Green and Thrifty

Well, Friday is upon us again and the refrigerator is looking very bare, which I must say makes cleaning it much easier. We are powering through our grocery challenge, which surprises me no end. I thought this was going to be really hard. Even the girls are on board. When I pulled crackers out of the back of my wardrobe (hidden in a stash from the end of the last school year - unopened, I hasten to add!) to add to today's school lunches, Posy glared sternly at me.
'I thought you weren't going shopping this week!'
I had to confess my hoarding tendencies.

We are all out of tomatoes, cucumber, or indeed any salad vegetable except lettuce and half a capsicum. I was going to put the slow cooker on for beef stew, but it is just too hot, so I tried this carrot soup instead, adding a handful of red lentils for bulk and protein. Now there are only carrots, yellowing celery, broccoli stems and some shrivelled up mushrooms in the crisper. Perfect for beef stew, but this weekend will be a scorcher. I may put the slow cooker in the shed in the morning, cook the stew and eat it next week when it is cooler. I don't want to waste that lovely yellow celery! For fruit we have apples and oranges and a couple of pears from our tree. Oh, and rhubarb, so apple and rhubarb crumble on the horizon.

I kept a bit of a 'green and thrifty' diary this week, to see if I could accomplish something every day:

Saturday: Children were begging and whining for take away, as I had prepared exactly nothing for dinner, and it was 5.30pm, but I STAYED STRONG. I pulled English muffins out of the freezer, which we split and made into mini Hawaiian pizzas with the last two slices of ham cut up very small, tinned pineapple, cheese, and pizza sauce. Not gourmet, but acceptable fast food substitute.
Home made pizza sauce: Dollop of tomato paste, pinch brown sugar, tsp dried oregano or basil. Thin mixture with boiling water until you get required consistency, stir well. Thanks to my dear friend Ange for this brilliant tomato paste extender!
Sunday: Too hot to do anything except water the garden pots multiple times. A no-driving day! Also, I have my brilliant idea about not buying groceries this week.
Monday: Rosy does some painting. For Christmas I had planned to do a bedroom makeover for the two big girls. Well, I managed to achieve a couple of bits and bobs, and bought several things for Christmas, but it is turning into the longest room makeover ever.  However that has meant that the girls have enthusiastically taken the project on board and are doing it much better than I would, which proves something positive about lazy parenting I expect.
So today Rosy is painting baskets to store her precious treasures like 56 bottles of nail polish.
Take one pot of any kind of water-based white paint from the shed (we used undercoat). Add water about 50/50. Apply with rag for rustic shabby-chic look. Add another coat if you want it whiter.

Tuesday: Hemming Posy's secondhand uniform, and sewing up bits of seam that had come undone.
Wednesday: Planting capsicum seed which I was given at Tanya's brilliant Living Better group. I took my saved seed to share from a brilliant, locally developed non-bolting lettuce imaginatively called Slo-Bolt.
Thursday: Planting out tomato seedlings which popped up in a pot a few weeks ago. I am almost certain they will produce tomatoes before the first frost!
Friday: I was going to go out to the art gallery with a friend, then out for tea and cake, but had to stay home to receive a delivery of fence posts and palings, so my friend came to me, and we drank rooibos tea and ate Rosy's fabulous vegan chocolate cake (no eggs!). Tomorrow I will post the recipe for that.

This week's greatest achievement has been managing to eat out of the pantry and refrigerator. So far I have spent $9.50 on 4l of milk. Let's see if we can survive until Monday. My next challenge will be to stick to my $160 budget next week, and not go crazy restocking.

What green and thrifty projects have you been up to this week?


Goodness me, I am impressed! I should try living out of our pantry and freezer for a week. I could do it, but I'd hear a lot of grumbling, I'm sure.

Hurray for lazy parenting! Can't wait to see the room makeovers. That was the sort of project I loved as a kid.

Anonymous said…
Last year "summer" extended right up till the end of April so you might not be kidding yourself about those tomatoes. Can't wait for that vegan chocolate cake recipe :). Kudos on the pantry and fridge economy and for thinking on your feet in the face of adversity (aka takeaway fever). I think the greenest thing that I did was to hide under the bed with Earl and read a book rather than do anything else thus saving "energy" per-se. Looks like another scorcher this weekend so I might even have to cultivate my degree of sloth to minimise energy expenditure even further... (Note to self "how little work can you actually do before they pronounce you expired?") ALL for lazy parenting. The son-and-heir told me a month or so back that he was most grateful for my peculiar brand of lazy parenting because apparently, scientists have proven that children whose parents allow them the scope to explore their worlds (i.e. cook hot dogs in a kettle with an element and keep snails under their bed in their lunchbox) are excellent problem solvers and learn early on to rely on their wits and make their own fun. I must admit my excellent problem solvers have some novel ideas about how to fix the world and it might just be a good thing that they don't have their fingers on the pulse of the world, but they can cook a mean bibimbap and one of them is currently in Texas at a crawdad festival dancing a Cajun waltz with his sweeties aunty so you can't really expect more of your kids than that methinks...lazy parenting is the bomb! And now that it is scientifically backed up you can shine with pride as you direct with your finger from behind the pages of your latest library conquest :)
Judy said…
I've failed the grocery challenge! I ran out of dishwasher powder and once they all knew I was heading to the shops I was inundated with requests to buy various goodies!

