Trying to do it all can lead to natural living burnout!
And that’s exactly what I experienced after my first year of adopting a real food and natural lifestyle.
I loved the changes our family had implemented: the lack of processed food, homemade products, and sourcing local food. But, I was tired and stressed, and the thought of having to buy something like laundry soap at the store, even a better quality product, caused me to feel guilty for not being “natural enough.”
Finally, after sharing my struggle with Dustin, I came to my senses and developed a reasonable plan for deciding what to buy versus make. To this day, I still use this plan.
I realize this may sound crazy coming from a gal who loves to share recipes that range from homemade bread to DIY glass cleaner (pictured above) and lotion. There are also a number of posts on Live Simply titled, “…Stop Buying and Start Making…”
My goal in sharing so many recipes and DIYs is not to convince you to make everything on the blog. My goal is to convince you to make small changes over a long period of time. That, my friend, is what a practical, simplified real food and natural lifestyle is all about.
Five questions (my reasonable plan) I ask myself before deciding whether to buy or make a product:
Question 1: Is there a good store-bought alternative?
Consider whether or not a good store-bought alternative is available before you decide if you should make something at home.
For example: My local health food store sells a very clean brand of tortillas called, “Stacy’s.” These tortillas contain just about the same ingredients I would use at home. By purchasing these tortillas, I’m able to free up my time to make something that doesn’t have a good store-bought alternative, like: hummus (a snack my family loves) and bathroom cleaner. Store-bought wins!
Another example: “Boo-boo cream” is essential in our house, but I have difficulty finding a great store-bought product made with natural ingredients. So I make homemade boo-boo cream. Homemade wins!
Question 2: What’s the cost difference?
If both a quality store-bought product and homemade option are available, I analyze the cost.
For example: Liquid hand soap costs $4.99 from the store. Homemade hand soap costs $2 a jar. Homemade wins!
Question 3: What’s the time difference?
If I’ve determined that both a good store-bought product and homemade option are available, I also analyze the time involved in making or buying the product. As a busy mom this question is very important.
For example: The local market sells amazing pickles (a staple in our house) for around the same price I can make them, but a trip to the local market consumes 45 minutes of drive time (back and forth) on a Saturday morning (family time). Making homemade pickles requires around 25-30 minutes of my time from start to finish. Homemade wins!
Question 4: Is this something I regularly use?
If a product is only used a few times a year and a natural store-bought option is available, I generally buy it versus spending the time to make something at home.
For example: We don’t eat a ton of applesauce in our family, so when a recipe calls for applesauce (which is very rare), I purchase a jar of Eden brand applesauce from the store. The only exception to this rule is when apples are in season and a bag costs just a few dollars. I stock-up on apples and make homemade slow-cooker applesauce which is stored in the freezer and used until we run out. Store-bought wins 95% of the time.
Question 5: Will making this product add value to my life?
I think this question is important to consider. There are some products that simply add “value” to life.
For example: I love a specific color of lipstick from the (more) natural brand Pacifica. Could I make a lipstick at home? Probably so. But this lipstick, when paired with a concealer and my homemade foundation powder, always makes me feel a bit more “put together” and ready for our weekly date night. This product, in my mind, adds value to my life. Store-bought wins!
Another example: There are many natural body soaps available on the market at a reasonable cost, but there’s something incredibly luxurious about making my own homemade body wash. Plus, it literally takes 5 minutes to mix together a jar of body wash. I continue to make homemade body wash because I love the ingredients, and the product adds value to my life. Homemade wins!
Small, practical changes are the building blocks to a doable long-term natural lifestyle! We can’t do it all, but with a plan in place we can make informed choices that benefit our family, time, and money, all while striving to live a more natural lifestyle.
PS: If you own the Real Food Planning Challenge, you can find a printable list titled “What to Make vs. Buy” (the food edition) on page 92.
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I tried to make EVERYTHING also but raw milk costs more here so a pound of butter would be as more than the best cut grass fed beef.
We have free range chickens and it takes two eggs to cover their organic food, 3 eggs a day to completely off set their cost. That said I have neon orange eggs overflowing with Omega 3.
I have lactofermented many vegetables, canned many foods but only a few that I repeat.
My favorite is canned salsa (worth it), canned chiili (worth it), canned husk cherry preserves (will never do again it took around 2 hours per ounce between picking, cleaning, cooking, and canning).
I make simple cheese that only requires heating raw milk slightly, add culture, cover and leave warm, strain. I don’t make the more difficult types.
Sourdough bread from starter, elderberry gummies from berries, render tallow, bone stock; you get the idea…….
Most I am able to figure out if it’s too expensive to buy already made and if I am able to make better than what is sold.
