Dandelion jam jelly honey make home-made thrifty sustainability gift present DIY

Make it: Dandelion Jam

Making & DIY, Thrifty

Dandelion Jam is a really unusual, but delicious treat. It is unlikely to be in your local supermarket or even your local farm shop. The fact that it is hard to Dandelion jam jelly honey make home-made thrifty sustainability gift present DIYget hold of makes this jam a brilliant home-made gift for friends.

Try Dandelion Jam on toast or scones, pair it with cream cheese, use it as a glaze or salad dressing… think of how you might use honey and try using Dandelion Jam instead. It’s tasty!

Getting into a thrifty mindset, it is a good idea to make and prepare DIY Gifts all year round so that you have a little stockpile of beautifully-made, special presents – ready to give to your loved ones, family and friends. With this gift idea you can put even more thought into the design by personalising and decorating the labels that you stick on each jar.

Foraging Dandelions

Dandelion jam jelly honey make home-made thrifty sustainability gift present DIY dandelions

Dandelions flower in the Spring and in Autumn too, so you have two chances to forage for this recipe.

When picking your Dandelion flowers, make sure that you are picking them from an area that has not been sprayed with weed killers or insecticides, you don’t want that stuff in your yummy jam.

If you pick too many dandelions, you can freeze the leftover flowers for a later date.

You will need:

First off you will need clean, sterilised, glass jars with lids. You can shop around kitchen stores or supermarkets during the sales to find cheap, empty jam and preserve jars, or you can save even more money by recycling your empty jam and chutney jars.

To recycle your own jars, ensure you wash each jar and lid thoroughly then when you have a good stash, sterilise in bulk, all the jars and lids using sterilising solution. You can buy a pot of sterilising powder for under £2 which will make a few batches of sterilising solution – available from anywhere that sells home-brewing equipment, or here is one from Amazon – VWP Cleanser and sterilser – 100g

 

Dandelion Jam Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 300 yellow dandelion flower heads
  • 1kg sugar
  • 1000 ml water (about a pint and 3/4)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1x sachet of fruit pectin – or if you have a box of pectin powder follow
    instructions on the box (you can add more pectin for a thicker jam)
Method:

Dandelion jam jelly honey make home-made thrifty sustainability gift present DIY dandelions

  1. Wash the flower heads throughly in cold water
  2. Pluck or cut the yellow flower from the small green leaves that hold it, it’s ok if a few small green bits are still in the mix, but ideally you just want the yellow flower for this jam. The small green leaves have a bitter taste and can turn the jam a light green, so it is worth the extra effort. Prepare yourself for sticky yellow fingers during this bit
  3. Mix water with sugar and bring to boil in a pan
  4. Add the flower heads to the mix, Bring to the boil and simmer for 20mins
  5. 2-3 mins before the 20mins is up add the lemon juice
  6. Remove pan from heat and allow to stand for 24hrs
  7. Dandelion jam jelly honey make home-made thrifty sustainability gift present DIYPour mixture through a sieve into a new pan to remove the flower heads (you can leave some of the petals in the mix if you like, they are edible and look really great in the finished jam – a bit like yellow marmalade)
  8. Simmer mixture on a low heat for 20 mins
  9. Add pectin 3-4 mins before the end, bring to boil and then boil for a further 5 mins
  10. When finished, you should have a clear yellowish jam that smells like honey and tastes absolutely delicious! Pour the warm jam into warm, sterilised, dry jam jars. Pop on the lids, then label and date

If you would prefer to make dandelion syrup, just leave out the pectin.

 

Did you know?
  • Dandelion flowers have antioxidant properties
  • Don’t waste the Dandelion greens either, they can be eaten raw as salad or cooked like spinach. Dandelion greens contain vitamins A, B and C, along with potassium and iron

 

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Wild Garlic ramsons forage forager foraging free food in the wild uk sustainability thrifty

Foraging in April – Free food in the wild – UK

Free

Foraging for food in the wild is a fantastic way to bulk out your meals for free.

Wild Garlic ramsons forage forager foraging free food in the wild uk sustainability thrifty

Wild Garlic leaves (Ramsons) – identify by breaking a leaf for a distinctive garlicy smell

It’s also great exercise, great for connecting with nature and great for boosting your self-esteem as you start to discover the wealth of free food that’s just poking out of the ground, or dangling off a tree in your local area… if you only know what to look for!

