I know many people purchase toaster ovens because they want to be more "green." They love the energy efficiency a toaster oven can provide. With that in mind, I will be sharing some tips with you on how to "go green" without spending a ton of money. These tips may not be directly related to a toaster oven, but rather to the lifestyle many toaster oven owners are looking for. Enjoy!
There are countless reasons to go organic, especially with regards to food. It is clearly the best choice for your personal health and the health of the environment. So why wouldn't everyone go organic? There is certainly a higher cost associated with organic food. It costs more to produce food naturally and that cost is passed on to the consumer. There are, however, things that you can do to make the switch to organic less costly.
There are four basic things you can do when attempting to go organic without breaking the bank: grow what you can, spend your food dollars wisely, make most of your food from scratch and don't waste anything. Each article in this series will address one specific change you can make in each of the four areas.
Grow What You Can
Obviously, your level of participation in this area will depend upon the climate in which you live, the amount of time you have to invest and your access to the outdoors. As this is Part 1 of the series, I'll start with something just about anyone can grow: windowsill herbs. A small packet of organic seed costs about $2 but can produce several pounds of herbs. You don't need fancy pots or equipment, any type of vessel that will hold dirt can be used.
My first apartment was a basement unit with very little light. I used dirt I "borrowed" from my grandparent's yard and empty tomato sauce jars. I was still able to grow a good amount of fresh herbs. So when I say anyone can do this, I mean it. Fresh herbs are packed with vitamins, mineral and antioxidants and they make it easier to cook great tasting healthy food.
Spend Your Food Dollars Wisely
Much of the standard American food budget is spent on unhealthy sugary sodas. Don't waste your money on soda, organic or otherwise. Make clean, filtered water your drink of choice.
When you want a cool drink other than fresh filtered water, go for a high quality organic loose green tea. Brew it yourself, sweeten it with organic honey and pour the tea over ice. It will cost about the same as the soda, but it offers you so much more in terms of nutrition. Whenever you prepare something yourself, you will always get more for your money.
Make Your Food From Scratch
Many recipes call for broth or stock; chicken, beef and vegetable are the most common. A good organic stock will cost you about $4.00 a quart. If you make it yourself, the stock is only half the cost (or less, as you will see in the next tip.) Homemade stock is always far superior to store-bought in both flavor and nutrition.
To make a basic chicken stock, use one whole organic chicken, one large onion, 2 large carrots, 2 celery stalks, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of turmeric, a few grinds of fresh black pepper and salt to taste. Cut the vegetables into large chunks (no need to peel) and put into a 12 quart stock pot with all the other ingredients. Cover with clean, filtered water. Simmer for 8 to 12 hours, then strain.
Don't Waste Anything
I spend a little extra on organic vegetables, so I want to get the most out of them. I waste no usable part. I keep a large freezer safe container in the freezer and use it for my vegetable "waste." Onion peels, garlic peels, carrot tips and parsley stems all have loads of flavor. I put these into the container and use them for making stock.
I keep two containers in the freezer for meat "waste." One container is for chicken, the other for beef. Organic bone-in meat is always cheaper than boneless. I cut the bones out myself and save them for stock. Any part that needs to be trimmed off of meat goes into the containers. When the containers are full, I make stock. It isn't as exact as making stock with a precise recipe: it always ends up a little different. But the stock is always good (better than store-bought) and close to free.
I hope I have inspired you to make more organic choices that will benefit you and the world we live in, without compromising a tight budget. See you in Part 2!