Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Food Swapping

I'm a huge fan of sharing food. I love surprising my omnivore friends with delicious vegan dinner parties or going to a friend's kitchen with some utensils and ingredients and pooling our resources to make something we didn't have the equipment to make on our own. It's a great way to learn new recipes or cooking techniques and sharing and socialising is relaxing and a great way to stay happy!

It was with great joy then that I stumbled across the phenomenon of food swapping that has begun to take off in the UK. The basic premise is that you bring along some food you have gathered or prepared to swap for some things that other people have brought along.

This idea really appealed to me. I spend all year long labouring in my allotment only to have too much fresh produce to eat all at once at the end of summer. I'm also great at making vegan cakes and biscuits but don't like to bake that often because there's only me to eat it (and I've been known to eat an entire vegan cake in one sitting so it's best that they remain unmade). But this is exactly what food swapping is all about; I can bring my surplus homegrown veggies or homemade baked goods to the event and swap them for things I have no skills at growing, foraging or making. Vegan biscuits for a jar of jam, some courgettes for a loaf of bread etc etc. And, if I wanted to, I could socialise and meet new people who had a similar passion for making and growing food and reducing waste. What a great idea!

But despite the fact that there are food swaps popping up all over the UK, there were no food swaps being organised in Cambridge. So, in collaboration with Cambridge Carbon Footprint and with the help of some friends, I'm going to start organising them for Cambridge.

If you would like to find out more about food swapping you can visit the international webpage of the Food Swap Network or you can email the Cambridge (UK) Food Swap (CambridgeUKFoodSwap AT gmail.com). And don't forget to like us on Facebook to keep up to date with any swaps we are organising in the near future. We hope to have our first food swap in the next month or so to coincide with the glut from allotments and vegetable gardens.

See you then!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Buying presents, dressing up & fixing bikes.

Since my last post a month ago I have experienced a few hurdles in my 'buy nothing new' challenge but have also gone along to a couple of Cambridge Carbon Footprint events that have really inspired me to continue the challenge and have given me some good ideas of what to do when I feel I'm stuck and need to buy something new.

The first challenge this month was that it was Mother's Day in Australia on the second Sunday of May. Living so far from your family is difficult at the best of times and I always make sure I remember to send small (but light!) gifts home to let my family know that I haven't forgotten them while I forge my new life here in this rather archaic, anachronistic but terribly fun world I now inhabit. So I felt a little bit sad that I was going to buy my mother something second-hand but also a little bit proud.

I already had in mind that I wanted to buy her some DVDs about England for her to watch to get an idea of where she would like to visit on her upcoming visit to the UK. And luckily UK Amazon have a fantastic feature where you can choose to buy used products from retailers so I just chose to purchase second-hand DVDs instead of new ones. I was also quite pleased to find that those retailers sent the DVDs in recycled packaging which I then used again to send on to my mother after I had wrapped the DVDs in some catalogues and added some decoration I also made out of the catalogues and some crafty paper folding. I'm not too sure what I'll do when I run out of cellotape but for now I was quite proud of my upcycled gift.

I sent the parcel before I tried to explain my experiment to my mother and the reason she was getting a second-hand present. I thought this would stop me from feeling bad and not sending it if she had a disappointed reaction. Luckily, the fact that her present was recycled had very little effect on her; she loved her gift.

One of the other challenges this month was that I had two fancy dress dinners to go to. Dressing up is never compulsory but it's always fun and it solves the problem of choosing what to wear otherwise.

In the past I've tried to keep the costs of dressing up to a minimum by making most of my outfit and buying odd bits second-hand on ebay or in charity stores. However, there's always the small, elusive final touch that needs to be purchased new and this time I couldn't do it.

