Chickpea. Neither chick nor pea. Discuss.

I’ll spare you the usual apologies for length between posts, but I will give you the sad update on my garden – neglect has finally claimed most of it, alas!!

With the exception of the daffodils, who continue to defy the odds by springing cheerily from the ashes on an annual basis, and the society garlic and passion fruit vine, which both appear to be doing well despite no intervention from me, the rest of the garden is in a sorry state. I think I will have to abandon the yearly attempts at blueberries, due to the inconsistent weather beating the poor little buds off the stems before they can even create the berries!! And my forgetting to water the avocado plant (and not noticing how much sun we were having) appears to have had a terminal effect on it 😩

I believe that having a more accessible garden will yield better gardening results, so am hopeful that the next place we live in will have such a garden, and that my future gardening reports will be more positive!!

That’s the growing – on the cooking and freezing front, the slow cooker really came into its own during winter, with chicken, lamb and beef turning into wonderful meals with minimal intervention – there’s something very satisfying about putting everything in a pot before you head off to work, then having an enticing aroma greet you when you return!! We would then eat the results for multiple meals, on pasta, couscous, in pies, in tortillas – very versatile!!

Abby, in the way of toddlers, sometimes likes our food, sometimes rejects it out of hand, so I continue to make meals for her and freeze them so there’s always something healthy on hand for her.  She is a big fan of spaghetti bolognese, and I have found that our recipe, with the addition of a number of extra veggies food processed into it, can pass muster for us all, so I make up a big batch, with zucchini, carrots, broccoli, spinach and whatever else is lying around in the mix with the mince, and we all enjoy it!! I crossed the line by adding bok choy to one batch, however – it gave it an odd taste, so I’m sticking to mediterranean veggies from now on! My pro tip for freezing meals for toddlers? Freeze the leftover rice or pasta in with the meal itself, so it’s all ready to go when you want it – you’d be amazed how well it defrosts, and you have a complete and balanced meal!

She is a great little eater, liking fruit and veggies by themselves as much as in curries, bolognese and the ever-popular frittata, so we are very lucky – our only complaint is that she isn’t a big fan of chips or nuggets, so when we eat out, we have to ensure that there are other options, ie if we order her schnitzel, mash and peas, she is likely to only eat the peas!

She has also been known to eat broccoli and zucchini raw, and there was an enjoyable dinnertime where she repeatedly called for ‘more broccoli’ – not something you usually hear from a toddler, I’m sure – we know we’re very lucky!!

Her favourite snack/addition to a meal is chickpeas. For a few months earlier in the year, she demanded chickpeas for every meal, even breakfast!! I only complied for dinner, creating a mix of chickpeas, veggies, garlic, veggie stock and canned tomatoes, which she very much enjoyed. After a break of a couple of months, the chickpeas are back in favour – she’ll eat them straight, (ie drained and rinsed from the can), and likes them added to other meals – I actually have to put limits on how many she can eat at one sitting, as surely too many can’t be good for the digestion!

I know, I know, parents reading this will want to kill us – don’t worry, we do know how lucky we are, and try to appreciate it while it lasts!

I also tried some creative chickpea cooking – the results were a bit crumbly, but still eminently edible, although I enjoyed them more than Abby did, she’s a purist, just wants the chickpeas by themselves!! The recipe for these cookies is from One Handed Cooks ( http://onehandedcooks.com.au/recipe/chickpea-cookies/), who I heartily recommend for all food baby and toddler!

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So I will leave you with a picture of Abby eating – I can’t believe she is already two!!

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Her fork handling skills are quite good, and she can drink from a cup without too many spills, so she’s really growing up! She’s very chatty, loves talking and singing and all music, and has varied interests ranging from the garbage trucks to her dolls to the Mickey Mouse club!

I think in the absence of any successful gardening adventures, I might use her as the ‘grow’ part of the blog for a while!!

 

An ode to fritatta

Hello all! Yes, it’s been a while between posts – I think I might have been overly ambitious thinking I’d have lots of time to post with a young one! A’s in a pretty good routine, we’re still doing 2 naps a day, although sometimes it’s more one morning nap then an afternoon ‘rest’ but not nap – she’s probably transitioning to one nap, but we still find her morning nap good for all of us, and enjoy our lunch outings, so we won’t transition just yet! 

