This post is by Melissa at Mom’s Plans and is part of a Yakezie blog swap based on the topic, “What is your best go green method to save money?” You can read my post on the same topic at Melissa's blog.
When I graduated from graduate school, I was $20,000 in student loan debt and newly married. My job paid less than double the balance on my student loans, so money was very tight. My husband and I read The Tightwad Gazette and implemented many strategies to save money, most of which also turned out to be good for the environment. Yet, in a few years, we both became busy with work and school and children, and many of these frugal, green ways of living evaporated from our lives.
However, within the last year, I have discovered that I am both dairy and soy intolerant, and two of my three children are also dairy intolerant. There is very little processed food that I can now eat, and many restaurants are off limits because of their copious use of soy additives.
As a result, I have been spending quite a bit of time in the kitchen, resurrecting lost arts such as bread making. I have been unable to find ANY store bought bread that is free of both dairy and soy and doesn’t cost more than $3 a loaf. (I know I can buy specialty bread for $5 plus a loaf, but I really can’t justify the expense!) The more we continue to try to cut corners and prepare healthy foods, the more I realize how “green” it is to cooking the majority of our meals at home.
Take our two loaves of bread that we make weekly:
Because I make it so often, I bulk buy the flour in 25 pound bags and yeast in a 2 pound container at Costco. I do not know exactly how many loaves of bread we can make from those ingredients. Perhaps 40 loaves or more? The only waste we have is two wrappers, one for the flour and one for the yeast. If we bought 40 loaves of bread, that would be 40 bread wrappers that end up in a landfill.
However, the real difference comes in avoiding processed food. Our use of items that come in cans has decreased dramatically. Frozen meals with their cardboard packages and plastic trays and plastic covers are off limits because all of them contain soy.
I don’t know that I would have chosen this lifestyle just to avoid waste and become more frugal, but now that I have to eat this way, I am glad that we have made the change. Not only are we more environmentally friendly, we are also eating healthier, which, in the long run should also save us money on health bills and insurance. True, it does take a great deal of time to make the majority of my family’s food from scratch, but I consider it a hobby, and the taste of the food is infinitely better than frozen meals.
Photo from D'Arcy Norman.