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Tony Grist

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Domestic Economy [Jan. 9th, 2008|10:24 am]
Tony Grist

I like to shop at Netto. Their stuff's cheap. And because it's a no frills sort of a place you don't get suckered into buying items you don't really need. The only thing against them is they don't carry much of a range of meat- and I'm not sure how ethical their suppliers are- so for that we tend to go to Sainsbury's. And Sainsbury's in so seductive. The day before yesterday we spent £16 at Netto- which covered most of our basics for the week, then trolled along to Sainsbury's for a shoulder of lamb- got dazzled by all the post-Xmas special offers- and ended up spending  £31.00- about three times as much as we'd intended.

We've been watching Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's expose of intensive chicken farming. I'm with him- and have been for years. It was my dislike of factory farming that turned me vegetarian. Now I'm eating meat again I do try to source it ethically. But you can't get away from the fact that ethically produced meat costs more. My shoulder of lamb- which was romping across open downland a week ago- cost £7.00 and for that I could buy myself three factory chickens. For people like us on a limited income-  for whom Netto is first port of call-  that ethical decision can be hard to justify.

But ethics and economy come together over the issue of waste.  Apparently the great British consumer throws away a third of everything s/he buys. That's shocking. We're well below that. The trick is to plan meals and buy only what you know you're going to eat- and not get seduced by all those offers of two for the price of one and a half. Even so it's easy to miscalculate. The things I most commonly guess wrong about are milk and bread. Our consumption of both seems to yo-yo up and down. I chucked four pints of milk down the drain the other day and I've got a couple of stale half loaves sitting on the shed roof for the birds to peck at. 

We're not poor.  We don't go short.  We just need to be careful. We can even afford to go mad once in a while- like with the Sainsbury's special offers- but maybe not two weeks in succession. I find a good way of handling the anxiety is to turn the scimping and saving into a game. Your mission- if you care to accept it- is to see how far you can come in under budget this week.  What fun!  It's like every time I turn up my nose at something pricey I've won points for my team.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: shullie
2008-01-09 12:23 pm (UTC)
We shop @ Netto and Aldi too and they do have some great bargins.... if you know what you want. I avoid Tesco's if at all possible, prefering Sainsbury's if I must

I wrote about Hugh yesterday... and so agree... we are going to try and become more ethical and waste concious.

our monies have taken a nose dive recently...but your post has just really cheered me up...

I think I shall join in the game ...I accept.... now to work out the budget and the menus!!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-09 01:08 pm (UTC)
Welcome to the game! :)

We're quite well-placed- with a choice between Sainsburys, Asda and Netto- all about a mile from the house.

Hugh's programmes have been really good. I see Jaimie has some follow-up shows where he'll be demonstrating how they make chicken Mcnuggets to a studio audience- or something of the sort.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-09 01:13 pm (UTC)
We're in a state of flux at the moment. Ailz used to eat a lot of bread but has discovered she's wheat intolerant and has given it up entirely. This means I'm having to work out just how much bread I can eat by myself.

I have a problem with the freezer. Everything I put in there enters a black hole. I just forget all about it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-09 02:18 pm (UTC)
That's classic.

Ailz keeps wanting to buy a big freezer, but I'm against it. I just don't think it represents real economy. Your story will furnish me with ammunition.
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[User Picture]From: dadi
2008-01-09 02:47 pm (UTC)
I can only second this. My freezer is such a black hole too.. the stuff in the back really gets thrown out only when, once in a while, I forget to pay my power bill and they cut the juice off, leaving the freezer to thaw and therefore force me to enter the alien zone. Ieek.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-09 03:13 pm (UTC)
Our freezer is simply the ice compartment at the top of our fridge. It holds very little but- even so- things get lost in there. Last time I cleared it out I discovered some plums I didn't know I had. They were delicious.
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[User Picture]From: richenda
2008-01-09 07:08 pm (UTC)
I've got a table-top freezer, and its contents are usually home-cooked. I forgot to say that Tesco delivers - a big plus.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-09 08:53 pm (UTC)
Twenty years' worth of dead pheasants- hmmm...

But aren't they supposed to be at their best when all but putrid?
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2008-01-09 04:01 pm (UTC)
Labelling is the key to using a freezer. Well, not bread, obviously, because you can see what that is. Bread and milk are the two things I virtually never waste because both will freeze and can be got out in small portions.