Below is a short list of the kinds of foods that are ready to find and pick in April in the UK. As the weather gets warmer, there is plenty to be found for the eager forager.

Each item in the list is a link that will show you a description on Wikipedia, so that you may identify the food correctly before you pick and eat it.

If you haven’t tried foraging before, why not just go for a walk around your local park or woodland, see if you recognise any of the plants or fungi that appear on this blog.

Take a tub or bag with you, and make sure that you wash your foraged finds before you eat them.

Get Foraging in April!

Bistort    Carragheen    Cleavers   Cow Parsley    Dandelion Flowers & Root    Fairy-ring Champignon    Gorse Flowers    Hawthorne leaves   Hop Shoots    Laver   Mallow leaves    Morel    Nettle    Primrose     Prunella   Rosemary   Sea Beet    St George’s Mushroom   Sweet Violet    Tansy leaves   Wild Garlic   Yarrow

Be safe when foraging, make sure that you are picking something edible and not something poisonous! It is a good idea to use a guide book or to research online before you go foraging. For example, try looking up each of the above on Wikipedia to find an accurate image and description.

 

I recommend the following books about foraging for free food – they help you to identify, harvest, prepare and preserve your findings:

My favourite is ‘Food for Free‘, because it is a pocket-sized guide that you can take out foraging.

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upcycle upcycling reuse repurpose reusing repurposing recycle recycling sustainability slideshow presentation

Upcycle, reuse & repurpose – Inspirational ideas

Making & DIY, Sustainability

Upcycle, reuse and repurpose unwanted items. Make the most of your rubbish and maybe even make something beautiful.

Take a look at these weird and wonderful ideas. Hopefully they will inspire you and help you to look at your rubbish in a whole new light.

Just click through each slide using the yellow boxes at the bottom of the pictures, or by clicking on the actual pictures. Enjoy!


Upcycling – by ThriftySustainability.net – Created with Haiku Deck

Why Upcycle?

Upcycling unwanted materials helps our environment, one repurposed item at a time. Creating something from our waste will save that waste from going into a landfill site. It will save the energy and transportation that would have been used to process the waste.

Repurposing can also save us from buying something new, if we can make what we need, out of what we already have lying around… we can save money as well as live sustainably.

Upcycled items can also make fantastic gifts, just take a look through the slides above for some great thrifty and sustainable DIY gift ideas. Or take a look at this previous post for another upcycling idea: DIY gift idea

Some of the most inspirational upcycling ideas are those which use our rubbish to create something beautiful and that puts something in the world that will cheer people up a little when they see it. That’s got to be worth the effort!

What will you upcycle? Do you have any upcycling ideas? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Happy Upcycling!

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morell fungus fungi mushroom forage foraging forager fre food wild thrifty sustainability sustainable self sufficient

Foraging in March – Free food in the wild

Free

Foraging for food in the wild is a fantastic way to bulk out your meals for free.

morell fungus fungi mushroom forage foraging forager free food wild thrifty sustainability sustainable self sufficient

The elusive but tasty Morell

It’s also great exercise, great for connecting with nature and great for boosting your self-esteem as you start to discover the wealth of free food that’s just poking out of the ground, or dangling off a tree in your local area… if you only know what to look for!

Below is a short list of the kinds of foods that are ready to find and pick in March.  As the weather gets warmer, there is a little more to be found for the eager forager.

Each item in the list is a link that will show you a description on Wikipedia, so that you may identify the food correctly before you pick and eat it.

If you haven’t tried foraging before, why not just go for a walk around your local park or woodland, see if you recognise any of the plants or fungi that appear on this blog.

Take a tub or bag with you, and make sure that you wash your foraged finds before you eat them.

Get Foraging in March!

Birch Sap      Bulrush      Cleavers      Dandelion Root      Gorse Flowers      Ground elder       Hairy bittercress       Hop Shoots       Jack-by-the-hedge       Morel       Nettle       Sweet Violet       Velvet shank       Wild Garlic

Be safe when foraging, make sure that you are picking something edible and not something poisonous! It is a good idea to use a guide book or to research online before you go foraging. For example, try looking up each of the above on Wikipedia to find an accurate image and description.

