No spend challenge Feed

Foraging for free food: Warrigal Greens

We’re nearing the end of week three of Our {more or less} No Spend Month. We’ve actually found it empowering to spend {more or less} nothing. I imagine it would be extremely disempowering if we were broke and were forced not to spend. But having money and not spending feels good.

I’ve been reminded of all the ways to get food without spending money. Foraging is my absolute favourite.


On our recent kayak trip, I was excited to spot loads of the bush tucker plant Tetragonia tetragonioides, commonly known as Warrigal Greens, Native Spinach, or New Zealand Spinach.


See the bright green ground cover plant in the picture above? That's all Warrigal Greens.


Of course I had to jump out and pick some, and for lunch later that day we had Native Spinach Frittata.



This one didn’t look as good as my previous attempt, because our ‘no-spend challenge’ has me being stingy with eggs (eggs, cheese and onions are considered gold in this household at the moment).

Warrigal Greens is probably one of the easiest bush-tucker plants to forage

  • It's easy to find. It’s found scattered throughout Australia and New Zealand and has become naturalised in many parts of the world. You will mostly find it along waterways and near the coast.  
  • It’s easy to recognise and hard to confuse with anything, so you’re unlikely to accidentally eat the wrong thing. Have a look at these images and note the shape of it's leaves and fruit. It's fruit in particular is really distinctive.
  • It’s easy to use. Simply use it as you would spinach, except you need to blanch it first in water to remove oxalates. Young leaves are fine to eat raw.  It can be substituted for spinach in any recipe and I particularly like it in egg dishes because of it’s slightly salty flavour. 

A few considerations when foraging native plants (bush tucker)

  • When foraging for native plants, please don't pick more than you need (in contrast to weeds, you can go ahead and pick as many of them as you like).
  • It's illegal to pick native plants without a permit in many instances, so be aware that you are probably doing something illegal, depending upon where you are foraging. And definately don't forage from a National Park or other Conservation Reserve.
  • Be cautious when foraging in urban areas. Stay away from areas that may be polluted (e.g. industrial areas), as toxins and heavy metals can be taken up by some plants. Also avoid areas that are actively managed (e.g a well maintained park) as the plants may have been sprayed with a herbicide or pesticide. If you are interested in urban foraging, I love Penniless Parenting's Rules of Foraging

Confession time

We've broken Our {more or less} No Spend Month a hand-full of times. Mainly it's been small purchases like a few onions and a beer each when out last friday night. But we also broke it big-time by purchasing some gravel and pavers for a job we've planned for years and finally found a window of time to implement.

Have you foraged anything recently?

There's only a few hours left to enter the natural deodorant giveaway if you havn't already. Entries close midnight tonight (Saturday).

Learning to love the time it takes to cook healthy wholesome food

Tonight marks the end of week one of our {more or less} no spend month. I've learnt so much about our consumption habits, but the main lesson so far has been that I need to learn to enjoy the time it takes to cook wholesome healthy food from scratch.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time in the kitchen this week...

Pita_pocket_bread ...baking bread (the mini pita pockets have definitely been the most popular so far. I'll share more about these shortly)...

Making yoghurt ...making yoghurt from scratch...

...sprouting, soaking, baking, boiling, fermenting, rising, blending, kneading, scrubbing, peeling, chopping, and so on.

I'm spending around an hour in the kitchen each morning before heading off to work. Then another hour or two in the evening. And I don't even do the dishes. Thankfully Daddy Eco and I have an arrangement where I cook and he washes-up. But this week really tested that arrangement. I've heard more than a few grumbles about the piles of dirty dishes i'm creating.

All that time spent in the kitchen started to frustrate me. Then I thought about it. Two hours a day to ensure our family eats healthy wholesome food, without breaking the budget, isn't really that much time.

I need to learn to love and enjoy the time I spend preparing and cooking food. And Daddy Eco needs to learn to love the time he spends doing the dishes ;-) 

Wash the dishes dry the dishes

How are we going to do that? I'm not yet sure, but here's a few ideas i'm trying.

Being mindful

I'm going to try and focus on the task at hand. I'm not going to think about what else needs to be done or what I need to do tomorrow.

According to Leo Babauta of Zen habits:

"Anything. Even things you might think are drudgery or boring, such as housework, can be amazing if you are truly present. Try it — wash dishes or sweep or cook, and remain fully present. It takes practice, but it’s incredible."

