If you have kids, you know that there are lots of ways to drive them nuts, beginning with how you breathe. Last summer, however, I discovered a new way of driving my son to inarticulate distraction:
I bought bananas.
The Son and Heir is not like his sister, Tired of Being Youngest, who hates bananas in all forms. Judging by how quickly he works his way through them, and all other food forms in the house, he likes the things. But not in July, when the raspberries are ripe.
“Mom.” He is using his patient voice, which I’m pretty sure he learned from me. “We have 50 feet of raspberry bushes out in the garden, and there are so many berries that we can’t possibly keep up with eating them.
“It makes no economic sense to purchase a fruit at the store when you have such an abundance of another fruit at home.
“We don’t need bananas.”
Okay, so I’ll buy apples instead.
You should have seen his face.
The young man has a point though, and while it takes me awhile to admit that he’s right (because he will never cease to drag up this admission at inopportune times in future discussions), I see what he’s saying:
Use what you’ve got, when you’ve got it.
When we’re talking about food, we phrase it this way: eat in season.
We have difficulty with this concept in our society, where we have access to strawberries in January and pumpkin in June, and where we eat so poorly with an abundance of boxed, packaged, and processed foods that we depend upon variety to make up for our lack of sensible eating habits.
So we eat cabbage, in July, for its antioxidant powers, and wash it down with three cookies. Or asparagus, for its antioxidant factors, in January. Kale in April, tomatoes in December.
Since all of these vegetables are high in antioxidants, wouldn’t it be better — as in cheaper — to eat them in season when they are abundant and cost less? (Cabbage and kale in the winter; tomatoes in summer; asparagus in the spring). And while it may seem anti-American to eat kale in its many forms day after day after day, there are other winter vegetables — onions, carrots, pumpkins, winter squash — that can round out the variety, still provide nutrients, and ease the strain on the grocery budget because 1) they’re in season and 2) produce in season costs less than when it’s not in season.
Knowing how to cook, a mantra I repeat to the point of verbal exhaustion, enables you to play with your produce, introducing the seasonal wonder in various forms and formats, but even if you’re not a Kitchen Wiz, you can still eat well simply by choosing well: quality, fresh, seasonal, inexpensive — organic, especially if you grow them yourselves — produce that needs little preparation to shine.
Seek out your local growing market, whether through a Farmer’s Market or a grocer who deals directly with local food producers, and learn the taste and textural difference between fresh food and that shipped from 1,000 miles away. Plant a tomato plant of your own; as long as you’ve got sunshine and a small pot, you can grow fresh herbs even in an apartment; if you’ve got anything approximating dirt, you can plant more.
Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have, and figure out how to creatively use what is plentiful and cheap.
In my case, it was raspberries, which we ate fresh, sprinkled with sugar, folded into muffins, turned into jam, froze for the future, and gave away. So busy was I figuring out yet another raspberry creation that I totally forgot about the bananas, and by the time the raspberries were done and I was ready to head to the store for fruit, the Son and Heir stopped me:
“The blackberries are ripe.”
Saving money is a lifestyle thing, not a series of bullet pointed tips. If you want to learn more about living well on the resources you have been given, then read my book, Live Happily on Less. Available in paperback and digital format at Amazon.com, Live Happily on Less walks you through the customizable, sustainable changes that will make a difference in your and your family’s finances.
Follow the link to Amazon.com and look the book and its table of contents.
This article is linked to The Chicken Chick, My Joy Filled Life, Alderberry Hill, Mop It up Monday, Tough Cookie Mama, A Mama’s Story, The Character Corner, Teaching What Is Good, Memories by the Mile, Coastal Charm, Growing Home, Intentionally Domestic, Walking Redeemed, A Wise Woman, A Little R and R, Deep Roots at Home, Wholehearted Home, Hope in Every Season, Raising Homemakers, Simply Helping Him, Holistic Squid, Mama BZZ, Day 2 Day Joys, Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Frugally Sustainable, Thriving Thursday, Thankful Thursday, Live Laugh Rowe, Jenny Mullinix, We Are That Family, My Cultured Palate, Natural Living Link Up, Katherine’s Corner, Graced Simplicity, Hearts for Home, The Modernish Homemaker, Thrifty Thursday, Dude Sustainable, Happy and Blessed Home, Essential Things, All Our Days, Christian Mom Blogger, Bible Love Notes, A Peek into My Paradise, Our Heritage of Health, The Thriftiness Miss, This Mind Be in You, Friday Flash Blog, Small Footprint Family, Oh So Amelia, Little House in the Suburbs, Nourishing Joy, Natural Living Monday, Butter Believer, A Blossoming Life, The Prairie Homestead, Mama Diane, Moms the Word,
This article was originally published on ThoughtfulWomen.com.