Sunday, February 28, 2010

Meatless Monday

Meat is a huge source of resource consumption in our country (other foods, water, etc.), expensive, and just not necessary for every meal. Last summer I participated in a discussion group called Menu for the Future which anyone can participate in they are more interested in this topic (I have posted a link on the side of the blog to the Northwest Earth Institute for more information) - I highly recommend all their groups as I learned so much from them that has impacted my family for the better.

Since that time we have been on a mission to buy and eat local and to cut down our meat consumption. One thing we have jokingly started is 'Meatless Monday'. It isn't really Monday every week but at least once a week (and usually more nights) we make our dinner meatless. Other nights we eat local, eat cheap, etc. and I'll talk about that as time goes on but I thought to carry on our family tradition that I would start every Monday with a tribute to Meatless Monday here on our blog.

I have to admit that our 'Meatless Mondays' are usually not all that creative - consisting of a pasta or something simple. In fact this week was a very simple and inexpensive pasta with a side of Bob's Red Mill polenta. We have come to LOVE this polenta and though you would think it would be difficult to make, it is very easy and makes a nice side dish for breakfast or dinner. Add some carrots and that was really it. Not much to talk about this week but I look forward to getting more ideas from my followers (maybe a few guest Meatless Monday posts) as the weeks go forward.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Brown Bagging It

I work in a major metro downtown. Lunch out here is $10 at a cart or fast food joint and forget about sitting down to eat. That's $50 + dollars a week. But I HATE leftovers and I'm terrible at remembering to bring lunch (I can barely function in the morning to remember the bottles let alone lunch) so this one place I realized I could make a dent in my weekly expenses.

How? Well, about every other week I leave 45 mins early (planned ahead so my husband can take the kids.. yadda yadda) and go to the grocery store. I stock up on yogurt, cereal, lunch meat, bread, hummus, soups, etc. and I use those to make lunches at work. I don't have to "know" what I'm having that day as I have a mini store in my office and I still treat myself about once a week to meal at a cart or an extra snack or hot chocolate.

I'm not just saving more, I'm cutting down on take out food waste that would go to the landfill and I'm most likely eating healthier to boot. It has taken me about 6 weeks not to truly make this a habit - so I encourage you to try it for about 6 weeks and see how well you do.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Vegan Valentine's Day

Ok so I know V'day is all said and done but I'm just starting this blog and I wanted to go back and share another concept we have around our house that is helping us do more with less (and for less). This year we celebrated Valentine's with family - some of whom happen to be vegan, and recently moved here from NY - so we decided to have a Vegan Valentine's day dinner. We actually already have a running "Meatless Monday" concept where we eat meatless one or more nights a week but I'll talk more about that later. We had a delicious salad, spaghetti and fresh bread baked from my book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. For dessert I tried my hand at an egg-less brownie but it just turned into goop (still yummy chocolate goop). The whole dinner was way less than a steak dinner and with a little wine (for the adults)which we received as a trade for a baby sitting swap night it felt like a very expensive meal with a very low budget. I have to add though that we didn't eat meatless because of our family or because it was cheap. One of the things we recognize and discuss regularly as a sustainable conscious family is how much of our water and food resources it takes to get a pound of meet (especially beef). This is a little twist on the taking more to get less... rather than just spending less to get more that prompted me to start this blog.

So I hope you will consider what your next "Meatless Monday" or "Vegan Valentines" might look like - and share your stories and recipes

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Library

When I was a kid I remember origami classes, arts and crafts and reading contests at our local library... but later in life as I earned more money I opted more for the book store. However, a few years ago after having my first daughter I realized the Library was full of resources and now that we have killed cable (a post to come) the library is really our greenest, cheapest friend!

I'm not sure about every County but here in Multnomah County our library has a fantastic online catalog that allows me to look up whatever subject my crazy kids or the family is into these days and have the book put on hold for me at my local library. So when it came time for us to decide to turn off the tv more, I checked out some books on too much TV time - in kid friendly messages. When I want to learn to cook something I check out a cookbook, when I want learn how to be greener at work I check out a book.... Oh, and when we want to see a movie, go to a local museum (yes, they have those passes too), or even have family freeze dance night with new music I can check all that out at the library. FREE. Now that is what I call more for less.

Monday, February 15, 2010

When we saw the bill

It wasn't an easy decision to have two kids. We knew the impact we would be making on our family, career, and yes plant would be big. This decision didn't come easy. Of course Elsie Joann is here and we love both our daughters - but her arrival has had another big impact on how we make financial and family financial decisions. The first look at a monthly daycare bill of $1600 was not something we didn't know was coming , but the reality has certainly set in.

We love our daycare ( and that both kids can be together in a friendly environment with a center that respects kids and the planet. BUT, we were starting to see that 5 days a week - 8-10 hour days on a 3.5 year old was getting old and the revenue from two parents working through more than the cost of daycare, wasn't more than the cost of what were were missing out on.

Though we haven't officially decided to keep the kids home yet, our first step was to sit down and make a list of all of the bills. Then we looked at those we had to keep (like the mortgage, and student loans) and those that could go (like the cable, netflix, eating out, etc.). We quickly realized that we would have to sacrifice some luxuries to live on less. What we didn't expect after we finally made the leap of faith and my husband left is job is that we have found so many ways to live the same or better than we were before. On top of that we are looking to find more ways to make less of an impact on our wallet and our planet.

These posts will be a journal of things we have discovered that made a little difference. Some things to save money and live on less, some things we can do less of, and some things that cost more we do less of. We invite you to follow us, comment, and send us ideas. We are surrounded by many friends with loving families who have helped us and will also invite them to share ideas as well.