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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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organic living journey year in review

The following is part of an Organic Journey Guest Post Series, written by Amy a long time helper behind the scenes of Southern Savers.

I always loved those television shows when you get to follow-up with the people whose stories you had heard months or years before.  It is intriguing to see where their lives have gone since whatever catalytic moment it was that got them into the limelight in the first place.  And I love this season because it is a chance to look back and see where you have been and a chance to look forward to what is ahead.

I thought it would be wise to see what baby steps had stuck thus far.  What have been the home run successes and what has just been too big of a step taken and thus needs to be revisited and re-evaluated.  It is beyond easy for me to get discouraged by how far I have to go and miss where I have been.  Too, I think in this cyber reality, it is easy for you to read months of my posts and think that I am still perfectly executing all that I have shared.  You get an unrealistic picture of me.  We all know that comparison is the thief of joy (and is so often based on our imaginings instead of reality).  So without further ado, here is my year in review.

Successful Steps

I think I get most excited about our fresh eggs.  Each week, we drive a mere five minutes from our house and my oldest daughter takes her basket and gathers eggs.  We have become friends with the people that work there, and the variety and beauty of the different eggs is something that I can really appreciate (once I’ve cleaned them off!)  What excites me even more, though, is that my youngest daughter that has a mild egg allergy doesn’t seem to be affected by eating these eggs.  All around, even though it is a hassle some weeks to make a separate trip for eggs, it has been well worth it.

I learned so much from the posts on storing produce.  We have bought gobs of pears this season now that I know to let them sit on the counter to ripen.  They are amazingly good!  We also found two things that have greatly extended the life of our produce (which has helped us to waste less!)  The Tupperware Fridgesmart containers are phenomenal.  Yes, they take up a ton of room in my fridge, but it is worth it to me to have my produce last longer.  Thanks to a comment on one of the posts, I also tried out the BluApple.  You toss these little plastic apples into the produce drawer and they have packets in them that absorb ethylene gas which can cause your food to deteriorate faster.  I have had grape tomatoes last three weeks in my fridge with these!  Phenomenal, I tell you.  The packets last three months.  You can even input your email address into their system, and they will email you a reminder that it is time to replace the packets.  I am a fan of taking things off of my list to remember.  What is super fun is that BluApple has graciously decided to do a giveaway here.  So keep your eyes open for that to come soon!

Steps in Progress

We are still in progress with composting.  I am amazed that every other day, we have a gallon bucket full of scraps from the kitchen to compost.  I’m not sure that we are layering things the right way, but time will tell, right?  Composting has also made me feel less guilty if I have some produce that goes bad.  It doesn’t feel quite as awful to throw it into the composting bucket as opposed to throwing it in the trash.

The posts on dairy have both informed and challenged me.  I find myself spending a little extra for sour cream and still making my own yogurt, but I still haven’t splurged on butter even though I know it would be better for us.  Maybe we can work that step into the budget for next year (after the Christmas spending is over!)

And I am super excited about the cast iron skillet, griddle and dutch oven that we got for Christmas!  Now, to learn how to cook in a whole new way.

Steps not Taken

Though my broccoli cheese rice casserole was can-free (and divine, if I do say so myself), we still cracked open that can of cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving.

I haven’t really explored Maple syrup to discover what kind my family likes best.  (Anyone want to have a tasting party?)

And my budget.  Well, I’m still working out the kinks in that.  Honestly, I quit keeping track, and that, for me at least, isn’t a good thing.  But life happens.  My family had over two months of somebody being sick and my Mom had open heart surgery earlier this month.  Take-out happened.  Stress eating and junk food happened, and I for one, am not going to beat myself up about it.

Up Ahead

In case you are interested, I thought I’d share what baby steps I have on the horizon for my family.  Both of my parents had open heart surgery this year for different reasons, but it has made me interested in different types of fats.  I don’t know why coconut oil is so wonderful or if canola oil and olive oil really are about the same.  I’d also love to learn more about toxic load and do some investigating on how to find good sources of meat that are affordable.  I’m curious too about the whole juicing and Vitamix craze.  Those are a few of the things I’m wanting to look at in the next few months.

