All is quiet on the Chez Green front

Filed in Blog by on April 2, 2010 15 Comments
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Sunrise the bunny not taking up much of our weekly food budget

Sunrise the bunny not taking up much of our weekly food budget

It’s a pretty uneventful week this week for food waste. We’ve had a quiet week without having to run around doing errands or anything unexpected cropping up. This means all plans for meals stayed firmly in place and nothing was wasted.

I find this as a pattern. If we have a relatively quiet week, no one is ill and nothing suddenly happens food waste is minimal. If we have a hectic week, one of us gets sick or we suddenly get a lot of media interest all our plans go out of the window, I go for convenience food because I’m too tired to cook and we end up wasting food.

I’ve been doing a bit of a storecupboard use up too. I started to write down exactly how much we were spending on food each week and I don’t mind admitting I was a bit surprised by how much we were spending. It was around £400 per month for the four of us. To be fair, Sunrise the bunny doesn’t take up much of that budget, so that figure is really for three of us.

Around 80% of what we eat is organic, so I know this bumps up the cost, but I’m still going to try and see where we can cut back. One of the first things to do is use up what we have in the house. I don’t keep a particularly up to date inventory of what is in the cupboards, so I’m sure we have many duplicate items. The other is to ensure my growing season is successful. I won’t be doing much more planting for a month or so, but I can be out there making sure the weeds don’t take over in what is now my small vegetable growing plot.

I’m thinking of joining my local LETS group. I’ve heard people swap home grown produce and home made goodies, so I might attend the next meeting to find out how active the group is and what I can trade.

Nothing has caught us out regarding landfill this week. We have a couple of unmarked plastic packages to contact the manufacture about, but it’s been quiet on the dustbin demon front too.

If only all weeks were as easy as this one!

What about you – any food waste or dustbin demons to declare? Don’t forget to check out all the lovely people taking part in Kristen’s “Food waste Friday“!

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (15)

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  1. Alea says:

    I’m glad you had an quiet week. It seems that you were overdue for one!

    We had 1 orange and one clementine go bad. Which is not that bad considering I bought 16 pounds of citrus 2 weeks ago. Amazingly enough, my kids have asked me to buy more on my next shopping trip!

  2. Alyson says:

    I’ve just put in the compost some tinned sweetcorn, mushrooms and some homemade mayonnaise that was a wasteful disaster! It had curdled.Gave up trying to rescue that one.The sweetcorn (yuk) and mushrooms were leftovers from my daughter’s cooking lesson and didn’t come home in an appetising way.Not only that, she didn’t give them to me until the following morning! Oh and a spoonful of yoghurt I found lurking in the back of the fridge. I was a tinsy bit surprised at the amount you spend on food a week. On my tight budget I can only allow £100 a week for the 5 of us and an extra 4 when my other daughter comes down with her family every fortnight. It has to include other household stuff as well and my daughter bus fares to school, which is 8 miles away.Whilst I cannot always buy organic I’m constantly on the look out for plastic free wrapped fruit and veg.Bugs me that its always more expensive to buy it loose. Even in the farmers market I noticed food in plastic bags.Better stop otherwise I be ranting on for ages.

  3. We spend approx £60 per week, that is for 2 adults and 2 teenage boys with hollow legs.

    Included in this is a weekly organic veg box, milk, butter and fruit juice from the milkman, and mainly local butchers meat.

    It also includes any toiletries and what few cleaning products I do buy.

    Whilst we do not eat lots of everyday organic products I do try to buy either local or Britsih, then fairtrade and there are some organic as we prefer them.

    I used to buy the majority of our everyday products as organic versions when the boys were alot smaller but as their appetites outgrew the budget something had to give.

    I find the easiest way to reduce spending is to only use ingredients rather than pre-prepared foods; especially for the main meal of the day; eg make your own sauce rather than buy a jar or tin.
    Having said this I do have tins of chopped tomatoes for ease, and fish fingers and baked beans for snacky meals.

    I also make 90% of our bread and cakes which reduces costs in that area again.

    Obviously I am by no means slating anyone for using prepared sauces etc, this is just my preference and how I keep my costs down.

  4. Condo Blues says:

    I made a new compost bin from a locking plastic storage tub. Other than the normal vegatable peels and coffee grounds, I added some chickpeas I was trying to sprout but turned to mush because they were too wet. I promise to do better next time.

    The first compost bin I made didn’t survive it’s round of Dog Vomit Slime mold – that is what it’s really called and exactly what it looks like! – and being run over with a lawnmower. Let’s home #2 lives to see real compost!

  5. Mrs Green says:

    @Alea: well done Alea; that’s an amazing achievement; all that citrus!

    @Alyson: Hi Alyson, sorry to hear about the mayo; I want to have a go at making it, so I hope it turns out ok. It looks like we have expensive taste then LOL!

    @maisie dalziel: thanks for all your suggestions, Maisie. I’ll take a look at what we can do to reduce our food budget.

    @Condo Blues: Love the sound of your new compost bin – well done! I hope it lives a long and healthy life too!

