R3000 Challenge: I’m in trouble… 

YOI! I’m in trouble. I did a quick shop yesterday. (I’m surprised at how often I need to go to the shops, as it turns out – 5ppl can eat quite a lot).

I spent another R300, which, in my vague calculation (still unsure of total GFC order) leaves me around R600 for the rest of the month. 😳 I have meat, and staples. But today my confidence may have superseded the reality of my situation because I might have made some rash decisions.

I bought 2 x 3kg bags of butternut. Why 2? Did I need 2? I’m not so sure. I also needed tea. So I bought a box, of 107 teabags. Do I need all 107 teabags? Can I even drink that much in 15 more days? Not a chance. But the bulk buyer in me came to the party.

The saver came to the party too and I couldn’t refuse the Jungle Oats on sale, nor the Bubbly chocolate. If Bubbly is ever on sale, it’s almost sinful to say no. Surely? So I caved, and as I grabbed two slabs off the shelf I thought twice about my budget. And naively took the hit. 

I seeeeeeriously need to tighten the purse strings. Because I have a birthday boy coming up, and cake (and school party treats) will be a necessity shortly.

RIGHT! Two points that have been raised by numerous readers: FREEZING GLASS JARS.

Yes, I too believed one could never freeze glass, but, it turns out you can. A friend showed me or else I would’ve been way too scared to try. They must be decent glass jars and you must be sensible. Don’t freeze HOT food, straight from the oven into the freezer, and take care when defrosting. Don’t take it from the freezer and pop it straight in the microwave/oven. Go easy on your glass.

I buy my glass jars from Bonpak in Prime Park, Diep River. They’re the same size and shape as the Oh Mega Nut Butter jars.


A friend messaged me today, and she was reading my mind. Her message was as follows:

I love the challenge blah blah because… you “buy what you need, no need to overdo elaborate meals EVERY night, good for the hips, good for the world / enviro (cause not over consuming in this consumer crazy society etc etc). Every time I have made my “normal” purchases I think of you and how you’re exercising such restraint and it makes me see the “normal” purchase as a super spoil.”

Someone else (talking about something similar but different) spoke of our consumer culture like this: shopping (unnecessarily, in our case maybe for food/eating) is a way of “filling voids, eradicating boredom, fostering laziness, thwarting creativity, not to mention draining our bottom line“.

I sometimes imagine asking someone from the early 1900’s to watch our western culture. And I wonder how sensible popping into the same shop every 2nd day would seem? Especially in today’s unbelievably demanding lifestyle, when we don’t actually have the time to spare? Does buying a takeaway coffee look cool, indulgent or irresponsible? Is it a prerequisite to your morning? (Coffee is ABSOLUTELY a prerequisite to mine, and I thank the Good Lord for the creamy sweet nectar every morning as I sip it). Pre-cooked meals? Are they convenient, or necessary, or have we barely stopped to consider the joy and creativity involved in cooking we’re blindly robbing ourselves of? Nooooooo judgement here guys – I’m asking myself these exact questions… (and I could’ve fueled a small country on the amount of take away coffee I had last month…)

What is food? What have we made it? Where have we been sold a lemon by society? I’m ALL about good food. I’ve said this already. I love what it represents; different textures and colours, what humans are able to create with micro greens and edible flowers, the complexity of flavours and beauty and satisfaction in a delicately prepared meal. But when did we put it on autopilot?

11 thoughts on “R3000 Challenge: I’m in trouble… 

  1. Please can you give details about the good food company? I’ve tried to google it can’t find anything. TIA

    1. Hi Jenni. Are you in the Cape Town area? The Good Food Club is a local coop, between customer and farmer. It’s currently a closed group, for NO other reason than it’s too hard to manage when it gets too big. We’re in discussions to multiply the clubs to make it more accessible for more people. Keep your eyes peeled on the blog for more info coming soon!

      1. Debbie, I am SO very keen to be involved if the GFC does multiply!!!!! So keep us posted. Also.. great posts… we are busy looking at a (first ever🙈) budget on our side too so both my heart & brain have been very much engaged in what you’ve been sharing. Thanks!

      2. Thanks Debbie. Yes, I am in Tokai and would love to be able to buy directly from the farmers so we getting more organic foods!!! I have a 17 month old son so keen for him to have healthy organic stuff. I just LOVE your blog!!!

  2. I really think we have to challenge our notion or idea of what enough is. I don’t know about you but I come from a family of 5 (my father was a minister and my mum hasn’t worked for a while) and our shopping always included pantry loading on specials to ensure we did not go without. This is my framework. This was my normal.

    I am changing that now, to think about what is my idea of enough! Feeding my family of 4 on a tight budget as I run my own business and it can be a bit scary! I am trying (not always getting it right – there is always a choccie or a takeaway coffee) to look for cheaper alternatives and not bulk buying!

    I absolutely love reading your blog posts! Its nice to know there are other families out there with the same focus as us!

    1. Ah Sarah thanks for the encouragement! I think most of us can do with less, for sure. And it’s a good lesson to learn. Our parents certainly didn’t spend like our current generation does (for the most part). It’s been so good to open up these conversations! X

  3. Love this. We (also family of 5) have spent the last 5 months living on an extremely tight budget with many food items been given to us that I wouldn’t normally buy. It’s actually been great to humbly undertake the task of creating food that I still what to eat without luxury items, and MANY items are deemed luxury now. It’s a perspective shift in my opinion and I think this challenge is just brilliant! I’m a full on foodie and LOVE good and tasty food, and have started to enjoy the challenge of cooking yummy food and making super savings. Well done for putting this out there – and good luck with the rest of the month!

    A tip – We had two of our sons birthdays last month – Eeeeek! One saving I made was to make the cakes icing out of Moir’s chocolate mousse! R10 per box and a bit of milk – much cheaper than butter, cocoa and icing sugar! Definitely not ticking the healthy vibes box but it was really yummy and more affordable!

    1. Thanks Jenna! What a lovely message. Thanks for sharing. For my sons bdays. I usually bake from scratch, but this year bought cakes from the Ina Paarman factory shop. R36 per cake and add eggs/oil/milk. Much cheaper. I still prefer freshly baked but it worked super well! Everything in moderation hey! X

  4. Hi! This is such a great post. And I think so many people are going through the challenge of having to tighten our purse strings. We are only a family of 3, and I’m a SAHM and our toddler is 2,5 years old. We live in a 2 bedroom apartment and often find towards the last 10 days of the month that we need to tighten the purse strings again. Recently I took up the challenge of saving in the kitchen. And I have already saved money on my grocery bill each month. The biggest change I made was for the first month I only made meals using up what I had in my pantry and fridge / freezer. I managed to get two weeks worth of meals from what I already had (just here and there adding fresh vegetables or bread). The second biggest thing I did was start using my slow cooker (which I had invested in last year and rarely used). I planned meals for my entire month of May, went to the grocery store with my list and only bought what was on that list, came home and spent 3 hours prepping 23 meals (chopping, dicing and cutting up) and freezing them. We followed the meal plan 80%, allowing some “off days” for when the weather was hot and we made a BBQ or for those days when we were invited to friends. I did the same for June and the slow cooker is being used 5-6 days out of the week. Meal planning has been a LIFE SAVER as well as been so good to our finances. Our other big change was to bring our own “pad-kos” even for the shortest rides to the zoo. When we go on a longer journey, the only money we give out at the pit-stops is for coffee for the husband. Other than that, I pack left-overs and make squash using tap water.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *