Here’s an idea – spend less time inside supermarkets and more doing the good things in life. Like digging over the vege garden, or scratching a cat’s chin.
I’ve never been fond of supermarkets, but I seemed to spend a lot of my time inside the noisy places; hunting for groceries, standing in queues and then saying, no, I don’t have Fly Buys.
Not any more. For three months now, we’ve changed our habits and are trying to visit the supermarket only once a month.
It’s all the fault of Philippa Stevenson, she of Tamahere Forum. Over a cuppa one recent wintry morning, she told us that’s what she did and it was utterly wonderful. I told her she was nuts, and responded we wouldn’t be able to go for longer than a week.
But then I thought about it. We were constantly calling in at Rototuna on the way home to pick up one or four things. At least every second day, if not sometimes twice a day.
We have a goodly sized pantry, stocked with tins and rice and all those things one needs in an emergency, such as bars of Lindt chocolate.
We buy our flour in bulk, because I like to bake bread and cakes, and we eat a lot of our own homemade pasta. Sugar, too, is bought in bulk. Tea we buy loose in lovely 2kg wooden boxes from Wrightsons, and it lasts months and months.
In summer we grow as much of our own vegetables as we can; we’re almost self-sufficient when it comes to garlic. And our seven magnificent hens were just starting to lay eggs again.
Maybe we could give it a go. After all, the husband’s grandmother took her horse and cart into town to stock up on the essentials for a thriving family of five. And I bet she wasn’t going in every other day.
Philippa then added the clincher – she was saving money. She was more organised, more self-sufficient, eating better and the money she and Leo allocated for supermarkets was building up.
We sat down and wrote a list of what we needed and then some, and toddled off to town. Within days we’d run woefully short of kitty food and completely out of washing up liquid. Gritting my teeth I dashed into a supermarket on the way home and bought them.
The second time we were better, and by the third, almost splendid. I now have compiled a Masterlist on the computer, which I print out and take round the aisles with me.
Some things are exempt – milk, coffee and fresh fruit and vegetables. And we tend to buy our meat from the Frankton butcher, again about once a month, or from the Farmers’ Market.
But from now on, we’re going to be serious about growing or swapping our own vegetables, and making do with what we’ve got. We’ll try to eat what’s in season, and grown locally.
- Go to Farmers’ Markets for produce the way it should be, grown by the people who sell it and natter with you while you choose it. The Tamahere Market is once a month, on the third Saturday of each month. The Hamilton Farmers’ Market runs every Sunday in the Sonning carpark on River Rd. Both sell a huge range of the freshest fruit and vegetables and many treats besides.
- Swap produce with friends and neighbours. We can grow artichokes like anything, but are rubbish at Brussels sprouts. Why not share the harvest?
- Check out Ooooby (Out of our own back yard), an on-line network for people into growing their own vegetables and fruit, and swapping it with virtual strangers (who probably become friends.) A group now operates in Hamilton. You can also share self-raised seedlings, gardening tips and recipes.
- Visit the produce table at 29 Claude St. This is the brainchild of Judy and Rod McDonald. A few years ago these community-minded folk popped a table on to their frontage and put whatever excess veges and fruit they have on to it. Neighbours and passing strangers are invited to help themselves, and to add their own. It’s been hugely successful and works a treat (and look for a story soon on this in Number 8 Network.)
- Consider setting up your own produce table. Maybe ask the local school if you can set a table up to swap food with other parents.
Now is the time to get out into that garden, spring having truly sprung. Mind you, looking out the window at the pelting rain – maybe a cup of tea, a cat and a gardening book is in order.