Tag Archives: Food waste

Reducing the spending…a whole new year

I haven’t been here for a while but it is good to be back and yes I know I need to update my header for 2014 but that will be coming soon.

Last year I did make a big effort to cut the grocery budget and even though it wasn’t as much as I wanted (£10 a week over my budget of £50) it did make a big difference over the year against my previuos £70-80 week.  The weeks that I managed to write a menu plan in reasonable detail and stick to it helped to lower the costs substantially as did buying items only on offer,  unless we were absolutely desperate.

I work four full days a week so I can’t put heaps of time into this exercise but the new habits I did put in place have continued.  So this year I will be building on last years success.  Of course it will get harder as I am starting from a different place where the many obvious and easy savings have already been tried and tested.  Finding new ways to save money can depend on a number issues and for me eating organic is not negotiable even to save the pennies, whereas trying a different supermarket or method of shopping might be.

For anybody reading this who thinks that being frugal or thrifty is about a choice rather than absolute necessity they are quite correct in my case, it is a conscious choice.    Even though we had a 25% wage cut for the last 3 years we are not surviving on the bread line like some households – however, I would say that there is no room for frivolous spending or throwing money away needlessly, especially as retirement is looming on the horizon and we want to make sure we have enough put by not to be a burden on anyone else, including the state.  We also want to be able to enjoy our older years when they arrive.

Another reason for the mindful thrifting is I hate waste or buying for the sake of  – it seems like an insult to all the starving people in the world to be throwing any food stuff away.  My main and only reason for throwing food away would be for the safety aspect and by this I mean if I wasn’t sure if a food could still be eaten beyond the stated use by date without undue harm.

I will often stretch some foods beyond the use by unless it has mayonnaise in it like the deli pots of coleslaw then I take extra care.  Fruit and veg dates I completely ignore and I just use the visual test – if it is shrivelled and bearing mould it becomes compost.  This is not often though as I tend to make soup with any remains from the week.

Planning menus wisely does overcome this tendency to end up with a pile of items in the fridge at the end of a week that have only had a spoonful removed and have since exceeded their use by and beyond.

So of all the ways of saving on the grocery spending I am going to concentrate on the menu planning as I believe this is the one thing that promotes  both a balanced meal and big savings on food waste and food cost.

Having said all that I ended up in Sainsburys tonight without a list or a plan, the shopping expedition was a feat in itself, battling not with snow today but with the strong winds and lashing rain.  Sainsburys had to close off their automatic doors at one point.  I had no choice but to do a bit of a trolley dash so I could get on my way home.

I decided tonight was not the night to be exceptionally frugal with the groceries and although I was by no means stockpiling I made sure that we have a good stock of items to tide us over should the snow return.  Bare cupboards are fine if you don’t get marooned.

So here is the grocery spend £62.01 to be precise less £13.50 reward points – I found a few items on offer – to the right of the photo.

Food shopping

The Bargains

  • The Soya milk was a good buy 3 for £3,
  • Oatibix flakes £2 a box,
  • 2 x Spelt rolls reduced to £0.69,
  • Vivaldi potatoes reduced to £1,
  • 2 loaves  for £1.50,
  • cheese 2 for £4.50,
  • Milk 2 for £3.

So now I must set to and plan the menus around the shopping for this week – in fact I hope I can stretch this amount of food to a fortnight or maybe longer.

How is your food shopping / meal planning going so far this year?

Dealing with the matter of Food Waste…

English: fresh fruit salad

 I am horrified to learn that we throw away fresh fruit that is the equivalent of 4 million apples a day… yes a day in the UK and 37 million slices of bread.

 Not only is it a waste of food and energy producing it but it is like throwing money away.  I bet most people, me included, would find it hard to put a £5 note in the bin but I know that we have probably, over the course of last year, contributed to the waste mountain, maybe not in fresh fruit and bread but definitely because of foods going out of date or perishing before we can use them.  This is partly due to overbuying in the first place because I, like many others I suspect, shop for the week rather than each day and I have to estimate how much food we are going to need and what I might cook in the evenings.  If I am detained at work or hubby is away on business suddenly all my plans can change and this is where we can be left with unused items.

Of course bad planning of meals such as buying salad for one meal and then finding it has perished 2 days later and also having to buy in quantities larger than I need is another reason.  When I only want one courgette I have to buy a pack of 3 if I insist on buying organic.  Organic veg at Sainsbury’s usually comes packaged so that it doesn’t get mixed in with the ordinary.

I also have a bad habit of buying things ready to make something that I then never find time to do.  I bought Buckwheat flour to make pancakes when I got my new pancake pan – both lie in the cupboard unopened and unused – if it were a crime I would now be locked up!

One of my disappointments is that supermarkets continue to charge proportionately more for smaller quantities like a small tin of Baked Beans, half a dozen eggs, a small jar of Mayonnaise etc but in an effort to reduce food waste I may just have to buy smaller amounts where possible or find a food buddy to take half the contents and split the costs of a larger quantity.

