I didn’t choose my words without giving this a fair bit of thought.
Organised: this is a task that can be fairly quickly achieved and is tangible. Physically organising the freezer, fridge and pantry which are they key elements in this challenge, is something I can be getting on with. It doesn’t stop there though, once they are organised, how do they stay organised and how do we benefit from them being organised? Keeping an inventory is key here. That makes this task a little bit more time consuming and if you can get a helping hand to either write the list as you go through the items, or vice versa then that will save you a bit of time. I’ll set myself aside some time to do this and report back.
Prepared: this is a reference to a few different things. I need to be prepared (and organised) with regards to menu planning, writing shopping lists, doing the weekly shop etc. Also it means preparing ahead, getting up on a morning and taking tea out of the freezer, batch cooking, taking time to prepare meals ahead.
Useable stock: what is the point of having a tub of quinoia, pearl barley, blue food colouring and eastern spices if I am never going to use them? Over the years I have been pulled in to advertising, expensive recipes, following the ideal and impulse buying. Not any more. Everything we have in stock needs to be useable. That may mean I have to be inventive with recipes, avoid others, think differently and so on. That’s fine, bring it on. I like the idea of having almost a capsule wardrobe pantry, does that make sense?
Short term and long term: to me, there’s a obvious need to have fresh and non fresh items. Dried, frozen, pickled, preserved, whatever it may be. What is the ideal amount and what benefits can we get from both? Time will tell.
Adaptable: Something that will not work for us as a family is restrictions. We eat at 6:30 on an evening, after we have done the jobs outside and caught up with each other. Sometimes though, something happens, chickens escape, the wind has blown down a fence, the greenhouse takes longer to water and then everything gets shunted along time wise. Tea needs to go from a 45 minute Aga time to 15 minutes. Instead of making lasagne with the ragu, I’m going to heat the ragu and throw it on top of some quick cook spaghetti or penne with a garlic bread. See what I mean? I may have some dump bags (idea adapted per The Batch Lady slow cooker) that I can use as a stir fry, or to add to longer cook rice or short cook noodles. So for my family, adaptability is key.
Healthy: I guess this speaks for itself. One thing that was important to us when we moved here was moving to a more healthy lifestyle, food and drink included, where I cook as much as possible from scratch. That doesn’t mean we won’t eat fatty food or drink red wine, far from it! It about a balance and as long as the scales tip in favour of the healthy, I’m happy with that.
Budget friendly: 2020 is about minimising our outgoings and I can not see that ever changing. Why would you want to spend more than you needed to? For us, it’s to allow us to pay our mortgage off early, other people will have their reasons. All to the same goal though.
I told you I had given it some thought 😂.
So over the coming days and weeks I will add updates as to where I am in The Food Challenge journey. I will share my inventories, subsequent menu plans and shopping lists, where I shop to get them and recipes for making the meals. Please join us on this journey, we would love to hear how these things work for you guys and learn from how you do things too. I’m planning on doing a YouTube video or two on this for anyone who is interested – I will let you know when it’s ready.
In the mean time, I’m off to start the inventory lists, which will inevitably result in a cleaning session too! I’ll grab some pics of before and after.
Below is the small paddock. The fenced, nettled area is where we ran the pigs on in 2017. There is a small wooded area at the back and the rest of the paddock is currently laid to grass. At the moment we need the grass for the sheep as the horses have the big field, but we just can’t decide what to do for the best with this area in the long run. The pig area will be brilliant for growing in once it is clear, given the muck they produced.
With a lovely farmhouse tablecloth over it, it really suits the kitchen and is the perfect size for us.
So now we’re reevaluating what to do with the other table and the space we’ve created in the dining room (which was a snug).
The kids have been baking, but I forgot to take photos as I was playing negotiator. Brownies, scones and millionaire shortbread! No diets in this house for now! The kids and Annie had plenty of cuddle time too!
She simply is the kindest natured dog with them. She is the perfect guard dog too, you won’t get in the house without being barked at followed by a warm welcome if we tell her it’s ok. Can’t wish for a better dog.
I also made a tomato soup which turned out to be very bland. Unsure what to do, the next day I made “half the garden soup” from Hugh’s River Cottage book and when it called for a kilo of toms and stock I decided to just use the tomato soup instead, plus a bit of my ‘souper mix’ from Pam Corbin’s book and goodness me, it worked out well.
I’ve also been making slow cooker stews, pulled ham, pork and roasting chickens. A lot will be returned to the freezer once made ready to reheat as evening meals once we are back to work.
The next plan….
So now for the exciting part. The next plan. It’s been forming for a year or so, but we’ve taken the time to formalise it whilst we have been off work. Starting now and until end of May 2019, we are stockpiling a years worth of long life or non perishable goods.
Come June 1st, we’re embarking on living off one wage and saving the other. This will allow us to have a years worth of savings in the bank, which leads on to phase 2 of the plan, for another day.
From June 1st we will have an annual grocery budget that equates to £25 a week. This is only for the likes of milk, butter, flour, cheese, kids lunch items. Everything else, literally, will come from our ‘stores’ as we refer to it, the years worth of supplies we have stockpiled prior to June.
That means we also need to find an additional £1300 cash to have to hand from June 01st, which is the annual budget. Any income after June 01st is being saved. As we’re stockpiling, our outgoings are already going to increase so we need to have this cash as additional to what we have now. Time to sell what we don’t need and make money where we can.
It’s all part of the lifestyle shift that we have bought in to and I can’t wait to get started.