Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Frugal Living, Inflation and Recycling

Can Frugal Living Beat Inflation?

As reported by the BBC (and many others) today, "The UK's inflation rate rose sharply last month following an increase in tuition fees and food prices."
The current rate of inflation is said to be 2.7%, with the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation - which includes housing costs - rising to 3.2% But I am not even going to pretent that I understand these convoluted figures. Complicated calculations may be something I do occasionally enjoy but I can't equate certain items as being essential when working out my own basic cost of living. I did, however, take the time to ask if shrinking pack sizes were taken into consideration in the Government numbercrunching and, you'll be pleased to know, THEY ARE!

Of course, based on individual item costs versus diminishing quantities, the rate of inflation on some goods is many, many times that stated. I mean, look at the price of cheap minced beef. The pack sizes have not only reduced to 400g but the prices have increased by as much as 25% in some cases. Even tins of corned beef might be beyond the most frugal of grocery budgets nowadays!

Another thing that really bugs me about all these shrinking pack sizes is that we are being driven headlong into a waste not, want not spiral that's going the completely wrong way! Rather than companies reducing their packaging, which they do appear to be trying to do, they are now forcing us into buying twice as much, because one single pack no longer feeds the household! This matters not a jot if you are buying your fruit, veg and fresh produce loose, but onthe whole, disposal of packaging remains a major problem - unless we simply pass the problem on to the Government by binning everything and then wonder why services need cut to cope with the increased costs.

We now need to get even more creative with our grocery buying, batch cooking and recycling. What can we do with all these extra plastic cartons while, at the same time, trying to shop for bargains and buy sufficient quantities to feed the family?

Well, one thing I am now doing is keeping each carton I buy - why should I have to pay for something that's discarded straight into the bin?

As soon as the contents have been prepared, it's a simple case of refilling the original container for storing the food in the freezer. (Additional point of interest - keep mushrooms dry and wipe or brush them clean, rather than peel them or wash them. You get more out of the pack.)

These containers work well for most things except onions, as they aren't strong enough to seal and prevent the smell leaching through into your freezer.

A word of caution on storing food in recycled cartonss - always, always, always wash and sterilise the empty containers before refilling them and don't pour hot food into them, as most are so flimsy that they'd probably melt.

By reducing our food waste, reusing anything we can and recycling everything that can possibly be recyclyed, we can, in actual fact, get creative enough to beat our own household inflation.



  1. Totally agree with you NYK about packaging. I even see organic vegetables and meat in plastic packaging.

    A great book recommendation for you: Blueprint For A Green Planet. John Seymour. Who else? It's only a couple of quid and the diagrams are mega!

  2. Hi Dave, hope all is well with you. :) Plastic packaging is what annoys me most, but it's getting worse since they reduced the quality to a stage that's barely worth recycling into freezer containers. And as for plastic milk cartons, someone told me they're no better or worse than fire lighters and work just as well. There's also a limit to how many can be used as plant pots and seed scoops. LOL

    Must check out the book, but have a zero book budget for 2013 so might need to indulge myself in ebook format using vouchers, if it's available as an ebook.

  3. The most expensive items come in the most packaging! Its bonkers. My local council has just started to take the mushroom-esque pots for recycling which is great news. I also use these, along with yoghurt pots and goodness knows what else for starting seedlings in the spring. Mushroom boxes are great for starting pea shoots as well.

    What I really don't understand about packaging is the lack of refill packs available. Why don't all brands produce a refill pouch affair for hand soap, laundry liquid, well just about everything? So few do. I got told off by the hubby last night for changing laundry detergent because to one that is made from plants and has refill packs... but my question was 'why doesn't persil provide refill packs'?

    Don't get me started on the price of coffee!