How about you?  What baby steps are you thinking about for next year?  Anything you would want us to explore together?  I’d also love to hear what baby step you took this year that you are most proud of so we can all celebrate your victories.  Thanks again for journeying with me.

    • Claire

      Thanks for the Bluapple suggestion. I ordered through Amazon for Amazon Prime (free) shipping. I also wanted to share a book my doctor recommended when I discussed Wheat Belly by William Davis. It’s facinating. There are so many fads and our understanding of health and science is so complex (as is the technology used to engineer our food) that it’s hard to know what to eat any more. I try to stick to the basic food pyramid. My New Years Resolution: to get rid of wheat in our house. Our pediatrician thinks there’s a chance it could help our son with his Autism.

      • TheChapLeigh

        I’m also currently reading this book… we have cut down on breads significantly, choosing instead to bake with healthier, “ancient” grains when possible. Home-making the bread items (muffins, waffles, pancakes, bread crumbs, etc) with flours that WE choose makes me feel like I”m taking a step in a BETTER direction, at least. I do want to get my own sourdough starter & make that myself… the next babystep. With my fam, we cannot completely remove the breads, but I want them to be better choices.

        • Jeffy Walker

          Where do you get your wheat and flour to make your own bread and etc.?

          • amysanders

            Jeffy, we order ours from walton feed company with a local co-op. breadbeckers is another place you can order wheat.

    • Jeffy Walker

      Since me and my mom started couponing, we are buy some Organic/Natural stuff.. Instead of reaularly milk we now drink Silk or Smart Balance, we buy Olive oil mayo, Morning Star burgers, Natural Chicken, Organic carots, coconut oil.. And other organic stuff is to expensive to buy, if only their was coupons!!

      • guest

        be careful with the morning star brand – some add high fructose corn syrup and/or have added dairy (at least they did when we used to by them) =)

      • guest

        be careful with the morning star brand – some add high fructose corn syrup and/or have added dairy (at least they did when we used to by them) =)

    • Kelleeey

      I don’t know if you have covered this already or not, but I live in the middle of nowhere which severely limits my organic food options (except for my garden in the summertime). Could you provide a source list of places that offer organic food/products online? I know of amazon and abe’s market but that’s it. Thanks!

      • katkoupon

        Vitacost sells a lot of organic foods. That’s where I get my coconut flour and milk, cacao, real salt, lots of good stuff. hth.

        • TheChapLeigh

          I buy my coconut oil, honey, flours & grains, & vinegar from Vitacost. It has proven to be one of the cheapest ways to get these packaged items. “Managers special markdowns” or eVIC or Fresh Rewards emails at Harris Teeter & Lowes Foods have helped me to get the organic produce, organic chicken, & the occassionial organic dairy for cheaper.

          • Kelleeey

            Thanks! I have ordered from vitacost once, but it was a long time and I had forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder!!

    • casail

      I took a good hard look at the convenience foods I buy for the freezer this year and started making my own. Instead of proccesed bean burritos, waffles,pizzas, chicken nuggets, fries, etc I make up a big batch and freeze. Not only am I saving money but we are eating healthier, less processed food! In 2013 I want to get a group of friends together to buy ingredients in bulk so we can make and freeze together! It will be cheaper and fun!

      • amysanders

        it is fun to cook with a friend. i did that once this year and loved it.

    • Ashley J

      We got a Vitamix for Christmas so we are starting the juicing!

      • amysanders

        do you love it?

