We are all still enjoying the lazy days of summer holidays, and no one more so than me! No set bed times or getting up times, being able to plan as much or as little to do as we please, eating at whatever time suits our activities for the day, and long stretches swinging in the hammock dreaming up big plans for the year. These are things that our holidays are made out of. But I am becoming more and more aware of how few lazy days we have left and how soon my day dreaming will have to turn into actual doing.
I am not one for making new years resolutions or grand ‘all or nothing’ type goals, but I do like to spend some of my down time thinking about how I can make the craziness of the busy days more organized, productive and better for my family. At this time of year I am inspired by lots of ideas, books and blogs and I am often left wondering how these motivating ideas could be worked into our lives.
One of the ideas that has inspired me this summer is Little Eco Footprints ‘Skipping the Supermarkets Challenge’.
In the past our family has been inspired to consume more local produce and be mindful of where the things we buy come from, so Trish’s idea to totally stop using all of the ‘super chain’ type stores really struck a chord with me. I dislike the monopolies of the super chains, the fact that they make so much profit while the primary producers receive so little and especially the disconnect between the food we eat and the items we consume and where these things really come from. But, to be totally and brutally honest, the idea of never shopping at a supermarket or super chain, even for a little while, scares me.
There are many excuses that I could use to explain why we couldn’t possibly take part in this challenge…
We have a groceries budget of $550 a month (I must apologies I put down budget at $450 initially which was our old budget, my husband pointed out that it is $550 a month now that the kids eat 12 nectarines in a day) and there is no way we could manage without using some of the super chains.
We don’t have many options or alternatives where we live – there are no food co-ops, no CSAs no bulk stores and to get to these things would mean an hour or more of driving.
We are renovating our house ourselves, there is no way we could do that without visiting that super duper chain hardware store… and often.
I could go on, but it’s easy to make excuses, and while they might make me feel better in the short term, they are not very helpful.
What is helpful is thinking about the things we can do.
Perhaps we can’t avoid supermarkets totally, but we can avoid them sometimes. We can make more informed choices about the ones we do visit, and what we buy from them. We can look for more alternatives that work for us. We can visit our local farmer’s markets (there is one close every weekend). We can choose the smaller locally owned supermarket. These may only be small changes but every little bit count, and I think just being more aware is a positive thing.
One thing we can definitely do is make more of our food from scratch.
It’s something I have been steadily building on for a while now. Cooking food from simple, real, ingredients, using less pre-made, chemical laden, convenience type food and ingredients. Not only do I feel this kind of food is healthier, it also means we spend less, we drive into the supermarket less and we lessen our dependency on those super chain stores.
Now I am not a total zealot. We still use and enjoy some convenience foods and even the occasional take out and we do so without guilt. My goal is not to eliminate these things from our lives all together, but to cut down on them, and to be more aware.
I am not a super confident cook, nor do I have much success experimenting and making things up in the kitchen, but most of the ‘made from scratch’ food items are really basic and a whole lot easier than I ever imagined. I have a growing list of things I can cook from scratch – pizzas, bread, cakes and even home grown popcorn!. But there are many more things I would like to try. Some things are not practical to try at the moment when my kitchen still has no walls, or ceiling and zero storage, but I’ve been putting off others that are quite doable even with only half a kitchen.
Do you make many foods from scratch?
Over the next few months my goal is to be more aware of what we buy from the super chains and look for more alternatives, but mostly to cook more from scratch, to try new recipes and to share my success, and failures, with you. So keep an eye out for my ‘made it from scratch’ recipe series!
Do you think you could avoid all super chains for a year? a month? forever?
If you are keen to give it a go, then pop over to Little Eco Footprints and sign up for the challenge. I’ll definitely be following along reading Trish’s journey with interest.