But we are all in transition – I’ve just started a new job, J’s just started his PhD, and A has just started daycare 2 days a week, so lots of big changes for us this year! The rambling about nap time relates to how much time I actually have – she’s on the go most of the day, requiring supervision and/or interaction, especially in the crawling to walking transition, so I find I only have time in her nap time, when I’m often napping myself, showering, or cooking, so blogging has fallen to the wayside!

The garden alas hasn’t changed much – the random weather has not been great for planting, or my existing plants, like my poor blueberries – turns out blueberries are not self-pollinating, in that they need two plants to pollinating each other, so I’ve now got two, but sadly the storms trashed my original plant, and the new one has only produced a few little berries – as usual, holding out great hope for next year! I think the location of the garden and the hardness of the stones  makes it hard for me to remember and be inspired by it at the moment – my rosemary died again! But the mint is happy, as is the society garlic, so I’ll get some more herbs going again, and leave the more intense gardening for a while.

However, the baby food cooking and freezing definitely continues! I still make a fruit purĂ©e to mix in with natural yogurt, Weetbix and milk for A’s breakfast, although sometimes she has overnight oats, sometimes pancakes if I’m in the mood! So breakfasts are pretty standard and easy, cos we’re all half asleep!

As she is a big fan of finger food, and I’m a big fan of being able to eat as well, I like an easy lunch option that I can make in big batches, freeze, then easily defrost and have it ready to go. Enter the frittata! I was not a big fan of frittata as a youngster, and I can’t say that I love it now, it’s a bit too eggy for me. However, it is the perfect way to get lots of veggies into a toddler with miminal effort! Here’s how:

  1. Process/grate whatever veggies you have – I use to grate, now I save time and energy by using my little hand held processor, it would be even better with a bigger one! Any veggies will work – I usually have 4-5 in there, like baby spinach, zucchini, carrot, kumera, capsicum, broccoli, kale – whatever you want to use up!
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    Grated veggies pre mixing!


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    Defrosted serving of frittat ready to be devoured!

     
  2. In a different bowl, beat together 4-5 eggs – I’m sure you could use the non-egg  substitute if there are allergies.
  3. Then add 1-1/2 cups of flour to the eggs and beat well –  it depends how much veggie you have and how wet it seems, the flour will bind it together, so add  more if needed.
  4. Then add 1 cup of grated cheese and the veggies, mix together, pour into a baking tray, flatten down and bake for around 30-35 mins at 180 degrees.
  5. Voila! Once it cools a bit, I cut it into little squares suitable for toddler hands, then divide it into portions and freeze them, so there are plenty ready to go! I find it makes around 12-15 serves!

 

So that’s our lunch staple – I usually add some cucumber, some bread with avocado or peanut butter, a cheese stick and some fruit, and little miss is very happy!

And she can feed herself the frittata, so I can eat too! Win win all round! I’m still enjoying sneaking veggies into things, although I will also  need to keep encouraging her to eat them in their natural state as we go on!

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Oh yeah, love that fritatta!

Baby food

So, folks, it’s been a while between drinks over here at the blog, the usual reasons (baby, winter, general slackness!), and also because I have been taking far more photos of my baby than my garden! 

Winter has not been kind to my garden or my enthusiasm for gardening – as I reported last time, I planted a couple of new crops, which never went anywhere, and then it got colder, and darker, and I preferred to nap when my baby napped rather than struggle with difficult crops! So, the garden is not up to much – the society garlic, kale, avocado plant and chives still continue cheerily, but everything else isn’t up to much – when spring arrives, so will my enthusiasm! Also, having a crawling baby who puts everything in her mouth is hard to garden with, especially on the cold hard cobblestones in our backyard – I don’t think having her start to walk will make it easier to garden during the day when she and I are home alone, but as the evenings lengthen, I can hopefully attend more to my garden while my husband attends to her 😊

   
   
However, despite my gardening hiatus, my cooking and freezing has continued unabated! My pressure cooker gets a regular workout, as it is definitely cosy warming stew-style dinner weather! I follow some recipes when I have the ingredients or the interest, but my go-to dinner is:

– sautĂ© some onions and garlic, 

– brown the meat (some type of shank or stewing meat, usually red meat rather than chicken, as I haven’t tried to coordinate veggies and chicken yet), 

– then put whatever veggies are on hand with some stock, some herbs, some tinned tomatoes and the meat back in

– cook for about half an hour on high pressure. 

