Here in the Pacific Northwest, Harvest is a sprint. We don’t have the luxury of slowly rolling in produce from April to October, like our Southern neighbors. Here we line up at the starting line around early June, wait for the gunshot alerting us of Strawberry season, then go hard through the berries—Blue, Rasp, Boysen, Sylvan, Marion—catching our breath long enough to lug home peaches before hitting the blackberry bushes and finally army-crawling across the finish line with apples and pears galore.
We then rest all winter long, happy with our freezers full, hibernating until we have the energy to do it again.
Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. Northwest produce is like nothing else.
But all this investment of time, money, and energy makes me want to ensure I’m making the best use of all this fabulous produce. We all have different frugal goals, but my family’s goal is primarily to eat whole, healthy food on a budget. This means limiting sugar and cooked, processed foods, opting instead for raw, no-sugar-added options.
This can be tricky during the winter, when most fruit-preserving recipes call for cups of sugar and thorough cooking. (Not turning up my nose at these, by the way. I never met a strawberry jam I didn’t like!) But I always wondered how I could make better use of all the nutritional gold stocked in my freezer.
Insert a Vitamix blender.
We, like many people, went back and forth for several years on whether or not to make the Vitamix investment. The $500 price tag seemed obscene. If ever there was an unnecessary luxury, this pricey blender was surely it.
But, surprisingly, it was when our budget became tighter that we finally made the plunge. We changed jobs, cut our income in half, and tightened our belts in the grocery budget department. But because we couldn’t afford as much fresh produce, we noticed our health wasn’t as top-notch as before. When faced with the option of medication, we chose instead to beef up our health with an increase in fresh, raw foods. We pooled our Amazon gift cards and referral credits, found the lower-priced version, and paid $120 out-of-pocket for a Vitamix TurboBlend.
Alternatively, you should also check out the Blendtec blender — runs about the same price and accomplishes basically the same purpose.
We fell in love.
Why a Vitamix or Blendtec blender is great for our health:
1. We can consume WAY more raw fruits and veggies than ever before by making fruit and veggie smoothies.
2. We can use water kefir as the base liquid, pumping powerful probiotics into our bodies every day.
3. We can sneak things into our kids’ drinks (think kale and chia seeds) that they’d never otherwise eat.
4. It’s becomes our “fast food” go to when we’re pressed for time. Instead of grabbing bread or packaged food, we can make a complete meal in five minutes, and even drink it in the car if needed.
5. The blender wastes nothing! All the pulp and good fiber is included and beneficial for health.
Why it’s great for our budget:
1. We can use all the inexpensive summer produce (often u-picked for $1 per pound or less) all year long. Find tips on how to freeze summer fruit here.
2. We can toss half-eaten or otherwise undesirable produce into a freezer bag and sneak it into smoothies later. No wasting those bruised bananas, mushy apples, or pithy oranges!
3. We buy less pre-made food because smoothies provide for our “convenience” food needs.
4. We can take advantage of store sales, stocking up and freezing any fruit when it’s available. (Like the $1 pineapple at Fred Meyer earlier this year!)
Tips for delicious (and nutritious) smoothies:
1. Spinach and kale are sometimes referred to as “invisible” greens. They pack a powerful nutritional punch, yet you can’t taste them.
2. Frozen peaches are magic! They blend incredibly smooth and give great texture. (Freeze peaches like this—no prep needed!)
3. Pineapple, bananas, oranges, grapes, or apples are must-haves. Using one of these each time will add the sweetness that most kids crave.
4. Frozen bananas and peanut butter makes a fabulous protein-packed, no-sugar-added dessert!
Here are some additional resources: Green Thickies and The Blender Lady. Also keep an eye out at your local Costco for Vitamix demonstrations! They can show you all the different ways a Vitamix is awesome.
If you love smoothies but want to find a way to streamline the process, check out our post on how to make super healthy Make-Ahead Smoothie Kits!
What is your Vitamix or BlendTec experience? How have you incorporated this appliance into your frugal-living lifestyle?
Kari Patterson is a frugal-living enthusiast who juggles the hats of pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, conference and retreat speaker, writer, friend, daughter -– occasionally dropping them all on her crumb-covered floor. She celebrates the Sacred Mundane over at KariPatterson.com.
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