make extra money, since that achieves the same end as being frugal with what you already have.
I absolutely cannot wait to hear what you all come up with, because if I’ve learned anything over the nearly five years I’ve been writing here at Kitchen Stewardship, it’s that my readers know wayyyyy more than I do. About just about everything, if you really want to know.
UPDATE: Here’s a great thread with over 20 contributions on this question!
If you’re not on Facebook, we’d love to hear from you in the comments here, and if you want to accept the “rock star” part of the mission, think of 3 people to email, post on Twitter, or share at a weekly Bible study or Mom’s group. You can blame it on me so you don’t feel weird.
What About Mine?
I almost don’t want to share my top 3, because I don’t want to sway anyone’s thinking. I want your rock star tips to be 100% your own without my interference, so make sure you’ve done yours before you read any further.
Go on. Type them out.
Now go share them so you can’t edit.
You can look at these pretty food pictures so you don’t see my three…
Now I’ll share mine, but if you’ve been around long enough here, you’ve heard them before (maybe a hundred times!).
Number One: Homemade Yogurt
I remain amazed at how much I save with this one little kitchen task! I’d never give it up!
A quart of organic Stonyfield yogurt is about $4 on sale here, and Greek yogurt is even crazier.
I make a quart of organic yogurt for $1.75.
And I make 4-5 quarts per week.
Assuming I couldn’t always find yogurt on sale, let’s say $5 is a fair price. That means I save between $13-16.25 every week. Who wouldn’t want a savings of around $650-845 every year?! That’s a lot of wiggle room in the food budget – enough to buy a quarter cow and save even more buckeroos.
Here’s my homemade yogurt tutorial with lots of pictures to make it totally simple. (Did I mention I only spend about 20 minutes a week making this? That means I “earn” over $40/hour making yogurt!)
Number Two: Homemade Chicken Stock
Bones + Veggie Scraps + Water = Broth
It can’t get any cheaper than free, folks. Now that I’m actually saving ends of carrots, onions, and celery in the freezer and growing my own parsley in the summer, then freezing it too…AND reusing the bones a second and even third time…I am truly getting gallons of organic bone broth for the cost of my gas range and my time (and I suppose the huge stock pot I own that one is on Amazon, although mine was from Meijer, but even that was not expensive).
I haven’t priced organic broth in a long time, but I’m willing to bet that I’m saving $20-50 each time I make stock, PLUS having plentiful broth on hand encourages me to make and consume more soup, which is definitely healthier for my family (and usually less expensive than other types of recipes!).
Y’all. If you’re not making stock yet, resolve to start NOW. Here’s how.
Number Three: Cooking with Dry Beans
This is sort of a cheater, really, because I’m hitting two birds with one stone.
Particularly in the real food, traditional foods, well-sourced world that I live in, meat is the most expensive thing we eat (and maybe cheese). That means that cutting down on meat here and there really helps the budget.
I use less meat when beans are either part of the meal (like making a double batch of chili (Recipe available in The Everything Beans Book) but not doubling the meat) or the main attraction, like chickpea wraps, black bean soup, or veggie bean burritos.
And if I’m cooking my own beans from the 25-pound bags of dry beans (found on Amazon) that I have in the basement, the savings is pretty huge. (You caught me – drat – that’s actually 3-in-1 here isn’t it? Cutting meat, using dry beans, AND buying in bulk. Sorry about that – I always ask if ice cream places can put two flavors in one dish, too.)
Here’s how I cook dry beans in bulk and freeze in can-sized containers to make any recipe a cinch.
Other Frugal Resources at KS
Back in 2011, a group of bloggers began an incredible series called Eat Well, Spend Less. The collaboration was in response to some serious rising food prices we were observing – and that trend hasn’t really stopped in the years since.
Here’s a post I wrote at the inception of the series listing out my top 5 unexpected places to source inexpensive real food (and a bonus 5 cost-cutting strategies to implement in the kitchen).
The following year I listed ALL the best ways to save on the budget, and then how to prioritize where you spend a little more to achieve the “eating well” part of the series title.
That post includes my best food savings tips and other areas to trim the budget.
If your interest in piqued, you can view the entire series right HERE.
Last week’s post where I shared some inspirations for totally doable healthy eating goals also has some good frugal information, especially the fermentation lists in the comments of all places.
Other Frugal Resources on the Web
One of my favorite bloggers who will teach you to get out of debt and stay that way is Stacy Myers of Stacy Makes Cents. Her first eBook, Crock On!, is truly one of my most-used cookbooks, and I’m ready to dig into her second book, Keep Crockin’, hot off the presses!
For similar ideas, I love Carrie Isaac’s recipes and reduction of food waste in the most beautifully designed eBook I own,
From Garbage to Gourmet (no longer available). My review is here. (no longer available)
Another eBook perfect for this subject is Stephanie Langford’s Real Food on a Real Budget, a massive tome covering just about every way you can save money on real food that exists.
Are You Becoming a Real Food Expert?
If this mission, this idea of sharing what you know with others, struck your fancy and fit your personality, I have a request for you.
But first, a little admission.
I’m running out of Monday Mission ideas. (gasp!)
I know, I know, it’s been “my thing” for five years now – but I feel like I’m not making very many changes in my own kitchen, so what do I have to write about? As I was wondering where to get inspiration for new missions, my husband said, “Why don’t you ask the readers?”
To which I replied, “But even if they want to hear about something, that doesn’t mean I know anything about it. How can I write about something I haven’t done yet?”
And then it hit me – maybe YOU can challenge ME.
I won’t promise that I’ll tackle all the missions, but I have a feeling it would breathe some fresh air into Mondays and be a great thing all the way around if readers submitted some Monday Mission ideas – and not only the ideas, but the how-to for the post as well.
If you’re interested, please email me at katie at kitchenstewardship.com with the subject “Monday Mission idea” and a short description of your idea. You don’t have to be a super amazing writer – I’m a pretty good editor – but you do need some kitchen knowledge, passion to share it, and the ability to string a few words together to explain yourself.
I’m not exactly sure yet what you might get in return – it might just be 15 seconds of fame, the joy of helping other women with their healthy eating/natural living goals (there are men here too by the way), or something else. I’ll let you know before you do too much work!
I’m pretty excited to see where this “sharing” mission goes and what ideas you all come up with – if you leave them here in the comments or tag my Facebook page, I can reply to you with gratitude.