Friday, February 23, 2007

Daily bread

Fresh Bread, Trogir, Croatia by Russell Young

Lets talk about food and how we can stop doing the habitual weekly shop.
First of all, I have to tell you that its a work in progress and I have not entirely cracked it, I have lapses of convenience and surprisingly, there is very little information out there on how to not shop in the supermarket. And...a lot of regulation as well.

We are now in year 3, so be gentle on will not happen overnight. Find out where you are on the steps to food freedom and do whatever next you wish. Basically not everyone wants to become self sufficient so it is important to find where your comfort zone is. Every person and family also has food habits and types of food they like better than others so what we eat is not going to be the same as you or even prepared in the same way as you do. The following is a guide of what we have done so far and are doing. There is no simple formula. I am not going to tell you how and what to do that suits your family. I am hoping to encourage independent thought and action. ( heaven forbid!)

My food shopping strategy was non existent when I worked, it simply was a shop and grab exercise at the supermarket on a weekly basis in which I would buy what I thought I needed, what I seemed to like or was persuaded to like etc etc.

The first step for me was to create a weekly menu. ( Sounds boring but it worked for us). This provided evidence of what exactly we were eating or planning to eat and made me realise how boring and without variety my menu actually was. This provided me with a working shopping list, the ingredients of what I needed to make the dishes, and also on the fridge is a shopping list of items that are running out and need replacing such as spices, flours, rice etc etc.

From weekly menus we have graduated to monthly menus and I now sit down and plan a monthly menu. I ask for feedback so family members can vote on dishes they would like to have repeated and those that are NOT EVER to cross the table again. Each month I challenge myself to eat something new and seasonal and test the family out. Fish for instance is not a usual food in our family and whenever it arrives on the table it gets greeted with distinct suspicion ( that is because they had no idea what fish was apart from fish fingers). Expect criticism for your efforts and keep your sense of humour.

With a monthly menu you can shop monthly or every 2 weeks cutting your travel and shopping time considerably.

Next I wanted to find out what our usual consumption of certain foods and consumables was. Example :How many toiletrolls does your family use on average. To find out you need a black pen. When you start a new pack, you write the date on the outside and when the last item is finished you use maths to work out the total. So lets say your family needs 6 rolls per week, that would make it 312 rolls per year. I add 10% for unexpected events ( don't ask me what that is...I am sure you can guess), which leaves me with a total number required of 313. When the special offer comes ( 9 rolls for the price of 6) I know that by buying in bulk my families requirements are as follows :
weekly 6 rolls
monthly 26 rolls
3 months = 78 rolls

When the offer comes along, I can buy 9 packs which will give me a 3 month supply.

Wait I can hear you say, where do I store all that stuff? When you declutter the house, you will find places for food and home items and you may not want or have the space to store the above amount. Find what suits you.
This calculation should enable you to know what you family needs and how much you can store and can buy in bulk.

Having a blueprint of what your family eats on average over a year, you can then start looking at where you can purchase these items in bulk.

I had no idea for instance that you could buy in bulk. Most supermarkets do not like you buying in bulk and do not allow you often to purchase above a certain number.

When T suggested we get together for a wholefood order, I had some idea of the amount of flour I need for our daily bread, the amount of almond butter, maple syrup, rice and beans we consume. You have to ofcourse allow room in your budget to buy these items in bulk but in the long run it averages out and simply becomes a different way of managing your food purchases.

The staples you buy have to be used in rotation and having a list of what is used, you can then take stock control and see how your maths have worked out and take advantage of offers as they come along.

Next step will be looking at the foods you buy which you can make yourself or grow yourself and where locally these can be found.

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