It makes enough for us to have for dinner a couple of nights in a row, and then a few meals for the baby too!

I find that even though I’m currently home on maternity leave, having a small human who depends on you for everything, ie food, entertainment, sleep and waste disposal, doesn’t leave much time for creating gourmet meals from scratch every night! I also prefer to nap when she naps or do other things rather than always making dinner then, so find double up meals such as in the pressure cooker invaluable, especially as they often taste even better the next day when the flavours have developed!

So, baby food – Abby is almost 10 months old now, and we started giving her solid foods around 5 1/2 months. We initially started with veggie purĂ©es, sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin, then added some fruits, apple, pear and banana, and avocado. Once she got used to it, and went up to 3 meals a day, then we started on meats and finger food such as steamed veggies, fruit, cheese and bread.

It took me a while to get comfortable with her feeding herself, as I was worried about choking, and when they gag, it can be quite scary! But she’s a great little eater, and certainly enjoys feeding herself, so we do a mix of mashed foods and finger foods nowadays for most meals.

The freezer is your best friend when it comes to baby food, because you can make larger batches and then freeze, so there’s always something on hand! I freeze her food in these little silicone icecube trays, the ones I use are Heinz, the bottoms are easy to pop out, which makes it easy to then put the little cubes in plastic bags or containers in the freezer, and then use the trays again for more food! 

  
What does she eat? Well, I’ll do a few posts breaking these up, and try and take more photos so it’s more interesting!

We try and make a mix of carbs, protein and healthy fats for each meal, and portion sizes are still something that I find a bit confusing. For breakfast, it depends on who is feeding her (my husband and I, neither of us morning people, take it in turns to get up with her around 7am and look after her in the morning).

If it’s me, I make extra porridge from my own serving and she has that with some fruit and Greek yogurt. If it’s my husband, Weetbix (the kids ones with less salt, there are mixed messages about salt before the age of 1, so we try and reduce it or avoid it), still with fruit and Greek yogurt. To save time and effort, when I make my own stewed fruit for my breakfast at the start of the week, I mash a bit up for her and then freeze it in the trays so there are easily accessible little cubes for us both! As it’s currently winter, and I try to eat seasonally with fruit, it’s pears, rhubarb and apples, and some prunes in hers to keep her regular! Also, to save money and effort, I have started making her yogurt in the EasiYo maker – to try and delay a love affair with sugar (I still struggle with mine!), we give her Greek yogurt rather than sweetened, and so far so good, she’s happy to eat it mixed with things in breakfast, or mixed with fruit later in the day as a dessert! So I make a batch of plain, then also separate some out and mix with fruit to use for other meals!

Sometimes she’s super keen on breakfast, sometimes she’s not – as breastmilk is still supposed to be a major component of her nutrition til age 1,  I give her a breastfeed first thing if I’m up, so she’s not then as hungry for breakfast til a bit later, whereas we switch it up if my husband is up. She is also becoming very independent and keen on feeding herself, which I’ll talk more about with the other meals, so I’m trying to think of nutritious breakfast finger food – we did pancakes the other day, which weren’t the greatest success, because I foolishly decided to make a big batch at the same time as trying to feed her, which meant I was distracted and she was frustrated, especially as I put the fruit purĂ©e on them, making them hard to grasp for her! I have frozen them and given them to her plain as part of breakfast and had much more success, which is good – that’s a tip I have learnt about baby feeding, if at first you don’t succeed, try again at a different time before ditching all your hard-cooked food!

  
Obligatory cute baby photo –  this is her eating breakfast a couple of months ago.

