I have been so busy posting curriculum reviews that I have really been neglecting to post anything else. Shame on me for that, because I have started an incredible journey to take control of my health and my families. We are getting back to basics and trying to do things more the way God intended rather than eating and using chemicals. It all started back around October when I got soap in the mail to review. You can read my review here of Virginia Soaps and Scents to learn more about that journey. I never would have imagined that a bar of soap could change my whole lifestyle, but it really has.
After I saw the difference that using natural products for my skin, hair and clothes could make, I wanted to see what would happen if I changed the way I eat. Well, I came across the perfect opportunity. Lynette Pate with Breath of Green was co-sponsoring a green get healthy challenge. Through her book "Lose Weight the Pate Way" I have learned so much and totally revolutionized my lifestyle. I started her challenge in the middle of January. Since then, I have lost nearly 20 lbs, dramatically cleared up my skin, and basically eliminated my headaches.
Surprisingly, my biggest challenge has not been my sweet tooth or lack of self-control. That is partly due to the fact that I can still eat sweets, just not ones with processed sugar or high fructose corn syrup. You would be amazed at how easy it is to resist temptation once you eliminate those highly addictive things from your diet. There are so many great alternatives like honey, agave nectar, stevia, and more. I cannot lie, it does take more work and more planning. There are no quick, easy box meals and no drive through fast food. Even buying things like sliced bread and tortillas is not really an option. But eating healthy is too expensive, you say. Well, my goal is to make it as affordable as possible. There are some specialty items that I must buy, and I have been searching for the best prices. My goal here, is to help find the ways to make it affordable. Mind you, we are a single income homeschooling family so when I say affordable, I mean it. I have gone to some sites where they talk about meal planning and affordable food, and I do not have half that much to work with. That is part of the reason I have not been able to make the switch to 100% organic, but try to get as close as possible.
My first step to making organic affordable was to finally join the organic co-op. Twice a month, the co-op sends out a list of fruits and veggies available to order. They also have a few extras like salad dressing and honey. On co-op morning, I drag my kids out the door around 7:30 am so that we can help pack and check orders to earn a 10% discount. Yes, again it takes a little extra work but is very worth it. Thanks to my friend C, who told me about the Hefty Fresh Extend bags, my produces lasts much longer. If there are items that I need that I can't get from the co-op then I will try the local produce market, or at last resort the grocery store. I then plan my meals around the produce I was able to get. Of course the staples are lettuce (various kinds) for salads, and the ingredients to make salsa. Most salad dressings are not an option, and I do not much care for the oil and vinegar varieties. Instead, I use salsa to dress my salads. There are also many other items you can use it to top as well. Salsa is loaded with tons of nutritional goodness, if it's made properly.
The other leap we made was to order a grain mill to freshly grind our own grain and make our own bread. That is even an option if you are wheat and gluten free. I was disappointed to find out that it did not, however, grind flax seed. It was suggested that I get an inexpensive coffee grinder for that job. I will let you know how that works when my flax seed order comes in. If you live close to a store that sells bulk grains that is the way to go. If you don't, like me, I found another local co-op for that purpose. The grain is ordered from Bread Beckers, and by ordering through the co-op we save a tremendous amount on shipping costs. I ordered about 65 lbs of product that would have cost over $30 in shipping, but through the co-op it only cost me $8. Plus, we got an extra discount that basically covered most of the shipping.
I should mention how we helped pay for the grain mill through Swagbucks. Swagbucks is a search and win site powered by Google. You set it as your home page and use it to search the same way you would use Google. While searching you earn "bucks" which can be translated into prizes. My favorite is the Amazon.com gift cards. I have earned close to $100 in Amazon gift cards so far. I used some for Christmas, I used some to help offset the cost of the grain mill, and now I am saving up to order a tortilla press and a butterfly kit for my kids. Click here to sign up and start earning your own Swagbucks.
Please, join me on this journey. I hope you will be blessed with money saving tips, healthy recipes, and other useful links.