My problem is veggies. I'll load my basket with veggies in a fit of, "I must have some really healthy food this week," but then forget that I won't have time to cook it, so some time later I find it all wilted in the bottom of the fridge.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-09 06:53 pm (UTC)
I've never considered freezing milk.

Yes, I have a problem with veggies too. Luckily the rabbits think wilted greens and wrinkly apples are a luxury.
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[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2008-01-09 01:08 pm (UTC)
I always fall for two-for-one on fruit, even though I know I'm not going to get through that many apples/clementines/apricots in that time. If it's nice fruit like apricots, I can take the free bag into work for my colleagues.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-09 01:16 pm (UTC)
I don't have colleagues to share my excess fruit and veg with- but I do have rabbits...
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[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2008-01-09 01:46 pm (UTC)
Ah yes, and I have these guys for fruit and veg that's slightly past human consumption. My triumph was being given a bag of soft apples by a workmate, cutting them into rings and drying them in the microwave - no waste and dozens of free gerbil-treats.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-09 02:19 pm (UTC)
That's cunning.

I must try it sometime.
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[User Picture]From: dadi
2008-01-09 02:40 pm (UTC)
I feel your pain. In Italy it is even more difficult to find "ethical" meat. Nor eggs, or milk.

As far as milk goes, I have resigned myself to buying only the dead one, which keeps for months, even after being opened. I love fresh milk, but it is very seldom that I manage to finish a bottle of it without it going bad before :(
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-09 03:11 pm (UTC)
We get through an enormous ammount of milk- mainly in cups of tea or coffee.

Ethical, organic and fairtrade products are easy enough to find in Britain- it's just that they always cost more. For example, Freerange eggs are about 20% more expensive than battery ones.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2008-01-09 03:15 pm (UTC)
Yes. We do the same sort of shopping, also. But we are in a state of readjustment now as our older daughter just moved out and we are having to calculate just how much less of everything to buy since she was the big milk and other staples consumer in the house. I do buy extra meat when it's reduced and freeze it because that what I learned to do from my mother who was an expert at meal planning on a sheet metal worker's salary.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-09 06:56 pm (UTC)
Planning really is the key.

We found it made a big difference to our spending if we took the trouble to draw up a shopping list beforehand.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2008-01-09 04:27 pm (UTC)
YEs,I enjoy doing that too. I'd like to say any money I didn't spend that I budgeted for groceries went into my vacation fund...

We have an Aldis here that I enjoy shopping at. For my meat, I go up the street to Wegmans (and their prices are reasonable, anyway). But for me a freezer is a good thing - because I don't drive and there is nothing within walking distance.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-09 07:01 pm (UTC)
A car does make a huge difference. I used to eat a lot more frozen food in the days before we had one.
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[User Picture]From: richenda
2008-01-09 07:05 pm (UTC)
Ain't no Sainsbury's for miles - and when I go to Sainsbury's away from home, the prices are horrendous.
We've got Morrison's, Tesco and Safeway.
The third is cheapest and un-green, Morrison's is expensive and un-green - Tesco much the cheapest and greenest
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[User Picture]From: richenda
2008-01-09 07:06 pm (UTC)
I forgot Asda - also cheao and ungreen
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-09 10:35 pm (UTC)
We go to Asda sometimes- there's one in the town next door- a huge superstore. Sainsbury's is horrendously expensive- true- but it's the nicest of our local stores and I can't stay away- though i do try (increasingly) to buy basics elsewhee.

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From: (Anonymous)
2008-01-10 12:26 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid for your milk-flow problem the only solution I can think of is to buy a cow, however for bread we have a solution which seems to work very well. You buy a bread maker from argos for about £30. The money you save on buying loaves pays for this machine in about a year, then you still have the machine for many years use, and loaves of lovely homemade bread which cost less than half the price of shop bought bread. Plus you know what went into them (not loads of ghastly preservatives). So as long as you are stocked up on flour and yeast you always have fresh bread "on tap". It takes 5 minutes to load up the machine, and about 3 hours for it to churn out a loaf.. Tom F
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-10 03:35 pm (UTC)
I used to make my own bread. It's a good while ago now and I forget why I stopped. I think I may just have wanted a change. I believe I still have the breadmaker somewhere. I should perhaps consider digging it out.
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