 So, suggestions for finger food breakfasts? What should I put on toast at that time of day?

Recent eats and garden update

Hello my lovelies,

I will get around to posting about my peanuts, once I get around to eating them – when you only produce a handful of them, you want to savour them appropriately! I’ve also realised that I don’t necessarily need to wait for something big to update you on, I can also do some more random updates on the bits and pieces going on in my life – let me know if you’re happy to read those as well, or what you would prefer!

However, despite my extreme laziness in the garden of late, there are developments to share with you! I have found that one of my tomato plants is currently defying the laws of nature and gravity, which I always like to commend! I’m of the ‘perhaps if I leave that almost dead looking plant for a few weeks/months something interesting might happen’ school of gardening, as you never know when a plant might suddenly spring back to life – my herbs frequently do this! So at the end of the tomato season a few months ago, I did pull out some obviously dead plants, but left this one because there were still a few green shoots. Recently, I noticed that while the bottom of the plant appears dead, the top of the plant hasn’t noticed, and is blithely growing flowers for new tomatoes, even though it’s on a very odd angle! This is why I love nature!! We’ll see how these tomatoes go …

See, the base of the plant appears dead, however new life continues to spring!

See, the base of the plant appears dead, however new life continues to spring!


A closer look at the impressive tomato flowers, defying the odds!

A closer look at the impressive tomato flowers, defying the odds!

Also, my pea plants are going well, growing up tall and hopefully will have pea pods to show you soon, but here is the plant in the meantime:

Pea plants in progress

Pea plants in progress

I also overcame my laziness (I blame a combo of questionable weather, general busyness and the fact that my increasing baby bump makes it harder to lean over!) in my winter planting yesterday. My compost has actually been going wonderfully well – full of worms, which I take to be a good sign of decomposition and general compost health!! So, yesterday I planted some more tomatoes, some broad beans, some English spinach, and some red cabbage – I still don’t know why the red cabbage didn’t grow at all a few months ago, so if that happens again, I’d say it’s the seeds, but we’ll see how these new crops go!

In food news, I have been enjoying my EasiYo yogurt so very much for breakfasts! In my usual porridge, on muesli in the warmer weather we had last week, as an afternoon snack, and on the weekend, I made myself a lovely plate of French toast, served with homemade yogurt, defrosted berries and maple syrup – it looks like a cafe meal, if I do say so myself!!

Cafe-ready French toast!

Cafe-ready French toast!

And last week I made an experimental salad that turned out wonderfully well – I poached some chicken thighs in some society garlic, peppercorns and parley, cooked some quinoa in chicken stock, roasted some pumpkin, and then all combined these with some rocket, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and homemade beetroot relish (which is awesome, by the way – canned or fresh beetroot, diced, with 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, bring to the boil then simmer until it’s nice and relishy looking and tastes tart but not too strong – it keeps in the fridge for ages and I add it to everything!) All the flavours went so well together, it was super yummy – apologies for slightly blurry photo, I will endeavour to stop taking photos like a guerilla and actually take time to take them properly!! And the good thing about poaching the chicken was that it created plenty of stock for me to freeze for future soups and stews!

Awesome chicken and quinoa salad!

Awesome chicken and quinoa salad!

So, that’s what’s been happening in my growing, cooking and freezing world of late!

Freezing points

I hate waste, hence my love of recycling, composting and repurposing of things as much as possible. One of the ways I avoid waste (and also save money!) is using my freezer constantly and effectively. In my future dream life, I will have a chest freezer, so that I can store all the things, all the time! Ah, imagine the buying in bulk that could occur … Alas, our house doesn’t really have the space (and as my logical husband points out, 2 people probably don’t require it either – darn logic!!) So, instead, I try and operate a rotation system to ensure that we use everything we freeze and create space for more!!

What sort of things do we freeze?
Everything!! Ok, not everything, some things don’t like to freeze very well, ie certain fruits and veggies that are already pretty watery like cucumbers or lettuce, or liquidy dairy like milk or yoghurt but those are in the small majority, most other things freeze!! I often say if it’s not tied down I’ll freeze it – I think it’s a really good way of ensuring there are always bits and pieces on hand to use!