 

I recommend the following books about foraging for free food – they help you to identify, harvest, prepare and preserve your findings:

My favourite is ‘Food for Free‘, because it is a pocket-sized guide that you can take out foraging.

If you would like to receive Thrifty Sustainability updates by email when a new article is added, please subscribe here:


 

Grow your own vegetables cheat sheet infographic planting calendar

Grow your own – Planting & Picking calendar

Cheap Food / on a Budget, Sustainability, Thrifty

Growing your own fruit and vegetables can be so rewarding, as we discovered in this previous post – Why grow your own fruit and vegetables.

Different vegetables need to be planted and picked at different times throughout the year. Planting at the correct time ensures that you get the best quality and quantity of veg from the seeds that you use.

Whether you are growing vegetables in a garden, an allotment, a patio or in a window box – this brilliant grow your own ‘cheat sheet’, has lots of useful information to help you get started.

This infographic will help you to know:

  • when to plant each type of vegetable
  • how far apart to plant the seeds
  • which garden pests to look out for
  • how to stop pests from targeting your veg
  • which vegetables grow well when planted together
  • and the best bit… when to pick them!

Grow your own vegetables – cheat sheet:

Grow your own vegetables cheat sheet infographic planting calendar

Here is a downloadable version of the grow your own vegetables cheat sheet.

Feeling inspired? Get muddy fingers, grow tasty veg and enjoy!

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Hairy Bittercress wild herb food free foraging forager forage uk thrifty sustainability

Foraging in February – free food in the wild

Free

Foraging for food in the wild is a fantastic way to bulk out your meals for free.

Hairy Bittercress wild herb food free foraging forager forage uk thrifty sustainability

Hairy Bittercress – a peppery mustard flavour to add to raw salads

It’s also great exercise, great for connecting with nature and great for boosting your self-esteem as you start to discover the wealth of free food that’s just poking out of the ground or dangling off a tree in your local area… if you only know what to look for!

Here is a short list of the kinds of foods that are ready to find and pick in February, although free food is far more scarce over winter, there is still something to be found for the eager forager.

Each item in the list is a link that will show you a description on Wikipedia, so that you may identify the food correctly before you pick and eat it.

Foraging in February:

Chickweed     Ground elder    Hairy bittercress    Jack-by-the-hedge    Nettle    Velvet shank

Be safe when foraging, make sure that you are picking something edible and not something poisonous! It is a good idea to use a guide book or to research online before you go foraging. For example, try looking up each of the above on Wikipedia to find an accurate image and description.

I recommend the following books about foraging for free food – they help you to identify, harvest, prepare and preserve your findings:
My favourite is ‘Food for Free‘, because it is a pocket-sized guide that you can take out foraging.

If you would like to receive Thrifty Sustainability updates by email when a new article is added, please subscribe here:


 

lemon lemons healthy thrifty cheap versatile sustainable saving money

Lemons – multi-talented, powerful… cheap!

Making & DIY, Sustainability, Thrifty
lemon lemons healthy thrifty cheap versatile sustainable saving money

Lemons – not just for gin!

Lemons, often only chosen in the supermarket as a companion to gin & tonic or perhaps for squeezing over a piece of fish, but this cheeky little fruit has so much more to offer as you embrace a thrifty and sustainable lifestyle.

Ahh, the humble lemon, look closer and you will discover, not only that it is cheap and tasty, but that it has many other uses for the house, garden, health, beauty and cleaning, uses that can save you money whilst helping the environment.

A few ideas for using lemons

spray bottle lemon cleaner thrifty sustainable cheap save money clean
Air freshener –
mix equal amounts of water and lemon juice into a spray bottle. You can re-use the bottle as many times as you like and the spray will last for ages. The lemon smell is fresh, disguises odours and you can rest assured that you will not be breathing in lots of the chemicals that you find in regular air fresheners. Not only does this air freshener only cost pence but it also cuts down on the amount of aerosols and packaging that you may use – this helps the environment.

 

Sink/bath cleaner – Lemons are a natural bleaching agent and can dissolve soap scum and limescale on baths and sinks. As the acidic lemon is also antibacterial and antiseptic, it disinfects as it cleans too! You can apply neat lemon juice on problem areas, using a sponge, leave for a few hours and then rinse off. If it’s only a light scum, you only need to leave the lemon juice to do its lemony magic for 10mins.