The first dinner was 1920s themed. This would have been fine except for the fact that I went to another dinner that was 1920s themed a couple of months ago. My entire outfit then was second-hand: I wore a green silk bias cut Fenn Wright Manson dress that I'd bought second-hand off ebay for almost nothing, a plush velvet-look jacket that was my grandmother's when she was my age, second-hand shoes I'd bought off ebay, a long string of fake pearls I'd bought second-hand off ebay, a piece of elastic left over from a sewing project around my head which I tucked my hair into, a ribbon from a gift I'd received pinned on top of that and a feather plucked out of a mask I'd worn to a masquerade ball the year before.

Now, I could have just worn the same outfit again but a) the thought that someone might see me in the same outfit twice terrifies me and b) that's just not enough of a challenge!

I have a bit of an obsession with buying everything on ebay UK made by Cue, Veronika Maine, Metalicus or Trelise Cooper in my size. What can I say, I'm loyal to my part of the world. So I'd recently bought a rather odd looking Veronika Maine dress with a rather out-of-fashion cut but a really lovely back and neckline. It wasn't exactly 1920s but I figured with a string of pearls and a glittery headband on my head it would do.

I had the pearls but I needed the headband. So I searched the charity stores for one. Turns out, people are rather attached to their glittery headbands and don't pass them on to charity stores.

I decided to hunt for some sort of stretchy, glittery material in a piece of clothing instead. But again I had no luck. And I was almost ready to give up (and be kicked out of a closing Arthur Rank Hospice charity store) when I found the most hideous, black-sequin covered beret ever known to man. So I took it home, unpicked it, painstakingly cut a small band of it without cutting through the string of sequins, cut it down to size to fit my head and attached a press stud. And voila! With a black feather (also stolen from that masquerade mask) I had my 1920s headpiece.

The next dinner was 'Alice in Wonderland' themed. Again, I kind of had a dress (courtesy of Cue), had an apron from a previous dressing up experience as Magenta from Rocky Horror Picture Show and I sewed a black bow I made from some spare ribbon onto the headband from that masquerade mask (that mask sure has been versatile!). But I really wanted white stockings/tights to complete the outfit.

(Yes, I'm sure you are thinking that I really need not have bothered. But I get rather obsessed with making sure I have a complete outfit. It's ridiculous, I know, but it gives me more things to write about and something else to procrastinate with!)

To begin with I asked on Facebook if anyone had any to lend me but that turned out to be completely fruitless. I turned to ebay at the last minute but it was far too late to get them shipped and also the pictures I found were a tad disturbing. So I ended up at the charity stores again. And I found some!

Hilariously, I had to buy three pairs of tights for the one outfit. This is due to the fact that I made a conscious decision not to shave any part of my body hair ever again some years ago. I normally don't worry and am happy to not wear anything on my legs if it is warm enough. However, sheer white stockings over rather hairy legs looks rather ridiculous! So I bought a tanned pair of tights and then wore two pairs of white stockings over that. In the end I was grateful that I did because the evening turned out to be typically English (that is, freaking cold). The stockings were also old fashioned ones (hence why they were in Oxfam, I am guessing) and were made to wear with a suspender belt which I, unfortunately, do not have. Luckily, my Rocky Horror Magenta outfit had come with lace garters as well as the apron so I just wore those to hold the stockings up. And so I had an entire Alice outfit without buying anything new.

I have made one new purchase this month and that was an inner tube for my bike. The Hipster did try to repair the inner tube that I punctured (he's so handy!) but it had broken quite badly at the valve (due to my incredible heavy-handedness while pumping up the tyre) so there wasn't much to be done. But I did get a stern lecture on not brute-forcing everything (namely his stuff) to keep it in better shape for longer so I am going to try to do that. But I had said that I was going to make the exception that I would buy items that are needed for the upkeep of things I already own and I think an inner tube falls into that category.

