All posts by Tracey West

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

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

Tracey: The Tour

The Worries,The Wishes & The Letting Go…
They say it’s the final hurdles that are always the trickiest and the same can be said for this year’s campaign.

You see the irony of being the organiser of InterNational Downshifting Week is that my work / life balance gets knocked right out of kilter for April and it rather goes against my personal grain in many ways, not least because the children have their Easter holidays to enjoy and my fingers seem to be superglued to the computer keyboard…
Right now, I have two choices.  I can either keep my head bent down over the computer for the next few days and just as I enter next week, I’ll be packing a case and heading off around the country for the trip, or, I switch the computer off and enjoy some of the break with the ones ‘I love’.

UK: Abolition of Retirement Age

Should Lead to Flexible Working
The  CIPD  believes that today’s abolition of the Default Retirement Age (DRA) should lead to a change of opinion on flexible working provisions.

The CIPD suggest that, up until now, flexible working has been considered as a women’s issue or a parent’s perk, rather than a tool to engage and motivate staff and allow them to strike a desirable work/life balance.
Dianah Worman OBE, CIPD Diversity Adviser, says: “The age of the cliff-edge retirement has finally come to an end and the CIPD applauds the Government for holding its nerve in the face of significant business opposition.
“However, now more than ever Government also needs to challenge the assumption that flexible working is a regulatory burden. We’re all going to be working longer and businesses have a vested interest in making our time as flexible and productive as possible.”

UK: Brits Forced to Put Work First

UK: Brits Forced to Put Work First, Neglecting Family Life
Millions of Brits risk relationship strain or a lengthy stretch in the doghouse, as half (51%) of adults admit not prioritising family, friends or partner in their everyday routine as they would ideally like to.

Research from Scottish Widows reveals that pressures of work in particular are forcing 10 million Brits (21%) to sacrifice time they know they should be spending with their children or grandchildren, and that this situation has not improved since last year.
In addition, the research – published today as part of Scottish Widows’ annual Priorities of Life Index – finds 1.5 million more people than a year ago (19 million, or 39% of the adult population) worry about  neglecting their partners.  Lack of ‘free time’ and focusing on ‘making ends meet’ are two of the main reasons given for pushing their relationship to the side.   Britain’s 30-somethings are the age group most likely to prioritise spending any spare time with their kids over their partner, whilst 40-somethings are focusing most on dealing with financial pressures.
Looking beyond their immediate family, one in three (34%) people say they are not finding enough time for their friends, with 30-somethings feeling they’re giving the lowest current priority to their mates.   Meanwhile, one in four adults (24%) own up to not prioritising their broader family as much as they would like. 

Art Gallery, Bury St Edmunds

Recommended by IDW: Smith’s Row, Contemporary Art Gallery, Bury St Edmunds
I was invited to become the Green Champion for  Smith’s Row , an amazing little Gallery in Bury St Edmunds last year and have forged a delightful green connection with Director,  Alison Plumridge  and her team.

Sustainability runs through the veins of this house of creativity and despite the recent cuts to funding, they are more determined than ever to deliver an entertaining and uplifting service to their visitors.
If you’re ever in the vicinity, be sure to  plot a course  to the centre of town to enjoy their convivial ec0-space.