Thursday, 17 January 2008

Changes afoot in the Little Foodies Household

Some time ago I started a post (which I didn't publish) with the title Dashing Daddy Eco Warrior and the Frugal Mummy. It was a bit of a joke, at my husband's expense, as he'd been at the Earth Summit Conference in London for a few days. He would return home in the evenings to find the house at sub-tropical temperatures, visibly annoyed, turning the temperature down, mumbling, sometimes not mumbling, that things were going to change around here and why didn't we put a jumper on and wear slippers around the house. I got it, I really did, it's just that I don't like being cold and jumpers sometimes aren't comfortable (who am I trying to kid?!). It did get me thinking more than usual though... I want to stop this wasteful way of life that we lead and the ever increasing feeling that immediate gratification is normal. It's not normal!

This is the sort of thing I want to stop...
I'm cold - Turn the heating up.
I want chocolate - Immediately go to cupboard and choose from various bars from Green & Black's to Cadbury's.
I want fresh raspberries, even though they're not in season - Go to Waitrose and buy some. Actually I'm not too bad with this as I'm aware of eating seasonally but I do still do it sometimes!
You get where I'm going with this...

I was an avid list maker. A bit OCD at list making truth be told and I had to go cold turkey on that one. But planning is what I've had a lot of time to do over the last few weeks and for a little while (probably a month) we're going to trial a new housekeeping system to see if...

1. We can get organised in the pantry, fridge and freezer and stop being so wasteful.
2. We can meal plan and stick to it, to help keep us on track.
3. I can stop going to Waitrose and over filling the trolley with things which we dont always use.
4. I can make do with a once a month home delivery from a supermarket.
5. and this is the big one - I really want to see if we can reduce our 'keeping house' budget. Actually, let me re-phrase that - introduce a budget, as until now there hasn't been one. I want to see if I can feed all of us for £70.00 a week. That's all meals - breakfast, lunch, packed lunch and dinner. To some people that may seem like a lot of money, to others it will seem like peanuts. Based on looking through old receipts, I'm shocked to see that we often spend at least double that a week.

EDIT: I just checked the currency converter to work out how much it equates to in other countries, for our average weekly spend. So for £140.00 it's approx - US$275.00, CAN$284.00, AUS$314.00 and Euros 188.00 AND WE WANT TO SPEND HALF THAT. How does that fare with you?

Until we try it I might be being totally unrealistic but it's worth a shot. So, I'm not saying this will be easy, I'm not saying that I'll be able to stick to it but I want to atleast try and I know that if I've written it here it will motivate me to do it. All this and still keep up with our Kitchen Travels, which I'm thinking Thailand next.... AND EAT ORGANIC and LOCAL where possible - I sure know how to challenge myself.

To help with the planning I'm going to start with the veg box delivery. This weekend I will look on-line to see what's going to be delivered the following week and then meal plan. Making a shopping list of all the other ingredients needed. Trying where possible to avoid the need to visit a supermarket. Now the start is easy as the cupboards are full - they need to be re-organised but they're full! Wait until there's no chipotle paste, Lingham's chilli sauce, or my cheating ingredients or worse still, no chocolate! EDIT: Now starting to worry, panic, get heart palpitations!

22 comments:

Coffee & Vanilla said...

Amanda,
I'm looking forward seeing your entry for Wholesome Lunchbox... I just extrened time to 15th of February, to colect more recipes.
Your post remind me that I need to organize my own cupboard... after yesterday's Tesco delivery there is no more space... btw, we spending about £100 per week for four of us.

Have a good day, Margot

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Good luck. When we were living in the UK, I spent about 90GBP on the three of us a week...but I know I snuck odds and ends in. I'm getting better about using everything up before buying new...but I need to be better. Looking forward to hearing about your progress.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hi Margot, good idea to extend the deadline. Having spoken to lots of friends about it I think £100 per week is probably about right but I wanted it to be a challenge for me.

Hi CC, Thanks, think I'm going to need some luck. I really am bad at just walking around and buying whatever I feel like. Worse still I usually go when I'm hungry - which everybody knows is a really stupid thing to do.

Thanks for your comments.
Amanda x

Deborah said...

I just had to look up the conversion! I'm embarrassed to admit that there are weeks that we spend close to that, and there are just two of us!! One thing I have made the resolution to do is to be less wasteful, so hopefully those grocery bills will go down. Plus, the pantry and freezer are so full right now, I need to go in and take an inventory and try to use some of it up before it goes bad, too!

michelle said...

Best of luck to you! We've been trying to go through and use all of our cupboard goodies too - especially since we're moving in only a little over two months and can't take much with us. The budget thing is hard too, but it's a great goal and I'm excited to see what works for you so that I can try it!! (he he - make you do the hard stuff!). You're a great inspiration!!

Lydia said...

I do so admire you for this! I admit that I really don't have a food budget -- I'm able to buy what suits my mood, or the number of people who will be here for dinner, or what I see in the market. I try to shop more efficiently, fewer trips to markets, reuseable grocery bags, and a high level of recycling/composting. But budgeting...that would be a challenge for me.

glamah16 said...

I'm feeling you. I just threw ouy so much unused items from the fridge.I have the best intentions but never get around to using it. We waste so much money and food. I will have to start sticking to a plan. My friend is enticing me to sign up for those produce boxes delivered each week. She swears by it and plans everything around them.

Baking Soda said...

