Making Organic Butter Is Cheaper than Buying It!

Growing up we occasionally made butter.  It was mainly for school projects, and I remember reading the pioneer book about how they’d churn it and say: “Come butter come.  Come butter come.  Peter standing at the gate, waiting for a butter cake.  Come butter come.”  Mom had us take turn shaking the whipping cream in a mason jar until we got butter and buttermilk.  Thank goodness there were lots of siblings to share in the shaking because it was exhausting.  Now I use my cheap hand held mixer to whip butter (time for a Kitchen Aid Mixer!).

Pioneer Story

This was the EXCELLENT book that first introduced me to making butter.

First off, if you like to shop organically, the price of butter probably KILLS you.  For about a cup of butter you pay close to $5!  Sometimes it goes on sale for under $4, but I’ve only seen that once.  Making butter is really easy, fun, and tastes amazing!  It’s also less expensive to make than to buy.

As you know, we are trying out Spud.ca this year (nope, I am not an endorser!), and so far love it!  Last week I ordered whipping cream with my order.

Cream

Compare this price to that of non-organic whipping cream:

photo(15)

Only a $0.60 difference and I get the organic cream delivered to my front door (it is NOT cheaper to make non-organic butter).

If you’d like to see how to make butter, there are lots of great Youtube videos out there, but essentially here’s what you do:

1. Pour 500ml of cream into a big bowl and slowly turn your mixer on to high.

2. As you mix you will see your cream turn into whipped cream.  Keep mixing until it starts to look like this:

photo(16)3. Once you have about half butter and half butter milk in your bowl, you can stop and drain your milk into a mason jar.  I used cheese cloth to drain.

4. Now you have to rinse the butter in ice water to avoid spoilage.  Pour the ice water into the bowl with your butter, but make sure you don’t actually add the ice.  My mixer is a cheap thing so I actually had to wash the butter by hand.  It was cold (again, time for a Kitchen Aid mixer).  You mix (or in my case, knead the butter) until the water turn cloudy.  Continue this until the water is clear.

5. Drain all the water, then press the butter into the side of your bowl to remove any access of water.  Water can cause spoilage!

Here is my end result!  A beautiful cup of organic butter and a cup of organic butter milk for only $3.89!  You can’t even buy organic butter from SPUD for that cheap.  We use the buttermilk in buttermilk pancakes or biscuits so as not to waste.

photo(18)

Converting to Glassware

For a while now I’ve been wanting to not only change what we eat, but what we store or cook out food in.  Last Christmas my mother-in-law bought us beautiful stainless steel pots and pans which I use daily.  The only thing I need to add to my cooking collection is a couple good quality cast iron pans.

Today I went to Walmart to buy their mason jars. Each box of 12 was $5.94 ($0.50/jar).

photo(43)

I’m excited to start making jams, jellies and pickled goods, but I’m also excited to use these items for every day food storage.  The London Drugs flyer currently has this set of glassware on sale again:

photo(45)

I asked a friend of mine who is more knowledgeable in this area if this was a good deal.  She suggested that I also look at the dollar store as they sometimes have good glass food storage containers. So I hit up the Dollarama immediately after Walmart and look at what I found:

photo(42)

These five glass containers and their lids (10 pieces total) only cost me $11.  The small ones were $1.50 each, the medium sized ones $2.50 each, and the large one was $3.  Even if I bought another large one to have a 12 piece collection like the one at London Drugs, it would only come out to $14!  That’s still a big savings of $5!  I’m happy.

I also picked up these ($3 each) to store our flour, rice and oatmeal in:

photo(44)I’m thrilled with how frugal my conversion to glass is so far!  Now to find that perfect cast iron pan.  Or two.

A Little Bit of Autumn

Spring and Summer are my favorite seasons by far, but autumn is ok too (mainly because it’s a season that is not winter).  The temperatures are cooler, the leaves begin to change and we reap the fruits of nature.  Picking rhubarb and apples, digging up garden produce, baking breads and muffins, cooking stews and chili, and drinking warm afternoon teas are just some of my favorite things.  Oh and wearing SweetLegs.

photo(27)

Don’t these leggings just SCREAM cozy and comfy?!

