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Making this a no waste November

I just have too much stuff, especially in the kitchen. I thought about making this a No-shop November but I accept it wouldn’t be a good idea to stop buying fresh fruit and vegetables. I’m a food hoarder. I’ve inherited a ‘siege mentality’ from my mother, which means I have far too much stashed away in the pantry, fridge and freezer. Random shelves and cupboards around the house also hold bottles of preserves. I appreciate that not everybody is able to buy more than they need, but most kitchens could do with a good sorting out.

Mum had reason to hoard, at least for the first forty-odd years of her life, as she lived on farms with no easy access to the shops. She was resourceful, my mother, and always had a thriving vegetable garden as well as hens. She sold eggs and clutches of chickens to supplement the family income. It was the early part of the 20th century and households generally only had one vehicle, if any. A visit to the shops in the farm truck was a big occasion which happened about every three months. If the roads were flooded or impassable, which was quite frequent, the family had to make do with what was in the store cupboards.

I don’t have that excuse – I could walk to the supermarket in ten minutes. I have no idea what is at the back of some of my pantry or refrigerator shelves, and that’s something I am ashamed of. I’m not wealthy; I try to stick to a budget, but food shops are a magnet for me and I usually buy more than I need.

Lately I’ve been embracing minimalism and it’s lead me to think about the kitchen. The first reason to use up what you have is to save money. Lots of festive events are just around the corner and whatever your beliefs or traditions, holidays and celebrations are expensive.

I’m planning to keep a record of everything I spend in November, probably just by asking for receipts and clipping them together. It could go in a notebook or diary or any handy piece of paper.

No-waste will mean thinking carefully about every purchase and not giving into temptation at the shops – I find this hard. Sticking firmly to a list is the only way I will manage it. If something is on special it may make sense to buy it, but is it really necessary right now and will it be used?

Other reasons for this decision are:

  • Rotation of stock, just as they (are supposed to) do in the shops. Use up the oldest products first.

  • Surprise! I forgot that was there…

  • Menu inspiration. A friend inspired me recently by making a list of all the food items in her kitchen and planning menus. She wrote them out and stuck them to the pantry door, whittling down the contents to a few bottles of herbs and spices. And a box of strangely seasoned couscous which nobody in the family was prepared to eat. I suggested she soak it and add it to the compost rather than force-feed it to a reluctant family.

It's the first of November so here goes, hopefully it will become a habit to not buy more than I need.

National Recycling Week is next week, and we’re kicking it off in my local community by holding a clothes swap and bookfest.

Please join me, I’d love to hear your story.

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2 commentaires

05 nov. 2022

Good on you Julie! My mother was something of an over-buyer, but somehow I turned out to be an under-buyer. Maybe because I could never make sense of her putting soap on the shopping list when there were already 24 cakes in the bathroom cupboard! My fridge often looks quite bare, and yet I can always produce something worthwhile to eat. Perhaps it's comforting for some to have lots of food in the fridge and pantry, or just a habit. My sister had 5 children and although all are well and truly grown up she still has 2 fridges which are overflowing. I would recommend a $50 grocery challenge to tackle your pantry. I did this quite a while ago,…

05 nov. 2022
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I suspect I'm a hopeless case, Jo, I adore shopping for food as well as cooking and eating it! I'm happy to be whittling away my stores and should do it on a more regular basis.

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