I am at a loss with a few things. I don’t know if tortillas are worth buying as six are more than a loaf of bread in NY.
I am not good at sprouting grains, I ruin half so I can’t figure out break even to buy a grain mill and buy sprouted spelt, Einkorn, and other grains. Since I have to buy sprouted I don’t know if I would ever actually save and have no idea how to figure it out.
Also, yogurt, I pay $4.59 for full fat organic, this is one thing that raw is too sour for me. I can’t figure out if it would cost less to make and how long that would take to break even after I include a yogurt maker and starter.
I would love to hear your thoughts as I can’t fit them into your four categories except if only occasionally.
Thank you so much
I just found your site, and have spent the better part of two days reading through your many helpful posts. Thank you for creating such an aesthetic and organized overview of all of these ideas; it makes it feel infinitely more do-able to me when it is all laid out so nicely.
Which brings me to my question: even though it’s silly, a big part of me not wanting to tackle homemade versions of things has often been storage containers — if I don’t know where to find something appropriate and beautiful to store something, I feel way more intimidated about making it. I have already read your “kitchen essentials” post… but I would love to see a really specific tour of your kitchen/pantry — all of your storage containers, and what you use for what (ie. what jar you use for homemade salad dressing (it’s gorgeous!)). I know you have Amazon links for some things, and that has already got me started (thanks!). But, I would love to know your extra secrets (where you get the nicer lids for your mason jars / whether you actually store much in Weck, of if you just use those for photo shoots / how you store all of your mason jars & lids when they are not in use).
I know that’s a big request, but I would be very grateful if you would consider!
Welcome to Live Simply! Thank you so much for the suggestion. I love your post idea and will add it to the calendar once our kitchen remodel is completed (everything is a bit dusty at the moment :)). You probably already found these posts, but here a few posts about my pantry https://livesimply.me/2015/03/05/stock-real-food-pantry/, freezer https://livesimply.me/2015/03/24/how-to-stock-a-real-food-freezer/, and fridge https://livesimply.me/2015/04/07/how-to-stock-a-real-food-fridge/. They discuss more the food side of storage, but you can see a few of my containers in the posts :).
I use Weck jars a lot in my pantry and stick with Tupperware containers (and some Weck Jars) in my fridge. I use these same containers for DIYs so it’s much more affordable. I try to focus on buying larger storage containers so they can be used in multiple ways. I purchase my Weck Jars on Amazon (they are impossible to find in our area) and the Tupperware I love comes from Costco. I tend to lean toward glass storage jars (Target or HomeGoods are great sources). The salad dressing bottle came from Home Goods :).
Maybe we will sneak in a little video tour during the demo and remodel to share a sneak peek into my old kitchen-jars, storage, etc. :).
Thank you so much! I’m happy to wait for the kitchen reno (that’s exciting in and of itself). Appreciate you taking the time to respond!
You’re welcome, Summer :). Thank you for sharing.
Hi Kristin, I noticed you said you use a concealer with your homemade foundation and I was wondering which concealer you use or make? I was using your recipe for homemade foundation this summer/fall and I loved it! But it just wasn’t enough coverage for the colder months when my skin loses it’s tan & when I experience stress related breakouts.
Thanks for the help! 🙂
Hey Sarah, I really like Pacifica’s concealer. It’s the best all-natural concealer I can find that also offers great coverage. You can find the Pacifica site here: http://www.pacificabeauty.com/. Some Targets and natural food stores also sell this brand.
Thanks for this post, Kristin. As a full-time caregiver for my elderly mom I’ve been struggling with this subject for some time. She is on a special diet, so everything we eat has to be homemade. Mom’s new favorite is your crockpot applesauce. I make our shampoo,facial serums, and until recently body lotion or body butters. I’ve decided I just simply don’t have the time or energy, (mostly energy), to melt together butters and oils, wait until they harden then whip into body butter. For the past few months we’ve been using straight coconut oil or olive oil. I am currently looking for a natural body lotion I can buy. The decision to buy lotion doesn’t mean anything but freedom for me which is more valuable than anything money can buy. I can’t do it all and that’s okay. Some natural bloggers make is seem as if we are failures if we buy store bought products. Too bad really. Thanks for making it okay to be a human “being” instead of a human doing. Your posts are always spot on.
P.S. If you have any suggestions for natural lotions I can purchase won’t you drop me a line?
Thank you, JoAnn. I 100% agree with you. “…freedom for me which is more valuable than anything money can buy…” Very well said!
When I don’t have the time to make my lotion recipe (or just simply need a break) I buy Everyday Shea. It’s one of the cleanest brands of store-bought lotions I can find at my health food store. I believe you can also find this brand on Amazon.
Thank you for your suggestion, Kristin. Have a wonderful weekend.