Mmm how I love delicious, raw, local honey from the Sherwood Park Farmer’s Market on warm rhubarb banana bread.  I didn’t measure anything for this recipe, but threw a bunch of ingredients into a bowl and it turned out amazing.  All the ingredients are whole foods and there was NO refined sugars added (that’s what honey is for!).

photo(60)My husband dug up our potatoes today.  Not bad for our first year gardening and they should last us a while.

photo 2A million more juicy tomatoes are hanging from their vines.  We will be making plenty of meals that include tomatoes.

photo(62)

My neighbour has two apple trees that are heavy with fruit.  My three year old and I went over yesterday and picked A LOT of apples, but there are still so many more.  Thankfully, my neighbour wants me to take ALL of them so I’ll be baking, canning, juicing like CRAAAAAZEEEEE!

photo(61)

Because of all this delicious food nature has provided for us, and because we still have plenty in our fridge, pantry and freezer, I only spend $36 on groceries this week (which included beef, chicken, some produce and kidney beans!). 

Happy Labour Day long weekend everyone!  Hope you’re enjoying your last “hurray” before the kids go back to school!

 

7 Yummy Things We Are Enjoying This Summer

1. Happy Planet Raspberry Lemonade

photo(13)

I knew I was pregnant with Charles (baby #3) when I first tried this product last year.  All I had to do was take a sip and I knew that something so simple should not take like the angels in Heaven made it.  Seriously folks, this was my first trimester go-to for my nausea and I still love it.  It goes on sale at Save-on-Foods for $3.99.  Send Happy Planet an email praising their products and hopefully they will send you a $1 coupon or free product coupon (FPC) and you can use it on the Raspberry Lemonade.  Maybe you’ll luck out and get it on sale, with a coupon AND during 15% off Tuesday!

2. Quinoa Chips

photo(17)

Usually when I try new products I like to wait until they are on sale, clearance or on 15% off Tuesday.  These chips came in an itty-bitty bag and cost $4.99 (on sale).  OUCH!  That was not a frugal buy at all, BUT I like to try new things so bought it on 15% off Tuesday.  The kids and I had this as a treat and thoroughly enjoyed these GMO-free treats.

3. Red Lentil Pasta

photo(16)

Found at Costco.

This was another non-frugal buy, but I decided to try it anyways.  My son is ridiculously picky and I struggle to find a healthy variety of foods to feed him.  To make this $9.99 box of “pasta” stretch, I’ve combined it with eggs, veggies, and free-from chicken.  Because it contains 21g of protein per serving, my kids filled their bellies with a small portion.  I’m guessing that we can stretch this into quite a few meals.  Best part is that there is only ONE ingredient listed in this product: red lentils.

4. Chia Squeeze

photo(15)

Found at Costco.

I try to spend $1 per 100g/1L/unit in organic food and this was slightly more than that.  Right now I’m feeling quite limited with my dairy-free diet (Charles has a sensitivity to the dairy proteins he receives through my breast milk) so I like finding something quick, easy and “to-go”.  These organic treats have the consistency of tapioca pudding and tastes best when chilled.

5. Coconut Milk “Ice Cream”

photo(19)

This is MINE!  I love ice cream and find that I cannot go through summer without it.  This delicious coconut milk “ice cream” is actually on sale at Planet Organic for $4.99 until August 14.

6. San Pellegrino

photo(91)

This sale is over, but watch for it as this is the BEST price for this product.

A delicious alternative to main stream pop.  I’m thrilled that my husband likes these and has started mixing his rum with them instead of with his usual Coke!

7. Organic Flavoured Milk Kefir

photo(9)

3 x 454ml for $9.99.  Found at Costco.

Milk kefir is not something I EVER thought my kids (especially picky eater Ben) would enjoy: but they do!  This organic milk kefir from Liberte is awesome and I believe the price is great too!  This fermented, probiotic milk is great for gut health and WAY cheaper than buying probiotic pills or drops.  This package comes with raspberry, strawberry and plain.  My kids do NOT like the plain, so I’ve mixed it with honey or fruit and well, my daughter will eat it!

These are just a few things we are enjoying this summer!

