I used to buy foods or household goods for convenience, regardless if they are safe or expensive. But I am learning to be wiser. Besides the fact that there are certain foods we should avoid because they are unsafe, there are things I'm learning to avoid to save money.
11 Things You Should Never Buy
- Drumsticks or Chicken Breasts - why pay twice the amount and buy drum sticks or chicken breasts when you can buy a whole chicken and debone it yourself? I buy free-range whole chicken, especially when they are on sale, and use parts and save the breast bone (and there are plenty of meat attached to it, even after you de-bone it) for making chicken soup or chicken stock. Deboning a chicken is so simple that my 16 year old can do it. Watch this awesome video to learn if you don't know how.
- Chicken Stock - OK, so you just watched how to debone a whole chicken. Well, take the body and maybe chicken wings and boil and simmer to make chicken stock. A 2~3 lb. chicken can yield about 5-6 cups of chicken stock. Save it for soup or use as broth for cooking. You know what's in it - chicken and water - and you know it's healthier and so much cheaper than buying a carton from the store. (A friend of mine roasts beef bones in the oven before making beef stock with them. She says the have richer flavor.)
- Vegetable Stock - If you use vegetables for cooking, save the bruised parts, ends, stalks, and even roots to add them to make vegetable stock. You can season with herbs and lots of garlic and onion and you got yourself a very tasty, cheap, and nothing but vegetables in your stock, without chemicals and salt. You can even freeze them in an ice cube tray and use them when you need them.
- Canned Tomatoes - BPA is in resin that lines cans. Tomatoes are acidic so it breaks down the resin and BPA gets into tomatoes. So I don't buy canned tomatoes but I buy Pomi Tomatoes in boxes. I buy tomato sauce in glass jars and tomato paste in tubes. But do you know what's better? Canning tomatoes yourself. You know what goes in them, they are much cheaper, and they are tastier!
- Non-Stick Pots and Pans - this is a no-brainer but I can't reiterate this often enough. Don't buy non-stick with PFOA. Buy cast iron, stainless steel, enamel baked, or ceramic coated. I'd love to get a set of Creuset but I already have a set of All-Clad pots and pans with a lifetime warranty - Yup, with a LIFETIME warranty! So, in essence, my pots and pans will outlive me. (I can leave them to my kids, along with my LED lightbulbs!) Imagine all the money I've saved! So, if you are on the market for a new set of pots and pans, buy a quality set of stainless steel or cast iron pans. If you season them well, food won't stick but if they do, here are my non-toxic ways to clean stainless steel and cast iron pans.
- Plastic Containers - BPA, Melamine, petroleum, you name it, they are in plastics. Plastics labeled #7, polycarbonates, contains BPA so it's wise to avoid them. Besides the fact that plastic is made from petroleum and it can kill marine animals, plastic particles can leach into your food, especially, when heated. Even if it says, "Microwave Oven Safe", it only means that plastic won't melt in a microwave oven but it doesn't mean it's safe for our health. Microparticles and chemicals can leach into foods when heated. So switch all plastic containers to glass containers. And if you still use plastics, don't ever use them in the microwave oven.
- Bottle Water - filtered tap water is cheap, creates less plastic waste, and tastes better. Bottle water is not regulated and often times, it's just, you guessed it, filtered tap water. So why pay to buy them when you have tap water in your own home? Just use a good filter, like Zero Water, and you'll have clean tasting water!
- Commercial Laundry Detergent - Have you ever walked down the soap and detergent aisle and couldn't breathe? I do. I hate the strong odor of assorted fragrances and chemicals that exude from the aisle. I started making my own powder detergent a while ago and it doesn't have a strong smell and it actually eliminated mildew from my front loader. And it only costs about 19¢ per load.
- Antibacterial Soaps or Hand Sanitizers - containing Triclosan, the chemical pesticide used in many antibacterial soaps, has been linked to thyroid damage, hormone disruption, and the creation of hard-to-kill superbug infections. FDA states that washing hands with warm water and regular soap is enough to kill any bacteria. You don't need Triclosan or Microban that actually makes antibiotic-resistant superbugs. And most of these types of soaps are more expensive so save money and buy regular soap.
- Wrinkle-Resistant Clothes - contains formaldehyde, a carcinogenic chemical. You know how much I hate ironing. To avoid getting clothes really wrinkled, I add vinegar to my wash and take them out as quickly as I can and hang them. This way they don't take that much time to iron them. A reader suggested spraying one part vinegar and one part water mixture after taking them out of the dryer, to make them wrinkle-free. I'm going to try that next time.
- Pressed Particle Board Furniture - while we are on the subject of formaldehyde, pressed particle board furniture -you know those cheap but sturdy as heck furniture specials?- all have formaldehyde. Buy solid wood furniture. If you can't afford it, shop at thrift stores and vintage stores. Nothing beats solid wood and you'll be recycling too!
- So, what do YOU avoid buying to be safe and to save money?
Drumsticks Image via Flickr by Geoff Peters 604