Less food for more food

My trip down the “slow and sustainable living” pathway is going really slowly, which, in itself,  is probably good because I am learning to do things at a slower pace, however, I am getting impatient with regards to the food side of things. I want to be able to produce as much of my own food as possible. My plans for my veggie garden are in place and should be up and running by winter time as most veggies in our region are grown in winter.  I also have plans to build a chicken coop and plant some fruit trees.

My” little” job with a matching ” little”  salary has forced me to pace myself and do things slowly as I can only do what I can afford to with minimal savings.  In an effort to speed things up and get cracking (see me trying to up the pace again – this slow thing is really hard :)) I need to allocate more funds towards my food production. A large portion of my salary buys food and normally one just jots that down as essential and moves on to look for other areas where one can save.  As the rest of my budget is really tight I decided to see where I can make savings on buying food. I need to spend less on food in order to grow my own food.

Once I put my food glasses on and started to look at our buying, eating and cooking habits, as well as doing a little research I discovered some interesting facts.

Worldwide, from the farm to the table, we throw away about 50% of our food.  If we don’t grow our own food, not all of this waste is under our control, as much is thrown away at farm, market and store level. At those levels I will only be able to make the savings once I produce my own. However, we do waste quite a bit of food at home.

People who practice  “sustainable living” often talk about how their waste goes onto the compost heap and back into the food they grow and so doing make savings that way.  This does not help me right now though because I am not growing my food yet (although I do need to get a compost heap going). So how can I make savings now – before I produce my own food.

When one thinks about recycling which I discussed in this post, we sometimes only concentrate on glass, cardboard, and metal items but the same principles of reduce, reuse and recycle also apply to food.

  1. Reduce – buy only essential food items,  shop around for lower prices, eat out less often, limit junk foods and unhealthy snacks. Buy fruit and vegetables from local farmers.
  2. Reuse – save leftovers, freeze portions that can be eaten as another meal and use the parts of fruit and vegetables that you normally throw away (ie: celery leaves for soups and stews, pineapple skins to make your own vinegar, potato peels for a crispy snack (fried), bones to make your own stock etc)
  3. Recycle – compost only what you can’t eat using a compost heap and/or vermiculture (composting worms) for fertiliser and compost.

I think the areas where we can save most right now in our home are:

  • freeze left overs instead of popping them into the fridge where they eventually grow jerseys and get tossed out
  • find novel ways of using left overs (the same meal for 4 days in a row becomes a little tired)
  • buy fewer “easy foods” for quick lunches and dinners
  • make our own snack foods ie: biscuits, humus, crisps etc.

By following only these 4 points I should be able to save 30% of my monthly food budget.  That’s a huge saving.

Last night I made a pie using left over beef stroganof from the weekend as a filler.


It tasted delicious, even better than the original meal, and it will last us a few days too.  It looks rather rustic but then that’s how we live – rustically.

Now all I have to do is use my incredible selling skills on the Bean to get her buy-in regarding the snack foods. Wish me luck…..


11 thoughts on “Less food for more food

  1. I think snacks are the hardest things in the world to give up (foodwise)since it’s not just the taste but the mental craving, too. Good luck with that (BTW,your pie looked good 😉


  2. You’ve raised some excellent points. Even though I’m not much of a snack person, I have a couple of weak points…..sesame snaps…:-) Perhaps actively involving Bean in selecting a reduced package with some ‘reward’ may help. Along with composting, worm farms are an excellent way to recycle food scraps. Listening to worms munching away – yes you can actually hear them – is such fun!


  3. I’ve been doing the freezing leftovers thing for a while now, and it works well. Often freeze individual portions, so I don’t have to cook when Willie is away. Has the added benefit that I then eat healthier when I’m on my own, instead of snacking on bad things.


  4. I hear you! For my partner and myself, living off the grid, we’re always making sure we utilize every morsel. One of the things that has helped me is to consciously put as little in the garbage as possible, as we have to haul the garbage 1 1/2 hours to the dumpster. We don’t compost because we have too much wildlife running around, who would think we were feeding them. This forces us to make that chicken into casserole and soup or the left over fish into fish cakes; thus reducing the throwaway and money spent on food.


  5. I don’t know if the Bean enjoys baking, but I’ve had the most fun trying to recreate some of my favorite snacks. Still haven’t gotten the shortbread cookies right, but it’s a work in progress. And you can make a lot of those things in LARGE batches so you always have something yummy handy.


  6. You’ve hit on something here; something that I’m struggling with as well. Even though our food budget is fixed for now, I know we can utilize it better and waste less food as well. We are talking about a backyard garden this year, so I should start composting.


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