My, Those Telegraph Budget Cuts

What more can I do to save money, I fretted, as I drove off. Compared to the nouveau pauvres who have started cluttering the aisles at Lidl to experience hot flushes of retail excitement over cheap frozen lobsters, I\’m an old hand. Virtually nothing enters our house – apart from the children\’s friends – which isn\’t on bogof (buy one get one free).

I use laundry balls to save on washing powder, buy loo rolls wholesale (anyone want some? I\’ve got 394 cluttering up the cellar), and make the children take spare knickers in their hand baggage to avoid paying extra for hold luggage when we fly. We\’ve got low-energy light-bulbs, too, but my husband keeps hiding them.

It\’s not as if I\’ve been missing many tricks. Already, I keep my own teabags in the office, and take a packed lunch to work. I dress almost exclusively in second-hand clothes from the Red Cross shop and, long before the emerging middle classes of India and China pushed up the price of meat, butter and basmati rice, I was feeding my family on food bought, or scavenged, from markets at close of play.

Unlike Mrs Average who wastes 30 per cent of the food she buys, I freeze dregs of red wine to make sauces, scrape fuzzy bits off leftovers and serve them again, and pass everything else on to the dog or compost heap.

I pay everything by standing order, which is probably a false way of saving a few per cent because, every now and then, a staggering bill comes in for the extra electricity and gas that I didn\’t even know I was using.

My email in-box is overloaded with messages from companies offering ways to save money: these boil down to taking out their relatively cheap loans – no thanks – or wasting half the day filling in questionnaires in order to get 40p off my next purchase of soya milk. And I\’m on the waiting list for an allotment.

In the meantime, eager for the buzz that comes from paring another few quid off the out-goings, I have just planted two apple trees. They should be just as pretty as inedible cherry trees, and will mean a reduction in my Braeburn bill. "Oh, but home-grown apples are manky," wail my children. "Shut up," I shout back.

They really are biting, aren\’t they?

12 thoughts on “My, Those Telegraph Budget Cuts”

  1. Haven’t read Private Eye in a while, but do they still do columns by Polly Filla? “Oh my God, it’s just so awful having to run Caspian to holistic rock-climbing and Jocasta to junior Pilates class and still have time to make it home to make a mung bean omelette in our genuine hand-cast mung bean omelette pan that we picked up on a trip to Ulan Bator while Tarquin was on leave from his hedge fund.”

    Bloody hell. I went to school with a phalanx of Cassandras and the likelihood of any of them shopping in bloody Lidl is about as likely as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sharing a bacon cheeseburger with the Chief Rabbi.

  2. Keep meat rabbits and put those kids of yours to work to find tasty dandelions, brambles and nettles to feed them 😉 2 does and a buck should easily put 1kg ethically and organically raised, truly environmentally friendly, healthy meat on your family table per week, if you need more just add a doe or two.

  3. All just sounds like common sense to me. Is what she’s doing supposed to be especially virtuous, or is she soliciting pity for not being able to throw her wine rests down the sink?

    @ Pamela: Braeburn is a kind of apple

  4. Doesn’t food going to the dog or the compost heap count as wasting it? It isn’t being eaten by the people that it was bought to feed so it’s wasted, right?

    And you can buy frozen lobster at Lidl? I’m living in the wrong area it would seem.

  5. MikeinAppalachia

    Except for no mention of a garden and, of course, no deer and turkey from hunting and the odd 3-5 fish now and again, pretty much normal behavior im my area.

  6. @ Pamela: Braeburn is a kind of apple

    LOL! Given that this is the UK/EU we’re talking about, I figured it had something to do either with the CAP or the bill she pays for rubbish collection.

  7. Bloody amateur. She should try nettle & bishopweed soup – really very good – or eating snails from the garden – perfectly palatable, and go very well with homegrown garlic and parsley.

  8. “Bloody amateur. She should try nettle & bishopweed soup – really very good – or eating snails from the garden – perfectly palatable, and go very well with homegrown garlic and parsley.”

    I think Tim has very eloquently knocked on the head the economic fallacy that working for your own things is cheaper than buying them. I can buy a bag of flour, grown by an agribusiness and ground by an industrial mill, for pence. I can earn pence with my specialty in minutes.

    Growing my own wheat and making flour, on the other hand, takes a lot more effort that mere minutes per bag of flour.

  9. ‘Working for your own things’ does work if you have a large garden , a muscular wife and are a OAP.
    The drawback is that you drown in tomatoes or rhubarb or whatever the wife thought a good idea. Mostly they taste better that store bought though.

  10. Oh, growing your own can make economic sense all right, but it depends on what’s grown, and where you live and what your income possibilities are.

    Wheat for flour isn’t a good example, but tomatoes, potatoes, onions, salads, beans, carrots, rhubarb, apples, pears, etc. work very well if one’s a competent gardener and cook.

    I’ve seen it done in Switzerland, and was astonished having been a city/wild outdoors type until then. One farm family (11 children!) easily fed themselves all year as regards veg. on what they grew in their 10X10 metre patch.

    It was lot of work, but by no means a full-time job. The wife really knew what she was doing though – no ‘Marie Antoinette’ gardening in flowered wellies – and the chickens did most of the weeding.

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