At first I had to cut our grocery budget by necessity, but then it also became a quest to eliminate chemicals, harmful ingredients and overly-processed foods.
And then, because we are trying to be more self-sufficient, I began to substitute homemade and homegrown products for some of the things we used to buy. Now it's become a bit of a game to see how little I need from the store, and how seldom I have to make that grocery shopping trip.
Here are ten items I've stopped buying. I've either replaced them with a homemade version, produce it at home, or have made a healthier substitution.
1. Cleaning products - When I first began reducing our use of chemicals, I started with cleaning products. You can clean just about anything with a few basic, natural ingredients such as vinegar and baking soda, and it costs so much less too. You'll find some natural cleaning recipes in this post from my blogging friend Nancy at Nancy on the Homefront.
2. Personal care products - I make my own whipped coconut oil moisturizer, lip balm with beeswax and essential oils, foot balm for dry, cracked heels, and sugar scrubs.
3. Soap - I've made my own goat milk soap for years and I love it. The bars have luxuriant lather and don't dry my skin out like commercial soap. You can read my soapmaking series here.
4. Shampoo - I tried making my own liquid shampoo but didn't like it. I tried using a mixture of baking soda and water but didn't like it either. I've finally discovered what makes me and my hair happy: shampoo bars. Technically, I'm still buying shampoo bars, but I'm working on my own recipe and will soon be making my own. It's the same process as making cold process soap, but with a different combination and concentration of oils. I'll share more about this with you soon.
5. Hair dye - In the past I used to "cover my grey", but one day I asked myself "why am I trying to live a chemical-free life and pouring chemicals ON MY BRAIN?" I haven't found a natural replacement, so I decided to just go grey gracefully. (Well, I hope the journey is graceful.)
6. Paper plates, paper towels, etc. - I stopped buying paper plates on a regular basis many years ago. There are a few packages in my Power's Out box so that in a power outage I don't have to worry about washing dishes, but they aren't our "everyday china". We use old kitchen towels to mop up spills and for cleaning instead of paper towels, and washcloths serve as napkins. I buy packages of ten washcloths in assorted colors when they're on sale, usually for less than $5.
7. Toothpaste - In my quest to avoid ingredients such as sodium flouride and propylene glycol, I stopped using commercial toothpaste years ago. Instead I use baking soda and sea salt. Because baking soda is alkaline, it counteracts decay-causing acids in the mouth, kills germs, and fights bad breath. Its gritty texture removes tarter but doesn't harm tooth enamel. The trace minerals in sea salt strengthen teeth and gums and also fight bad breath. I mix 3 parts baking soda to 1 part fine sea salt and store in a small jar. To use, I pour a small amount into the palm of my hand and dip a wet toothbrush into the powder. (See Measuring by Parts for more information on measuring.)
8. Baking mix, cake mixes, pancake mix, etc. - It's so easy to mix up the dry ingredients to just about anything and store in a jar until you need it. I write down the directions and the wet ingredients to be added and tape the paper to the side of the jar. I often take one day a month to fill jars with several different mixes. Many of the recipes are included in my series on Homemade Convenience Food.
9. Eggs - With a coop full of productive hens I have more eggs than I can use up. I've frozen and dehydrated the extra eggs and should have enough to last us over the winter when production falls off. I cook seasonally - using ingredients when they're in season - so we don't eat as many egg dishes in the wintertime.
10. Seasoning mixes - Making my own taco seasoning and chili seasoning mixes costs just pennies, compared to paying over a dollar for about a tablespoon of herbs, spices and salt. You can find the recipes I use in my Homemade Convenience Food series.
By eliminating certain products and substituting others, I've cut our budget and am making better and healthier choices. It's a wonderful feeling to make fewer trips to the store, and to skip certain aisles in the store completely.
What could you stop buying?
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