I freeze fruit, as you already know, particularly berries, as well as other bits of fruit to make Yonanas. I freeze baked goods, ie when I make a pile of muffins or scones, then at least half go in the freezer for later. We freeze bread – I find that bread (particularly home-baked) doesn’t last very long, only a few days, so I tend to throw the rest of the loaf in the freezer so we always have bread on hand. We also freeze meat that we’ve bought and not used, either in its packaging, or if we’ve used part of it, then in a freezer bag, with date and quantity clearly labelled! We also freeze whole meals as well as parts of meals.

I also highly recommend freezing the small bits of leftover stuff that might otherwise sit in your fridge for a couple of weeks, going bad, until you throw it out, so that you can instead use it later, as it saves money and reduces waste – we often have the best intentions when it comes to using things up, but it is better to freeze it and have it available fresh for a few more months rather than discover after a week that you still haven’t used it up and it’s gone bad. In that vein, I freeze bits of tomato paste, salsa, stock, meat, where they don’t seem big enough for a whole serve, but can come in handy combined with other things, ie often you need a little bit extra tomato paste in a soup, and that little frozen bit comes in handy! Also, I find although we use a lot of cheese in different ways, we may not use the whole block before it goes mouldy, so we have recently frozen half the block, to be used later!

I also got a tip from a fellow blogger (http://trkingmomoe.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/pork-chops-and-potatoes-with-brussels-sprouts-and-water-chestnuts/)about freezing fresh herbs, that you can then cut off the bit you need and use in a meal like soup when making it, so I froze a bag full of our freshly grown basil for future cooking!

What do you need?
* Freezer bags – I love the sandwich size as well as the mini size with the snap-lock close, as they’re easy to use and stack.
* Plastic containers, for bigger/bulkier items, although beware this takes up more space in the freezer, so rotation becomes key!
* Permanent marker (for the labelling of the freezer bags), and labels (for the labelling of the plastic containers).

One of the things that I highly recommend is freezing things in pre-separate portions, so that they can be used as single meals for dinner or lunch without having to defrost a large amount and potentially wasting food. Anytime we cook something like pasta sauce, or pasta, or lasagne, or pies, or soup, or casseroles, or anything in the pressure cooker etc, we tend to make enough portions for 6-8 rather than just 2 – my mother has taught me well, that if you’re already cooking, it’s almost the same effort to do double as single, and then you have plenty of leftovers!! We frequently take leftovers for lunch the next day, but if we’ve got more than that, or are going to be out etc, then we will freeze them.

We freeze in two main types of containers – if the food is a fairly sizeable portion, then we’ll freeze in a plastic container, so it’s ready to just take out and take to work or use for an easy dinner.

Example of meal frozen in plastic container!

Example of meal frozen in plastic container!


If it’s something where things will be added to it, like meat for burritos/tacos, or spaghetti sauce, or burger patties, or something else needs to be done to it, like uncooked meat or sauces, then we tend to freeze them in portions in freezer bags, so they’re ready to take out and defrost and be added to the rest of the meal. Labelling is very important – I label with minimum date and contents, and also size of things like stock or sauces, so I know how much I’ve got to work with!
A staple - spaghetti bolognese sauce!

A staple – spaghetti bolognese sauce!

This looks surprisingly similar to spaghetti bolognese sauce when frozen - labelling saves lives, people!

This looks surprisingly similar to spaghetti bolognese sauce when frozen – labelling saves lives, people!

How long can you freeze things for (ie when do I need to use it?)
This is why I always label things – both with the name of the contents (you’d be amazed at how much things start to look alike when frozen, and using burrito mix instead of spaghetti bolognese sauce on your pasta, while experimental, may not be the most enjoyable experience!), and with the date that it was frozen, so I have an idea of how long something has been in there, and don’t have to rely on my memory! We try and use frozen meats and meals with meat in them within about 4-6 months. Fruit, around 6-8 months. Bread, I find it can go for almost a year. Basically, if it doesn’t seem to have freezer burn (where it looks more ice than food), or have drastically changed its appearance, I will give it a go. I also find this website helpful – http://www.eatbydate.com/- it seems to be pretty accurate, and points out that most things last a lot longer than we think!

