23 April 2012

The slow and mindful grocery challenge

I think it's a good idea to review and rethink what we do every so often. Without noticing, we slip back into old ways and bad habits. Having our own review keeps us on our toes. Hanno and I are concentrating on four key areas at the moment - the 50 percent meat reduction, which is going really well, getting the entire vegetable garden planted and productive, decluttering and reorganising our bedrooms, and our food expenditure.  I'm pretty sure some of you will need to check these areas too, so all this week, I'm going to write about those four things and hope you follow along with your own review and adjustments.

 We have plenty of fruit and vegetables.

I'll start with what we spend on food because we've made a good start on all the others and this needs to be kick started. We haven't changed much on our meals menu, except to eat less meat, and we're currently budgeting $85 a week on groceries. However, I want to spend the savings made on that reduced meat consumption on organic oats and flour so there will be some juggling happening. I'll keep a keen eye on my prices and let you know how it turned out. I stopped doing any grocery shopping when I got really busy and Hanno took over that department, and did it very well I might add. Now I'm going to give him a break and for the next month at least, I'll be doing the shopping, although Hanno went to the market this morning and bought $9 worth of fruit and vegetables - a cauliflower, half a large cabbage, bananas, avocados and pumpkin.

Last night's dinner (and tonight's) - a simple celery and potato soup.

I think it's an important part of our home economics to keep focused on what we're spending on food. I want to cook nourishing meals, I want them to be interesting and what Hanno and I like to eat but with prices rising so rapidly these days, a challenge to mindfully look at what and how the family food budget is being spent makes real sense to me. Cutting back on the amount of meat we're eating will give me the money to buy organic oats and flour and I'm very happy to be able to do that. And I guess that's what we all do with our various ways of shopping for food. We juggle this and that, we stretch meals out, we never waste leftovers, we shop for fresh food that's in season, we make do with what's in the cupboard and we build up a repertoire of good meals taking into account all those factors. That gives us a reasonable food bill while still serving up good meals.

Checking out the pantry before shopping is a must.

Yesterday afternoon I went through my stockpile cupboard, pantry and freezer so I'm sure of what I have in the house when I go shopping. I'll do some shopping at Maleny today and the rest at Aldi on Thursday. I don't have to buy meat, cleaners, laundry products, eggs, fruit or vegetables so it will be interesting to see what I spend during the week on groceries. I'll also keep a keen eye on the prices and will see how much everything has gone up since I last shopped for food.

Last night's dessert - whole orange cake with homemade custard.

What I'm hoping to do is to work out a challenging, but realistic, amount that I'll set as our new food budget. I doubt it will be $85 a week but I don't want it to be too much more. I want you to all come along on this journey with me. I think it will do us all good to check what we're doing to make sure we're still on track. But I don't want to jump right into it. I want to do this mindfully and carefully, by next week I'll have a better idea of my figures but it will take me a full month to get an accurate idea of what we should stick to in the near future. This week, and during the coming month, I'll write about my progress. If you want to join in, please let me know you're here and as usual, I'll start a forum thread so we can discuss what we're doing, give hints and tips and try to find the best way of doing this for all of us.

There is no doubt we all have different shopping lists, numbers of mouths to feed, dietary requirements and restrictions. There will also be plus points with some of us producing some food in the backyard. This could be anything from fruit, vegetables and eggs like us, to milk and cheese for some, and beef, chicken, lamb, fish or honey for others. The aim here is to work together to understand YOUR particular needs for your unique family - or if you're a single person, for yourself. Your aim might be to check your budget figures, or to write a budget for the first time and check the grocery part of it for accuracy, or to change how you shop - it should be anything. It will be different for all of us. There is no pressure, no common goal to reach. It's all an exercise on working out what we're spending each week on groceries and the making sure we're get the best value for our dollars, pounds and eruos.

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