Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How I finally broke the coffee habit

So, over the past few years I've developed this bad habit: going out for coffee. It seems so innocuous at first, a good cheap pick-me-up treat. But here's why it was bothering me:
1) It's expensive. Sure, it's just a few bucks here and there, but it adds up, especially if I'd go three or four times a week.

2) It's not healthy seeing as I'd get sugary drinks or add a thousand sugars to regular coffee. Too many empty calories wasn't doing anything to help me drop the baby weight.

3) It's bad for the environment. Idling in drive-thrus, forgetting reusable cups, using straws and coffee stirrers and individual packets of sugar.

I knew all this, but I was still having trouble breaking the habit of going out for coffee. So I linked it to something else I wanted to do: switch to organic milk. As anyone who reads my blog knows, I'm a big fan of organic and locally grown food. However, I'm a bigger fan of not living beyond our means. In other cases, I've been able to make choices. For example, humanely raised meat is far more expensive than regular meat, so I control costs by eating a lot less meat. I buy in-season fruits and veggies, which tend to be less expensive than out-of-season. But we drink a lot of milk. Switching to organic milk adds about $40-$50 a month to our grocery bill. I love milk, the kids love milk, and I use a lot of milk for cooking and baking. Cutting back on our milk consumption wasn't really a valid option for us.

So I linked the two in my head (and budget!). Cutting out all the coffee stops easily freed up an extra $50 a month. I've been doing it for almost two months now, so I think it'll stick. I feel good...we switched to organic milk, I broke the out-for-coffee habit, and I kept our budget in line! Win-win-win!

And I should admit, it's not that I'll NEVER get coffee out again. I mean, I still pop out occasionally with a friend, or grab a coffee with TK on a weekend while we're out and about. But now it's a special treat, something I do once every couple weeks rather than nearly every day.


I'm thinking of including related or unrelated "green tips" at the end of my posts from time to time. Who knows if I'll keep it up or not, but it's just something that I've been thinking of. As I've mentioned numerous times before, I'm a fan of small steps. I make little changes, because it's relatively easy and eventually, enough little changes add up to big changes. Anyway, feel free to use 'em or not...I'm pretty non-judgmental about it all. What works for me and my family might not work for y'all. I'm just getting them out there! And please, share the green tips that have worked for your family, too!

Okay, here's my first tip: when we make coffee at home, there's usually some left in the pot. Instead of just dumping it down the drain, we've started freezing it into ice cubes. Then I can use them to make DELICIOUS homemade frappuccinos! Just add some coffee ice cubes, milk (or half and half if you're feeling wild), and a few teaspoons of sugar to a blender, and blend until the ice is well-crushed. To make it extra special, drizzle some chocolate syrup down the sides of a clear glass, then pour in the frappuccino. Looks pretty, tastes yummy! You could also use the cubes to cool down hot coffee without watering it down. I bet it would also make an interesting Baileys or Kahlua on the coffee-rocks :) I can't verify that until I've weaned Z-man, but you better believe I'm going to be trying it next fall!

See, pretty painless, right? Just finding a use for a common leftover in our house and getting into the habit of being aware of food waste. Plus, making these coffee frappuccinos once every week or two keeps me from missing my coffees out too much!


LauraC said...

I stopped drinking coffee out when we had the boys because we bought a house and had two kids and WOW we did not have any money. But then I realized I could buy nice organic coffee for home and it would still be less expensive.

I still hit Starbucks when Jon is gone more than two days in a week bc I really need the extra boost. For that, I save up all the change in the house and turn it into coinstar to get a Starbucks gift card. No processing fee if you use coinstar for gift cards!

Love the eco tips!

Nicole S. said...

Its so true about coffee - so expensive compared to at home. I'm also an organic, pastured cow milk drinker so I feel you on all the expense. Maybe now that my twisn are drinking milk I can set off that expense teh same way you did. Not that I should be drinking coffee now anyway... :)

And I love that tip!! I could live off of smoothies.

Nancy said...

ooooh! I love the coffee ice cube tip! Now...to find my ice cube trays (might have thrown 'em away when we got the in-fridge-ice-maker...)

Snickollet said...

I love, love, love the coffee ice cube idea. Love it! Can't wait to make myself a frappuccino in my crazy VitaMix blender!

Isn't organic milk the best? It tastes 1,000x better than regular milk, I think. Yum.

Amy said...

Love the idea for left over coffee. I hate throwing it down the drain!

Jeanne said...

Keep the green tips coming! I can't use this one (I'm caffeine-intolerant, and Old Dog drains every last drop from the pot) but I'm sure you'll come up with others in the future I can use.

Buffalo NY Wedding and Portrait Photographers said...

I need to kick the coffee habit myself. We have Tim Hortons over here in Buffalo NY and I swear that they put something in the coffee...