Tuesday, June 28, 2011

3 Things You Should Be Making

Dan and I have been making more and more things ourselves.  Frozen yogurt, freshly chopped salad, bean dip, veggie burgers, smoothies, beer, and the list goes on.  I believe that we spend less money when you consider the quality of what we are making, not to mention that it's fun and rewarding!  Making things from scratch can take a little longer and might require some special equipment, but in the long run it definitely pays off.  Check out these suggestions for some easy do-it-yourself ideas.

Morning Cuppa Joe
Rather than going to Starbucks for a sugary pick-me-up, make it fresh and stay in your pajamas!  One of Dan's favorite coffees is a fair-trade Ethiopian blend that we pick up at the local David's Natural Market.  Trader Joe's has several good varieties as well.  Before work, he heats up water and grinds an appropriate amount of beans - the single biggest difference in coffee flavor is how recently the beans were ground; he uses his french press to make about 32oz of coffee.  Throw it in a quality thermos and it can be enjoyed throughout the day.

As a quick cost comparison, the fair-trade beans cost about $15 for a bag that lasts between 2-3 weeks including the workday 32oz and 16oz each weekend morning.  Purchasing that same amount of coffee from Starbucks rings in at over $40!  Especially when you consider the reduced amount of waste from always having a reusable mug, brewing at home is a great deal.

Nut Butters
I don't do this yet myself, but from what I understand it is super easy to make peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, and so on in your own kitchen.  You need a food processor and some nuts.  I am holding out for this one and a bit more counter space.  Throw in the nuts and let them go until they turn into a paste.

It is a lot easier to find truly natural nut butters these days with only the nuts as ingredients and maybe a dash of salt, but I have to believe that making them fresh would taste that much better.

Composting is one of the best things you can do; your household will produce less garbage and all the plants in your garden will thank you.  Not to mention it's fun to see your food scraps and yard waste turn into something that's actually useful.

We started a compost pile back in March with this really basic bin.  We decided to make a lid for it and line the inside with chicken wire in case we didn't get the ratio of brown-to-green material right and attracted unwanted creatures.  You need to have mostly "brown" material which is mainly yard waste and can be in the form of leaves, grass trimmings, plants that get pulled up, etc, or you can use newspaper if you don't have those other things.  A smaller portion of your compost should be made up of "green" material which includes things like vegetable scraps, banana peels, coffee grounds, or egg shells (no meat).   Dump all of that into your composter, give it a stir occassionally, and wait.  When it's done right, your compost pile will be warm and full of worms but it won't be smelly or attract pesky flies or rodents.

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