    • katkoupon

      I always look forward to your weekly posts! Thank you for sharing your experiences and findings with us. I am quite proud of my family’s changes this year, which I think are pretty huge. We have really cleaned up our diet and lives by learning as much as we can about what we are putting into our bodies and surrounding ourselves with in our homes. I’m like you, if I’m gonna make a big (and more expensive change), I want to know WHY. We now eat very little processed foods. We try to cook as much as we can from scratch. It has been, and still is, a lot of work, but we are getting more and more comfortable with the changes. That makes it more do-able for us, and it has gotten easier and less stressful. I am still working on the budget, too, but I am proud to see that 50% of our grocery spending goes to local farmers. I know we are making better choices. My husband and I have lost 110 lbs and my girls now ask for fruit instead of cookies. We use the EWG database to help us learn the toxicity of our personal care and household products, and we are learning to use more natural items. I even made your homemade all-purpose citrus cleaner and LOVE how well it cleans (it really cuts through the grease!). Speaking of grease, lol, we use and love coconut oil! We cook with it, I have used it in place of diaper rash cream, use it as a moisturizer, deodorant, scalp treatment, oil-pulling. Gah, it’s great for just about everything! I was thrilled to see that my Costco just recently started carrying it. There’s a great post by The Healthy Home Economist called “Five Fats You MUST Have in Your Kitchen” and summarizes why. Getting the fats right was another big step for us this year. This coming year, I’d like to keep on reading and learning about clean eating, as well as really work on our budget, without compromising nutrition. I want to learn how to properly can and freeze foods while in season. I want to learn to grow some of my own food (we haven’t had much luck with our 2 small garden-attempts). I feel like I am working so dang hard to learn how to eat and live more naturally, and at the same time, I think it’s quite ridiculous that I have to work so hard to find the truth about our food, that this information isn’t more mainstream, and that if my parents and grandparents were still alive, I could probably just go ask them how they used to live, and I would have most of what I need to know.

      • TheChapLeigh

        I agree, I love these posts! I also love to hear what others are doing! I’m right with Kat about wanting to know “WHY”, and then making our own decisions about the changes we will make. With the ongoing, ever-changing and usually conflicting info out there, we really do have to learn as much as possible on our own and then make the best decisions we can from there. And I SO WISH I could go back in time to my grandmother’s kitchen…

      • amysanders

        i feel the same way about having to dig so deep to find out the truth about something that is as basic as FOOD! it does get easier, doesn’t it, as things become integrated into our lives. proud of all that you have done this year!

    • Steph

      I love maple syrup. I just buy the store brand, which is just fine with me. ( I’m not very picky). On of my sons, on the other hand does NOT like maple syrup. I have found brown rice syrup to be a great stand in. It is a lot like a mix between pancake syrup and maple. It has a mild flavor and is fairly inexpenive. The kind I buy is not organic, but it doesn’t have a lot of fillers either. All natural.

      • amysanders

        i have never heard of rice syrup. sounds interesting. thanks for sharing!

    • Steph

      I love maple syrup. I just buy the store brand, which is just fine with me. ( I’m not very picky). On of my sons, on the other hand does NOT like maple syrup. I have found brown rice syrup to be a great stand in. It is a lot like a mix between pancake syrup and maple. It has a mild flavor and is fairly inexpenive. The kind I buy is not organic, but it doesn’t have a lot of fillers either. All natural.

    • mommyof1

      I am loving that you wrote about your organic journey. A few years ago (when we lived near a whole foods) it was easy to shop organic/all natural a few times a month. At the time, we were really struggling with finances, but we made it work for a while, before having to revert back to our old ways to save money. (We lived in an area without farmers markets etc and no double coupons, so whole foods was our only option for a variety of all natural goods) Now that we live in a different state that doubles coupons and has more grocery stores available, I am seriously going to strive to do better this year! One of my Christmas wishes was to get a deep freezer at the 1st of the year to help buy up the more natural foods when on sale (meat, yogurt, cheese, etc)- also add more frozen veggies instead of canned (which almost always have added salt), and actually have room to store them! Thank you for all the hard work you do and for inspiring me to give all natural eating a go again this year.