  6. sandy says:

    we used to spend £100 per week when there was six os uf, then when there was 2 of use we still spent £100 per week, now trying to go zero waste and frugal we spend about £40 per week, saying frugal we dont go without, I am just more careful, tomorrow night we will be having a bottle of wine, just buying packaged foods and making our own, including Bread and Cakes, I can do all this in the evenings. while we are doing other things such as watching tele, talking, reading or gardening. sorry not preaching just telling how it is

  7. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Food waste has been reduced to a minor issue but a recent family visit introduced Ready Meals after a 2-year absence. Happily, the food waste was easily managed with a small addition to the Bokashi. Plastic waste was just films covering the food tubs and 1 small food bag. Tubs were all black recyclable plastic and the plastic bags used were deposited at Asda. Compared to before the trend start, the situation has been transformed though structural problems persist. Zero Waste still has merit and your contact with manufacturers should prove a worthwhile new direction. This weekend is the 2-year point for my own 5-year target, with waste halved from the first year.

    The recent return of snow brought back the winter scenario and extra clothing was again used to good effect. That aside, sunnier, warmer days have increased and the winter-surviving Sweet Basil has shared the extra light and heat. Over-wintering has been traumatic for the plant and may be best avoided in future years. The idea was to take cuttings but cuttings can be achieved within a season for future attempts and seed collections, from flowering plants, can maintain the best year on year.

  8. LJayne says:

    We’ve managed to cut our back by being anal. There are 5 of us and we spend about 270 a month online with a supermarket. That’s all dry goods, frozen, dairy and whatever fresh we might need at the time. We then spend up to 80 pounds a month on fruit & veg from a box delivery. There is a mid-month top up on yogurts, max 10 pounds or so. So that’s no more than 400 a month. It would be less but we only buy organic meat and dairy and a number of our other products are fairtrade.

    What we did was to completely inventorise our cupboards and use this to make a shopping list for our online order. Each item has a stock level representing our monthly consumption. I admit this took a bit of time to set up and adjust etc.

    But it means that once a month, we simply read through the list and order up to our minimum stock level based on what is left, if anything, of that item in the cupboard, fridge or freezer. We tidy as we go, which means that nothing gets shoved to the back of the cupboard and forgotten about.

    It also means that for the 20 or so meals we cook regularly each month we always have the necessary ingredients in stock. A bread maker means that we don’t run out of bread and end up buying loads of unnecessary other things when popping somewhere for a loaf.

    I am often laughed at for this but it works really well for us.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @sandy: We do make bread and cakes and biscuits. What I’m going to do is try and price each meal over the coming week to see where the expenses are 😉

    @John Costigane: Hi John, good to hear your updates and to hear how you survived convenience foods! We have sun this morning and it’s most welcome!

    @LJayne: I think it sounds like a wonderful system, Lesley. I would love to be that organised. People may laugh at you, but you’re the one who is organised and saving money 😉

  10. John Costigane says:

    @Mrs Green: The weather is on the up here with roses starting new branches all of a sudden and personal hayfever making an unwelcome return. Winter mode persists in the Sweet Basil but the forecast weekend sun, and heat, could be the wake-up call required. Part blanched leaves are the majority which is not a good sign but I aim to remove these when new growth is well established.

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: HI John, ah the return of spring is a double edged sword for hayfever sufferers. I found good relief last year with an acupressure band, air filter in the bedroom and haymax – what do you find helps you? Bearing in mind basil is supposed to be an anual, you are doing brilliantly with keeping it alive this long! My tomato seedlings are up, as is the parsley – it’s all looking good 🙂

  12. John Costigane says:

    @Mrs Green: The sudden rise in pollen after the recent frost has caused the reaction but usually I just bear the sneezing for a few days then it diminishes to a minor nuisance.

    The rhubarb has started much later than usual and planting here will be delayed until late April/early May. It will be worth seeing the differences in a later season for the garden generally. Let’s hope the Met Office keeps their summer forecast to themselves and we can all enjoy some prolonged sunshine and heat.

    Good to see your tomato plants starting. As well as Basil, I aim to do potted tomatoes but realise they are more demanding than last year’s King of Herbs. The propagator may be a good help for both plants making potentially more plants in the season. This may require more compost, with resulting waste plastic, so an unpackaged source would be ideal. Ideas include garden centres, and their contacts, and councils, which are already taking garden cuttings.

    On the subject of slugs, I placed hypericum ‘Rose of Sharon’ (yellow flowers for those looking for a political pointer) scraps from the spring cuttings into the compost bin recently. Today, there were unusually twenty slugs at the upper rim of the bin which may be due to this material, which prevents weeds around the flower bush and whose leaves are avoided by garden pests. This might prove a double whammy, along with used coffee grounds in the ‘slug hotel’.

  13. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Glad to hear the hayfever is not too troublesome, John – it can be a real source of misery for some.
    I tend to find that no matter how late I am with planting, most things catch up; there is a life force that won’t be stopped by a few weeks difference in planting time.
    You might find compost if you ask around – some people create compost simply to get rid of waste, they don’t actually use it on their gardens.
    Interesting about the hypericum. We grow it too, so I shall experiment!

  14. John Costigane says:

    @Mrs Green: Great to see you also have the Rose of Sharon whose best aspect is the pollen protein provided for bumble bees at the height of summer. There have already been several of the various queens in the garden and hopefully the nectar and pollen will be available soon from the plants and bushes locally. Last year there was a lack of mature bumble bees in late summer though plenty of young which might indicate a shorter lifespan than usual. This maybe due to environmental factors.

    The cut hypericum stalks might be useful for green bean frames though they might prove toxic as with other plants. Have you ever used them after cutting?

  15. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hello John, unfortunately we have a ‘killer hornet’ in our county which is threatening bees. LMG is so upset about it 🙁
    I’ve not used the hypericum stalks for frames; good idea though. We tend to use our apple tree prunings.

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