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’….
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank you for reading my blog today.
I will be back on Monday at 4pm.