Monday, March 29, 2010

My Garden, My Food, My family, My Budget

March 2010

These last two weeks have been bountiful in the harvests, and our family has enjoyed eating fresh picked and home-grown food.

Some of the produce harvested this week – Over 10kg of Zucchini, 4kg of Almonds, 3 Chestnuts, 1 Mandarin, 500g of Blackberries. (Please no comment on the quantity of Chestnuts and Mandarines, this is the trees’ first fruiting season)

This week I’ve made Zucchini Chutney, Fig Jam (courtesy of the neighbours) every meal has had Zucchini in it and the Blackberries didn’t make it more than 2m from the bush, the same for the Mandarin and the Chestnuts which will have a ceremonial roasting when we light the fire.

There is currently a debate on eating locally, eating locally produced in-season food. I agree. Alright – you can have strawberries and apples in the middle of winter, but people just don’t realize is that cost of growing, storing and transporting those vegetables to places they are not meant to be in the middle of winter is huge, not just the dollar value – but the cost to environment and your health.

It is estimated that if a family were to eat ‘in-season’ i.e. fruit and vegetables that are grown in the area AND in season at the time of shopping, this could save as much as 20% in plain dollar terms. On the average bill of $50, that would mean a saving of $10 per week which is a whopping $500.00 saving per year. Simply by buying what is right not what is wanted.

Add to that cost, the cost of keeping and transporting out of season and out of area fruit and the cost to the environment is huge. The cost can add up to 500% to out of season fruit and vegetables. Imagine paying 500% for your electricity. Would you do that if you had alternative choices? I don’t think so.

Not everybody has access to a garden, but you have family and friends and often they have fruit trees that are bending, almost breaking with the weight of fruit. Why not stew some, jam some, eat some, just plain old use some.

The cost of good quality jam is around the $4.00-$5.00 mark – why not reduce that to $0.50-$1.00. I made fig jam this week and the cost was $2.00 for the sugar and about 3 hours effort with little monitoring. The jars, well you collect those all year, so the cost is nothing. I made 12 jars of Fig jam which will last for 12 months and there is enough to give away to friends.

My garden grows my food, as long as I look after it. My food is for my family and it must be of a high quality. We waste nothing, if we can’t use it immediately, we find something that can be made so the produce is not wasted. If all else fails we blanche the products and freeze for later use.

My budget for food shopping is pretty good, simply because we buy specials, we buy bulk items and we do without and supplement where we can. So mushrooms in the casserole? You can do without, without affecting the taste!

And if you are looking for a cookbook - look at Cookbook for Marysville


  1. What a practical and uplifting post! The piccies on your other posts look amazing. Any chance we can see a photo of your larder for this one? Best regards, P. :)

  2. Paul - the impossible - but I shall try - I know the almonds are spread out all over the dining room table and the jan is already in the cupboard. But I'll organise something just for you!

    Thanks for the comments!

  3. I so miss having a veggie garden. In another life/another house I had a huge one and boy it was so many kinds of awesome. I think next Spring I'll do tomatoes on my balcony again... they're rewarding.

  4. tomatoes, peas, strawberries - there are so many things you can do on a balcony - they are rewarding - but also yummy - and that is more important!

  5. mmmmm that sounds like heaven! I can think of nothing more satisfying to the soul than making fig jam.

  6. It is heavan and I wouldn't swap it for anything in the world.
    The mushrooms have only just finished, the nettle looks good, we might make some lasagna or soup, but someone's got to pick them and I'm not sure I'm 'that' guinea pig!
    Thanks for the comment Serena