 

Four Ways We’re Being Frugal This Summer

1. Walking!  We are lucky that we are quite close to grocery stores, friends and parks so that when we do venture out we can just walk!

2. Drying our clothes outside!  I absolutely love seeing our clothing blowing in the wind and smelling the “sun” scent on them.  My husband has promised me a REAL clothes line so that I don’t have to worry about my small drying rack falling over when it’s windy.

photo(79)

3. BBQ-ing!  This not only keeps the temperature in our house cool, but is WAY cheaper that turning on our oven.  We BBQ-ing a lot of things: pita pizza, ham and grilled pineapple, ribs, skewers and so much more.

photo(78)

4. Gardening!  This year we FINALLY have room to have a garden.  I’m excited to see what our first crop will yield and how long we can make it last.  We will also be getting apples and raspberries from our neighbours and friends!

photo(80)

Homemade Sparkling Lemon Juice

I love San Pellegrino Limonata.  In the summer time and during my first trimester, it is an absolutely favorite and a must.  With mostly natural flavours, it is a good substitute for pop, but unfortunately it is just so darn expensive!  Most stores sell the 6 pack for $5.99, and Costco sells a 24 pack (right? 24 pack?) for just under $16, which makes it about $4 for six cans.  That is a really good deal, but last night at Costco I just didn’t want to fork over the money for it.

Months ago I accidentally bought club soda (long story) and I had no idea what to do with it until now.  I mixed 1 tbsp of sugar with 1 tbsp-ish of lemon juice, then filled my glass with this club soda.  After adding an ice cube it tasted almost identical!

photo(68)

I bought my lemon juice for under $2, the 1kg of sugar for under $2 (and obviously I’m not going to use the whole 1kg on just these drinks) and the 12 pack of club soda for $3.99!  I haven’t done the exact math (and I can if you want), but making my own sparkling lemon juice is just as delicious and certainly cheaper than buying San Pellegrino Limonata.

Oh.  And did I mention, there are almost no calories in it other than your tablespoon of sugar?  I’m going to see if I create other “pop” flavours to enjoy this summer!

photo(69)

 

 

 

The Best Time to Buy Kids Craft Supplies

This isn’t a post about organic living/saving, BUT because I’m a frugal mom, saving money in everything is important to me.  I went to Target in Sherwood Park to pick up a few items on my list (fitted crib sheets, baby bottles, etc) and I went by the Valentine’s Day clearance section to see what they had.  I like to look because after the big ‘holidays’ is a great time to stock up on craft supplies for my 2 1/2 year old.

Crafts are important here because they can be an activity that 1) can be frugal 2) allows for creativity 3) keeps them busy for at least 30 minutes.  While I love everything I picked up, I’m most excited for the 15pk of play dough for $2!

photo(10)

$20!

This afternoon the kids spent an hour quietly ‘crafting’ together while I prepped supper.  This is just one great frugal activity that we all enjoy.

Ben just picked out all the foam puppy sticker.

Ben just picked out all the foam puppy sticker.

Art

Art by my babies

(Btw, I bought these items with my PC Mastercard so I could earn points for organic groceries.)

The Organic Box IS Frugal – My Personal (and Long) Review

For a long time I contemplated getting The Organic Box.  I wondered: Will it be worth my money?  I don’t want anything to go to waste, so what size box should I get?  Can I get organic produce cheaper in stores?  Is $110/month in fresh organic produce worth it?  Is there a way to shop strategically to get the most bang for my buck?

photo(4)

Here’s what I came up with:

Will it be worth my money?  For my family, yes.  Most of us who like to shop healthy make a weekly or bi-weekly trip into the grocery store for fresh produce.  Personally, even with my list, I struggle not to pick up that extra thing here or there (even if that extra thing is produce we don’t need)!  Having produce delivered to my home will not only save me from shopping with the kids (fun to do especially when pregnant *sarcasm*), buying those “extras”, and saving money on gas.  I’m also guaranteed my produce even if my car won’t start, I have unexpected guests or a new baby in the house and I just can’t get out to buy my produce!  Those reasons are HUGE for me.

