Aussies Living Simply Challenge - Part One

" This week's challenge is to reduce the amount you spend on food, and as an added bonus, the amount of packaging on the food you buy. Our associated challenge this week is to reduce the amount of debt you have."

Our normal grocery budget is $180. We never spend this much, but I always allocate that amount. We then put the left over money into a jar and use it for times when we need extras, for example if visitors are coming or taking it on holidays so we can eat out etc. We usually spend between $120 and $150 per week.

When I redid our budget a couple of weeks ago I cut the amount to $150. I shop with cash and I menu plan before hand so I know exactly what I need and what we are eating throughout the week. Not eating preservatives and cooking from scratch has made a HUGE difference to our grocery bill. Last week I spent $68. This included meat and fruit and veg. I was amazed.

Anyway, as far as the ALS challenge goes - these are the things that I will attempt to do, or in some instances are already doing:

* grow some of your own food.

* make up a food budget and take only that amount of money to the supermarket with you.

* create a menu plan for the week so you know what you need to buy for each meal.

* start tracking your spending. Every time you go out, take a small notebook with you. Write down every item you buy and how much you spend. This will give you a good idea of where your money is going. When you do this for a few weeks, you'll see your money spending pattern emerge. Once you've identified your weak spots, you can start fixing them.

* start a grocery stockpile.

* cook from scratch. Processed and precooked foods cost much more than basic ingredients. Don't pay someone else to cook for you, do it yourself and save.

* include at least two meatless meals a week.

* ban yourself from eating out or buying takeaway for this entire week.

* shop for specials. Go to a few different supermarkets in your local area to cherry pick their specials, and then finish your shopping at your regular store.

* buy vegetables and fruit from roadside stalls and farmers markets.

* ask around your neighbourhood to see if there are any local people selling food. You may have a neighbour selling eggs, honey or organic vegetables.

* make your own shopping bags and fruit and veg bags so you're not bringing home plastic bags.

* buy meat from a butcher, not a supermarket. You'll find it's probably cheaper and fresher, and have less packaging. Ask the butcher to wrap your meat in paper. No plastic sheets or bags.

* stop buying individually wrapped or bagged groceries, like snack foods.

* buy larger packs and decant into smaller jars.

* watch the unit price. Check out the price per gram or piece. Just because it's packaged in a certain way, doesn't mean it's cheaper!

* look for and support products that have minimal wrapping.


Simple Savings Newsletter

There are lots of budgeting websites but most of the content is American.

This website is the best one to use for saving tips. The ideas are sensible and the savings are real. I particularly like the wealthy habits calendar. It brings lifestyle back into balance.

Check it Out:

Ideas From Our Family Meeting.

We held a family meeting last Monday to look at our lifestyle. The boys ( 6 and 8 ) love the idea of an eco challenge.

Here are the areas we will concentrate on:

Here are the ideas that we brainstormed:

1. Energy
a) Turn off lights when not in use
b) turn off appliances at the wall
c) Have shorter showers
d) install energy efficient light bulbs
e) use re-chargeable batteries

2. Watera) shorter showers and water saving showerheads
b) catch cold water when waiting for hot to come through – use this to fill water bottle and kettle
c) wash up in the small sink
d) flush when necessary
e) install water tanks

3. Transporta) Ride bikes to school and work
b) Limit trips to town – by planning and grouping trips
c) Get Dad to ride motorbike to town for smaller items/ errands
d) Walk
e) Find cheaper fuel, drive more economically

4. Garbage
a) Compost Food Scraps
b) Stop Getting Plastic Bags
c) Buy items with less packaging

5. Consumption
a) Don’t buy unnecessary things
b) Work on a cash budget
c) Use things sparingly-
d) Do instead of buy – make it yourself.

We will add to these ideas as we go.

What I find interesting is that everytime I think along these lines I think of living like my Grandmother on her property in 1940. There was no ' trendiness' about living self sufficiently it was just the done thing. We need to return to the old fashioned way of living for health wealth and happiness reasons.

The other thing that hubbie and I discussed when we were making this list was memories from our childhood. What struck us was - that the garbage bins we had were those tiny metal ones with the round lid - but today - people fill a giant wheelie bin every week. We also remember the butcher wrapping meat in paper and having paper bags or boxes when you did your grocery shopping. The bags and boxes were then reused a number of times then burnt in the fire. I don't know too much about carbon emissions and perhaps an open fire isn't now considered environmentally friendly - but in my opinion it was far better than shifting and burying tonnes of plastic rubbish around our garbage tips every year!