 

All-purpose cleaner – If you want an amazing all-rounder, look no further than this powerful cleaning solution: Mix together some bicarbonate of soda with lemon juice and some warm water to make a paste. This powerful cleaning paste will clean the oven, hob, microwave… any tough, grimy, greasy, built-up, caked-in dirt. The bicarbonate of soda (also known as baking soda) is an abrasive, the lemon juice has fabulous de-greasing properties and together they are a force to be reckoned with! Rinse the surface well after using, to remove any of the powdery residue.

 

lemons lemon natural stain remover clean clothes thrifty sustainability sustainable effective

A natural, effective stain remover

Stain-remover – If you suffer from sweat stains on shirts or tops, mix together half lemon juice and half water and scrub the stain gently to remove the marks before putting the shirt or top in the wash. This will also work for stains caused by fruit juice, tea, ink etc… if it’s a really bad stain, add a little salt into the mix as an abrasive. You can also add lemon juice to your wash if you are washing white clothes as the slight, natural bleaching properties of the lemon will keep your whites whiter for longer… at a fraction of the price of the branded whiteners… and using zero harmful chemicals.

 

Disinfectant – Pour the juice of a couple of lemons down the kitchen or bathroom sinks or drains to disinfect them and to remove odours. You can also spray a mix of lemon juice and water over kitchen work surfaces as the lemon has antibacterial and antiseptic properties that will keep your kitchen germ-free. The lemonine in the lemon is also toxic to insects so will help to keep flies from having a fly party in your food preparation area.

 

Natural insect deterrent – If you want to keep insects away from your plants, or from entering your home. Try leaving strips of lemon peel dotted around as insects can’t stand the smell of lemon. Try squeezing lots of lemon juice onto doorsteps or windowsills to keep insects at bay. Ants, flies, fleas and cockroaches all hate the smell of lemon.

 

natural weed killer lemon juice thrifty sustainable environmentally friendly

A natural weed killer

Natural weed killer – Soil becomes polluted with the harmful chemicals used in commercial weed-killers. Why not try using lemon juice directly on the weeds instead. Pouring lemon juice between paving cracks will prevent the weeds from growing. It’s a much cheaper solution and much kinder to our environment.

 

Skincare – Fill a bowl with boiling hot water, add the peel of half a lemon, put your head over the bowl, put a towel over your head to cover your head and the bowl, and allow the steam from the bowl to cover and clean your face. The lemony steam will help to clean out pores at a very deep level. This is especially good for greasy skin. It feels amazingly fresh and energising too. Afterwards you can tone the skin and close the pores by dabbing a mix of two parts cold water to one part lemon juice on the skin and allowing it to dry naturally, then wash off with tap water. You can even apply sliced lemons directly to the face as lemon acids are smoothing and moisturising for even the driest skin types. Lemons – Who knew?!

 

lemons lemon juice hair rinse haircare healthy shiny cheap thrifty sustainability

Shiny, healthy, natural haircare

Haircare – To treat damaged hair or to give healthy hair a fantastic shine: Rinse hair with water and the juice of half a lemon. The lemon juice cleans out any residual soaps or shampoos, encourages natural proteins in the hair which can repair hair damage and creates fatty acids which give your hair a natural shine. All for the cost of half a lemon!

 

lemon juice in water hangover cure thrifty health healthy vitamin c

A hangover cure! – You’re welcome

Health – Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin C encourages the body to make collagen. Having lemons in your daily diet will help your body to repair muscles and skin and will help you to enjoy the humble lemon’s amazing anti-ageing properties. Lemon can also help reduce the amount of cholesterol that we take in from food.

 

Hangover prevention – If you’ve had a heavy night of drinking and suffer from hangovers, try drinking a glass of water with the juice of a lemon squeezed into it before you go to bed… the lemon will help the liver to process the alcohol and will give you a dose of Vitamin C at the same time… you will have a much better time when you wake up – you’re welcome!

 

There are hundreds of similarly amazing uses for lemons and you can discover more by google-ing ‘household uses for lemons’ ‘uses for lemons’ ‘lemon uses’ ‘lemon benefits’ etc

You can, of course, also use the lemon in lots of delicious recipes such as lemon drizzle cake, lemon cheesecake or lemon and ginger tea.

