Archive for the 'Self sufficiency' Category

Single parenting: reducing costs and self sufficiency

Openconversation’s post on Budgeting as a single parent chimed with me as I’m currently in the throes of looking how I can reduce my costs significantly this year so that I can take three weeks statutory parental leave.  This is of course unpaid which, along with the week’s leave I’ve bought as part of my company benefits scheme, means that I’m looking at sacrificing a month’s wages.  Except it’s more than that because I then also need money to be able to do things with my currently 18 month old daughter on that time off.

I’m still pondering (all tips gratefully received) but one objective is to try and grow some of my own vegetables. I try and purchase organic food whenever I can and I’m trying to make the shift to buying seasonally but my addiction to Indian and Italian food means that I’m not yet emotionally ready to sacrifice tomatos and peppers in the winter despite my knowledge of the food miles they are travelling.  At this point my organic, seasonal, sustainable side goes sticks its fingers in its ears and says “la la la not listening” and I begin muttering about the cost of the inevitable trauma counselling that might ensue.

Stage one is complete.  I have bought a ‘grow house’ which is a metal frame with a plastic covering over the top the size of a greenhouse which I can use in the small patio I have with my flat.  Idea being if my landlord turfs me out in the summer when my tenancy is up it’s quick and easy to move it.  My aim is to grow tomatos and peppers and try and cook sauces and store them as much as I can in addition to having a longer season of the red goddesses than usual. 

The greenhouse was £40 and the seeds were about £3.  I buy about 6 organic tomatos at about £1.38 per week so x 52 that’s about £72 worth of tomatos a year.  I also buy about 4 organic peppers per week at a cost of about £3.10 per week or £161 per year.  It’ll be interesting to see if this saves me any money this year.

I’m looking forward to my daughter seeing the process from seedlings to plants to plate.  Companion planting is a new subject to me but I’ve been reading up on it and apparently you should grow marigolds to deter aphids so I’m putting munchkin officially in charge of the marigolds over the summer.  Allotment Growing has been an invaluable aid in researching this subject.

Stage two is underway – cooking extra food with dinner so take into work as lunch each day.  This one is going to need work.  When I can stop eating the extras cooked with dinner as part of dinner then maybe this one will progress.  This is going to be a natural hindrance to stage three which is actually use my gym membership and start to get fit working on the assumption that a fitter mummy is a leaner mummy who may eat more of the right things, less of the wrong things and hence the food bill will go down accordingly.  Otherwise I shall remain as a female adult version of my daughter’s most beloved of all bears, Winnie the Pooh…smiling and tum te tumming in a cute way but don’t mention the belly sticking out from under the t-shirt.

Watch this space!

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