This was an interesting article I found about food waste  http://www.bowenislandundercurrent.com/news/181436291.html

  And then there is…The Food Dilemma – healthy eating verses the love of baking

 As I seem to have a split personality for most things – the area of food is no different.

 Take for instance the problem that I have over baking and making puddings.  I love baking and trying new recipes (and quite like eating the end results!)  but on the other hand too many cakes and buns are not healthy and I rarely get the time these days.  I always mean to get down to doing things but somehow never do.

 My ‘baking cupboard’ consists of different sugars – soft brown, Demerara, castor and icing sugars.  I also have treacle and Golden Syrup, Mincemeat, Glace Cherries and Ginger, Coconut, Oatmeal and white, dark and milk bars of chocolate as well as chocolate chips and sprinkles.  There is also a container where I keep opened bags of various fruits and another for nuts.

Most of these items, except the nuts, I use mainly at Christmas and birthdays but I would like to try my hand at baking cakes etc to give as gifts.  I have already made chocolates and mince pies at Christmas for presents but doing more throughout the year would be a good way of solving the present dilemma of what to buy those people who have everything.

I am also thinking that I could bake items that freeze well and then take them with us throughout the year on our out and about weekends.  Then we can get out our trusty little picnic stove and have a drink and afternoon tea!

Well tomorrow I will be writing about my big post Christmas clear-out in the Kitchen cupboards and what I found.  I intend to use this blog as a log just to see if I get any better by the end of the year at reducing waste.

Already I have identified items that need to be used straight away and have based this weeks meals around them.  I spent £36.83 in Sainsbury’s buying fresh food, dairy foods and bread which includes food to take for my lunches as well as one or two items we needed to restock such as salt and a pair of Rubber Gloves (I use the worn ones with holes for gardening)…and yes I do resemble Margo in them!

In all I saved £1.20 on the offers and used a Double Points coupon earning 82 extra points.

As well as my weekly shop I am going to be very stringent about the cash I use during the week for bits and pieces.  I know I will not be able to survive on a £1 a day or anything like but I have only withdrawn £10 rather than my usual £20 – £30.  It will be interesting to see how long I can make this last I am banking on the fact that I have got all I need to produce a weeks evening meals and make packed lunches for work Monday – Thursday.  Maybe for Friday lunch at home I starve!

Tonight our Grey bin (this is our non-recyclable waste) gets emptied for the first time in 3 weeks so although not full to the top it is more than usual.  Tomorrow I start with an empty bin and I will be (if I can remember) logging by photograph the contents each week.  As our waste goes into empty carrier bags I will be counting number of bags each week as a marker of my achievements.

Does anyone else have a problem with foods going out of date or being sold in too large a quantity?

2013…a change of direction

Hi there and welcome if you have linked through from my sister blog ‘Where the journey takes me’ – this is a new year and a change of direction for me.  I decided that great plans and new challenges needed a new space to log my progress.  My focus word for this year is REDUCE and I will be attempting to do this in all areas of my life and this will include my possessions, my spending, the waste we generate as well as more personal things like my weight.

This blog is all about reduction – if this a topic that you are interested in or if you are on the same journey then I hope you will follow along with me…any support or advice will be gratefully received!

I have now reached a point of saturation and I would prefer to live simply and modestly cutting down the need to have cupboards stuffed full of well …’stuff’ …stuff that is either never used or even worse I have never liked.

Certain areas I have identified as being in need of reduction

  • Spending
  • Weight
  • Possessions
  • Photos
  • Craft items
  • Magazines
  • Books (possibly)
  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Food waste
  • Our Carbon Footprint which will include energy reduction

…and goodness knows what is in the garage and loft but I am sure this will need pretty drastic reduction!

Although my focus word is Reduce I will also be looking at

  • Recycling, re-homing and re-gifting
  • Re-using and using up
  • Restoring and repairing

My intention is to go through every room cupboard by cupboard and only keep either what we absolutely need or what I absolutely love or treasure.  (I already know the treasure bit is going to be difficult!).

I will attempt to put everything into one of four categories possibly with the aid of some small coloured sticky spots.

  • Red will be for definite keepers – things I love and treasure
  • Blue for things that we must keep even though we do not use them very often
  • Green for the well used items of necessity
  • Yellow for items that I will keep with a view to using as soon as possible to avoid waste

Everything else will have to go – either to charity, maybe sell on ebay or will be repaired, restored or reused.  I hope very little has to go in the bin – in fact my challenge is to throw nothing away but re-home everything.

So that is a brief summary of my intentions and plans – I am feeling quite excited and ready to go.

First on my agenda is reducing the food and food waste – items in the cupboards, fridge and freezer.  This will require a slightly different method to the spot system but something along those lines.  I will only keep a stock of the very basic foods that we always eat and I intend to buy these only when on offer.   This will probably include coffee, teabags, cereal, pasta etc.

Anything that is near to expiry date I will find a recipe to use it up as well as some of those left over ends of packets and bits and pieces and I will be taking much more care in future with what and how much I buy sticking rigidly to a meal plan and aiming to come within a defined budget (yet to be defined!).