Every day I am trying to learn new ways of cutting back on my grocery bill. I have been trying to cut back to using less and less of the packaged and processed stuff. The first reason for cutting these items out is the most obvious - money! They are expensive!!
You may think that buying convenience foods saves you time and money, but they do not. You get very little in a pre-packaged meal in comparison to buying all of the items in their natural state and putting them together. You can likely make several meals at the price of one convenience meal. Having all of the items on hand like potatoes, noodles, flour, fresh vegetables, lean meats, spices, etc, give you more choices as well. You aren't stuck making that one freezer meal you purchased. You can mix it up and try something new the next night.
The second reason for using less pre-packaged items is to lessen the amount of garbage my family produces. I will confess that I am great at recycling at work and other places, but I am terrible about it at home. There is no recycling pick up where I live and my husband keeps throwing away the stuff I collect to be recycled. He has a very difficult time with any kind of clutter. I don't want to make him sound heartless, but some people just don't really get it and I am married to one of them. I am working on that!!
Since I started doing this, I have noticed a sizeable decrease in my trash load each week. I have been making an effort to recycle. I have been storing tin cans, egg cartons and glass jars in my art room for later use. As for plastics - I am just trying not to buy much plastic. I am washing out the baggies that I have bought, but I am using those very little.
Are your recycling bins and trash cans overflowing? Have you looked around your own kitchen to see what you could reduce? It is amazing what we can get rid of.
I am currently reading the book More-with-Less by Doris Janzen Longacre. This book was written in the 70's, but the information is still applicable. She talks about lessening our impact on the earth and how our meat consumption and love of convenience foods is having an impact on the food supplies of other countries. It's also affecting our own food reserves. We just don't hear about it. She suggests that we find ways to consume less.
There are all kinds of simple recipes that help you cook convenience style meals from scratch. I wasn't sure what types of foods to expect, but there were recipes for Hamburger Helper style meals. My husband loves those, but I hate the packaging and all the sodium. I also buy soups like cream of mushroom, chicken and celery to put in dishes. This book offers the recipe for these. I had no idea! I won't be using as many soup cans now either. This book and the Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn both talk about using dry milk instead of regular milk in your recipes as well. This saves money and reduces your usage of milk jugs. Try using dry milk in your coffee instead of creamer or regular milk.
There are tons of ways to lessen our consumption and to save money in the process. Use money as your motivation if nothing else.
If you have gotten away from making many of your own foods because you think they are less healthy, think again. Do you really think those frozen diet meals are good for you? Have you noticed the preservatives and sodium levels? When you make things from scratch, you know exactly what goes into them. Add more vegetables. Jessica Seinfeld has a cookbook called, Deceptively Delicious. It shows you how to hide more veggies in your home cooked meals. I have even snuck veggies in on my picky husband. It's a great concept.
We should stop focusing so much on how good we are at recycling and start focusing on how we can stop producing and using things that need to be recycled. Some of the stuff we think gets recycled, really doesn't. Do your research and save some money along the way.