We went apple picking last fall and picked 65 pounds of apples that I made into pies and preserved applesauce. We will go back again this year until our own fruit trees start producing.
Around the Home
We no longer use paper napkins or paper towels and instead use cloth napkins and rags for cleaning. I purchased dish towels at Job Lot for $0.25 each and cut them in half and sewed an edge on them for really pretty napkins.
They work well, and launder easily.
We eliminated all chemical cleaners from our home. Not only is this healthier for us and for the environment, it has been a huge money saver.
We now make our own all purpose cleaner, laundry detergent, dish soap, bath soap, dishwasher soap, floor cleaner and window cleaner. The basic ingredients are very cheap and the kids really enjoy making the cleaners with me.
I learned how to stock pile my pantry by hitting deals, store sales and replenishing only those supplies that are low. I can now shop about once every three weeks. My last bill for 3 weeks of shopping was $169.00. I shop for produce weekly and have my milk delivered from a local dairy so that price is not included in my grocery bill.
We really got a good handle on using coupons combined with store sales and I can now save an average of $50-$60 in coupons alone when I shop. Looking for freebie coupons have allowed us to get many items for free. Shopping carefully has allowed us to save over $1200.00 since February. It's been great for our budget. I shop with only canvas tote bags never using the plastic bags any longer. I'm still trying to find a way to eliminate ziploc bags but am having difficulty with this.
We decided to switch to all organic, pastured meat. It is more expensive but we've been making more vegetarian meals and creating meals that can be used at multiple sittings like chili, lasagna and Shepherd's Pie that all help to stretch the dollar. This meat above was bought at Stop and Shop. The pile to the left is all the fat we cut off. This was a 7 pound roast when we started, after cutting out the fat-it was down to 5 pounds. Not much of a savings there. We've been more conscious of where our food comes from too after watching films on the milk industry, meat and chicken industry and especially the ill effects of genetically modified food/seed from the Monsanto company. We are trying to make better choices for our family.
In order to save money we needed to create a household notebook to keep all of the everyday information we use. Some areas of this have worked well, like my garden section, plastic keeping envelopes that I keep stamps, church tithe envelopes, address labels etc in. We also have a section for recipes, pool care and homeschool. The other sections I created for coupons and grocery shopping didn't work out because I do this in my office where I can spread out the papers and coupons. I need to look at this book again but because it's in a 3 ring binder I can easily change out what works and what doesn't.
All of our closets were organized to help us see our supplies. This is the closet in my office and has mostly craft and homeschool supplies.
We also bought 2 very nice bookshelves for all of our homeschooling books. Each child now has a shelf for all of their own books and we can easily find eveything. This was one of the best things we did to help us organize.
We saved a ton of money this year by ordering the kids curriculum from Amazon. Some of the books were used but in great condition. We saved $483.65 by buying closeouts and used curriculum. The rest of this money was then placed in our homeschool budget.
Having a homeschool budget allowed us to take many field trips this year. In years past this was not possible for us. Careful planning has made for a very enriching year.
We bought a food dehydrator and use it frequently. I have dried herbs from the garden, apples and fruit that were too ripe for the kids to eat but makes wonderful fruit snacks and we are going to try some Turkey jerky soon. It's been a money saver because these foods are now not getting thrown out. We also bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker and make ice cream once a week. Since we can control the ingredients that go into this, we know the kids are eating healthy.
I mostly bake my own bread with whole wheat flour. I still buy some bread but am hoping to cut that out as well. I've been buying organic flour and the smell of fresh bread in the home is just delightful. Unfortunately, the kids like to be taste testers so it never lasts for long.
I've been doing more canning/preserving and using things from my yard to cook. This year I made Wild Violet Jelly. All 6 jars are gone and I made extra to give away to some of our homeschool moms. It was was delicious.
We took our first adventure in raising chickens and building a coop after watching http://www.chickenindustry.com/ and seeing how our meat chickens are brought to us and how the eggs are massed produced. We order our meat chickens from another homeschooler instead of buying them at the store. We know that they are farm raised without the use of antibiotics and growth hormones and the price isn't much different than the store.
We have 4 laying hens right now and 11 more babies in the brooder that will hopefully start laying this fall. They grow so fast.
Yes, Patrick loves his chickens.
In return for all that chicken love, they give us very pretty, delicious eggs.
Things I'd Like to Change
- Learn to knit so I can create my own dishcloths and blankets
- Get Goats for milking and making cheese and soap
- Learn how to make soap-real soap
- Expand the garden so I can plant potatoes and onions
- Work every inch of our property to benefit our family
- Have a huge yard sale to clean and purge stuff I don't need
- Double my canning/preserving efforts
- Buy more fruit trees
- The changes we've made have not been hard. It takes research and patience to make things work and things don't change overnight. It's all been for the better for our family. I hope you decide to make some changes too.