Well done Jo, you have been very inventive :)
Jo said…
Frances, I must say I expected the grumbling as well, but I am so surprised - there has been nothing. There have been remarks about the no banana situation, but that's about it. It just shows how much food there actually was in the house to begin with.
Fran, I do adore your 'short novel' comments! Not doing anything on hot weekends is definitely green and thrifty, especially as we don't have air conditioners. Imagine if everyone did that - no cars on the roads, all the shops would have to close for the weekend, all the planes grounded for lack of passengers. What a green and thrifty weekend that would be! Closely allied to the 'lazy parenting' method of child rearing. It does make children more self reliant (sometimes my children wouldn't eat if they didn't make themselves dinner, but mostly it is just a good way to get more reading done:)
Judy, don't feel bad - I have attempted this challenge a number of times and always had a 'dashing to the supermarket' moment midweek. This is the first time it has ever stuck. I attribute success (so far) to announcing it in a no-correspondence-will-be-entered-into sort of tone to the girls, not having to negotiate with a partner, who is absent this week, and publishing my intentions on this very public forum! There is nothing like public failure to make me want to succeed!
Linda said…
Very impressive, Jo. Well done to sticking to your No Grocery buying policy. Your carrot soup reminded me of a great blog I follow called A Girl called Jack. Out of dire necessity Jack had to live with her small boy on a VERY limited amount of money. £10 per week for the two of them. She therefore came up with extremely inventive food, the recipes can be found on her blog. I have tried several and they are all delicious. The carrot and coriander soup is as good as any you would get in a restaurant! Her recipe book is out soon but I recommend you check out her recipes on the blog. Lots of breads, savoury and sweet, she makes fabulously inventive meals from tinned tomatoes and beans of various kinds etc etc! As you can see I am a fan!
Jo said…
Linda, I DO read A Girl Called Jack, and I love her recipes and I love her rants. She is turning into the social conscience of a nation, and I admire her immensely. I must look at her carrot soup recipe and compare, thanks:)
Unknown said…
I also read AGCJ and love some of her frugal recipes. Ive also love her expanding, seemingly overnight, into the voice of so many in the UK who are sick of being treated as dumb for being short on funds. Necessity is the mother of invention and i love her invented recipes. Well done Jo for not only sticking to your plan but also for raising children that allow you to do so. Im afraid im not sure it would work at this end. One of the good things about periodically (seemingly every 6 mths) for Hubby being out of work is that i get a slap around the head and have to pull myself up. Im not a shopper for stuff but i do spend too much on food and i am overly generous with entertaining others. So its back to pulling up my boot straps. I also make homemade take-away though on these 40 degree days its difficult to justify booted up that oven. I use the slow cooker out in the pergola with the house doors shut because the boys dont like the smell of cooking. It comes in handy having a set up outside yet under cover. Unfortunately air con reigns supreme here and on days like today i shut my eyes very tight (and my mouth) and try not to think about the $$$ and the greenhouse gas filled black balloons rises up from my house.
Jo said…
Lynda, as we speak I have the slow cooker on in the shed. We'll eat the stew later in the week when it is cooler. Today we are eating nicoise salad with tuna chunks, and the last three saved-up eggs soft boiled. And my goodness, if it was 40C here I am afraid all my principles would not stand out against an air conditioner! It is hard being part of a 'tribe' sometimes, when compromising is the order of the day, but just think of everything you have achieved with your gorgeous zero-food miles garden, and your determination to live a simpler life.
Good luck with reining in the food budget. Not an easy feat with two hungry men to feed.
Heather said…
I love how you got inventive with the Hawaiian Pizzas. I've had to get inventive with turning hamburger buns into cheesy pizza bread before. Maybe not the most nutritious meal, but it was only one meal and I did get the family fed!
Jo said…
Heather, getting the family fed - yes, that's what it's all about. I love the 'it's only one meal' excuse. I use it all the time. In my head I'm thinking, 'Well, it's better than take away.'
Although it's too embarrassing to confess what Posy ate for lunch yesterday... OK, here's my confession - I served her icecream sprinkled with chocolate powder, and topped with canned pineapple pieces. Because it was hot...

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