So, that’s my freezing tips – some of you may already be doing these and more, so please share your freezing tips in the comments!

Stretching your organic dollar further

While I would like to be entirely self-sustaining from my garden in terms of fruits and vegetables (and meats and dairy, but that would involve a cow, chickens, more space and probably some sort of ritual slaughter, which I don’t think I have the stomach for!), I am also realistic that my inner-west backyard is probably not going to provide the space and climate for all the fruits and vegetables that I like to eat!

Eating more organically and sustainably – why?
An offshoot of my gardening and interest in a more sustainable life is a focus on trying to eat more seasonally and more organically. My focus on trying to eat more organic fruit and veggies is based on the reduction of ingesting pesticides and chemicals – I’m a city girl through and through, while I like nature, I also love the convenience and bustle of the city, even with its poor air quality and toxic fumes. So, I’m a believer in trying to reduce the cumulative effect of the various ways in which we live in cities by reducing some of the toxins in what I ingest, mostly through food. I don’t think I’ll ever move to the country and have a farm, with cleaner air and paddocks (although I do like that dream sometimes!), so I’m trying to do what I can when I can for my overall health, fertility, and disease prevention – the reality from what I’ve read, heard and seen is that with the increase of population, the methods used to create enough food for the world and to keep up with our desire for instant gratification (ie I want this type of food now!) are often more chemically focused, which may not be the best thing for our bodies, and it may be contributing to the seeming increase in cancers and allergies in the population.

Now, I am not providing lots of links to the tons of scientific research and information out there to support this position, more giving you the background of why I’m trying to live more sustainably for my own health and the health of my family – please feel free to do your own research and come to your own conclusions, and share it with me – and if you come to similar conclusions to me, then hopefully this blog will also help you to in living more organically, sustainably and thriftily!

There are seasons for apples?
Eating more seasonally (while also growing things) has led me to some interesting revelations, ie that apples are not in season at the end of summer, therefore harder to get organically at different times of year! I was aware of stonefruit and berries being a summer thing, as they are around more and much cheaper then, but I think growing up I had never really thought about how much other food that I regularly ate was grown or when, therefore I am enjoying learning more and trying to follow nature a little more (while still being connected to technology and the city!). I enjoy our fortnightly organic fruit and veggie box for this reason, as it shows me what is actually in season and ripe at the time- as my husband also notes, seeing the size and shelf life of organic produce makes you realise how chemically and genetically modified a lot of conventionally grown produce must be to be so big and last so long!! Also, a lot of it tastes better – stronger, richer flavours. However, I am not an obsessive purist, we still eat out a lot, have some junk food on occasion, and if I really feel like a particular vegetable or fruit or recipe, I’ll tend to buy it and use it without worrying too much about where it came from – it’s all about balance, moderation and trying your best most of the time as far as I’m concerned!

You don’t need to buy everything organic – unless you’ve got lots of cash to spare!
If you have the money and the interest you probably could buy everything organically, but I don’t think that’s going to work for our overall budget, therefore I focus my money and efforts on the things that are most chemically treated, ie fruit, veggies and meat, sometimes dairy, and I don’t tend to get all obsessive about other things like oats, nuts, breads, coffee etc. Part of this is because of the cost – unfortunately organic food is still a lot more expensive than its non-organic counterparts, which can be quite annoying – at the end of the day, while my health is important, I also love a good bargain, which can make for a contradiction! Also, I think some people confuse ‘organic’ with ‘healthy’ – it might be less chemically treated, but those ‘organic’ biscuits, that ‘organic’ white bread and too much of the ‘organic’ pizza may still not be the best nutritional choice! I may develop more organic requirements as the years go on, and hopefully things will get less expensive as more people access them, but at the moment, it’s all about fruit, veggies and an attempt at sustainable and less chemical meat, poultry and fish.

