Do you have health insurance? – Stacey

No. This choice/ decision of becoming less dependent on the system is not for everyone.

What is the best insulation to put in an attic? And by losing the dishwasher could we save alot more money on power etc? Talithia

Many years back (20 years ago) the city of Pasadena had a FREE! insulation program which we took advantage of. The insulation used was cellulose – made from recycled papers. There are many other sustainable and better insulation materials on the market and there are green building sites on the internet that can help you make an informed decision for your particular type house.

As for dishwasher. Well, that’s a good question. I made a point in one of my post to say that we have no dishwasher and we wash our dishes by hand; however, some readers commented that dishwashers actually saved energy and water. So it’s definitely debatable issue.

Your budget for staples seems a bit high considering the fact that you get most of your food from home. Out of curiosity, could I have an approximate breakdown? – Craig

Sure! The figures ($300-$400) were estimated for an entire month for 4+plus (ADULT) people. Here’s our most recent (WINTER) grocery and co-op bill. We grow our own produce with the exception of extra potatoes and onions to stretch some of our homegrown produce. A few noted exceptions: had several guests over for dinner on Fridays and ran out of time to make bread, catered party and baking for this month’s social gathering plus every week we also barter meals/groceries in exchange for work from part time volunteers. So, technically, we are feeding more than just our family. In addition, it is hard to breakdown these exceptions. Along with the co-op orders the supplies last several months or even a year.

Our goats in a few months will turn 2 years old – ready for breeding season next Fall. After pregnancy, will be able to give milk/cheese/yogurt. Keeping bees but no honey harvested yet.

Bill #1

Bill #2  

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  1. Risa says:

    Raising your own dairy products will make a huge difference in your grocery bill. unlike veggies they are a high calorie food. We found raising our own meat, dairy, and eggs has made a bigger difference in our budget and heath than anything else. And by having the animals we are able to grow our veggies without minerals or fertilizers of any sort. We still have to supply straw and some feed to the critters from off the property. But I can’t complain with a food/misc. budget (for us and the animals) of $150. a month.

    Also, you can make an excellent mock chicken broth with garbanzo bean broth. Whenever I make hummus I add a little more water than usual, some garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Cook until tender. Drain the liquid into a jar for later use and make my hummus. You would be amazed at how close it tastes to chicken broth. With a little sage and flour it makes a great gravy. I noticed on your grocery list “chicken flavored broth” thought I,d throw that in.

  2. Urban Homesteader says:

    Hello Risa

    Thanks for the broth tip. I don’t have any garbanzo beans at the moment so will have to order some in the next co-op pickup. I didn’t have much time this winter, but I have to get around to making my own veg broth and with all the excess and tasty green scraps shouldn’t be too hard.

    Since we are vegetarian, dairy products I would say represent 75% of our grocery bill. Which is quite a huge chunk!

    I have a question! You wrote “us,” what’s the number of people (2, 4 – adults, children?) and amount of animals are you feeding per month. Also how much land do you have? Such facts will help me determine how proportioned our figures our with our 1/10 acre growing plot. Thanks!

  3. Risa says:

    Sorry, didn’t think about that.

    Our family is two adults and two kids (9 and 12). We have 6 full size hens and a rooster. Our goat population varies but I usually have 3-4 does (Mix breed mainly Pygmy), sometimes a buck, and whatever babies are around. One old dog. And two useless but amusing parrots. We are on 1/4 of an acre.

    We don’t have to make our living from the land so I am able to concentrate on feeding only us. I try to put as much of the garden into high calorie crops, like potatoes, onions, and garlic. Then add lower calorie staples like tomatoes etc.

    I also have about half of our growing area in animal feed. last year I put approx 1500 Sq ft into pasture with mulberry planted for an upper story (good goat feed). My front planters (600sf)are densely planted with oilseed sunflower. My perimeter fence is covered with pumpkins. Though the most impressive animal feed crop we grow is the mangle beets.

    Anyway, like you we have tried to adapt to our area. Honestly, in our short growing season (less than 90 days), the animal are the stars. We are not vegetarians. We eat meat a few times a week. We only eat meat that we raise ourselves. My husband also tries to get a jackrabbit or two a week (we are surrounded by public land). And like you we are dairy junkies. Our girls provide us with enough milk to make all the chesses, yogurts, sour cream (we live on the stuff), etc.

    I could go on forever, but I’m really bad at typing (my husband is the computer geek I’m the homesteader)and my back end is going numb.LOL

    You are the first sight I hit on my “lunch break”. Happy new year.

  4. Wildside says:

    Hi, there! Saw your note about dishwashing and had a comment from our own experience…

    With a close eye on the water and electric bill, I’ve looked at life from both sides now (from washing dishes only by hand, to owning a small, efficient dishwasher for a few years, to back again by necessity) and can say that doing dishes by hand clearly saves on both — at least the way I do it (using dishpans for both wash and rinse instead of letting the water run continuously and also with a lot of method to my madness, of course…)! 😉

    But, to it’s credit, when it is working properly, a dishwasher does save a great deal of time which back then I thought was wonderful… When ours wore out and required too much repeated fixing (taking more time than it did to do the dishes!), just had to change my attitude about both my time and doing dishes. Now feel “by hand” is the way to go.

  5. Grey says:

    You know… you don’t need dairy to survive. If you cut out the unnecessary (and therefore frivolous) dairy products (read: all of them), you’d save about $100 per grocery trip. That’s a pretty significant amount. You can easily make your own nut milks (ie almond, macadamia, cashew, etc), it’s healthier for yourselves AND the planet/environment.

  6. Ann says:

    I’m curious about your answer to the health insurance question. Does that mean 1) you forego check-ups and medical treatment for disease or injury altogether, or 2) if and when you need it, you will pay cash or 3) you will expect others to pay it for you (taxpayers, charities, family, or whatever)? Unless you can afford all possible medical care out of pocket, doesn’t going without health insurance make you more dependent not more self-sufficient?

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