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…..

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Fixing an old home with old things…. my way of recycling

When I think of my home, I see a very long to-do list.  It’s a really old place with very many things that need to get fixed, changed, built, painted and planted.  I want to use second-hand (or older) products to do these things where ever I can – firstly to save money and secondly to recycle products that would normally be thrown away.  I know that there will be times where I will have to buy some things to complete tasks and I won’t beat myself up about them, as long as I can stick with my principles for the majority of things.

This last weekend I made good use of my parents being with me and we got quite a few things done. My dad replaced two very old broken light switches (with new ones) for me.  I can now use my bedside light properly and my veranda light can be switched on.  There was just a black hole to put your finger in if you would have tried that last week.  Not a good idea.

While we were at the hardware store I looked very lovingly at new hose pipes.  I really need to be able to water the area where I want some lawn before I even think about planting any. I did however have a few shorter old bits at home which we decided to join and try out.  It looks really bitty with about 10 joins in it but I now have a hose pipe that is about 30 meters long and works reasonably well.  The few leaks get positioned to water plants en route. Even the joins are made with different bits and pieces – it’s rather colourful actually.

We also started a mini herb garden –  I now have basil, rosemary, chives, origanum, lemon grass and parsley planted.  They are not planted where I eventually will have my herb garden because a lot more needs to be done there before I can plant.  This way I can get some herbs now – while I slowly prepare my veggie patch.  I just hope they don’t get eaten by passing animals.


It still looks a little sparse – I will be adding to it when I can.  We also built/laid pathways to the guest cottage and to the Beans cottage so that one can walk to the main cottage without getting thorny dirty feet – especially if it ever rains when it rains.  The pathways are made from old railway sleepers which I got for free and big flat rocks that we went in search of on the property.

You can see how incredibly dry it is here now. We look to the sky many times a day in search of rain clouds. According to those in the know, it should rain by the 10 October. That’s a long wait when things are so very hot and dry.

We cleared this area of some rubble and rocks too – it was good exercise. My wheel barrow is about 95 years old and is full of holes. I think it might die soon.

I want to plant grass in the area around the pathways and I am already one step closer by having my long hose now so that I can water the lawn.  I need to get something to cut the lawn with though.  I mentioned to the folk at work that I wanted one of those old roller lawn cutters that don’t require fuel or electricity and they all burst out laughing at me. They think I am very funny and old-fashioned. Ah well. I will find something.  I think some animals will help keep the lawn short but I am not sure to what extent?

Thanks so much to my parents who worked so hard (and bought me some plants).  We had a grand weekend!