My Focus Word for 2017
After much thought and deliberation I have decided on my focus word for the year and it is
Taken from the Greek oikos meaning house and nemein meaning manage – economise is the careful management of resources, careful use of something
I like the sound of carefully managing resources as I feel our throw away society is something I prefer not to be part of and I want to see just how resourceful I can be this year.
As well, due to impending changes in our household income I need to cut down on unnecessary spending. Becoming resourceful with our resources in order to ‘minimalise’ our purchases will also feed my desire to simplify and ‘minimalise’ our possessions. Now we have the caravan whilst waiting for the cottage to be sorted we only have room for what is absolutely necessary and I love living with such a drastic reduction of ‘things’. At the moment we only have 2 cups – so we have to keep on washing them up to reuse – it is quite challenging to see what we can get by with but also quite liberating.
Already this year I have been writing a Menu plan for the week – this seems to be the most effective way to save money, reduce food waste and eat healthily.
At present I am shopping in my cupboards and only buying fresh vegetables and other necessities to add to what I already have to be able to make 7 healthier home-made meals each week.
I find it hard to admit that I am not sure what my food bill was each week over the last year – it was so manic that just getting through the week was a challenge on its own. I ended up in Sainsbury’s with no plan and often duplicating items I already had in my cupboards. We have probably eaten far more ready-made meals than ever before – pizza, vegetable samosas and quiche are the pre-prepared foods we normally fall back on together with those pots of chilled sauces for pasta.
I believe almost all of my lunches at work last year will have been bought and I dread to think the number of baked potatoes with cheese and coleslaw I got through but it will be quite a few – luckily it is my favourite lunchtime meal.
When I run my end of year spending report on my computer program all will be revealed and I don’t think it will be a pretty sight. I know I will be upset at the amount of money I will have spent and wasted.
I find that at this time of year it is so easy to start off on the right foot but then as life takes over our good intentions fall away. I have yet to resolve this recurring situation and I am thinking hard of a way to keep on track even through busy periods.
Below are some of my ideas to get me into Economy mode and at the same time increasing the number of nutritional meals we have to improve our health. I buy as much organic produce as possible – I like to think my food is free from any contaminants or artificial flavourings etc. – this already makes my shopping dearer than the average, however, on the plus side we are both vegetarian so no expensive fish or meat in my trolley. Having said that some vegetables can be quite expensive bought at the wrong time.
- Having a menu plan is the number one priority – it only takes 20 minutes to write a simple plan for the week. For me it is best done on a Sunday so that my new plan begins on a Monday – on a busy week even this amount of time can be difficult to find so my plan is to have some pre-written menus for these weeks to tide me over.
- Keeping up with what is in the store cupboards, fridge and freezer is the second priority and including these foods in the menu plan helps to keep everything rotating and avoid food going past it’s sell by date.
- Only buying store cupboard items with long dates on them when they are on offer such as cereal, packets of Passata, tea bags rice etc. Some foods that I buy are rarely on offer but others come round fairly frequently. Having a quick look as I go along the aisles to check the offers is worthwhile and saves money on those staple items.
- Trying out new recipes to add variety to the weekly meal plan. Test these on a weekend and time how long they take. Having lots of very quick meals can become quite boring to the point where we often go off a certain meal.
- Planning the menus around seasonal produce – this saves money as fruit and veg in season is usually cheaper.
- Look out for coupons and vouchers. As I shop at Sainsbury’s I automatically get Nectar points but I also get coupons at the till with either money off or additional Nectar points. Make a point of buying the item on the coupon if it is something I would use or normally buy.
- Remember to freeze left over bits of foods that have been opened but only a small amount used – such as tomato paste, coconut milk etc. Also grate and freeze cheese and breadcrumbs and mix up and freeze crumble topping.
In addition to the planned meals I have a one or two quick standby meals in the freezer just in case. Last week it was a ready-made pasta sauce to add to whole wheat pasta and this week a pizza. If I don’t need to use them then I will save money by not having to replace them.
My lunch at work is the area I need to get to grips with – I am more likely to eat a sandwich at home and prefer baked potatoes at work rather than too much bread. My current idea is to buy a ready done baked potato but take my own fillings and salad. This should cut the cost down and I can also organise myself to make soup for the week and freeze in smaller portions.
So far this year we have really enjoyed getting back to proper home cooked meals and saved money at the same time. I actually prefer the winter salads I make of shredded cabbage, carrot and beetroot and raw cauliflower florets – I like the crunchy texture. I find the bagged lettuce quite limp and wasteful. Any remaining salad items have made delicious sandwiches served with home-made soup for lunch at the weekend. The meal plan for this week was a little different as we were on holiday from work and stayed at the caravan for 4 days and had to rely more on easy to make meals. On Saturday night we are hosting a Burns Night Supper with some friends – we brought the haggis back from Scotland (vegetarian for us) together with some mini steak pies and macaroni pies, not sure of the nutritional quality of these!
I will put the menus in the tabs above – here is the quick link
Just to update on the caravan we now have running water and central heating and a fully operational shower. The Swift engineer who was coming to replace the fridge socket however did not arrive – or rather he did come but thought we were on the caravan site next door – as this is all closed up for the winter he went away again. So fridge socket still not sorted…watch this space!