We went to Crazy Sexy Kris Carr for her take on some of the best ways to live green without going broke at the same time. Let’s see what she has to say …
1. Buy bulk.
Sure, those bins aren’t as sexy as the pretty packaging on the shelves, but they’re a hell of a lot cheaper! While you’re scooping your millet, get chummy with the grocer and clerks. Your new buddies may be willing to order certain other items in bulk for you. Costco or BJ’s is also a prime destination for large quantity, low cost items.
2. Join your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group.
Some may be intimidated by this option because of the commitment and quantity. You’ll usually have a variety of veggies to choose from each week and if a half share is still too much to handle, see if a friend or family member wants to go in on it with you. There’s always the trusty freezer for preserving what you can’t consume that week. Hello strawberries in December! Here are some handy websites: Local Harvest, Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, Eat Well Guide, Just Food (NYC Region).
3. Shop your local farmers markets.
Take advantage of the local bounty by perusing veggie stands with a critical eye. There are usually a variety of farmers offering an array of prices, so compare prices, bargain and make friends with your favorite farmer. Be open minded about your weekly menu, too. Take advantage of the lower priced veggies and fruits by designing your meals around their deliciousness (they taste even better when they’re a bargain). Find a market near you: Farmers Market, Farmer’s Market Online, Local Harvest.
4. Budget and plan.
Before we even get to the heart of this tip, make sure you aren’t famished when you walk through the entrance of the grocery store or farmers market. That’s the quickest way to derail your well-laid plans to be a smart, healthy shopping minx. Set a comfortable budget for your weekly or bi-weekly shopping excursions and then get to whipping up a list. First, examine your fridge and cupboards. What can you build on? You might start saving right away if you get into this mindset and stop building meals from scratch every time you touch a shopping cart. If planning a whole week’s worth of meals is overwhelming, bite off few days at a time. Need inspiration? Dust off your cookbooks and get creative.
5. Clean and organize your fridge and cupboards, then stock up on the essentials.
The kitchen is no longer a prison. It’s your playground and your personal pharmacy. Would you let a carton of almond milk get moldy in your blessed new sanctuary? In order to know what you really need, your kitchen should stay relatively clean and organized. Then, get the good stuff in there and keep the fresh and perishable items at eye level. It’s easy to forget about that poor bunch of kale when it’s sitting in the back of your crisper. Once you’ve stocked your pantry with non-perishables, you’ll have the building blocks for countless meals and going to the grocery store is less likely to break the bank.
6. Learn the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.
Organic can be pricey! Check out the Environmental Working Group’s lists to determine your priorities for organic purchases. They even created an iPhone app!
7. Grow indoor greens.
It is exponentially more economical to grow your own food. Whether you live in a tiny Brooklyn apartment or a McMansion, there’s room for a few pots of greens. Your choices are infinite and the how-to is at your fingertips! Start greening your thumb today by reading “Urban Gardening for the Everyday Person.” You Grow Girl is also a fantastic resource. And don’t forget to join the Crazy Sexy Gardening group at my.crazysexylife.com! Want more? Check out Garden Girl TV, Urban Homestead, and Four Season Farm.
8. Be flexible.
I know it sounds like I’m giving you mixed messages, but if you arrive at the supermarket and there’s a big sale on bananas, snag those babies! They may not have been on your list, but you can cut them up, freeze, and pop them in your smoothies or soft serve ice cream later. This goes for most fruits and veggies and we all know that staples like quinoa or brown rice aren’t going to go bad in your pantry, so stock up when the prices are low!
9. Skip restaurants.
This gets a lot easier when you’re planning meals at least a day or two ahead of time and your fridge/pantry is stocked. Let’s get real. Those restaurant bills pile up and there’s something about the low lighting and aromas coming from the kitchen that makes you forget that you don’t need a bottle of wine plus a five-course meal. I’m not saying that you should never step foot in your beloved establishment again, just try to limit your visits to a couple times a month rather than twice a week. It’s more special that way and meals at home will become a delight rather than a drag once you get into the swing of things.
10. Make your food last.
When you arrive home from the market or grocery, wash and store your fruits and veggies so that they’re organized and super accessible (Debbie Meyer Green Bags extend life expectancy!). If you’re a juicing king or queen, divide your produce into individual packs that you can pull from the fridge at a moment’s notice. Smoothie lover? Pop your packs in the freezer. Finally, if you’ve slipped a little and your goodies are going south, rescue them in a delicious soup or smoothie. Your leftovers are not second-class citizens. It’s easy to shrug them off the next day for lunch or dinner, but with a little TLC, you can whip yesterday’s meal into today’s treasure. Your fridge is not a graveyard!
11. Buy used or barter.
Buying a new juicer or blender may not be in your budget right now, but what about a used one? Craigslist, eBay, not to mention your friends and family, might have an affordable gently used model. Heck, your pal might be willing to barter if you’ve got something in the house that they’ve been eyeing. In the meantime, you can still juice with any old blender and strainer (cheese cloth or nut milk bags work great!). Just blend your veggies and send them through the strainer for a tall glass of green goodness.
12. Skip the bells and whistles.
Do you really need that bag of raw organic cashew butter? Once in a while, go ahead and splurge, but if you are looking for somewhere to cut corners, the specialty foods are a good place to start. You could probably satisfy that craving with something reasonably priced, you might just have to use some elbow grease to make it from scratch.
By Kris Carr, www.crazysexylife.com