Carbon Cops - Coming to ABC TV

I am really looking forward to this show starting on ABC. I hope it is like the Eco Challenge on SBS. Here are the details:

" Carbon Cops is a new enviro-science TV series that wants to help you save money and combat global warming. Each episode will feature one household that will have their home's structure, appliances, vehicles and habits assessed for energy efficiency. They will then be challenged to make physical and lifestyle changes to significantly reduce their energy use.
The first episode of Carbon Cops goes to air on Tuesday, 26th June at 8.00pm on ABC TV."

Cutting The Carbon Challenge.

I have seen that the 'Aussies Living Simply' people are hosting a carbon challenge. As you can see from my past entry, this is something that we are interested in. I might just add that I am not completely convinced about it from a global climate change position, as I think there is always political spin or points to be gained once governments get involved, but I am interested in it because of the balance that it brings to life. It is almost like permaculture for your life. You do things such as ride the bike to work and it affects your budget, your health and the environment. It brings everything back into balance.

So, we will give it a go. Any steps forward that we can make will be worthwhile to bring back the balance. Here are my beginning stats from this link http://www.aussieslivingsimply.com.au/infusions/forum_threads_list_panel/viewthread.php?forum_id=60&thread_id=5211&rowstart=0

If everyone lived like me, we would need 3.9 planets.
Global hectares required to sustain my lifestyle = 7.4
global hectares
Food 4.2
Transport 0.5
Shelter 0.9
Goods/services 1.8
Total = 7.4


The Eco Challenge - Inspiration For A Lifestyle Change

Recently, a programmed aired on SBS called "The Eco Challenge". It was a show about two families who initially had their water, electricity, garbage collection and vehicles taken away and then given back one by one if they could meet particular usage targets. Our family got involved while the show aired and we tracked our electricity, water and vehicle usage. The 8 year old son really enjoyed doing this.

More recently we have been thinking about foods and additives. We were looking at my Grandmother's recipes ( she is 99 years old) and thinking that - there were no additives in her day - everything was made from scratch. She also operated under the principle of "Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Poor Performance" ( The Six P's). If she was late home and hadn't cooked a family meal, she could never just duck into town and buy a pizza !

Then... we started thinking more..... take riding your bike for example. If you approach it from a 'green living' point of view you might ride a bike to work or school or to the shop because you want to cut your pollution emissions. If you approach it from a frugal point of view you might want to cut your spending on fuel. If you approach it from a health point of view you might want to get fit, stay fit or lose some weight. Regardless of your viewpoint the reality is that living more of an old fashioned way is a winner all round !

So, we started on Monday. We didn't drive to town ( which is a 13.5km return journey) we walked to the boys school and picked them up and walked home ( 15 minute walk each way) and yesterday Hubbie rode with the children to school and then rode to pick them up. He then took his motorbike to town to do his errands rather than take the car.

So..... all steps in the right direction. Hopefully the results of this new style of living will be... health, wealth and happiness along with a sense of achievement. My biggest challenge will be cutting our grocery budget and not driving to town on the 4 days that I work. Hmmmm have to give that one some more thought.


Food Additives and Perfect Pancakes

A couple of years ago I attended a presentation by Sue Dengate, author of Fed Up. She is an advocate against food additives in food. I was very impressed by her presentation and by all the anecdotal evidence on her website http://www.fedupwithfoodadditives.info/. Well, I think it definitely makes sense and I see a real difference in my 6 year old son when he eats particular foods. One of the other reasons I find it such an attractive way of life is that it is "old school". It is a simple as living life like the 1940's farming family. In these days there were no packaged foods and everything was made from scratch. I will blog more about this at a later date. Today I want to share my perfect pancakes with you. You won't find any packet mixes or preservative 211, colouring 140 or flavour enhancer 621 here

Perfect Pancakes

* these are sweeter pancakes to have with maple syrup

1 1/2 cups of Self Raising Flour

1 tsp bi-carb soda

2 tbsp sugar

1 egg

1 1/4 cups milk

4 drops vanilla

Mix it all together so there are no lumps ( I use a hand blender) and pour into a hot pan. Wait until bubbles form and pop on each pancakes and then flip. Serve with real maple syrup.

April Theme: Re-organise and Transition

In the Southern Hemisphere, April is in Autumn.  The days here are still warmish, but there is a sneaking whisper in the wind. That whisper ...