Back to basics food: update 1
A month ago I wrote about changing the way we ate (LINK) — reducing the amount of processed foods and increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables we bought — back to basics purchasing and cooking. It has been an interesting experiment and I have noticed a few things.
* Firstly the food bill has decreased. I am not sure yet by how much, but perhaps around a 3rd. Reducing the bill wasn’t my intention as this wasn’t an exercise in being frugal, however this is a positive outcome that I am pleased with and some of the spare money can be used in my vegetable garden. I have also found that I visit very few aisle in the supermarket, my shopping list has shrunk considerably and I can do the shopping much quicker. It certain saves time.
* Even though my aim was to stop buying canned food, I have found I have needed to buy a few cans e.g. tomatoes, tomato paste and beans (e.g. red kidney and butter beans). I could use dried beans, but they need to be soaked overnight and sometimes I alter a recipe and need beans quickly and cans are the most convenient. I am able to buy these as organic which is a plus. However, when I was writing this, I found a blogger (Frugal and Thriving) who soaks, cooks and freezers beans to use later. That is a solution to my problem!
* Going back to basics has meant making my own stock — and so far I have learnt how to make chicken stock — my DH loves it as it is far less salty than bought stock. I make my stock on the weekends as it takes a couple of hours of cooking. It’s very easy to do and takes me 5 minutes to prepare and that’s it. Well worth the investment. I have also started to make pastry - hasn't turned out that bad!!
* I have been going to bed with cookbooks, tagging recipes that I would like to make!! I have also bought a few (Fishpond.com have an excellent range) to add to my collection. It isn’t hard cooking from scratch without processed food, it just takes a little thought and planning and it certainly doesn't require all day in the kitchen. The slower cooker is a wonderful invention though!!
* Buying organic isn’t as hard or as expensive as I thought it would be. Our supermarkets seem to have more and more products that are certified organic, in particular the pasta and rice. They are even selling organic fruit and veg which is great. We aren’t completely organic and probably never will be, but heading in the right direction is what is important.
* We are producing less rubbish (trash) and that is always a positive outcome. Just imagine if we all went "back-to-basics", we would certainly need less landfill.
* One thing our grandparents did that we no longer do is cook food that is in season, we are so use to having vegetables all year round that we no longer know when the real season are for certain foods. Even though it isn't cherry season in Australia, I can still buy cherries (imported). I am trying to revert back and buy what is in season rather than relying on imports.
Even though we are doing quite well with our food changes, there are a few things I would like to do:
- Learn how to make tomato paste so I don’t need to buy it (if the Greeks have been doing it for centuries, I am sure I can do it!) — this will be a summer job as it is best made with end of season tomatoes.
- Increase my vegetable garden crop so we can eat more home grown foods (that are chemical free), this takes time and space—both I am a little short on. But I have extended a garden bed (for this year’s broad beans) and plan to buy another raised bed (for this year’s tomatoes) so heading in the right direction.
- Buy a larger pot for making stock – my 5 litre one isn’t big enough. I also need a large pot for jams —so will be well used.
- Plant a bay tree so I can pick my own bay leaves instead of buying them.