I did manage to avoid buying a bike lock this month. I had been borrowing The Hipster's lock (for about nine months) and his patience was wearing a little thin (can't imagine why) but I wasn't sure how I was going to get a new lock. I had an old bike still left at college with a lock on it but the lock was so stiff that the person who used it previously had snapped the key in the lock. But it got to the point where using a broken key in a stiff lock was looking like the more convenient option against The Hipster's cranky face. So I went and fetched the lock, lock holder and a spare bike basket off the old bike and attached it all to my bike. And it turned out that with a bit of oil (which I borrowed off a friend in exchange for the spare bike basket) the lock is working pretty well again. And with a bit of tricky manipulation of an elastic band I got from a bunch of asparagus I was able to attach the key to my keyring in a relatively stable manner.

The final thing I wanted to mention was the Cambridge Carbon Footprint group. I went along to their Vegan Baking night a few weeks ago and then their Living with Less lecture last week and I found the people that run and attend the events are really lovely and inspiring. The Living with Less lecture in particular was really very inspiring. It was a panel of people that have been on the buy nothing new challenge for 12 months. All of them had exceptions (and all of them had decided that buying underpants new was OK which was a bit disappointing because that's the one thing I really want to find out how to get around on the buy nothing new challenge!) but it was interesting to see how it had affected different people and how different people had introduced it into their lives. I have emailed them to volunteer my time if they need someone for vegan-related events and I look forward to going to more of their events in the future.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

2 months later...

Since I completed this experiment I've been amazed at how often I get asked about it. Sure, most of the time people's questions are somewhere along the lines of 'have you started any other crazy experiments lately?' but it's kind of nice that people actually took a few seconds out of their own hectic lives to think about whatever it was I was trying to achieve.

I don't think I ever really had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve; I was hoping that the experiment would enlighten me to its own benefit in the end. I certainly learned some good habits, gained a reputation for being a little bit nuts and, most importantly, came to realise my terribly bad habits and frequent hypocrisy.

I have spoken to quite a few people about the experiment and they seem to think that it would have been more of a challenge if it had gone on a little bit longer. They argue that perhaps then my friends would not have been so frequently generous and that my creativity would truly have been tested. But, to be honest, I was really desperate to buy soya milk and soya yoghurt by the end of the experiment and went straight to the store the day after it finished to buy them. So I was quite content with the length. And by content I mean to say that it tested my patience enough.

The evening of the end of my experiment was spent getting atrociously intoxicated with copious amounts of gin after a formal dinner at my college so I'm ready to argue that perhaps I learned nothing from my experiment. But then I decided that I was going to try to buy nothing new except for food, hygiene products and products that maintain things I already own (for example, I have a leather jacket that was my mother's when she was my age and I buy wax to keep it in good condition - yes, I wear second-hand leather). This went well except I was still buying ludicrous amounts of second-hand clothing on ebay and I really wanted two plate stands so eventually caved and went and bought them from John Lewis. I also wanted a blush brush and couldn't find a non-animal one second-hand so bought one from Boots. I haven't bought anything else new in the last two months but that's not really the point; I set out with a goal and failed. And I can't really think of more first-world things to fail on then a plate stand and a make-up brush.

I sold my car so I didn't fall back into my habit of coffee on the weekends in Waitrose (although the hipster and I sometimes shop there during the week if we are cooking something 'exotic'; that is, it requires shiitake mushrooms or tamari) and I haven't needed to buy fuel but it also means that I haven't been to the allotment in a very long time.

The thing about bad habits is that you slip back into them slowly without really noticing. It's also easy to justify small blips along the way when you aren't looking at your overall behaviour over a longer period of time. And this is what I had been doing until this week when I arrived back from Berlin and was held up in passport control at Stansted airport and missed the last train back to Cambridge. The last bus was also sold out so the hipster (who patiently waited for me after taking 30 seconds to get through passport control) and I had to take a £60 taxi back to Cambridge. Coupled with a rather large bill from college (I went on a lot of swaps to other colleges for formal dinners last term after my experiment finished) I decided that I should probably be a little bit more spend-thrift for the next month or so. So I came home and instead of going to the store and buying more food to cook dinner with I just used what was in the freezer, fridge and cupboard. And I did the same thing tonight. And instead of buying bread I made bread. And instead of buying high protein vegan snacks, I made some. Suddenly I had enough meals to last me a week without having to go to the store once. And that's when I realised it: money makes me lazy.

