Eating food that is sustainable for the planet and our bodies is a top priority in my house. That means a larger portion of our family's budget goes towards groceries. In The Hidden Cost of Cheap Food, I explained how conventional food will actually cost you more- not only monetarily but in your health as well. There's no doubt that organic food will initially cost you more up front. As daunting as squeezing your already tight budget may seem, there are ways to shift other priorities to make this work. Today I have a follow-up to a previous post, Finding Ways to Afford Organic Food, where I shared a major way my family diverts money to our groceries. Below are six more practices that my family uses to make organics a more affordable option.
1) Turn the thermostat down.
At night when you are toasty under the covers and during the day when you are not at home, lower your thermostat. You actually sleep better and deeper in a cooler environment. When you are away from home, it just doesn't make sense to keep an empty house super warm. You don't have to get all crazy, either- just a couple of degrees should show a difference in your heating bill. Dino and I are in a constant thermostat war because I am cold all the time but we can agree on turning it down for these two circumstances.
2) Dim the lights after dinner.
Once dinner and the clean-up is done, we try and keep the house at low lighting. This is great for the electric bill and also allows your body to naturally increase its melatonin levels that help you fall into a healing sleep. Melatonin is also a potent antioxidant.
3) Cancel the landline phone.
Yes, I truly believe there is a radiation risk when using cell phones but they are a necessary (and fun) evil. With two cell phone bills the landline seemed a little unnecessary and frivolous. If the radiation is a concern, like it is for me, then try texting more and use the speaker function when you do have to chat.
4) Cut the cable cord.
Too much of a stretch? We weren't sure how we were going to handle it either but, honestly, I don't even miss it. We can watch our TV shows online and were even able to connect the laptop to our smart TV to watch the Super Bowl- all without the insane cable bill hanging over our heads. Thanks to Goodwill and Savers, we have plenty of movies and Spongebob episodes for the kids when they (but mostly me) need a break... and I don't have to worry about them being barraged with asinine commercials for crap they (and again, mostly me) don't need.
5) Go on mini-vacations.
Putting the focus on making memories and not just on the destination can make a "mini" seem just like a big, splashy family vacay. During the winter months a weekend at an indoor water park can be a much needed relief from the blustery weather outside. In the summer, camping is a great way to get out and see the world without breaking the bank.
6) Only go to restaurants on special occasions.
Being the only cook in my house, this was a hard one to implement as I enjoyed the much needed break from cooking and clean-up every week. What I didn't enjoy was all the genetically modified ingredients, pesticides, and artificial hormones that my family was ingesting on a weekly basis at $50 to $60 a pop. That is half of my organic grocery budget for the week and this wasn't even safe food! We do have a few restaurants that have local and organic offerings but they weren't what we could afford for our family of five on a regular basis. By limiting restaurant visits to birthdays and our anniversary, that local organic burger isn't so out of reach now.
This is what we have found to work for our family and I know that this will not work for everyone. My hope is that it will at least get you looking at different areas of your life and start weeding out what isn't really necessary for what is: food that is sustainable for the planet and you!