Week 1: Could you buy nothing (or hardly anything) for a week?
Buy Nothing for a whole week? ….how can you buy nothing for a week – after all you need to eat right? There’s a lot more in your home than you think! We’ve all been there – having a quick tidy of a cupboard or wardrobe and suddenly finding that there is more in a tiny space than you ever dreamed possible, and now you’ve got it all out it won’t go back in again. And what about your food cupboards and freezer, have you unearthed a few things you didn’t remember you had or with best before dates in 2010? With Christmas fast approaching and even more items likely to come and live in your home, now is a good time to take a step away from your cash and cards to clear a bit of space instead of bringing more items into your home.
The Buy Nothing Challenge is the first for our Love Christmas Hate Waste campaign. From next week we’ll be giving you lots of ideas to reduce, re-use, repair and recycle over the festive period. Look out for thrifty gifts, handbags and gladrags, lovely leftovers and others over the next 8 weeks.
But we need to eat!
In a few weeks you’re probably going to spend around £150 on festive food and drink. Several trolley’s worth that you need to store, so for the next week we’re challenging you to not buy much (or any!) food to clear some space for your Christmas menu.
The key is in the planning! With an estimated £860 million worth of food sitting in UK freezers, we can feed ourselves for 11 days just with the food in the freezer. Not possible?! Well, have a look in your freezer and see for yourself. If you have a typical freezer, there are three drawers and they will be filled with frozen foods. There must be something that you can you can use – leftovers you froze a few months ago or some frozen food you’ve kept just in case. This week it’s time for you to use it -that’s why it’s in there!
It’s not just your freezer that has a few days of food in it, there’s also the items in your cupboards you can use. We typically have a stock of ‘store cupboard staples’, things that we always have ‘just in case’ as they’re used in lots of recipes. For example pasta, rice, chopped tomatoes, dried mixed herbs, gravy granules, tomato sauce and tins of tuna. It’s not always easy to think about what you could make so we’ve got a few ideas for dishes you can make using only freezer and cupboard content.
- Tuna pasta bake – using pasta, dried herbs, flour and onions from your cupboard and frozen veg from the freezer.
- Tomato pasta – with pasta, chopped tomatoes, dried herbs, onion and garlic from your store cupboard this is a quick and easy meal. You can add frozen veg as well if you’d like.
- Spanish omelette – use up any leftovers, potatoes, egg from the fridge and add in any frozen veg if you haven’t got any leftover. Great for lunch as well as dinner!
- Caribbean rice and peas – a great side dish that can be served with jerk chicken or other helpings of meat, you’ll probably have most of the ingredients in the cupboard already (red kidney beans, coconut milk, dried herbs).
- Cauliflower cheese – time to use up the frozen cauliflower, flour and mustard from the store cupboard, service with anything you’d like from the freezer!
Sit down and plan your breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the week, try to use up as much as you can and if you find you need to buy some things make a list and stick to it! If you’ve got some ingredients in your store cupboard that have been there a while look up recipes to use those up and make your plan around them.
Think about the Present
You’re never too old to have a Christmas present list! Unless you’d like another reindeer jumper or 12 pairs of socks this year, now is a great time to start making lists for everyone in the house to avoid getting duplicates, triplicates or things you really don’t want and will end up giving away in January or storing for years ahead.
It’s also really helpful to others to have a list, how many hours have you spent in previous years searching the shops (and internet) only to come home empty handed, tired and grumpy because you just don’t know what to get a particular someone? And remember the present doesn’t have to be one that could be wrapped – you could ask for a meal out or for 4 hours of babysitting.
Don’t rush out Christmas shopping this week, make a list of everyone you need to buy something for or send a card to and plan your shopping. If you don’t know what someone wants, now is the time to ask them and still give yourself plenty of time to find it.
If you have the sudden urge to start the little jobs around the house before the family converge on your home for Christmas – pause before you rush to buy the latest power tools. Think about what you have sat in a cupboard that you’ve only used once but think you may need again, at some point in the future – a drill, carpet steam cleaner or an ice cream maker perhaps? Well, you’re not the only one as most of us do and now there’s a growing on-line community where you can share your items and borrow from others. If you want to buy nothing this week but need something for a one-off task take a look at what’s out there as you don’t always need to buy the item brand new.
Time to get cracking…
We’ll be tweeting (@WestLondonWaste) tips, recipes and other ideas throughout this week if you want more ideas. Here are a few things you could do this week to get the most from buying nothing.
No purchase necessary! You can take part in these activities completely free of charge. There are two aims behind the tasks you can choose this week, first is to clear some space ready for all the food you’ll be buying for Christmas and second is to prepare for the items you will be buying over the next 6 weeks.
1. Plan your meals
If you’re going to feed yourself from the freezer and store cupboard for all or some of this week it will be easier if you do some planning beforehand. Make a list of everything you have in your freezer and the items in the fridge that need to be used up. Use our meal planner () or a scrap piece of paper and work out your meals for the whole week. If there are things you need to buy to make a meal don’t worry about it as you’re going to need them, just make a list (and stick to it) so you keep your spending to a minimum.
2. Write your wish list
Create a list of stuff you’d like for Christmas (and get others living in the same house to do it too) and pass it on to your nearest and dearest. If you have no ideas just yet, hold on to this task until you read our gift ideas during week 3. There’s another list you can make, write down whom you will be buying presents for and how much you want to spend.
3. Start your role as Santa
Write a list of everyone you need to buy presents for, plan how much you’d like to spend and ask them if they have a list of things they want. The HSBC 2013 Christmas spending survey suggests we’re each planning to spend £336 on presents this year, making this list will give you an idea of how you’ll need to budget.