“Simple Living In The Modern Day”

This week I watched the first episode of the new series of the ‘Great British Bake Off’ (BBC Two on Tuesday Evenings).  I don’t watch many programs on TV, but I enjoyed the last series so I made a special effort to watch it.

For those who have never seen this program, the contestants bake the most amazing cakes, biscuits, breads and desserts that all look stunningly perfect and Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood taste and judge their heavenly creations.

At the end of the program I made a comment to my youngest daughter that I would love to bake as well as the contestants on the program and she replied “you always bake a perfect chocolate cake”, which is not quite true but it made me feel nice and gave me a warm feeling inside.

I then began to think about ‘baking’ and ‘cooking from scratch’….

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‘Afternoon Tea’ at our house

I enjoy baking and cooking meals from scratch and I feel it is part of living a ‘simpler life’.  I love the contented feeling I have when I see my family happily eating the food I have produced for them.  The meals I cook are not always perfect and I sometimes have the odd burnt bits on top, or some cakes may slope to one side, but as long as the things I cook are within our budget, healthy, taste nice and fill empty stomachs, then I have achieved what I set out to do.

I know most people just do not have the time to cook meals from scratch or even ‘want’ to cook meals from scratch, but I enjoy it and love the challenge of feeding my family healthily on a tight budget, which is why I took on my allotments.  My allotments enable me to provide my family with organic fruit and vegetables, which we wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford.  It took me a while to get into the swing of growing my own food, but now it is second nature and it is something I really enjoy.

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Between 1st January 2011 and 31st December 2011, when I was cultivating three plots (I have four plots now), I worked out how much money I saved by growing my own fruit and vegetables during the year.  When I picked any fruit or vegetables I weighed them the same day and worked out how much they would have cost me if I’d bought the ‘value’ (not organic) version  from my local supermarket and made a note of this on a spreadsheet.  I picked the cheapest priced fruit and vegetables to work the cost out, as this is what I would have to buy if I didn’t grow it myself, even though my vegetables were grown organically.

By the end of the year I had picked and used £1454.53 of fruit and vegetables and this didn’t include things which you just can’t buy from the supermarkets e.g. patty pans, kohl rabi and fresh gherkins.  So I decided it definitely pays to ‘grow your own’.

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By growing my own fruit and vegetables I know that no pesticides have been used to grow them and by using basic ingredients to cook from scratch, I nearly always know what my family are eating.

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Cooking from scratch is a skill I learnt over time, by reading cookery books, blogs and looking up recipes on the internet.  Years ago my friends used to call me the ‘packet mix queen’ as I never cooked anything myself.

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I learnt to cook because I had to, as money was so tight, but it’s something I really enjoy doing now.  All the recipes I use are not difficult and can be made easily.

When my confidence grew,  I followed this by learning how to preserve my fruit and vegetables, use leftovers and then I started to batch bake.  Finally I learnt to make my own laundry liquid here and clean using old fashioned cleaning methods, using lemons, olive oil and white vinegar, which avoids using harsh chemicals.

I have written about old fashioned cleaning methods here.

The above things all helped to save money.  I am still learning new things as I go along today.

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My blog title today is ‘Simple living in the modern day’:-

I think my generation have the best of both worlds, as in the past cooking from scratch and cleaning would take all day to do.  We now have the advantage of modern day appliances that make cooking and cleaning much easier.  We have bread makers, microwaves, washing machines etc.  which all make light work out of the things that would have taken our ancestors a long time to do, but we also have the benefit of their experience and knowledge too.

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Through reading blogs on the internet I have realised that there are a lot of people out there that want to live more simply in our modern day world and I’m hoping that simple living blogs like mine will help people to take their first steps towards this way of life, enabling them to leave empty ‘materialistic’ lives behind them.

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We started living this way because of necessity (we chose to live on one wage so I could stay at home with our children).  My children are now 15 and 13 years old and yes I could have gone back to work a long time ago, but we chose for our life to continue in the same ‘simple’ way, as we think this way of life is the best way of life for us.

The journey hasn’t always been easy, but now we can see and reap the rewards.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at 4pm.

