In the Kitchen...
I love roast lamb! I cooked up the second to last roast in the freezer and we enjoyed it with broccoli, sweetcorn and kumara. The sweetcorn was from last year's garden, or maybe the year before (blanched and frozen). I think I'll turn the rest that is in the freezer into soup or something - it's just not at nice as fresh! The broccoli was fresh from the garden - still lots of it growing on the plants I planted in the greenhouse last winter, as well as more on the younger plants in the garden. Kumara was on special for $3.99/kg, but can't wait to harvest some of our own soon!
In the Garden....
Pink banana jumbo squash are the stars of the season - I only planted three plants, but they're everywhere! And most of them are whoopers! I also have crown pumpkins, buttercups, butternuts, and spaghetti squash.
All the plants are intermingled - below is a pink banana jumbo, and crown pumpkin, and something that's supposed to be a spaghetti squash, but I suspect that one of the seeds I planted was either mis-packeted or had crossed with something (bought seed) - so will be interesting to see how that one tastes!
Another big healthy cauliflower. Folk in the FB NZ vege gardener's group were complaining that caulis are $9.99 each in stores at the moment! Crazy! Growers are complaining that this year's humid weather has brought rampant fungal diseases etc to a lot of crops, especially leafy greens, thus driving prices still higher to come. With one thing and another, there's no better time to be growing your own. And a key is to grow a diversity! In a commercial mono-culture, if the crop fails, well that's it. But in a diverse backyard garden, if my potatoes fail, I can still eat yacon and kumara and dahlia and canna lilly tubers. If there's no broccoli, there's still silverbeet and beans. And so on. Plus the bigger the diversity, the wider the numbers of beneficial insects to keep the bad bugs and in some cases diseases under control. Every time I pick kale, I check for praying mantises on the leaves, and return them to the plants - those guys are keeping the white butterfly caterpillars and whitefly under control!
Potatoes in buckets. I've got spuds in two different garden beds, as well as quite a few that have popped up in my yacon and strawberry patches. And these guys in buckets. Quite a few different varieties, two small potatoes from last year's crop in each bucket. Cheap-as potting mix, no extra feeding. Looking forward to seeing what is produced.
I've sown some seeds in the greenhouse - a few more plants of broccoli, cauil and cabbage, some celery, parsley, beetroot, leeks, red onions, brown onions, spring onions. I've sown the onions and leeks quite thickly in deep round pots - that way their roots can get quite long, and I should have lots of seedlings to separate out and plant.
Soon I will sow peas and leaf lettuces.
I also potted up the seedlings of broccoli, cauli and cabbage which I sowed a while back, and have put them under nets to keep off the white buttefly - I was slow doing this, so had to pick of all the caterpillars and eggs already on them first. These should be planted outside in about 4 weeks time. I best get some ground prepped for them!
This Week's Spending....
5 ltr malt vinegar for bottling $8.18
2 ltr milk $3.43
4 boxes tissues $4.00
Dishwashing liquid $2.69 (organic - my husband doesn't like the homemade one as it doesn't cut grease well enough for him - fair enough; will keep experimenting)
Almond/coconut milk $3.99
16 rolls extra long toilet paper $11.98
Spaghetti pasta $0.99
2 ltr tomato sauce $5.09
GF bread x2 $13.41
Balance forward: $16.26
This week's allowance: $50.00
This week's spend: $53.76
Meanwhile, I'm quite surprised that in spite of not buying any since before Christmas, I have not yet run out of: laundry powder, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, moisturisers, deodorant, autodishwasher tablets, dishwashing liquid (almost - still have some left, but have now made one batch of my own, and just bought a bottle of another to try this week), cleaners, ziplock bags, bin liners, gladwrap, baking paper, or foil. I honestly thought a lof of these would have run out sooner, forcing me to experiment. Oh well - I still plan to experiment with home made versions of many of these in due course, and will post successful recipes or alternatives. Now, it's good to have stock of frequently used items on hand and purchase when on a good special, but this has been an eye-opener on just how much less of all these things we use these days, since the kids left home (remember, I'm still adjusting from having gone from a family of 7-8 (with boarder) to only 2 in quite a short space of time).
I have succeeded in working my way through most of my frozen stock of bananas, tomatoes (turned into bottled products), a lot of bones now made into stock, and some of the meat etc. With a bit of sorting, I can probably compact most of what's left in one freezer into my other one. Which is good - as the butcher is coming soon; we need to reduce our sheep numbers, and I'll need some room for frozen meat. We've got some more ducks and a couple of roosters we need to process too.
Going forward, I intend to continue to focus our meals around what is available in the garden. I'd really like to get to where we only need to buy a very few food items, and can live almost entirely out of the garden/homestead. That isn't just about money, but about eating fresh, healthy, wholesome foods.
The main downside of this little challenge has been that I've done baking I normally wouldn't. Which meant I ate it too. Which meant I put on a few kilos. Sigh. Time to reverse that!
On the plus side, I have shown myself that I can spend a lot less than I have been, and still eat well. I need to go back to regular meal planning, and planning my shopping more closely, buying only what we really need. This spend next to nothing challenge has been great for recalibrating my shopping and spending!
Did following along inspire you to try anything different or change the way you do anything? Do tell me about it in the comments if so. :-)