      • amysanders

        may you find great deals and enjoy good food this year!!

    • Kakkilea

      I love to bake. My new years goal is to make all my own bread, rolls, and breadcrumbs from scratch. I want to choose my own flours and ingredients and eliminate as many additives as possible. I also Want to try my hand at grinding my own flour! My bread machine and my brand new kitchen aid mixer+ thanks to my wonderful children ) will help. Now that’s my goal. If though I can hit the 75% mark, I will be pleased!

      • TheChapLeigh

        I’m with Kakkilea, I want to try out our grinder that’s been sitting in a box for a year or two… just haven’t quite gotten to that step. If only there were more hours in my day ;)

        • amysanders

          grinding your own wheat sounds sooo hard, but when i actually saw somebody use an electric mill, i was blown away by how easy and non-time consuming it was. if you can milk a cow, you can do this!! ;)

      • amysanders

        you can do it!!!

    • Kakkilea

      I love to bake. My new years goal is to make all my own bread, rolls, and breadcrumbs from scratch. I want to choose my own flours and ingredients and eliminate as many additives as possible. I also Want to try my hand at grinding my own flour! My bread machine and my brand new kitchen aid mixer+ thanks to my wonderful children ) will help. Now that’s my goal. If though I can hit the 75% mark, I will be pleased!

    • Ruchi

      I have been following your posts on Organic Living and feel that you are an inspiration for all the people making an effort to eat and live healthier.As far as the progress goes,I have made a switch to cooking with peanut oil,as Indian cooking involves a lot of frying and peanut oil works best for stir-fry as well as frying.I am making an effort to eat local.I do most of my cooking in a steel utensil,though I would love to start using the cast iron pan.We use Sorghum syrup from a local mill instead of Maple syrup.I was once a part of a co-op which got raw milk from SC but the GA law now prohibits getting raw milk from outside GA.For now,I am happy with the Publix Greenwise milk.I have started using Natural Sea-salt instead of table salt.Now on to the challenges,the biggest struggle for me when it comes to eating local and healthy is keeping the costs down.Even though I do make Indian breads everyday, we still buy a loaf of bread for snacking.I do most of my cooking from scratch but indulge in the treats from the Publix Bakery.I still get frozen waffles and ravioli,as I cant make those.I had subscribed to the newspaper for 3 months and thanks to all the awesome deals that Jenny posted,I have a stockpile of toileteries which will last for atleast 6months.So now my monthly budget should be used for food only.As for the goals for the coming year.I am hoping that I will be able to feed my family of 4, a ovo-lacto vegetarian diet for $60/week.I have found a local farm,which I plan to visit next week,to find out about eggs and produce.I want to start buying cheese from a local farm or from Costco.Once I use up the huge container of Peanut oil(that i got from Costco),I want to switch to clarified butter for all my cooking needs.But then I will have to get a small bottle of peanut oil for frying.

    • Kelly

      Hi! I stumbled upon this post today and I wanted to chime in and let you know what I have been doing this year. Over the past few years I have tried to clean up our eating little by little. One thing I don’t like to compromise on is chicken. I buy vegetarian fed, non-antibiotic and growth hormone, free range chicken unless there is no other option. The Springer Mountain Farm brand is great, and they often put it on sale at Bi-Lo, even BOGO! When this happen I stock up on the $1.50 coupons that are almost always out and stock my freezer. Another area that I have been trying to improve is more fresh food. I love the Bluapple idea, never heard of it! We use stevia in the raw or sucunat in place of sugar / brown sugar, local raw honey and organic grade B maple syrup (LOVE the taste! And this kind has more nutrients), steel cut oatmeal, and always 100% no sugar added fruit juice. My son drinks almond milk, and my husband and
      I have been making our protein shakes with coconut milk. This stuff does not blow our budget. I live near two Seventh Day Adventist neighborhoods and they both have general stores. I by as much of my grains, rice, oatmeal, sucunat, honey, maple syrup, tea, etc at these places as I can. It is always cheaper than any other store. I also buy herbs for tea and other natural medicine at these stores. Also, I started working for a wellness company that I love, and using their greener and safer cleaning products, personal care products, laundry products, and vitamins. This has also helped my budget because their cleaning products last a long time because they are concentrated and they are really cost efficient. Plus I feel better about what we are putting in and on our bodies. A couple of great books are “What the Bible Says about Healthy Living” by Rex Russell and “Beauty Secrets of the Bible”, sorry I can’t remember the author! Hope this helps someone!