    OK rant over :)

  4. PS - Dave, I passed on those books to friends, all barring my personal copy of Archie, that is. :)

  5. Tonia, I make my own laundry detergent, saves buying it at all. :) As for the refills, I can only think that it's the fact most are made from some form of plastic, which is the problem material with so few ways of disposing of it. But then again, I thought plastics were made from leftovers from the oil industry, so where would that leave us if they banned plastics? They'll maybe just keep inventing new uses for the recycled components? :)

  6. NYK, get somebody to get you a copy of the John Seymour book for Christmas. It's quite an old book (1987) and the content and diagrams are truly incredible.

    In the book JS talks about an old country rubbish dump in a rural garden.

    ...All you will find in such dumps are heel irons (those horse-shoe shaped irons that farming men nailed to their boots), the occasional decayed old boot itself, old enamelled saucepans with holes in them, bits of pottery, the almost completely worn-out remnants of sickles, or scythes, or spade blades, and, in the upper horizons of the heap, maybe some broken bottles. And that will be it: decades of rubbish in just one small pile. Now there were no rubbish collections in those days - people had to dispose of their own rubbish, so these dumps contained everything that was thrown away, But all organic material, except leather, went to the pig, or if there there was no pig, to the compost heap. Of real rubbish, of the kind we produce today, there hardly was any!

    Makes you think doesn't it?

    I also found out that clear glass is completely harmless.

    Have you got any writing projects on the go NYK?

    1. Writing projects still on backboiler for now, Dave, although I have been blowing the dust off a few of them as winter projects. How about you?

  7. to make mushrooms last longer, place them in a paper bag. Here is Canada we can buy brown paper lunch bags at the $1 store, a pack lasts forever.

    Gill in Canada

    1. Gill, shops used to provide little paper bags for the loose mushrooms but I'm not sure if they still do.

  8. I love old Victorian/Edwardian dumps. As a child at my Nan's on the Pennines, there was an old dump nearby and I spent my holidays picking out bits of china. Won't be the same for our children/grandchildren - they will have only plastic bags to pull out.

  9. In places like Mexico they use landfill sites to extract ethane to run their cars. Perhaps the landfill sites will be the energy mines of the future?

  10. Dave, I know they already extract gas from the landfills here because I know a company who is (or was) doing it back in the 90s. There's also some serious talk about fracking for shale gas beneath the old mines! I sure as day wouldn't like to be living in an old mining village if they start that carry on, I'd rather have a wind farm built in my back yard. :)

  11. Hi NYK, Writing: I keep sending off manuscripts and getting plenty of rejections. Seriously thinking of trying Ebook publishing. Do you know of any success stories using Create Space or Smash Words? More than willing to pay for a professional polish to my manuscript and I know an illustrator. How did you get on with your Kindle? How many people in the UK use them?

    Yeah I have heard about fracking investigations in Galway.

    They introduced a plastic bag levy here in the supermarkets in Ireland - seems to have worked. Do you think the manufacturers should be made to print how much the packaging costs on everything we purchase? I do.


  12. I think printing costs of packaging on the packaging would increase prices even more, as manufacturing could mean different costs every other month. And let's not forget that many of the products we buy are repackaged or rebranded, with the branding being the part that costs the money in the long run. Then there's the whole health and hygiene spect of not properly wraping goods. I, for one, would rather pay a few pence extra for clean, protected food than risk buying loose after some snotty nosed kid (or worse) had handled it. I actually saw this happen in a Co-op store... it was disgusting! Toddler obviously was choked with the cold, mother not watching, helped himself to a breakfast roll, had a bit lick at it then put it back with the others! Until that point, I had never given such things a second thought but have NEVER bought unwrapped anything ever since. Euuuuuugh! LOL

  13. Kindle research is something I haven't done much of, but I know for a fact that I'll spend more on reading materials now than I ever have done in the past. Kindle books are just so convenient, don't need storage space and if they can't be transferred from Kindle to Kindle, they're going to generate far more revenue than hard copies in future.

    Give me a shout if you'd like any first draft editing done. ;)


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