I'm not about to start my experiment again; I still want to be able to buy soya milk, medicine, vitamins and the occasional exotic ingredient in a new recipe. But I'm definitely going to avoid buying anything new and I'm going to start updating this blog regularly so that I can share my ideas with others and so that I don't fall into bad habits as easily.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Weekend 4: Day 23-24

This was the last weekend of my experiment and, I have to admit, this experiment is made a tad easy by the fact that there are always great, free things to do in Cambridge.

One free thing I decided to do this weekend, that I have not done before, is schedule Skype dates with friends and family back home in Australia. If you haven't caught up with good friends from home in a while I would recommend setting aside a grey, February weekend to talk to them all. It was so fantastic to hear about life outside the Cambridge bubble. It's easy to forget that there are people doing non-PhD-related things like enjoying the first few months of marriage or negotiating a first beach house property or discovering a new city they've recently moved to or getting asked to leave restaurants for having heated debates about politics with someone they are trying to woo and then accidentally kicking them in the nether regions. It reminded me that life goes on out there and that it sounds really lovely. And I honestly think that there is something about the people from home (although maybe it's just Australians) that give you the support or advice that you really don't need but love to hear. Like my mother, who could probably not be more clueless about my PhD, at least likes to support me morally. All of my troubles with my supervisor, she surmises, stem from the fact that he must be in love with me. Another friend suggested, and as a reader you will appreciate, the sage advice: 'Elise, if you have threesome, don't write about it on your blog.'

Don't worry, I won't.

I did some more cooking this weekend. I cooked two more loaves of bread and was a little bit more adventurous with the ingredients this time and added some oats, flaxseed/linseed and hemp seed. I also made a cake with random ingredients I had lying around and based loosely on a recipe I had blogged about on my food blog for a gluten-free Lemon and Blueberry Polenta Cake. Except I didn't have blueberries so used apple and I didn't have enough almond meal so did actually use some flour. But it turned out pretty good anyway.

Apple & Lemon Polenta Cake and
Wholemeal Seeded Bread.
As for entertainment, as I said, it's always easy to find free things to do in Cambridge. On Saturday evening I had the great fortune to go to the launch of a book that my friend Angelika co-edited. The book, Manga Girl Seeks Herbivore Boy: Studying Japanese Gender at Cambridge highlights some recent research in the somewhat new field of changing gender norms in modern Japan. I was initially excited by the prospect of free wine and pretending I was an arts student but ended up being so interested in the introductions given and the discussions it created in the audience afterwards that I failed to remember my initial goals! I remedied this a bit by crashing a friend's dinner plans (by some strange coincidence the vegetables and spices I was carrying around in my handbag (it's just something I do) complemented what he was going to cook so we all ended up at his place) and we shared lots of food and wine there.

And today I was savvy enough to spot that my friend John, who is doing his PhD in music at my college and who plays the harpsichord, was performing in the Cambridge University Baroque Ensemble at one of the colleges for free! So off I cycled, little bits of icy snow getting into my eyes on the way, to an afternoon of free Baroque music. And it was well worth the stupid English weather to listen to the lovely music and watch John 'tinkle the ebonies' (as he likes to call it on all occasions).

I was also looking forward to the free comedy smoker held in my college bar, put on by the drama club of our college, but I accidentally took a rather longish nap for the entire evening. Napping, it must be said, is also an excellent free activity.

And that is the last of my weekends for this experiment. I only have four more days to go and I'm definitely not going to run out of food although I am very much looking forward to being able to buy soya milk and soya yoghurt once more.