In the same article on The Mindfulness Guide for the Super Busy, he also suggests,

"Make cleaning and cooking become meditation. Cooking and cleaning are often seen as drudgery, but actually they are both great ways to practice mindfulness, and can be great rituals performed each day. If cooking and cleaning seem like boring chores to you, try doing them as a form of meditation. Put your entire mind into those tasks, concentrate, and do them slowly and completely. It could change your entire day (as well as leave you with a cleaner house)."

This idea of looking upon the time I spend cooking as a form of meditation is similar to the second idea i'm trying:

Practice Karma Yoga

I first leant about Karma Yoga a few years ago while on a yoga retreat. Each day we were asked to help with the chores of the ashram, but rather than see this time as 'work' it was seen as 'yoga'. A time for mindfulness. A time for focus. A time for service. I actually really enjoyed this time each day.

I don't yet understand enough about the practice to be able to decribe it, but thankfully Katie from Obaitori does a great job of explaining the practice of Karma Yoga.

I understand that it's my attitude that needs to change. I need to see the time I spend cooking as an offering to my family.

Before I finish I have to confess.

I learnt a second lesson this week:

Placing boxes of charity chocolates in the workplace is EVIL!

I broke the challenge twice. The first time was on Thursday afternoon. I was at work and after a frustrating phone call about budgets, numbers and balancing, I headed straight for that evil box of charity chocolates. I bought one. Ate it. I didn't even realise that i'd broken the challenge until driving home that night. It seems my desire for chocolate overrode my brain's ability to function. I confirmed this ability to override the following afternoon, when I did exactly the same thing, but this time I'd registered that I was breaking the challenge, and still bought it. It wasn't even fair-trade?!

So it seems I need to work on my willpower, and also be better prepared for afternoon chocolate cravings. I'm planning to take a few Medjool Dates along to work this week and may even resort to making these Saucepan Fudge Drops. I've checked...I have all the ingredients in my pantry.

Also playing along...

Jen from the Evolving Homemaker has challenged herself to the {more or less} no spend month. It seems her 'chocolate' is take-away coffee. Good luck Jen :-)

How about you? Do you think you spend too much time in the kitchen? Do you enjoy cooking and cleaning? Do you have any tips for me?

Shared at Simple Lives Thursday.

Our {more or less} No Spend Month

Recently, our daily ‘miscellaneous’ expenditure has crept up.  Coffee in a café. Op-shop treasures. Take-away lunch. Thrift shop finds. Newspapers. Garage sale bargains. Snacks. They all add up.

Op_shop_vintage_kids_pictures {Some recent second hand treasures that were too sweet to ignore}

Often, I’ll start the day with a $50 note in my wallet and by the end of the day it will be gone, with nothing to show for it (except a much needed coffee, a lovely lunch that I didn’t have to make, a treat for Little Eco, and yet another second hand find that was too good to ignore, but that I really didn’t need).

Op_shop_timber_bowls {A few more recent op shop treasures that I really didn't need}

Or lifestyle is currently far from frugal.

Inspired by Eileen of Consumption Rebellion, we did a no spend week almost a year ago (you can read about it here, here, here, here, here, and here). At the completion of that week we’d planned 'to regularly have no-spend weeks to remind us of the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’'. That was almost a year ago, and we haven't done the challenge since. We decided we're well and truly due for another no-spend challenge.

Second_hand_glasses {another recent second hand find that we actually needed. I’ve been looking for pre-loved glasses just like these for months. Then last week I found these for 50cents each at a local church fete}

But things have changed around here a little since the last challenge, making a no-spend week not really that much of a challenge. We’ve found our pantry storage groove, and in reality we’d have a few months worth of dry-goods in there.

Dry_goods_pantry_storage_1 {part of our pantry, full of a range of dry goods that we eat regularly}

We’ve also changed what we eat. Most meals these days are based on a pantry staple (like chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, or rice) plus veges.

Dry_goods_pantry_storage {five large plastic buckets that sit in the bottom of our pantry are filled with dry goods. A jar can hold only so much. When a jar becomes empty we simply top up from our bucket storage system}

Speaking of veges, we paid for a years worth of vegetables at the start of the year. We’re lucky to be a member of the local Purple Pear Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm and each week we receive a box of lovely fresh organic vegetables. So we don't have to pay anything for our vegetables for the rest of the year.