I don’t want anything to go to waste, so what size box should I get?
As we know, organic produce goes bad much quicker than non-organic.  It’s really disappointing to throw out moldy produce especially when you’ve paid good money for it.  My husband and son do not eat nearly as many fruits and vegetables as my daughter and I, so I wasn’t sure  what size of box would be right for us (it might be different for your family).  It took careful thought and planning, but we went for ‘The Organic Box‘ which has “…enough produce for an average-sized family for a full week.”  I figured we are a young average sized family who doesn’t eat a ton of produce.  The first week, I was disappointed in how little produce I got for my $55…

photo(3)

My first box. Not strategically bought.

Can I get organic produce cheaper in stores?
Yup!  No beating around the bush there.  You can definitely get [most] produce cheaper – and I will get some things there because of that – BUT here’s what you can’t get: free delivery, mostly local products (trickier in winter), the good feeling of supporting a local business, educational newsletters with your boxes, free-trade and a huge variety (have you ever seen rainbow organic carrots in a grocery store?)!

Is $110/month in fresh organic produce worth it?  
Yes!  First off, when shopping strategically you can get a lot of produce for $110.  I figure $27.50/week for organic produce delivered to my house is GREAT!  And the amount we get certainly lasts us the two weeks!  (We also have frozen and dried organic fruits/veggies that we use to help make the produce last or IF we run out).

Is there a way to shop strategically to get the most bang for my buck?
Yes!  When I plan out my grocery shopping trips, I look for produce that is on sale and we eat that for the week.  Well, a friend had to clue me in that I need to do the same thing with The Organic Box.  They send me a set list of what automatically comes in my box and I can delete what I don’t want then add what I DO want.  Going through the weekly produce list helps me to see what produce is on sale (ex. the red leaf lettuce is less expensive this week than the romaine) and to select based on that.  From what I selected, I then begin to meal plan.

Easy peasy and look at how much I got for the next two weeks:

The box was almost full!

The box was almost full!

This is a lot for my family.

This is a lot for my family.  Don’t see a lot of fruit?  I substituted by getting that for free at Superstore last week.

And finally, I use my PC Mastercard to pay for my Organic Box purchases to get points to use on other in-store organic groceries!

We await our next box this coming Friday and so far we’ve enjoyed the delicious carrots and celery in soup, celery ‘ants on a log’, BLT sandwiches with the red lettuce, avacado (still have some for chocolate avocado pudding!) tomatoes, cucumber snacks and in salads, pepper and tomatoes in chili, kale chips, squash and a carrot in muffins, broccoli with free-from steaks, and we still have some left!  I’m excited to share with you what I get this week in my box.

 

How it all Began

This post (along with the last and many more to follow) is being handwritten on computer paper. It’s certainly not the easiest way for the average blogger to write, but with our laptop broken, monthly budget exhausted and no ambition – let alone any idea how – to blog at the library with my 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 year olds while being 5 months pregnant, this is really, truly the easiest way for me to do it right now. So when my babies sleep, I will slowly type up my posts on my phone and publish them!  Impressed?

image

Now, onto my post!

I remember the day well. It was a day that literally changed our lives! Leading up to it I was thoroughly enjoying being home on maternity leave with my first born, Chloe. I fully intended to go back to work at least part time when she turned one, as a supplement to our one income, but I kept thinking about how it would affect our lives financially if I became a full time stay at home mother.

Back to that day. I went to get the mail as usual, and what I found inside was an envelope addressed to Chloe from Nestlé Baby. Inside was a coupon for baby food and I tucked it away to save for later. Months after I found myself unable to continue breast feeding Chloe because I was now pregnant with Ben and there was nothing left to give her. At that time I received another coupon from Nestlé for baby formula! What great timing!

After that, I started to question how using coupons could help us financially long term and so began my journey into couponing and shopping frugally!  I researched, collected and traded coupons!  More than two years of couponing and shopping frugally has passed, and I can’t remember the last time my husband and I fought over money (a common issue in marriage), and because of couponing/frugal shopping we’ve been able to save more money than ever before!

Here are only two of my favourite shopping trips where I used coupons and customer rewards to get our groceries for a ridiculously low price:

image($8.97!)

image
($3.91!)

Keep following along!  I’ll teach you how to do this!