Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Frugal Food - Cooking for Eating and Selling the Surplus

A Frugaleur Needs to Earn in Order to Balance the Frugal Books 

Earning needn't be in cash, earnings can be in another's time, goods or services. Earning, as a frugaleur, isn't about becoming cash rich, it is about balancing the books, living within our means and affording a few luxuries in life. On the whole, most of us grow our own foodstuffs in an organic-type setting, no pesticides, chemicals or artificial additives. We brew our home-grown fruit, bake our own bread, make our own jams and preserves, have fresh free range eggs, give and receive individually crafted gifts and enjoy these luxuries as part of our frugal lifestyle. In some cases, we end up with a surplus and no storage space, so we trade.
On the whole, this trading is done among friends, relatives and neighbours, but we all still need to stick to the rules and play fair, in the same way we need to pay our taxes, just like any other enterprise. OK, so we may not earn sufficient income over a year to pay income tax, but that is down to the Government and their assessment of how much each person needs in order to survive. At the moment, they reckon an adult in the UK needs £9,440.00. If you follow Frugaldom, then you'll already know that's £5,440 more than needed, or, looking at it another way, over £100 per week more than I need to spend. In a shared, debt free household of, say, 3 working adults, that's over £1,000 per month more than the basic needs.
But back to surplus selling and trading among friends - who among us sells surplus eggs 'at the garden gate'?
In order to keep within the law, a simple label attached bearing your details along with the obligatory date plus 'keep refrigerated and use within 21 days' type thing does just fine. Your surplus eggs can only be sold in this manner, you cannot sell them into shops, bakeries, restaurants etc., nor can you wholesale them without more lengthy terms and conditions being met, regarding grading and stamping etc. Nor can you declare them as free-range, as this term is reserved for licenced flocks kept within strict guidelines and accredited by Government agencies as such. Your garden hens probably have more freedom than most so-called 'free-range' eggs, I might add.) This applies to most eggs - duck, hen, bantam...
Quail eggs are exempt from much of the legislation, so these can be packaged, labelled and sold
almost anywhere, either wholesale or to the end user. But one thing many people overlook is that, although quail eggs are exempt from part of the egg distribution legislation, quail are not exempt from the mandatory poultry registration. So, if you have half a dozen hens, a trio of ducks and a flock of 40 or more quails (all types) then your poultry numbers have met and exceeded the maximum 50 birds, meaning you must register your flock.
Don't panic, registration is completely free and painless, you can even register online. (Details can be found HERE.)
Now for the surplus plants, fruit and vegetables. At the moment, as long as we don't process these in any way, shape or form then we are free to trade off our surpluses among friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. (I doubt very much we need to consider the wholesale options, as we are looking at gardens and microholdings her, not acres of cash-generating crops on an agricultural business level.) But what if we want to sell our produce already processed into something else? Like eggs into lemon curd, fruit and berries into jams or jellies, or any other type of foodstuff other than 'as picked'? That necessitates taking the next step, which most of us already have: EU Regulation 852/2004 Hygiene for Foodstuffs requires Food Businesses to make sure that anyone who handles food is supervised, instructed and trained in Food Hygiene in a way that is appropriate to the work they do. Now, this leads us into a quagmire of quandaries regarding what denotes a business, so we decided that anything that generated income, cash or otherwise, be assessed as business because we are, after all, engaged in the business of frugal living.
Again, no need to panic over this, as the safest and wisest thing to do is get yourself a certificate, simple as that. It costs as little as £15 and you can do it all online. As far as I am aware, there is no compulsory exam, just legislation stating that everyone handling food must gave received suitable training in basic food hygiene - the Environmental Health Department of your local authority can provide advice and guidance on specific queries relating to food safety and you can find out more about handling food safely from the Food Standards Agency website. For me, I prefer to be safe in the knowledge that I hold a certificate as proof of any training.

Level 2 Food Safety and Hygiene* for Catering (including City and Guilds Accredited Certificate) can be done within a day from home, online, and needs no specific entry requirements for the course. It costs £15 + VAT and also includes a downloadable certificate that you can print from home.

Happy frugaleur studying! It's time to start selling your surplus as jams, jellies, sauces, chutneys, pickles, cakes and bakes... Make your garden pay for itself.

NYK in Frugaldom.

* Links to the study course are affiliates, there are other companies offering similar services.


  1. I don't sell any surplus foods but I do give excess to my parents when we do have it and share cakes, jams etc - I also would much rather buy eggs locally because I get a better deal and I am supporting the supplier. Good points made as ever Nyk- food for thought perhaps I should have said!

    1. Thanks, Aril. Microholding in Frugaldom means the only source of income is from home, so it's a case of every penny counts. I'm missing being able to make and trade since the kitchen still isn't completed. Still managing to swap eggs, plants and herbs for other stuff, though. :)


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