Isolationism or Self-Reliance

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I have seen the following text and similar being shared in various posts on Facebook over a number of weeks.

Two can play that game China
Threaten our economy
All products from China will be left on the shelf !
Who’s With Me

However, there never seems to be any commentary from the person sharing the post as to how they actually propose to achieve this goal of not buying products that are made in China.

I believe that wherever possible we should be buying food produced in Australia.  Fresh and unprocessed food are generally the best nutritional option.  Additionally, packaged food may be produced in Australia but presented in packaging from China or elsewhere.  It is highly unlikely that you would be able identify where the packaging was sourced.

Food is not the only thing that most of us buy.  There are clothes, shoes, homewares and hardware supplies.  When was the last time that you checked where your purchase was manufactured?  Does it matter?

In my opinion, it is more important to be a conscious consumer generally rather than targeting goods from one particular country.  Buy only what you need (not want), understand what is ‘enough’, care for and repair what you have and source pre-loved items where possible as ways of stepping away from over-consumption.

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Over-consumption means that we are drowning in ‘stuff’ that is cheaply mass-produced in countries such as, but not exclusively, China.  Become a conscious consumer and you will immediately significantly reduce the products you are buying from China.

Your thoughts?

Ugly Duckling

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A quick Google search will yield numerous results for the term ‘ugly fruit and vegetables’.  I do not know where or how the description originated but it simply refers to that produce which does not meet the consumer’s expectation of perfection.  There is a new wave of consumers who have realised that imperfect shape or non-conforming size do not render produce useless and destined for the waste bin.

While not specifically designated as ‘ugly fruit’ our local fruit and vegetable stall does have less than perfect items available from time to time.  You need to be prepared to chop, puree, freeze or preserve the entire quantity as soon as possible as it generally has a limited shelf life.  You can turn ‘ugly ducklings’ into ‘beautiful swans’.

Although I always write a shopping list for my shopping, including fruit and vegetables, I am always on the lookout for anything extra that I can use.

About a month ago I found a box of ripe yellow peaches that were most definitely seconds.  I decided that I could not go wrong when I noticed they were priced at $5 for the box.  I discovered that there were 6kg of peaches and I only needed to discard 2 peaches and removes spots from a couple of others.  Some were pureed and frozen to go on my cereal in the future and others being dehydrated while more were set aside in the refrigerator to be used fresh during the following days.  My favourite was the 5 jars of peach and chilli chutney made from this recipe.

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Yesterday we needed to replenish our supplies after our holidays and I spied another box for $5 at the fruit and vegetable stall.  This time it was pineapples.  12 small pineapples for $5 was a bargain not to be passed up.  Once again, despite not looking great from the outside, there was only a small portion that I needed to discard.

I did not make anything particularly fancy but I have plenty of pineapple frozen and ready to use.  Some is pureed for use on my cereal and the remainder is small slices packed into containers.  It is quite easy to remove as much or as little as is required for a particular recipe.

This is the haul (after I had eaten a couple of pieces).

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Do you look for seconds or bargains when buying fruit and vegetables?  What have you found and how did you process it?

 

Something from Nothing (Almost)

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About a week ago I made Thai Beef Salad for dinner.  The first step was to marinate some thinly sliced beef which was done the day before.  I did not not have a recipe for the marinade but it did include lime juice, olive oil and fresh chillies.

On the night I quickly pan-fried the beef before adding it to the salad.  The meal was truly delicious.

However, the essence of this post is the residue that remained in the pan.  After dinner I added a cup of water to the pan and heated it gently to lift the remnants of beef marinade.  This resulted in a rich and tasty ‘stock’ which I allowed to cool and then froze.

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Today I thawed this to make gravy.  All that was required was a sprinkle of herb salt and 1 tablespoon of arrowroot blended with a little water and I had a delicious gravy.

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A simple yet tasty meal – sausages with mash, peas and carrots topped with gravy made from last week’s pan residue.

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A Frugal Mindset – 3

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Well, I actually had 2 rest days but here I am, back again with number 3.

3. Frugal people know small expenses add up to big ones. I think we’ve all thrown something extra into the shopping cart because it was only a buck, or grabbed up the clearance item because it was just such a great deal despite having no idea how we’d use it. While getting a great deal for items you need is worth it, frugal people also realize something else — those small expenses add up to real money, so they can distinguish between impulse purchases and those that are necessary. There’s a reason frugal people are known as penny pinchers, they grasp the concept of a little bit adds up to a lot.

Question to ask yourself: Do I want to buy this because it’s a great deal, or because it’s just a small amount of money, or because I really need it and have a plan for how I’ll use it? 

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I feel that I have a pretty good grasp on this one.  I can honestly say that I very rarely buy anything that is not on my list or a planned spend.

I do not chase sale items for groceries or other household goods.  I shop intentionally and generally pay full-price for items but I believe it is still wiser than buying random stuff simply because it is on sale.  This works for me. I never have food that I do not know what to do with it because I only buy what we eat and what I need for the meals I have planned.  There are no clothes in my cupboard that have never been worn or piles of unused household goods.

What about you?

Taking Responsibility

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I stumbled upon this article online today.  It is about a study showing the correlation between age, gender, race and political ideology to belief in the reality of climate change and the impact caused by humans.  The content did not surprise me greatly, however, I was bitterly disappointed by the following couple of paragraphs towards the end of the article.

“But accepting climate change did not necessarily make you greener, at least in your home life, the study also found.

While those who accept human’s role in climate changes were more likely to take more public action, such as signing petitions or joining demonstrations, that was not necessarily replicated in private action, such as cutting energy use at home and using public transport over the car.”

I find this very sad indeed and downright depressing.  It is yet another example of the overwhelming apathy which so many people display.  Everybody wants ‘something to be done’ but expect that it is the responsibility of someone else, usually the government, the mythical ‘they’ or in the case of climate change, the global community or, at the very least, another country.

Australia may be a small player in the global sandpit in terms of population but we create far more than our share of mess when it comes to environmental vandalism.  Yet, our governments consistently drag the chain when it comes to making real changes that will tackle climate change and benefit the planet.  Sadly, government policy by all parties seems to be limited to the interval between the present time and the next election.  This is not limited to addressing climate change but policy in general.

In the absence of clear government action, the driver of change must come from each and every one of us.  Remember the saying, “mighty oaks from little acorns grow”.  We can and should all play our part in changing everyday habits.  Addressing the problem of climate change is not just about legislation, coal mines and power stations.  It is about each one of us doing our bit.

Can’t afford solar panels?  Live too far from public transport?  Organic food is too expensive?  This does not mean that you cannot make a significant contribution by reducing your carbon footprint.  In fact, many of the actions you can take to save money will also save the planet.

Buy second-hand – clothes, furniture, tools, toys
Do not waste anything – use up leftover food, finish the last shampoo in the bottle
Consider re-usable alternatives – cloth serviettes instead of paper, lidded containers instead of plastic wrap, refillable drink bottles instead of bottled water

These are just a few examples.

What have you done to reduce your carbon footprint?

Struggling?

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I read a post on Facebook this evening about a news report of households with an annual income of $200,000 struggling to make ends meet.

Payday

The responses were many and varied as you can imagine.  My contribution was to point out that living pay cheque to pay cheque can be a reality no matter what your income may be.  If you expenses are greater than you income you will struggle.  It is that simple.

There is no easy formula to being comfortable.  It can depend on a range of things such as your location, circumstances, skills, education and ability to manage your finances.

Here is the article.  What do you think?

Another definition of rich.