Ten Top Downshifting Tips from Tracey

Ditch the pre-packed options and cook from fresh.

There’s no doubt about it, you ‘can’ buy very cheap ready-meals these days, but the nutritional value, the overall quality and the taste cannot be compared to doing it from fresh! If you’re short of time, double up the ingredients and freeze half for another meal and be sure to use up leftovers in creative new dishes for the next day; soup offers a great way of getting started with this.

Buy your staples in larger packs.

Pasta, rice and porridge oats are perfect examples and you’ll also cut down your shopping trips too. If it’s just too much to store in your cupboard, split your bulk buys with a friend or neighbour.

Buy plain packets of cereals and add your own extras.

Bananas, raisins, cranberries, blueberries and more are all easy to store and served with a spoonful of honey, they make breakfast time funky enough to entice children off of other sugary options.

Find out about low-carbon cooking!

Slow cookers and pressure cookers are solid investments. They’ll reduce the amount of energy needed to cook your food and therefore reduce your energy bill too. If you’re feeling really adventurous, make a simple solar oven to locate in a sunny spot in your garden!

Grow perpetual lettuce.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a garden, just grow them in pots on your windowsill. Simply pluck off the leaves from the outside of the plant (making sure to leave at least 6 in the centre) and it will continue to grow and grow. 8 varied pots of lettuces will feed the family delicious salad every day, throughout the whole summer.

Cultivate a few herbs too, like basil, chives, thyme, rosemary, mint, sage and coriander.

Much better value than buying little packs or dried and you don’t need to be green-fingered as they are super-easy to grow. You don’t need a garden either for the smaller ones, you can grow them on the windowsill and they’ll add great flavour to your home-cooked dishes.

Learn how to make your own dough and you’ll never go hungry again.

It’s much easier than you think and the basic recipe will allow you to make loaves, rolls, pizza bases, even flatbreads like the ones you use for fajitas. Needless to say, they’re better value too and have no unnecessary preservatives or additives. I teach a beginners and advanced bread making see www.magicoxygen.co.uk

On that thought, if you are already a breadmaker, buy larger sacks of flour from your local baker.

It’s far more economical this way! A 1kg sack is about the size of a pillow and not that much of a nuisance to store in the kitchen and you’ll do far less shopping trips which will save you money there too. See if you have a flour mill nearby, then you’ll be able to add a ‘real’ local touch!

Buy loose produce, not pre-packed.

Research has shown that in the UK, £10 in every £75 of regular groceries is taken up by packaging, which is an astonishing waste of money! Check out your local farm and community shops and buy seasonal fruit and vegetables without the plastic wrap!

Have a go at making biscuits, cakes or flapjacks and bake them with your children.

It’s much cheaper and really great fun to do, especially if you make it a Sunday afternoon treat. Then store the delicious goodies in airtight containers and pack them into the family lunch-boxes

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