Food glorious food

Posted January 20th, 2008 by Penny Wise

A comment I read in the Forum about rising food prices last week has really stuck in my head, written by Sara (Nonsuch Gardens). She wrote "So many people seem to think that food magically appears on supermarket shelves. People are so cut off from the land they have no idea of the problems it and farmers are facing, nationally and world wide. Food shortages just don't compute in their heads. We'll just get all the threads whining about rising prices and no one seems to get it." Straight away I thought, 'that's so true!' Moaning about the increasing price of food - like most of the people I talk to unfortunately - achieves nothing. So it made me very proud as a Simple Saver to know that our family isn't complaining about it but doing something about it by trying to provide ourselves with as much homegrown foods as we can. I realised just how good a job we were doing yesterday during a trip to the supermarket. Oh, what a joyous trip that was! I haven't had so much time to myself since December 18th, the day the kids finished school. For the first time in 52 days I was allowed to listen to what I wanted on the car stereo and I cranked it up LOUD baby! I took as long as I liked in the supermarket, largely due to checking various brands of soy sauce in the eternal hope I would find some that didn't contain wheat - no luck and whizzed through the fruit and vege aisles as I didn't need any of those. It was only later when I was in my favourite place - the orchard - that I realised just how much I didn't need to buy. I didn't have to buy beans, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, sweetcorn, spring onions, lettuce, swede, tomatoes, cucumber, apples, peaches and plums. They're all there for the picking right now in the orchard and Noel's vege garden. Not to mention eggs too of course. It won't be long before we also have potatoes, pumpkin, capsicum, guavas, pomegranates and watermelon to add to the list too. Yes, Tui's little memorial tree is a real picture at the moment, covered in bright red flowers and baby pomegranates. Poor Ali misses her dreadfully, I still find him in tears now and again, clutching his favourite photo of the two of them together. This year is the first year we have actually been able to harvest any plums - we have three trees but the birds have always got them before. Not this year though! The boys climbed into the trees and strung up old unwanted CD's from the branches. They swing in the breeze and catch the light and the birds haven't got a single one! Ali is particularly looking forward to sampling the first plum from his very own tree, one he chose himself a couple of years ago. He liked the name - 'Elephant Heart' - kind of appropriate really!

When I think to what our food bill was prior to joining SS, I can hardly believe it. I used to spend a minimum of $400 a fortnight in the supermarket and I also used to have an account at Mr Patel's, which was never less than $900 a month I had to pay off, sometimes more. Woah! With so much of our own food to choose from, our food bill is next to nothing at the moment and should remain so for quite some time. Mind you, I hate to sound ungrateful but I'm sick of zucchinis again already and runner beans aren't far behind. Great diet food though! I weighed myself last Thursday and was a bit miffed - 71.8kg. I hadn't put any weight on from the week before but I hadn't lost any either. This week I'm hoping will be different. I feel as though I've lost definitely lost quite a bit and am looking forward to this Thursday's weigh-in. Mind you, I should have lost a heap - if I was doing any better I would be a saint. No meat, no wheat - and now no alcohol either. Yes, you read right. I do believe I have actually cracked it.


As you can tell I'm rather proud of myself, not to mention confident! I'm secretly hoping that my astounding display of willpower and healthy living will rub off on the chain smoking, beer swilling Noel. My hugely reduced food portions mean we have leftovers every night now, which is making quite a saving on the food bill and of course now I'm not spending any money on wine either. Unfortunately I made the mistake of showing off to Liam how wonderful I was compared to how crap his dad was. Liam still has the contract Noel signed on August 20th 2007, declaring that he would quite smoking forever. We're still waiting... so Liam decided he would make a bet with me. He reckons I can't manage to go without having a glass of wine for a whole month. 'Not even when we're on holiday?' I asked hopefully. 'Nope!' he said firmly. So that's it - I'm bound to be booze-free for a whole month and I reckon by then I'll be so used to it that I just won't bother at all any more. I wonder if I should put my wine money away in a separate savings account and see how much I save, like people do with their cigarette money when they give up smoking? I might just do that! Not buying any more wine means I also have to go to Mr Patel's less often and that means fewer impulse buys too - although I have to admit I have been doing pretty well through No Impulse month. The hardest part is saying 'no' to the kids to their request for an ice cream when we come out of the swimming pool every day - I make them go home and have a bowl of it instead but it's not the same. The savings really mount up though, especially for Ali who always wants a Cornetto at $3.50 a pop! Besides, it's good practice for them for No Spend Month. Whew, thank goodness I gave up wine before No Spend Month too!

Today is the beginning of my new style menu plan a la Helen Beamish! She's the latest Hint of the Week winner, with her hilarious tip 'Rhyme saves time and makes meals divine'. What a hoot and how ingenious! Unfortunately it's only Monday and I'm stuck already. You see, it's supposed to be Bun Day but with Liam and I not eating wheat it makes it a little hard - not to mention time consuming and expensive were I to use the wheat free versions. So I need to find an alternative that rhymes and I'm not doing very well. I did come up with 'Rum Day' which was quite appealing but I don't think the kids would like it so if anyone has any other suggestions do please email me!

We were supposed to be going away this week for our first official 'Big Camping Trip' but as usual our plans have turned to custard. First Minnie came on heat and unsurprisingly neither the boarding kennels nor anyone else wanted to look after her. Then we also realised that this weekend coming is a long weekend in NZ and all the campsites plus the boarding kennels for the other three dogs were all booked out. To top it all off, the weather has also turned horrible with a cyclone approaching after weeks endless of scorching heat to blow our camping dreams away. So we're going away next week, just managing to squeeze in a few days before the kids go back to school. Unfortunately it means that we are going to have to forego our family triathlon but needs must, it's the only window we have to get away and try the tent out before the end of the holidays. I am back running again, up to 3km so far. I don't know how long it will last but am thinking positive. I went to the GP who gave me a calcium supplement and said the only way we can work out what is going on with my dodgy legs is to have a bone scan, which I did two years ago and it cost me $400 to tell me what I already knew. So I went half way. I went to a reputable sports shop, got my feet and running style analysed for free and spent $200 on a pair of suitable running shoes which cushion me like a cloud instead. So far so good! To some I'm sure that sounds like a huge extravagance but to me it's really important. I LOVE running and having not been able to do it for two years has been really frustrating; I've tried other sports and hobbies but nothing else has been anywhere near so enjoyable or so 'me'. I figured there was only one way to find out if my legs were up to it after all this time and so far my shoe splurge has been well worth it!

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