Welcome to The Part-time Green Prepper!

I read a variety of blogs of stay-at-home moms who home school their children, prepare every food item from scratch, prepare for emergencies, have removed all dangerous chemicals from their homes, recycle and compost nearly everything they use, live frugally and are nearly self-sustaining due to their large gardens and farm animals. I would love to do all of those things. However, that is just not possible with the place I am in life right now. My husband and I both work full time. I am trying to figure out how much I can reasonably do with the time I have available. This blog will describe some of my attempts at prepping, preparing home-made natural foods for my family, growing our own food and going green. I know many of you will do all of these things better than I do, but I am trying and that's the best I can do!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My BIg anti-green, anti-prepper mistake!

I wasted food today. :( This happens sometimes when a person is only a part-time green prepper. The brain gets filled with the full-time job and family duties and a person might forget something important. For example, a person might have taken a chicken out of the fridge, discovered it was still frozen and decided to let it sit on the counter for a few hours* to help it thaw. Then perhaps 18 hours later, while 30 minutes away at work, suddenly remember the chicken is still sitting out! I came home hoping it was still cold. However, it was not cold at all. We can't eat it. So not only did I waste an entire chicken, we have nothing prepared for tonight's dinner! I remember when I was a stay-at-home mom/child care provider, I would get really busy with the kids and forget things I needed to do (like take the laundry out of the washer and put in it in the dryer). I would set the timer on the kitchen stove to remind me and it worked great! So, if you are a part-time green prepper like I am, might I suggest to you that when you have something important to remember--like thawing poultry--you set a timer! Meanwhile I am enjoying a peanutbutter smoothie made with homemade yogurt while I figure out what we are going to have for dinner! *Warning: According to food safety experts you shouldn't thaw meat/poultry on the counter. Harmful bacteria can grow on the outside of the meat while the inside is still frozen.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Trash Free Lunch

I recently had a group of my son's classmates at our house for an afternoon play rehearsal. It was a half day of school so I took a few hours off from work to pick up the kids and bring them back to my house for a rehearsal. For convenience, I just had each child bring a lunch from home. One boy I noticed had some peanuts in his lunch. They were packed in a small glass jar with one of those rubber gasket/metal latch lids. I also noticed his sandwich was wrapped in waxed paper. I noticed these because they were a bit out of the ordinary. After he was finished eating, he put his banana peel and waxed paper back into his lunch box. THEN I finally got it--he was taking them home to his compost pile! Nothing from his lunch went into the trash can. This idea of a trash free lunch intrigued me! I had already stopped buying all the pre-packaged lunch items (Lean Cuisines for me and Lunchable for the kids) that were so common in last school year's lunch. This year it's been home-prepared lunches every day for me and many days for the boys. Though, I have to admit a few weeks went by when we were so busy the kids just ate school lunch every day (ugh!). Earlier this year I purchased a bunch of the plastic "take-alongs" containers in a variety of sizes for sandwiches, canned fruit etc . . . Eventually though, the lids get lost and we end up throwing most of them away at some point. Also, I have heard plastic isn't very healthy to eat from. Sooo . . . I am working on trying out "low to no trash lunches" for myself. I bought some small Pyrex glass bowls with lids that fit perfectly in the thermos lunch totes I got for Christmas. Once I test this idea on my own lunches, I can see how to adapt it to the kids'. When I packed this morning's lunch, here's how it worked: Triscuits-in the original bag, carrots-in the original bag, veggie dig-in the original container, a pear- well, in it's original peel! So, is it a "trash free lunch?" Maybe if I don't finish anything. It will likely have some trash--but it is not extra trash generated by putting a few of each item into little baggies, just the containers I bought them from the store in. I guess that counts! Doesn't it? Do you pack trash free lunches? How do yours look?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Homemade vs. Pre-packaged

No one would argue that homemade is almost always healthier than pre-packaged. Healthy eating is important to me. However, I have decided that my new phrase "what fits with the balance of our lives" fits very well when discussing healthy eating. Everyone you talk to has a different definition of healthy eating. Some people do "clean eating," eating foods as mininally processed as possible with a focus on vegetable, fruits and lean protein. Others focus on low-fat. Others value organic and natural methods of raising food. Some people try to eat only locally-grown foods. Some people try to eat foods that come from nature, not chemicals. I have to agree with most of these ideas in theory. But honestly, in my busy life with 2 boys, 2 dogs, a husband and a full-time job, I cannot grow all my own food (or supplement just from local farmers), grind my own wheat, make all my own yogurt, store 1 year's worth of food and prepare a healthy breakfast each morning that doesn't come from a box. Would I like to? YES! Will I do so when I have time? YES? Will I beat myself up if we have some Doritos for a snack this weekend? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Will I spend $6 a gallon for organic milk, when I can get hormone free milk for 2.50? Nope! Will I buy organic apples or banana if the price difference is under a dollar? Sure! I have decided a balance is best for me. I am an eclectic person. I have always wanted to be one of those people who is an expert in something. I have learned that is just not me! I am well-rounded and that is good! I can bake, cook, sew, garden, change a tire, and quilt. I can teach my students and train adults. I can do CPR and I know first aid. I store food and supples for emergencies. Am I an expert on any of these things? I don't think so, but I feel like it's better to be who I am--and know a bit about how to do all kinds of things than try to be some one I am not. So, do I always make every food I feed my family from scratch? No, but I do as much as I can. I never buy pre-packaged cookies, but make them from scratch. They are healthier and yummier! This evening we are having roast beef and potatoes, vegetables and for dessert strawberry oat bars my 9 year old made using sugar free jam, oatmeal, butter and a cake mix! Healthier without the mix? Yep, but this was quick and easy. And sometimes, quick and easy counts!

A balance of time and money

Our family built our current house last year and took some steps to make it more energy efficient. We used 2x6" framing for the walls to increase the amount of insulation that would be installed. We used recycled fiber insulation. We bought the highest quality windows we could afford. We installed a wood burning fireplace to take advantage of woods on our back acreage on the coldest winter days. Finally we are heating our home with geo-thermal energy. Even though there is an abundance of groundwater here, it did seem strange at first to learn we would pump water out of the ground and into our "furnace" where the heat exchanger does some magic and pulls the heat from the water to heat the air, then pumps the water back into the ground again. It seemed like we should use the water that gets pumped back into the ground for something--watering the garden perhaps. However, it's not getting wasted. It is just being "borrowed" from the ground and then returned a short time later. There are so many other things we could have put into the house to make it "greener"--flooring from renewable resources, using reclaimed lumber, low VOC paint, and a number of other things. However, I think it's important to have a bit of balance--in this case the balance for for the cost of the home! We had to decide what was most important to us and spend the money there. That's the conclusion I am coming to in this journey: Decide what is most important to me and see if it fits into the balance of our lives, both with time and money.