I'll be ending the experiment a few hours early on Thursday so that I can pay for the tax on my car, which happens to be due on the 28th of this month, and so that I can celebrate the Austrian's departure from England. But I've enjoyed the experiment and would like to continue at least some of the experience into March so I'm going to have a think about what I'm going to do for next month.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Week 3: Day 18-22

This week was stupidly busy and involved a lot of free stuff, some of it gained creatively and some of it gained through my friends being drunk and/or generous again.

Since I had cooked a lot of food over the weekend I again didn't really have to worry about cooking during the week or making any lunch. So on Monday after my shift in the college library I just had soup and went to bed early with the wonderful Angela Carter.

On Tuesday I had planned to pool my resources with a friend and make curried lentils and sweet potatoes but it turned out that my friend was nearly dying of some cold (I blame getting up before the sun when the temperature has barely risen above zero to go rowing on the world's most pathetic but bendiest river thus making rowing in Cambridge the most miserable experience ever thus reducing your immune system thus increasing the likelihood that you will get some horrendous cold) so I ended up taking my spices and sweet potato to the hipster's house and sending him to the store to contribute to the meal. I had one request: red lentils. Turns out, I should have been far more specific. I should have realised that the hipster, being a man who likes his meals containing a range of dead animals from a range of geographical locations (imagine his delight at the horsemeat saga), doesn't have much experience of lentils. I should also have learned my lesson from a recent experience when I sent him to the store for salad and he came back with a Chinese cabbage and radishes. But alas, none of this came to mind at the time, so off he went and came back with pre-cooked Puy lentils in a can. This makes making a lentil-based curry a little... runny.

I had the genius idea of making bulgar wheat to go with the curry (that is, I found bulgar wheat in my box of dried food) and was hoping that I could just reduce the amount of stock in the recipe (I didn't have much of a choice, I only had 3 cubes of vegetable stock left) and any excess liquid still remaining would be soaked up by the bulgar wheat. Except I then put the hipster in charge of making the bulgar wheat. I'm not exactly sure what bulgar wheat should look like but if the answer is the semolina pudding-like substance that I received then I never want to have it again.

Except I am going to have bulgar wheat again because it's one of the last remaining things in my box of dried goods that needs to get used up before the end of my experiment. But I think putting it in a lentil loaf might be a better use of it.

On Wednesday night my college held an event for graduate students with a free all-you-can-eat buffet and all-you-can-drink wine and juice. Unfortunately, since I am vegan, I was given my own small plate so I couldn't actually try to eat all I could (the hipster, mind you, did not have this problem and consumed enough mini quiches to feed a bourgeois army). I also left my magic drops at home so had to stick to juice. I am pretty sure, however, that I drank about 20 gallons of orange and apple juice by the end of the evening. I was afraid some of those rowing-induced flu germs might be floating around college so I was stocking up on free vitamins.

Thursday was a bit of a rule bender. Firstly, I woke up very early in the morning to buy formal tickets for everyone in my lab on my college card. I actually did the same thing the previous week. I did this because tickets were needed and someone at our college needed to buy them. I was going to get the money back from the ticket holders so this wasn't really me buying anything. Except that on this Thursday, one of the tickets was actually mine.

Next Thursday, on the very last day of my experiment, we are throwing a farewell party for the lovely Austrian who has been visiting our lab for the past month. And we are doing this in formal hall. Which means we had to buy the tickets on Thursday. There's not really much I can do to justify the spending: I have basically cheated. Although, I'm still thinking of a creative way to somehow get out of actually having to purchase the ticket.