Use the peel test
One way to cut down on your costs is not to eat everything organically, but focus on those fruits and veggies that are the most chemically treated – anything with a skin or peel that you remove before eating is usually fairly good, and while it may taste better organically, I have no issue with buying things like watermelon, bananas, oranges, pineapple etc from our local fruit market (and they give us free juice!!) There is also a generally agreed upon (and updated) list of fruit and veggies by the Environment Working Group in the US (http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php) that lists which are most chemically treated – the ‘Dirty Dozen’ (isn’t that a movie?) It is reasonable to use this list for Australian produce, as the Americans use similar farming methods to us. When I looked at it, I realised sadly that most of the fruits that I love and eat regularly are on it – I’m looking at you, apples, berries, stone fruit and spinach!! So, I’ve been trying to buy this stuff organically and in season, but anything else that’s not on there, I am usually happy to still buy at the fruit market instead if we want it and it hasn’t come in our veggie box. I also focus on things I eat constantly (like fruit and spinach and certain veggies) rather than things I have once in a blue moon, to try and reduce the daily cumulative chemical load.

Reduce costs – buy in bulk and in season
Organic fruit can be crazily expensive, and I do resent paying ludicrous prices for things. Even when fruit is in season, like my great love blueberries are now, the comparison price between conventionally grown: 2 punnets for $7 at our fruit guy vs organic: 2 punnets for $12-14 at the organic place, can seem prohibitively expensive!! I am trying to think of it as opportunity costs, as well as examining what I think is reasonable for things – I might pay $12 for a cocktail on a night out without thinking about it, so why am I skimping on fruit that is probably better for me in the long run? I think we’ve been conditioned to think certain foods should cost a certain price, and anything above that is unreasonable, even if we really want it or it’s better for us – and it is certainly true that with the increasingly popularity of organic produce, there are a lot of people profiting without necessarily making it cheaper for the average bear!!

Anyway, a tip I have for making your dollar go further is to combine my love of a bargain with my love of the freezer – buy in bulk when things are cheaper (ie when they’re in season) and freeze them!! That way, I get the benefits for longer for less cash!! Our local organic place has been doing ‘specials’ for the past few months with 3 punnets of blueberries for $15, and 3 punnets of strawberries for $12. So, I buy my 3 punnets of each once a week, bring them home, wash them (cos I’m a bit of a washing fruit and veggies freak, even though I probably don’t have to worry so much about organic stuff, it’s still habit!), leave them to dry (attracting lots of fruit flies, sorry lovely husband!), then I put a punnet of each back in the fridge for eating during the week, and freeze the rest! I’ve been doing this since late December, so now I have a nice full freezer of frozen fruit!

The plan is, when berries go out of season and become even more ridiculously expensive again in a couple of months – I’ll be like the ant and the grasshopper, enjoying the spoils of my labour in autumn and winter!! It will also stop me having to buy imported organic blueberries (I’ve mentioned my addiction, I eat them daily!) at a ridiculous jacked-up price (both in terms of cash and cost to the planet)!! This way I get to combine my love of a bargain with my love of stocking our freezer for the zombie apolocalypse!! The trick I have found with the strawberries is hull (ie take the green bit off) and cut them up before freezing, otherwise you will find it very hard to get the green part off when they’re frozen – I speak from experience!! See below some of my freezer haul!! And according to one of my new favourite sites, Eat By Date.com, fresh frozen fruit will last 6-8 months before going funny if stored properly (hence my sealed container), therefore I should be good to go til the end of August! I also recently rotated my frozen berries to put the older ones on top so I’ll use them first, to ensure maximum freshness! You can then just pop them out and add them directly to cold things like smoothies, or if you want them in warm things like porridge, either defrost overnight in the fridge if you’re organised, or if you’re more like me most mornings, use the microwave for 10-20 seconds before adding them to things!

Bulk frozen blueberries

Here’s my container of frozen blueberries!!


Frozen strawberries

See my little bags (and container of frozen pre-chopped strawberries)

So, I’ll keep sharing other tips over the coming weeks for stretching your organic (and non-organic!) dollar further – please feel free to leave me your own tips in the comments below!