If you discover a great use for lemons, please let us know in the comments section below.
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learn for free education e-learning thrifty saving money sustainability university

Free education – learn for free

Free, Sustainability, Thrifty

Reasons to learn for free

What will inspire you to learn for free? Here are just a few suggestions:

    • If you are unemployed and want to make your CV stand out from the crowd – taking a free online course will give you an edge, it will make employers notice you. It will also boost your self-esteem as you realise how much you are capable of
learn for free education e-learning thrifty saving money sustainability university

Add valuable skills to your CV for free

  • If you are employed but looking to develop your career, get a promotion or pay rise, taking a free online course will give you new skills, experience and ideas. Your employer will take your new skills and qualifications into account should you approach them for a promotion, or improved salary
  • If you are employed but feel that you have chosen the wrong profession, if you are unhappy or think that there is something else that you would be better suited for… why not browse the thousands of free online courses to see if there is something you could learn which would inspire you, give your life purpose and start you in an exciting new direction. For example, below are links to free courses which cover sustainability and the environment
  • If you are retired but would like a project – learn for free! Keep your busy and hungry brain fed with fascinating information from all over the world. Take a course with a friend or a group of friends. As an example, you could take a foreign language introduction course, or a course about a country’s culture and then visit that country
  • University education in parts of the UK now costs thousands of pounds. Many can no longer afford to go. You can get the same quality of education online for free and save yourself a fortune in student accommodation bills too. You can learn from home, and in your pajamas if you feel like it. Many of the free courses offer certificates of the qualification at the end of the course. All further education will help you to find your place in the world
  • Here’s a crazy idea… Learn for fun! It’s free and there is a whole world of information out there just waiting for you. Cut out an hour of TV each night and learn in that hour instead. Learning something new can expand your horizons, open your mind to new possibilities and introduce you to new circles of friends who share similar interests. You may also find yourself extremely popular when there is a pub quiz

 

Places where online learning is free

learn for free education e-learning thrifty save money sustainability

What will you choose to learn about for free?

You do not need spend lots of money to get a great quality education. There are many resources available online for anyone who would like to learn for free. Take a look through the thousands of courses available from the suggestions below, or try google-ing ‘free education online’ or ‘free university courses online’ etc for many more choices.

http://www.open.edu/openlearn/free-courses
The Open University provide hundreds of their courses for free. All can be done completely online. Some of their popular free courses include:

  • introduction to bookkeeping and accounting
  • managing my money
  • start writing fiction
  • introduction to cyber security
  • forensic psychology

    globe world sustainability education sustainable learning for free thrifty

    You could learn about sustainability

If you are interested in sustainability and the environment, here is a link to the Open University’s free Environment & Sustainability courses.

 

https://alison.com/
Scroll down on the Alison home page to the popular free courses section. Courses are completely free and can be done online. Popular free courses include:

  • Diploma in Psychology
  • Diploma of Business Management and Entrepreneurship
  • Diploma in Project Management
  • Diploma in Workplace safety and health
  • Diploma in Operations Management
  • Diploma in Human Resources

 

http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses
Open Culture give you access to 1,150 free online courses from the world’s leading universities – lots of video and podcast lectures available for bite-sized learning too. A chance to enjoy a university-standard, free education. All online, all free. This site also has a wealth of free text books and audio books available to support your learning.

 

https://www.apple.com/uk/support/itunes-u/using/
iTunes U is an Apple iTunes application which allows the world’s leading universities to provide some of their courses completely free online. There are also many free video and podcast lectures and presentations to dip in and out of. Using the information in the link above, you need to download the iTunes U application to your computer (pc & mac are supported as are ipads) then just browse the wealth of free learning opportunities. Universities that contribute include: Oxford, Harvard, Yale and MIT.

Happy learning! If you have found a really great free learning resource, please feel free to add it in the comments section below

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Ground Elder forage foraging uk free food wild thrifty sustainability save money

Foraging in January – Free food in the wild

Free

Foraging for food in the wild is a fantastic way to bulk out your meals for free.

