Monday, October 6, 2014

This Week...Beyond Money 09/29 - 10/5

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.

* Harvested: 1 c green beans, several small peppers, 2 okra pods, several edible flowers, a dozen baby/fingerling carrots and greens, several tomatoes (it's coming to an end...).
* Saturday night the weather forecast called for near-frost temps, so I pulled in a lot: several very small summer squash, the lone butternut squash, 10 Crystal apple cukes, edible flowers, a couple dozen peppers, a cup of beans. I also clipped all of the green tomatoes off of the plants, leaving some of the vine attached. I'll allow these to ripen on the counter. I covered the entire garden with blankets and tarps just in case it did frost. Most of tomato, pepper, bean and eggplant plants have tiny fruits on them, so I wanted to give them the best chance to ripen, especially since this next week will be warmer.
* I took in two containers from the front yard: a large container with 4 wildly productive pepper plants that was positively loaded with little peppers, and another large container filled with baby greens (After the tomatoes were harvested from that container, I seeded it to greens for winter). These will stay indoors until they are no longer productive.

* For lunch one day we made BBQ chicken sandwiches from leftover BBQ chicken, leftover onion, some home-pickled jalapenos, and cheddar cheese on bread from my job (purchased with my discount). The rest of the leftover BBQ chicken was cut from the bone and added to stir fry another night and the bones saved for stock making.
* I found an unadvertised sale: Rotisserie chickens marked down from $6.99 to $2.99 for a 2 lb chicken. I bought two. That night I served one when a friend came over; we ate about 1/4 of the meat. The leftover meat from that chicken and the other will be used in other recipes this week, and some will be frozen for later.
* The chicken carcasses were used along with veggie scraps to make two batches of stock. The first batch is better than the second, but with a good, long cooking time, the second batch isn't bad, and is better than no stock at all (because that's a tragedy).
* Trucker was able to bring home some goodies from his job that would have been thrown away: expired bagels, a blueberry muffin,a bacon and cheddar scone (perfect breakfast with a fried egg), and a few cookies that got a little too dark to sell. There is something to be said for working in the food industry.
* In general, I planned leftovers and used them up rather than letting them go to waste. I made quiche one day to use up random little bits of harvested veg that were getting a bit on the old side-along with the last of a dozen eggs that were a couple days past the sell-by date, the last of a container of sour cream and the last little bit of a bag of mozzarella.
* I shopped at a farmers market to get some veg that I didn't grow this year like winter squash, cherry tomatoes (Why? I don't know. I'm stupid), bell peppers (I never get a big harvest from bells, so I stick to small peppers and get a ton), and eggplant (I'm growing Casper eggplant, but only got a few small ones).

Food Preservation:
* Dehydrated 7 loads of apples. Still more to go.

* Mum and I went to a local orchard and picked a bushel of apples each. It was $11/half bushel bag. After we'd picked our bags, we found out they also sell seconds for $14/bushel. After we preserve this first batch, we may go back to buy 100 lbs of seconds. She wanted to get dinner out since we were out really late. We went to my favorite Mexican restaurant for their Monday night BOGO sale on al pastor tacos. Total cost for dinner for two: $3.
* I had a friend over for dinner instead of going out somewhere. I always like to make special meals when I have people over, but always try to be frugal and use what I have. We ate some of one of the rotisserie chickens I got on sale. I steamed green beans from the garden and sliced a Crystal Apple cucumber. I had some challah from work and served that with some dipping oil leftover from another meal. I made an apple crisp using some of the apples from the orchard. Once you figure out the price per serving (since there was leftover chicken and apple crisp for other meals), the entire meal for two cost around $1.25.
* I met a friend for coffee one day, and then some of our other friends met up with us a little later at the same location. I brought my travel mug and got a discount. All told, including tip, I spent $2.50 to hang out with several friends for a few hours.

* Mum and I spent 2+ hours wandering around the orchard, talking and picking apples.
* Went for a couple short runs. So cold out. Need to break out the winter running clothes. I will also have to transition back to running with shoes on again. :(

* Paid a few bills online to avoid using a stamp. Other bills charge a $3 fee for the convenience of paying over the phone or online, so I sent those in.

Waste Reduction:
* When I dehydrated apples, I left the peels on for added nutrients and to reduce waste. I did have cores leftover, so I put them in the blender with just enough water to puree. I worked the puree through a sieve and had a small glass of fresh apple juice. It was delicious and reduced my waste. The pomace was composted.
* The next time I made apple chips, I also left the peels on. This time with the cores, I cooked them down, blended and worked through a sieve for 3 cups of applesauce. This was free except for the pennies for electricity and less than a penny's worth of cinnamon. I didn't add any sweetener as it didn't need it.
* I made two batches (6 quarts) of stock out of chicken bones and vegetable scraps. Free except for a bit of electricity to run the slow cooker.
* Carrot greens were dehydrated to use as a parsley substitute. There is some controversy about eating carrot greens, but FOR ME, I feel comfortable eating them in small quantities as a seasoning or a few sprigs added to salad; I'm not sure about the safety of eating a large quantity, so I don't.

* I packed our lunches for work each day. I drank free coffee in the break room.

* Put up a gallon sized jar (packed tight) of apple chips.

What did you do this week?

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