This Thursday evening I also ended up at formal hall by a bit of last minute ticket grabbing and bartering. A friend of mine had some guests from London and he had wanted to show them a college formal. I had said that I couldn't go because of my no buying experiment but that I would meet them afterwards in the bar to watch them drink. My original plan involved me making dinner at home for myself and perhaps having a martini or two (I've been quite cautious with rationing my gin and vermouth over the length of the experiment). But just before six I get a message saying that I had a ticket and that I had to meet them there at seven. I put up a little bit of an argument saying that I would need a vegan ticket which seemed a bit impossible to get at such short notice. It turns out it wasn't. But then I still couldn't pay for the ticket. I offered instead to make bread and make my friend some food and do some ironing for him. I felt the bread and food worked nicely within my 'use the resources you have' philosophy and he thought getting me to do his ironing worked well within his 'get Elise to do my ironing' philosophy. So I went to formal hall. And I went to the bar afterwards and had two G&Ts bought for me by very drunk friends. So, when they said they were catching a taxi into town and would pay for my entry into some horrid nightclub I found the easiest way to not get people to pay for stuff was to just go home. So I did.

A lot of the food I have been cooking recently has been based around the pulses and beans that I had lying around and the seasonal vegetables that I get at the farm shop which means I am cooking a lot of curries. This is great but I really miss Chinese and Japanese cooking. Tonight I was lucky enough to go to my new neighbour's house who cooked me soba noodle soup in kombu dashi with eringi mushrooms, fried tofu, spring onions and mochi. And it was delicious. He's been learning to cook simple Japanese cuisine from the Japanese postdoc in my lab and she is doing an absolutely awesome job!

So I received a lot of free food and drink this week. I also managed to get myself a free helmet from FreeCycle. If you don't know what FreeCycle is then you are definitely missing out! It's basically a network of communities where stuff is advertised as offered or wanted... for free! I picked up a really nice coffee table about a year ago and yesterday I picked up a perfectly good helmet. There are groups all around the world so take a look and see if there is one near you. You might find something free you've wanted for a while or you could use it to get rid of anything you have lying around that you think someone else could make use of.

So although I still seem to be stuck in the vicious routine of eating three course meals in formal attire after Latin grace I've at least broken the habit of following my friends in aforementioned formal attire to skanky clubs when I'm not in the mood for them. And I think being in the habit of sharing cooking and meals is much better for the environment, your relationships and your mental health so I'm glad that's something I've become accustomed to.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend 3: Day 16-17

Finally, a calm weekend. I have long been looking forward to a weekend at home when I could wash clothes, cook copious amounts of food to then freeze, read, clean and work from home. And I was finally able to do that this weekend.

My former partner recently moved to a house that is, Google Maps tells me, 131 metres from my house. This means that I now have easy access to the coffee machine and wok that he seems to have taken custody of and that we also can still cook together quite a lot.

Something I didn't think about when I started this experiment was my coffee addiction. Well, I did, but I told myself that the coffee in the lab was free and that I could survive on weekends. I cannot survive on weekends. I wake up on weekend mornings and the first thing I think about is coffee. And then my new neighbour and custodian of our coffee machine gets a text requesting a quadruple espresso in a thermos. Please. Now. No, seriously. Now. I'm not even trying to be cute. I want four fucking shots of espresso now.

Something along those lines anyway.

To be fair, I normally give something back in return for the coffee. On Saturday it was a vegan version of No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls. On Sunday it was root vegetable soup straight off the stove with fresh wholemeal bread that I had baked the night before.

My first loaf of bread!

I cooked quite a lot this weekend. I used up all of the onions and root vegetables, that were shrivelling in my room, in the root vegetable soup; I used up lots of oats, linseed, dried fruits, soy milk powder (which I had originally bought for camping but found the taste so damn awful that I gave up on it) and hemp seeds in different versions of the no-bake balls; I used up lots of strong wholemeal flour and finally used the fresh yeast I've been keeping in the freezer to make my very first loaf of bread; and I used up almost dead eggplants/aubergines and chickpeas in a recipe for Eggplant and Chickpea Peanut Masala, although this latter recipe did require some ingredients that I did not have but I went around to my new neighbour's house to cook, since my landlady was having her family over for dinner, and we pooled our resources to make the dish. Combined with the mung dahl I made on Friday night using the last of my dried mung beans, I'm quite impressed with how much stuff I used up this weekend.