Purple_pear_CSA {Mark from Purple Pear CSA farm growing vegetables especially for us (and around 30 other local families)}

Given these changes since our last attempt at the no-spend challenge, we’ve decided a no-spend MONTH would be a more appropriate challenge.

We’re starting tomorrow!

A whole month of {more or less} no spending

IMG_2375 {Little Eco sharing her last pre-challenge treat with a friend at the farmer's markets today}

Obviously, we don’t want this challenge to affect our health and wellbeing. It’s about reminding ourselves of the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. It’s not about depriving ourselves of ‘needs’. So there are a few exceptions.

The exceptions

1.    Bills will be paid.
2.    Medical and health expenses are exempt.
3.    $50 per week for fuel.
4.    $20 per week for local milk and organic fruit.
5.    Our weekly cleaner. We’re telling ourselves she’s exempt cause it wouldn’t be fair for her to lose four weeks income from us, but in reality keeping her is about maintaining our wellbeing and sanity. To me, weekends are for family and adventures, not cleaning. After four days at work, the last thing I want to do is clean.

Despite these exceptions, I still think the month is going to be a doosy of a challenge.

How about you, how little could you spend in a week?

Would you consider going a day, week or a month without spending?

Wish us luck :-)

Still in the mood for more pre-loved treasures? Head on over to this weeks Flea Market Finds.

Only four days left to enter the Planet Boab giveaway.

We survived (& enjoyed) our week and a bit of not spending

The last day of the no-spend challenge was the easiest of them all. I came down with a rotten stomach bug and spent the day in bed not able to eat anything. It made not spending very easy! Thankfully I recovered quickly.

Overall, we loved not spending and plan to regularly have no-spend weeks to remind us of the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. I realised that we actually ‘need’ very little.

Before I go any further, I’ll do the final fess-up….I mentioned 4 slip-ups the other day. The remainder happened on our second-last day. We needed fruit so decided to break the challenge. Daddy Eco went down the road to get some…and he returned with toilet paper as well! Where’s his sense of adventure! Speaking of his sense of adventure…it seems our car has a bottomless fuel tank cause ‘apparently’ it didn’t run out of fuel during the entire challenge???

I was actually a little surprised by how easy the challenge was. I think the main factors that contributed to not spending being so easy were: our food stash (long-term food storage), loads of free fun, and conscious vegetarian cooking. I’ll save the details for future posts and leave you with the top three things I hated about no-spend week:

1. Weak coffee
2. Weak coffee made with powdered milk

Scraps ~ No spend update day 9


We had scraps for morning tea yesterday...and they were delicious and full of nutirents. Baked potato skin chips and roasted pumpkin seeds. Both would usually become compost or worm food - but not this week. During our no-spend challenge I have become super sensitive to food waste. I've unfortunately become a bit of a food nazi. "Make sure you eat all that!". "You can only have one egg!".

First I was rummaging through dumpsters, and now i'm feeding my family scraps! Think I’m weird? Food waste is a serious issue. Recent figures show that Australians waste $5 billion a year on food, throwing away 3 million tonnes of food. Some experts believe that we’re throwing away at least 20% of the food we buy. That's equivalent to buying five bags of groceries and throwing one straight in the bin!

Clearly that’s a huge waste of money! But more importantly, food waste exacerbates the ecological impact of food production and processing. Put simply, if less food were wasted, less land and water would be needed for agricultural purposes. (Here’s just one recent example of the impact of agriculture on threatened species).
To educate Australians about the consequences of food waste and to generate greater awareness, ‘Do Something!’ recently launched the ‘FoodWise’ campaign. Their manifesto is definitely worth a quick read. I particularly like their discussion of the ecological footprint of the humble fish finger. It provides a simple example of the hidden ecological impact of processed food.

There are some great resources online to help reduce food waste at home, including Love Food Hate Waste and Left Over Chef. There are also loads of bloggers sharing their own hints on food waste. Some of my favourite hints can be found here, here, here, and here.

P.S. I have to fess-up. We have broken the challenge a few times. I bought a train ticket one day after discovering that riding to work evey day, after not riding for three months, is HARD work! I also gave-in to the temptation of a packet of chocolate bullets (unfortunately not fairtrade chocolate) in a charity chocolate box at work. Chocolate also featured in Daddy Eco's slip off the bandwagon. He bought a chocolate bar on day 1 of the challenge and then he and Little Eco couldn't resist their usual Sunday stroll to get the paper and a bag of lollies. So all up we spent less than $10 in the first week.

Only 3 days to go.