Good luck Amanda, it can be done (don't know about cost of living in the UK btw). I had a similar exercise when my DH lost his job and I managed to half our spending, easily! Turns out we didn't need to worry after all but it's kind of frightening to see that I'm back where I started again... My thought is that it's about planning carefully and limiting supermarket visits.
I think I spend about 75-100€ a week for the 5 of us.
Success!

Marie said...

That's certainly quite a challenge for you to meet Amanda! I wish you well! I end up spending about £100 week on just the two of us. Mind you we do have a dog and we do entertain alot, so maybe that's not so bad. I would love to get it down though as Todd is always complaining on how much we spend on food. We do eat rather well though! :-)
Marie
http://journals.aol.co.uk/mariealicejoan/MariesMuses/

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

This would scare me . . . I don't think I could do it.

KJ said...

I am always thinking about trying to do something like this. But I am just too disorganised and well, lazy.

One thing I have managed to do and stick to is not buy fresh food from supermarkets. There is better quality and value elsewhere.

I look forward to reading how it all goes. Best of luck.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Good luck with the planning... Hope it all pays off. We're doing something similar, so I'll be interested to see how you get on!

Pat said...

Best of Luck Amanda. I know I spend that amount here and there is just the two of us and the two cats too. Some things I won't cut back on though. We are going over to the new energy lights. And I bought us both slipper socks and been wearing the jumpers more this winter. If you like planning and list making I am sure you can do it!!!

Cynthia said...

I'm rooting for the Little Foodies Household. I know you can do it. And when I looked at the money conversions, I'd say say to 70 pounds-sterling should take you through with the right decisions.

Bellini Valli said...

Sounds like an excellent plan to get life on track. I try and keep the food budget down to $100 Canadian a week and that is just food not laundry detergent, dish soap and other household supplies...let's just say it never pays for me to go to the grocery store hungry!

Ed Bruske said...

second that emotion. I say, spend more time at home, less time shopping. The goal: no wasted food, no whining.

Cottage Smallholder said...

Well done Amanda, as you know I love a challenge! We are doing the heating thing too. Danny works from home and there is no heating on in the day - he wears an outdoor jacket. It is chilly when I'm at home at the weekend but it's amazing how quickly you get used to it. Thermals make a big difference and they are lighter than big jumpers.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hi Deborah, we've been running our freezer down to defrost, which hubs is doing right now. There will be less than 10 things going back into it incl; a bag of peas, also sloes and raspberries that we picked months ago that we need to do something with.

Hi Michelle, sounds sensible to me, wish I'd thought of that! tee hee!

Hi Lydia, I've been like that too - until now! I think I'm going to find it hard. Not so much the budger, just the planning.

Hi Glamah16, I'm hoping it's going to work but I'll admit to being a spur of the moment sort. I like to see what we've got and then decide what to cook, sometimes only as I start to cook.

Hi Baking Soda, I think you're right about not going to the supermarket so often. I'm sure that's going to be key.

Hi Marie, it's starting to feel like quite some challenge I can tell you!

Hi Tanna, it's scaring me too!

Hi KJ, The only supermarket I like to get fresh things from in the UK is Waitrose but you pay extra for the privilege of shopping there. Unfortunately living in an affluent village, in semi-rural commuter belt, you pay extra for everything, particularly in farm shops.

Hi Forkfullofspaghetti, please share any tips that you think would be useful.

Hi Pat, I'm trying to be good about wearing slippers, the boys wont keep them on though, even though our floors are cold.

Hi Cynthia, I hope you're right.

Hi Bellini Valli, it's so true everybody says don't go shopping when you're hungry, all sorts of treats go in the trolley.

Hi Ed, I've already started reading your blog more for inspiration, and checking out some of your excellent links.

Hi Fiona, I'm grinning as I type - the only thing is, and this will sound like an excuse, if I get cold it makes my back hurt. Pathetic! Will invest in good thermals and drink more warm drinks!! Going on-line to order right now!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

oh my, 70 pounds a week?!!! You are going to have to get acquainted with Lidl...I'm not kidding, altho it is an 'out there' experience (i'll say no more) the savings are incredible. When my husband was 'between jobs', it's how we balanced the books. I still have my Lidl habit, when you are looking at a block of parmesan or mozzarella for half the price of a waitrose one just because part of the packaging is in German...well, it's a no-brainer! 100g of 74% dark choc for 49p? Trust me, Lidl (combined with Waitrose ;-)) is the way forward!
Pigx

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Dearest Pig, you make me laugh so much my ribs hurt! We don't have a Lidl nearby or otherwise I would - You can imagine, Drive for an hour to go to Lidl, food bill is reduced tenfold, fuel consumption goes through the roof.
Damn Lidl for thinking this area is too posh!
Lots of people in Spain shop at Lidl, there doesn't seem to be the same stigma attached to it there.

Amanda x

Sylvie said...

Hey Amanda, good on you! I need to get back into that habit as well. When I worked as an Associate Lecturer I never used to get paid for three months over the summer and made meal plans and shopping lists accordingly. I found out that we can spend less than half on groceries if we have to.
I guess you don't have an Aldi close by either?! They have some great stuff, their Feta cheese is the best available outside of Greece which my Greek friend agrees with. She used to bring tons back with her in her suitcase, but no longer since she ate Aldi Feta at my place.
In Germany (like Spain) everyone shops at Aldi and Lidle, posh and not so posh.

Good Luck!!!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hi Sylvie, thank you so much. I've been checking out where various places are. Once in a while it may just be worth making a special journey.

Amanda

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