Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Quantity vs Quality

I stumbled upon this article by a dumpster diving mom.  (Yes, really.)  I think the "Freegan" movement is fascinating, but that is not entirely what this article is about.  What struck me most was the author's commentary here:
There is a strange sort of shame in wanting the best when you have so little allotted for your family’s needs. I’ve talked to so many moms who’ve suffered reproving looks or even disparaging comments when they’re buying organic, high-quality food using a food stamp card.  The judgment being made is this: how dare you opt for quality over quantity?  How dare you want better food even if it means less food for your family? 
Thankfully my situation is not as bad as the author's, but I have been struggling with this for awhile. 

I completely understand the feelings of shame in wanting the best.   Is eating responsibly really an "elitist luxury"?  It feels pretentious to buy higher quality foods when things are so tight.  On the surface, it is cheaper to buy lower quality items. 

(Not to say we never eat the "regular" stuff, we do.  It's just that I try to avoid processed foods and stick to whole, mostly organic foods at home.)

On the other hand, there is guilt when I choose quantity over quality. 
How can I buy coffee that is not "fair trade" when I know that the industry is notorious for child labor? 
How can I feed my children chemically laden foods when study after study links those chemicals to cancer, hormone disruption and many other terrible side effects? 

I have stopped couponing much partially for this reason.  Yes, I can find some q deals on organic foods, but they are few and far between.  So I do it when I can, but mostly my time is better spent cooking from scratch or growing/picking/processing my own produce.

I haven't figured it all out yet, but there are some tricks to eating well frugally.  There are compromises to be made.  I have had to be creative and invest a lot more time in planning and food prep.  I have had to decide what is really important and let the other stuff go.  I have also let go of the illusion of perfect consistency.  For me, educating myself and doing the best I can is what feels right. 

And then I see what the average American family spends on groceries.  That makes me feel super "thrifty" in comparison.  ;)

Quality over Quantity...  I'm working on it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I've been working on making more scratch foods for health and thrift.   Sourdough has been going well enough that I will share the recipe.  I got this from The Complete Tightwad Gazette

Sourdough Starter:
2 c. white flour
2 c. water, filtered (apparently chlorinated tap water kills the good bugs) or you can "air it out" in a open jug for a couple days
1 Tbs yeast

Sit at room temp for 48+ hrs (loosely covered w/ plastic) then cover and move to the fridge. Each time you remove some starter you must "feed." Just add back 1.5 c. flour and 1.5 c. water, stir, cover loosely and return to the fridge.

Sourdough Bread Recipe (two loaves):
5 1/2 c. flour (you can sub whole wheat for 1 or 2 cups... I've been having good results using 2 c. wh wh)
2 c. starter
1 Tbs Salt
1 c. water

Dissolve the salt in the water in a mixing bowl. Add starter, and then the flour. Stir, then knead until a nice elastic dough forms. Cover w/ a damp towel and let rise overnight (~8 hours) at room temp. The next morning punch down and divide in half. Shape each half into a round loaf, make an X shaped slash on each top and place the two loaves on a greased baking sheet. (You could put it in two loaf pans if you prefer that shape.)  Cover w/ damp towel and let rise about 4 hours. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Bake for 35 min.

I have also been using this to make pizza crust.  I start it in the morning.  After the first rise, I roll it out into two large crusts and let it rise for only an hour or so, depending on how soon I need it.  I brush with a little olive oil, bake it at 400 for about 10 minutes, pull it out, put on the sauce and toppings, back in the oven until it's golden brown and cheese is melty.  mmmm

Linky Love

What Children Can't Do... Yet. - Love this list.  A great reminder for those of us with preschoolers in our life.  I have often thought child development classes should go hand in hand with childbirth classes for new parents.  Heck, I had all those classes back in the day and I still need the reminder from time to time.

Dry to Preserve: A Quick Guide to Dehydration - Interesting.

How-To: Woven Paper Gift Wrap - cute and thrifty!

Grilled Corn on the Cob - This is how we do it too. Yum!

Outdoor Color Match - Can't wait to make this for our next nature walk.