New Year’s Resolutions have a long history. As far back as Babylon, the Babylonians would make promises to their gods that they would pay their debts and return borrowed objects in the following year. The Romans would pray to their god Janus (whom January is named after) for forgiveness. Janus was a god who had two faces—one that looked forward and one that looked backward. Source
My goal was related to one of the more popular New Year’s Resolutions—something to do with food! Simplified, it was to reduce the use of and purchase of processed foods. Rather vague right? Well, when I found out that I was going part-time with the good possibility of staying home with the princess in the near future I started researching and researching to see what the options were for me to make it work financially. One of the most popular ways at that time was couponing. I jumped right in and boy was it addicting and fun!
My mom had occasionally used coupons when I was growing up, but we never used them consistently. I had the preconceived notion that coupons were only for new products that companies wanted to promote. It never occurred to me that the best savings were there for the taking when you combined a coupon with a sale! It also never occurred to me that there was a pattern to sales and to save the most money I should stock up with enough of an item to last me until it went on sale again. I loved shopping at Publix, but thought that I couldn’t afford it since every time I walked in there I spent (on a minimum) $70! Well I learned couponing well enough to make a dent in my food budget, but I also learned some bad habits.
Coupons and sales are easy to find for highly processed stuff like pasta, pasta sauce, delightful frozen waffles, and many other things that only occasionally resemble real food! I got caught up in buying those things because I could get them cheap or free after coupons and it was delightful to be able to afford some “treats” that we had never been able to afford before even when I was working full-time.
However, I knew those highly colorful “treats” weren’t healthy hence my New Year’s goal. I started out with making my own bread. Easy enough since I regularly had done it before and I had a handy dandy bread machine! Next, (with a longing look at my wonderful and colorful boxes of frozen waffles in the freezer) I gave up buying frozen waffles. We had pancakes or French toast for several months and then I found a deal on a waffle maker at Amazon.com! Homemade waffles were much more tasty and healthy.
Pickles were next thanks to an abundance of both cucumbers and zucchini in our garden. Thanks to my kitchen aid mixer with one of the attachments it was doable, but more importantly so yummy! It was a bit of a learning curve (picture cucumber juice on the floor, toddler running around, and trying to figure out how to hold the bowl to catch the cucumbers, keep the toddler away from the mess, and put the cucumbers through the machine with only two hands!)
Did you know that many varieties of jelly/jam in the supermarket have high fructose corn syrup in them or just regular corn syrup? Strawberry jam was one of the first things I got started on since strawberry season in Florida usually begins in January. I got a little carried away with making strawberry jam because that was almost as easy as buying it in the store. I made no cook freezer jam and was delighted to remove another source of high fructose corn syrup from my pantry.
I also stopped buying salad dressings whenever they were BOGO at Publix. In order to replace that void I found a simple ranch dressing mix and whenever the occasion called for it I mixed some of that up. It is amazing compared to the bottled stuff and I know exactly what’s in it. I also made a creamy poppy seed sweet and sour dressing that I had a recipe for. It had been sitting around for years because I always had several bottles of salad dressing in the fridge needing to be used up. It was also delicious!
It was near the end of the year (or maybe even into 2012 as I continued my goal), that I discovered that Hershey’s syrup contained high fructose corn syrup! Major dilemma! What do you do without chocolate syrup? Make it of course! I used this recipe from Annie’s Eats and I couldn’t believe how easy it was. My favorite part as I sampled some of it was the fact that it tasted SO. MUCH. BETTER. than Hershey’s ever had!I could go on and on! I couldn’t come up with a new goal for 2012 so I decided to continue to make my own stuff from scratch in order to improve on taste or just to avoid unsavory ingredients. Ice cream (one of my husband’s favorite made from scratch things!), ketchup, BBQ sauce, as well as taco seasoning mix, etc. Some of the other things I attempted in 2011 were cleaning products (haven’t found any that work well on our lime deposits!), laundry soap (another day!), and personal care products like lip balm and body butter. I am so thankful that I listened to the Lord’s direction about pursuing less processed ingredients in 2011 because it was a pivotal point in keeping me from going completely insane during all the changes that were going to occur in 2012!