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26 thoughts on ““Simple Living In The Modern Day”

    • I’m sorry you are feeling down today, hopefully this feeling will pass soon. When I feel down I make myself a nice hot chocolate and read blogs too and they always make me feel a bit better…and then I go to bed as my down days are usually when I am tired.

  1. Greetings from New Hampshire … I am with you 100% about
    self-sufficiency and home cooking. I also make my own laundry detergent and work a vegetable/flower garden with
    my husband. He makes all of our bread and has for years.
    I might take your hint and try to see how much we save by growing our own veggies and fruits. But best of all we know where they come from and enjoy the freshness. Love your blog … learn a lot from it. Marion

    • Hi Marion, thank you so much for your comment. I used the Tesco website each time I harvested some fruit or veg to price up what it would have cost me to buy it. I used ‘value’ versions, but I’m sure organic would have pushed the prices up loads. I know I could grow far more than I actually do on my four allotments, but I enjoy growing flowers etc and like my things spaced out for convenience lol.

      It’s great to hear from like minded people, I wonder how many of us are out there?…as I don’t actually know anyone that lives a simple life locally. I think we all do our thing quietly, thinking other people would think we are mad to live the way we do, when really we should be shouting it from the rooftops as this way of life is great.

  2. I think when you grow your own cooking from scratch is a way of life.

    I did used to bake far more – I don’t bake much at all now as we found we were eating too many sweet thins and piling on the weight. When it’s there it’s just too tempting!

    When I started teaching primary children we had baking sessions and then the curriculum became so prescriptive that things such as baking were squeezed out. The practical things which allowed non-academic children to shine were the casualties.

    My ethos was that children should be taught to live not just be taught facts to learn and cooking should most certainly be a high priority. AMy next door neighbour confessed to me that at 40 she was baking her first buns – amazing . I also feel that stay at home mums shouldn’t be made to feel second rate – the onus seems always to be on helping with child care so mums can go back to work which sends the message that they SHOULD go back to work and looking after the children is less valuable. Not so!

    • Well said Sue, I totally agree, mothers are encouraged to go back to work and now people think you are crazy if you don’t. I understand that not everyone has the choice to stay at home to be a homemaker, but when you can it is so rewarding. With hard budgeting and determination we have been lucky enough for me to stay at home with my daughters but I can honestly say I don’t know one other family that has one parent that stays at home when their children were old enough to go to school (except for people I read about on the internet). I do think this is sad as some people could afford to live on one wage if they gave up material things like two holidays abroad a year,two cars instead of one, designer clothes etc, but they feel the pressure to keep up with the Jones. Though saying that lol, I could be totally wrong.

      • I know this isn’t always the case but I know a couple of families where mum worked so they could buy the children everything they wanted! The only thing the children lacked was time spent with them. They were loved and indulged materially but maybe starved of attention. In both cases the boys ended up on the wrong side of the law!

        I know many working mums successfully manage the balancing act better than that but it does show providing children with everything they want materially doesn’t mean they will be happy

      • That is so true Sue and children will get one thing and then want the next thing too and on and on it will go. It can be never ending if you don’t say no to them and they will never know the meaning of money.

  3. Such a great post, my husband and i hope to grow on a much much larger scale next year, and so great to hear how much you saved, i read the whole post out to him, we love our simple way of life and is so important to know it works too for others.
    sue

  4. Great post and I’m amazed how much money you’ve saved. Since having my son my partner and I have switched to working part-time so we really had to save money and I have to say cooking everything from scratch has made all the difference and as you say it’s much healthier. I began baking all of our bread as it was so expensive to buy (we have the added complication of living in rural Scotland with only one local shop!). When I bought my house I knew the size of the garden would be a real challenge to a non-gardener but over the last three years I’ve done my best to grow something to eat. It’s been a real challenge from being pregnant and not being able to bend to last year having a babe in arms. This summer my son has loved digging up potatoes and bringing them home in his toy tractor…………..I want him to grow up knowing where food comes from and how to cook. Surely this is a skill we should all pass onto the next generation. I really enjoy reading your blog each week and feel so inspired to get out there and try to grow just that little bit more to eat – thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion.

