Monday, 3 October 2011

the big budget challenge

i hope you all had a lovely sunny weekend! i tried to make the most of it, by going scrumping and blackberrying with my brother on friday, and enjoying a leisurely picnic with the family for saturday lunch. oh the last days of summer... (sigh)

well, since returning from the land down under, i've been chatting with the family about how food will work in the house from now on. currently, we all put into a pot, and then whenever we need something we go out and buy it with the money that's there. but, given the current state of world finance, it seems like a slightly more methodical approach to bills might be necessary!

so, that's why i'll be taking part in Laura's Big Budget Challenge - to reign in our money, and see if we can't save a little bit of it.

we currently all pay £20 a week, which totals a grand £60 a week - which is £240 a month on food and household goods. now, i don't know what other people spend, but i figure that we overspend by quite a lot - especially after seeing this and this.

i had a real wake up call when i was out in Oz - just how priveleged i am to be able to eat food, let alone good food, let along nutritious food, let alone organic food, let alone a varied diet or fruits and vegetables. the majority of the world eat the same sort of things day in, day out, and in my warped mind, i somehow thought it as my 'right' to be able to have whatever i wanted, and to stuff myself at my leisure and for my "pleasure".

so, it's time for a little rethink. i've been discussing it with the house, and we're all agreed to try to save as much of our food bill as possible - to see just how much money we can save out of our weekly £60. if we can't seem to save, then we'll just have to slash how much we all put in, to £15, then £14, then £13, etc, you get the drift.

Laura has encouraged us to write our own rules/guidelines for this challenge. so, here are mine:
  • £30 a week food budget - this includes packed lunches for everyone too, and any baking that's done as gifts for other people. i will be doing all the shopping (as two people in control of the cash never seems to work very well), and choosing to shop at Lidl because it's non-branded goods are good quality and really cheap. i will also be taking full advantage of the Asian food store in town and the 'global' aisle at Tesco's to bulk buy gram flour, lentils and pulses, etc.
  • visit the local markets each week - in order to purchase local eggs, wild game and local fish. also, this means i can take advantage of seasonal offers - and bulk buys - on fruit and veg. it also means that i'm likely to get higher quality, better choice and increased nutrition by buying more locally grown foods.
  • grow and wild harvest as much as possible - we've already put away a good portion of blackberries in the freezer and apples wrapped in newspaper, but i want to really keep the allotment in good shape also, and keep my eyes peeled for 'free' wild food. nettle soup will have to be attempted over the coming months!
  • make double batches - somehow i've never really caught on to making twice as much as is necessary, so that some can be frozen for a later date. when i was in Australia, everyone did it! it's just common sense and logical to use the preparation time and energy to heat the oven to make more than is required for one meal... and leftover's/extras often taste better the second day.
  • eat more vegan food - this is less of a rule and more of a guideline. eating more vegan food will considerably reduce both our carbon footprint and food bills. i'll be experimenting loads with different ways to cook wholegrains and pulses, and trying out new recipes.
  • learn to be content with simpler meals - i've always loved a huge salad filled with all different fresh ingredients, but it's not always very cost effective. it'll be a big learning curve, but simplifying my diet will probably pay dividends for my future and current health. and most of the world eat a very "monotonous" diet at each meal - we're just really blessed to have ways of storing food,
  • only buy clothes in charity shops, and replace one for one - i've got pretty good at this already this year, only actually purchasing two new dresses and one sweater, the rest coming from thrift stores. i love secondhand clothes, as they're so much more interesting, and it's way more fun to shop this way!
  • keep growing hair - as silly as this sounds, when my hair was much shorter, i spent more time and money maintaining it, and far too much time worrying about it, than it was every worth. so for now, i will grow my hair out so i can eventually leave it naturally curly and trim the ends myself.
currently watching: the great british bake off and other fantastic food programmes that i've missed out on over the last few months. although i currently only dedicate about 1 hour of TV time every week, so it's taking me a while to go through them!


  1. Hi Alissa as always you inspire me a lot with your ideas and in this case I get two of them, the first is that I'm also trying to eat simpler meals and the second one is to spend just one hour of TV every week. I think it'll be easy because here in Spain, there is no much interesting TV. Xoxo

  2. Thanks for joining in! I feel like my budget is massive now, I spend £250 a month for just me and James so I'll be watching your progress closely for more money saving tips!

  3. Thanks for stopping by. This sounds like a wonderful challenge. I agree that eating vegan, especially when it is loaded with beans and grains, can be quite thirftful. You can also get ideas from here:


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