Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Health and Frugality

I am always amazed by people (mostly Mongolians) who say they would like to eat healthier but could never afford it. In my experience, healthy eating and frugality usually go hand in hand. Now, there are some challenges, as most fruits and vegetables are typically imported into Mongolia and therefore, can be quite expensive. But with some creativity I can usually come up with meals and snacks that not only benefit our health but my kitchen budget as well.

It hasn't been easy and I still have a lot to learn. But here are some ways I keep our family happy, healthy and within our budget.

  • I use whole wheat flour for all our baking- bread, muffins, tortillas, etc. It costs less than the white stuff AND I don't have to buy bran to add to my breads. Total savings of about $10.00 a month.
  • We eat only homemade bread. I make a version of "Ezekiel bread" based on whatever ingredients I can find here. I make and refrigerate a mixture of ground oats, barley, buckwheat, sesame seeds, millet, poppy seeds, pinto beans or split peas, pumpkin seeds, corn and whatever else I can throw in, and use a cup or two of this in my bread recipes ( I make 2 loaves at a time). The results are a wonderfully tasty and healthy bread. And we never get constipated. Too much info? Sorry.
  • We drink water throughout the day and with meals. Seldom do we have juice or sodas around the house. When we do, I don't feel guilty about letting the kids drink them because it's a once in a while treat. =)
  • I make most of the kids' snacks. Every now and then someone gives them candy but we don't spend money on stuff like that. And I have absolutely no qualms about throwing out candy we accumulate over the holidays. Unless it's American candy. =)
  • For almost every recipe I make calling for sugar, I omit 1/4 cup. I have yet to ruin anything.
  • I buy fresh milk and pasteurize it. I also buy homemade yogurt from the same lady. We don't use the packaged stuff, which is almost twice as expensive.
  • We don't buy sweet breakfast cereals. We only buy one box of unsweetened corn flakes a month, so when it's gone it's gone. I try to space it out and save it for busy Sunday mornings but I'm known to sneak a bowl myself late at night. =)
  • I make my own granola. It's really expensive here, and not very tasty. Plus it has peanuts, which Kenny can't have.
  • I use vinegar and baking soda to clean around the house. For extra tough spots I even use sand. These are all much cheaper than cleaning products and they get the job done.
We're still working on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our diets. Thankfully, I am married to a health conscious Mongolian (I didn't know they even made those!) who is very supportive of my amateur nutritionist endeavors.

I hope I can inspire those of you who are reading this to make healthier choices, even if it means more time spent in preparation of meals.

Don't aim for perfection. Just try your best and don't sweat the little things!


Sara said...

This is great!! I am right on board with you! Although, I do buy bread when we have it. And your cleaning practices are SO non toxic, which is not only cheap, but great for your health. I hope others pick up your habits!

Gombojav Tribe said...

That's funny. A couple days ago I blogged about essentially Frugality and the Environment.

"Cheap" and "Green" are as interchangeable as "Healthy" and "Frugal."


Twila G. said...

Great post! I love how creative you are with this. Very inspiring!