Of course, all of that is a lot of food and I do tend to cook with people and share or freeze the food for lunch during the week. This does mean that I might end up eating the same thing for lunch or dinner a few days in a row but considering there are people out there who eat instant ramen for every meal (or have to eat at the Cavendish canteen), I think I'm doing pretty well.

Something I am really enjoying from this experiment is getting together with a friend and merging resources to create a meal that uses up something I may have otherwise wasted, using a recipe I've never tried before. I'm getting to know other people's kitchens and pantries and am starting to think of my own as a complement to theirs which, I think, is a much funner (and obviously communal and environmentally friendly) way to think about cooking.

So there were no tales of drunken revels this weekend, just a whole bunch of cooking. Apparently I've actually not been further than 131 metres from my house for the last 48 hours which is kind of nice to do every now and then despite the fact that today was the first pleasant day we've had in quite a while. I think I might wait for the temperature to creep into double digits, though, before I get as excited as everyone else.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls:
made from peanut butter, oats and everything else I could find!

Week 2: Day 11-15

As I've previously stated, week days are far more relaxed for me than weekends. And by relaxed I mean that I spend most of it in front of my computer at work, swearing a whole lot. The experiment doesn't really affect my life during the week at all.

The food part of the experiment is going really well. Lunch this week was kale, cabbage and chickpea salad. I'm nearly out of chickpeas but complementing the protein-filled legumes with seasonal vegetables was a real success. I made dressing out of tahini, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, miso paste and some salt and pepper. It was a tasty lunch and I didn't mind having it every day this week (I had to eat all of the kale and cabbage before it went bad!).

Of an evening I normally eat left over food that I've cooked on the weekend interspersed with cooking with other people at their house or mine. This week's highlights included teriyaki soba noodles at a friend's house, cooking a vegan version of mung dahl with Leif at my house and finally using some of that tofu I stockpiled before the experiment began to make frittata.

My stockpile of dried goods is quite quickly going down and I'm a little proud of the new recipes I've been trying to use up some of the goods I have. I came across the Think, Eat, Save campaign this week which I think ties in really well with what I'm trying to do. If you follow the link there is a list of suggestions of things you can do to try to reduce your 'foodprint'; from eating food that is already in your fridge or cupboard before you go out to buy more to buying funny shaped vegetables and fruit. I think they are fantastic ideas and I've been trying to incorporate them into my experiment. Also, if you have leftover food in your fridge or cupboard that is about to go to waste then check out the Love Food Hate Waste website which has some great recipe suggestions for food you would otherwise throw out.

I did have to break some rules of spending this week. Firstly, I had to pay the parking fine. Secondly, I had to go back to the doctor and get more antibiotics. And this time it wasn't at midnight on a Sunday so the medication wasn't free. But if I'm going to break my rules for something then I'm glad it was for medicine and not because I collapsed under the stress of not being able to bid on eBay. Also, the experiment has taught me to be a little more patient with my health and a little more cautious with funding so I actually spoke to the doctor this time about long term solutions so that I don't need to keep coming back to the doctor and getting more antibiotics which will help take some strain off the NHS and will maybe prevent me from being the person to create the ginormous-antibiotic-resistant-super-bug.

The only other spending I did this week was for my fresh vegetables. I went back to the same farm store, although paying £30 for a basketful of vegetables does seem a little bit excessive so I'm not too sure how long that will last. I think I will keep going back there until I've full considered the benefits and drawbacks of buying locally and from small stores as opposed to buying from large supermarkets who are not locally owned and import most of their goods from very distant places.

On the topic of food, I also joined FoodCycle this week. They are an organisation that takes surplus food from supermarkets and turns it into nutritious vegetarian meals for people affected by food poverty in the UK. They rely on volunteers so I thought that I would sign up. Volunteering is free and I'll get to scope out the best places for surplus food!