    • Hi Ali, thank you for your comment. You have done so well and should be very proud of yourself! It’s great that your son knows where fruit and vegetables come from. I remember that my youngest daughter was the only one in her class in the first year at primary school, that knew where potatoes came from. Other children gave answers “is it Tesco or Sainsburys?”, which I think is very sad.

      It must be hard having just one local shop, it’s hard to imagine when I live in a town full of shops of every kind. However, I would rather be living in the country like you, without the constant hum of cars, lorries and sirens from emergency services etc, sometimes it’s hard to even hear the birds here!

      Anyway, keep it up as your children will benefit from your way of life, well done!

      • Thanks and yes it is lovely to hear the birds sing even though we actually live next to a Trunk Road! Mind you in between ferry traffic there is silence 🙂

  5. I agree that I just love the challenge of feeding and caring for my family as healthily as possible. I am blessed that I love cooking, though I have trouble sticking to a recipe 100%. I tend to change things around a little as to what I think would work better, and most of the time it does…lol!
    And the home made cleaning products as well. Though I make mine out of necessity rather than because I’m trying to be greener. I have asthma, and nothing sets me off faster than store bought cleaners. (I gave up on using the title ‘chemical cleaners’ because its bosh. I mean, vinegar is a chemical, WATER is a chemical for crying out loud! My concious won’t let me use it, lol!) My Mum used some orange spray she buys from Aldi, and suddenly I was on the floor with blue lips! Pretty bad, mate.
    But I swear, your table always looks so TANTILIZING!!! I will always come away from your blog feeling hungry. Always.

    • Lol Mrs Yub you always make me laugh. Yes I suppose you are right about water and vinegar also being chemicals, but they are more natural that the awful cleaners they sell in shops.
      Goodness I didn’t know you suffered from asthma. My husband and eldest daughter also suffer badly, infact my daughter is still being monitored by the hospital as she was really poorly with it 18 months ago (we were there on Tuesday for a check up). Asthma can be so nasty can’t it.

      As regards to cooking, I think by changing ingredients it shows that you are a good cook, as you have a good idea of what will and won’t work…so carry on the way you are Mrs Yub.

      I love reading your comments.

  6. Hi! I enjoyed reading your post today (and every day). Your food photos make me hungry! I have always cooked from scratch and it’s funny but I sometimes would think that my kids wouldn’t realize that I was trying my best to serve them good healthy food instead of food with all chemicals in it and pre – cooked but they both grew up loving to cook and do it every day. I’m so glad they have that habit and I hope they pass it along to their kids. Especially important in today’s world to eat fresh food with all the things you read about chemicals being used on these huge farms. I live in the US and I can only have a garden for a few months out of the year. The rest of the time it’s too cold but I make the most of it while I can. Organic foods are best but they are so over priced here. I can’t really afford to eat organic every day.

    • Hi kearnygirl, thanks for your lovely comment. Organic foods are really expensive over here too and there isn’t much choice in our shops either.
      As regards to cooking from scratch, I bet they will pass their skills onto their children….you have done really well and should be proud of yourself, your children are now proof of this.

  7. hi, just recently discovered your amazing blog and love reading it! You are an inspiration – four allottments! That’s a shed load of work! I can identify with how you feel as when we bought our smallholding 15 years ago, I too had no likeminded friends and my friends thought we were odd and I still don’t know anyone personally/locally but love the internet for connecting with likeminded people like yourself, its such a support. I still strive to make better use of the veg patch and live as simply as possible. my partner is retiring this year so we hope to have more time on our land (and a lot less money!) and I know its going to be more of a challenge to manage financially but you cant buy time can you? Or health? And I really believe living simply gives you both of those.
    now I’ve been looking at your cake pics will have to make one this morning, just the weather for it, as its tipping down here in ne England and I can’t get outside 🙂
    best wishes margy

    • Hi margy, thank you for lovely comment. You are so right about like-minded people, it’s lovely to talk to people (such as yourself) on blogs like this. If it wasn’t for the internet I would have thought I was adnormal lol. I agree, the weather is rotten isn’t it. I think it’s affecting the whole country today, but the ground so needs it.

      Look forward to hearing from you again.

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