At the top of the new year, I mentioned working/journalling with this free workbook, A Make Do and Mend Year Sustainable Planner--for setting monthly goals for sustainable living--from My Make Do and Mend Life. Each month offers a topic of focus for living in more sustainable ways.
The topic for January is Making Do: use it up, wear it out, make it do... or do without.
With make do and mend in mind, for January our big focus is NO SHOPPING. Food and absolute essentials only. And even then, really asking, what is a necessity?
Apart from TJ very much needing new winter shoes, and Luna needing a new sack of her dry food...only food has been bought. And I'm "shopping" our freezer and pantry cupboard, using what we have stored already as much as possible.
Pantry and Stockpile... Around Christmas/New Year we refreshed our pantry and food stockpile for winter. For our stockpile, usually I try to aim for having at least--
* 4 x cans of chopped tomatoes
* 4 x cans of beans
* 4 x cans of tomato beans (to make my own baked beans)
* 4 x cans of vegetables
* 4 x cans of tuna, or other fish
* Jam --we love jam, so homemade or quality ready-made jam is always around
* Stock concentrate --a couple of bottles of liquid stock concentrate around for making soup, stews, etc., if there isn't homemade stock in the freezer.
* Pasta --sometimes we get to buy this in bulk bags, and nice to have two types on hand for variation
* Rice --we buy in a bulk bag
* Flours & yeast --always on hand to bake bread
* Eggs --we love eggs, and always have some in the fridge.
Why we stockpile...
* If one of us is sick --we have easy food to prepare...
* If we need to economize --we shop the pantry cupboard first...
* If the weather is bad, on a weekend say, --we have food...
We have a small stockpile which we shop for, maintain, and rotate on a regular basis. While it's not a big stockpile, it works for us and situations we encounter, and the space we have for storage. I try to be sure we have a week's worth of food in canned or dry form, supplementing with what we have frozen. It's food we like to eat, can easily use to create simple, healthy meals, and that will often yield some leftovers. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of stockpiling, I can recommend this article, Building a Basic Stockpile from Little House Living.
I cook from scratch every week. Eating out or getting a take-away is expensive here in Norway, so that is something we save mostly for special occasions, or while out & about, if necessary. Preparing meals at home is healthier, most of the time it is more tasty and interesting, as well as saves money. Very often I make food in bulk to freeze--soups, stews, sauces, casseroles. We shop weekly for fresh food. I create a weekly menu, and we plan and shop from that menu... trying not to deviate from the list. I only plan a week's worth of meals at a time. Sometimes around holidays I may plan for two weeks. A lot depends on schedules, appointments, activities, church, etc. I like to leave room for flexibility, if needed, because life happens!
We restocked on candles for winter too, as we used a good many during Christmas. The extra glow is so cheery these days... (Candles help me survive winter --but is that a necessity? ;)
Along with "shopping" our pantry and kitchen, I'm "shopping" my craft stash. No craft purchases this month, or for a while. And, actually, with my little cupboard full of yarn, I don't need much or anything new. (The yarn in the middle drawer are skeins for completing my Ocean Ripple crochet blanket--which has been on the hook for a long while, and I'm still working on it...*sigh*...)
While aiming to spend less this month, that includes extras or entertainments. We have a nice collection of board games we like to play. Winter is especially nice for a cozy evening at home, drinking hot chocolate, and playing games! And that doesn't cost much! ;)
We use the library a LOT all the time, but even more when going through a period of economy. Books, music, films we borrow frequently--and for free. Being book lovers, we have reading at home. Over the years we've whittled down our collection of books to very favorites... and it's nice to revisit old favorites. These are some of our books, and we have some in other parts of the house too.
This coming weekend we have a day trip to Oslo to meet friends, so fun day in the big city! Hopefully the cost of the fun day won't cancel out all the good we're trying to do this month... But... so far so good for January...
* NO SHOPPING --food and absolute essentials only ...what is essential? --completely skipped the January sales, avoiding shopping centers, etc.
* Continue weekly meal planning with focus on shopping what's in the freezer, pantry cupboard and stockpile
* No yarn or other craft purchases --use stash, take inventory of stash, mend clothes, etc.
* If it's broken, fix it --or, do we even need it?
* Free entertainments and treats at home --use library, games at home, walks, look for free events, etc.
Are you going through a period of economy at the moment, like so many often do/need to during January? Do you have any tips or ideas to share? Do you have a special project or focus for this month, or for the year?
UPDATE: January 31, 2018 Well, the no shopping went OK for most the month for us. At the end of the month, I did take advantage of the last of the January sales and bought a pair of ski trousers and super-woolen underwear for winter walks and being outdoors. It has been a really cold winter, and I've been bothered by the cold when out & about, and needed something extra to keep warm. Also, while visiting with friends in Oslo, while at the Norsk Folkemuseum I purchased a special needle made of bone to learn old technique of nålebinding, a way of creating a fabric with yarn that predates both crochet and knitting. And this sweet set of sewing needles. My Mom had a set exactly like this a long time ago! I went all wobbly with nostalgia and just had to have the needle set. :/ So very practical, useful things...but did break the shopping rule. We will have to revive the No Shopping another month, maybe most months we need this challenge!