      • TheChapLeigh

        I agree about the chicken… I no longer compromise on that. I get mine from our Manager’s Special’s markdowns, then repackage & freeze. We also raise our own chickens for eggs & for meat, when in abundance (or a lot of roosters, LOL!)

        • amysanders

          what kind of chicken do you buy?

      • amysanders

        well done!! i think we use the same “wellness” company. :) thanks for sharing!

    • Marie

      Great post! We have been on same jounrey for a few years, and I wanted to share some resources. We read mercola.com regularly for a lot of info on health and nutrition– our family doctor recommended us to go there and read about vitamin D and daily sun exposure, but I found Dr Mercola has the best information on pretty much everything related to whole living and wellness.

      We buy our coconut oil at tropicaltraditions.com. I got a deal there last year that was for a 5 gallon tub shipped for like $150 or something crazy cheap! I had been buying the $8 little glass jars and going through them within a week. Not good. We have hardly made a dent in the tub. I use coconut oil for all high heat cooking, and for baking.

      We buy organic butter, and fresh eggs like Amy. We started the journey with green smoothies and I recommend green smoothie girl book for anyone interested in getting started. We now eat more buttered vegetables and eat smoothies a few times a week.

      We follow Weston A Price (WAPF) Foundation for ideas on dental care and their philosophies on eating.

    • Marie

      Great post! We have been on same jounrey for a few years, and I wanted to share some resources. We read mercola.com regularly for a lot of info on health and nutrition– our family doctor recommended us to go there and read about vitamin D and daily sun exposure, but I found Dr Mercola has the best information on pretty much everything related to whole living and wellness.

      We buy our coconut oil at tropicaltraditions.com. I got a deal there last year that was for a 5 gallon tub shipped for like $150 or something crazy cheap! I had been buying the $8 little glass jars and going through them within a week. Not good. We have hardly made a dent in the tub. I use coconut oil for all high heat cooking, and for baking.

      We buy organic butter, and fresh eggs like Amy. We started the journey with green smoothies and I recommend green smoothie girl book for anyone interested in getting started. We now eat more buttered vegetables and eat smoothies a few times a week.

      We follow Weston A Price (WAPF) Foundation for ideas on dental care and their philosophies on eating.

    • TheChapLeigh

      Successful steps:
      1. Purchasing from local farmers free-range beef & pastured pork.
      2. Learned how to make my own raw yogurt, butter, sour cream, cultured buttermilk & cream cheese
      3. Learning how to cook more along “Nourishing Traditions” way
      4. Our hens have successfully nested & raised their own chicks, as well as learned how to incubate our own chicks & ducks.
      Steps in Progress:
      1. Learning how to configure our homestead for raising our own beef and how to successfully milk our cow (believe it or not, this has been a huge learning curve, even for my Texan rancher-type hubby!)
      2. First year of organic growing — not-so-successful garden & fruit tree production this year because of it.
      3. One try at making cheese — want to master this.
      Steps Not Taken:
      1. Haven’t made sourdough bread yet.
      Goals:
      1. Improve my cooking techniques with grass-fed & pastured meats
      2. Make sourdough breads vs. buying
      3. Make mozzarella, ricotta & cheddar cheeses regularly
      4. Now that we have some livestock, improve upon our “sustainable agriculture” plan ;)

      • amysanders

        yeah, still wish i was your neighbor. :)