I was thinking this week about the Tightwad Gazette. It was written by a mom who wanted to stay home with her kids on a moderate income. They were able to save quite a bit of money by being extremely thifty. She shared her ideas in a newsletter, which ultimately became another source of income for the family. The book is a compilation of the newsletters she sent out for years to her subscribers. It is loaded with good ideas for saving money. At the same time, in my opinion, it gives some bad advice in the area of food. (Others might say they can’t save money on electronics. That is their priority. Mine is good food.)
For example, the Tightwad Gazette advises that we purchase non-fat dry milk, mix it with water, and add it to our fluid milk to stretch it out. This is one piece of advice I will never follow. Not only is the taste still inferior, but the health consequences of dry milk are extremely negative. This is because dry milk contains oxidized cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol is the only kind of dietary cholesterol that will have a negative impact on your arteries.
Rather than being a penny pincher across the board, I prefer to put my money into things that I value. I value the good health that I have achieved with healthy food. Sometimes healthy food costs money. I don’t have a ton of money. This means that I have to compromise with other things in my life. I tend to not put much money into electronics. I have a nice laptop. Other than that, I’ve gotten various things for free and make good use of what I have and what my friends can share. The laptop works fine for watching movies. The sound is not the greatest. The screen is not the biggest. If I want to watch something on a bigger screen, I can walk four blocks to my friend’s house. I then get the benefit of good company as well.
Back to food, I am fortunate to have plenty of opportunities to get healthy food at a reasonable cost and even sometimes free. My job at a local co-op has been an especially big help in this department. I am often able to bring home expired organic dairy products and produce. With a small input of time and creativity, I can eat very well. This morning, for example, I woke up to a gallon of 24-hour yogurt fermenting in a small cooler in my kitchen. I made the yogurt from expired organic whole milk that would otherwise have been thrown away. I was even lucky enough to snag some plain yogurt that expired a few days ago.
24 Hour Yogurt
1 gallon organic milk
4 Tablespoons plain yogurt with live cultures
Heat the milk on the stove until it is 180 degrees. This kills any bacteria in the milk. Allow the milk to cool to about 110 degrees. Put the milk into two half gallon canning jars, leaving about two inches of space at the top. Stir 2 Tablespoons of yogurt into each jar.
Everybody has different methods for fermenting their yogurt. I’ve tried yogurt makers, heating pads, dehydrators, the back of a gas stove with pilot lights, and my current cooler method. The stove was probably the most energy efficient method, but sometimes got the yogurt too hot. This created a chunky yogurt that just wasn’t my favorite. Next in line for energy saving is my cooler method. Having a new stove that stays cool when not in use, I now favor the cooler for yogurt production. I simply place my jars of yogurt in my medium plastic cooler and fill the cooler about half way full with hot tap water. Every eight hours, I carefully lift out the jars, empty the water, and refill the cooler with more hot tap water. If you just want regular yogurt, it is done after eight hours. Fermenting it for 24 hours gives the bacteria time to consume nearly all of the lactose.
If you like a fruit-sweetened yogurt, stir some fruit-only preserves into the finished yogurt.
Chill and enjoy!