Ground Elder forage foraging uk free food wild thrifty sustainability save money

Ground Elder – great eaten raw in salads

It’s also great exercise, great for connecting with nature and great for boosting your self-esteem as you start to discover the wealth of free food that’s just poking out of the ground or dangling off a tree in your local area… if you only know what to look for!

Here is a short list of the kinds of foods that are ready to find and pick in January, although free food is far more scarce over winter, there is still something to be found for the eager forager.

Each item in the list is a link that will show you a description on Wikipedia, so that you may identify the food correctly before you pick and eat it.

Foraging in January:

Chickweed    Ground Elder    Oyster mushroom   Velvet shank

Be safe when foraging, make sure that you are picking something edible and not something poisonous! It is a good idea to use a guide book or to research online before you go foraging. For example, try looking up each of the above on Wikipedia to find an accurate image and description.

I recommend the following books about foraging for free food – they help you to identify, harvest, prepare and preserve your findings:

My favourite is ‘Food for Free‘, because it is a pocket-sized guide that you can take out foraging.

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grow your own zucchini courgette plant vegetables self-sufficient lifestyle thrifty sustainability

Why grow your own fruit and vegetables?

Cheap Food / on a Budget, Sustainability, Thrifty

thrifty sustainability affordable cheap food grow your own vegetables allotmentGrow your own

If you are looking for ways to save money and to live a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle, why not grow your own food, it’s a great place to start.

Planting, nurturing, growing, picking, preparing and then eating your own food can be an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding experience.

Whether you are growing food in an allotment, community garden project, your home garden or even in your window box, there is a way for everyone to have a go and have a grow!

Saving Money

The price of food shopping is always increasing and growing your own food can help to cut food bills considerably.

As an example: You can buy a packet of courgette seeds for 70p and just one courgette plant can yield 10 courgettes or more! Compare that to a pack of 2 courgettes costing £1.30 in a supermarket and you can see how the savings will soon pile up.

grow your own zucchini courgette plant vegetables self sufficient lifestyle thrifty sustainability

Just one courgette plant can yield 10 courgettes or more!

You can save even more money buy bulk-buying packets of seeds online. Ebay has lots of these and you can often buy a set of 50 varied seed packets for about £10.

If money is tight you can also swap your extra fresh fruit and veg with neighbours for other items that you need.

Rather than buying an expensive gift, freshly picked fruit and veg makes an excellent present for a friend or relative. It’s a really thoughtful gift because you’ve put your time and energy into making it for them. You could make a fresh veg hamper or give a bag of fresh veg with a recipe for a soup that they can make with the vegetables.

Helping the environment

pesticides food production industry sustainability grow your own vegetables

Pesticides can pollute the soil and our rivers

If you grow your own food, you are helping the environment. You dramatically cut your food’s carbon footprint, by cutting down on the energy use, waste and emissions that the food industry production, refrigeration and transportation requires.

Your home-grown food will also not have used chemical fertilisers or pesticides which are harmful for local wildlife, such as bees and birds, and the environment. Pesticides used in growing food on a mass-scale can pollute the soil and as rain water drains through the soil and finds its way to streams an rivers, our waterways can become polluted and harm fish and river wildlife also.

Health Benefits

This new hobby can benefit your health also. You will discover a sense of wellbeing and connectedness to nature, as you work in harmony with your environment and enjoy fresh, seasonal, organic fruit and veg. Harvesting and preparing food that you’ve grown yourself, from scratch, can also give your self-esteem a really great boost.

By consuming your produce within a few hours of picking, you enjoy the full, fresh, nutritional benefit of that food. If it is freshly-picked the vitamin content of the food is at its highest. Eating lots of fresh fruit and veg can really help you to absorb all the vitamins and minerals that you need as part of a healthy balanced diet and that helps to strengthen your body’s immune system.

Of course, gardening is also great exercise! All that time out in the fresh air, moving around, getting your heart pumping, using your muscles and even boosting your mood with all that natural light and the feeling of vitality that comes from working up a sweat!

Anyone who has ever tasted a freshly-picked, home-grown, organic, ripe, plump and juicy tomato, bursting with flavour…will tell you that freshly picked food tastes so much better! So start enjoying your food even more by really tasting it. Food that is a joy to eat can make anyone smile.

Community

When we work together and share the results, we build and strengthen a community.

veg gift basket grow your own vegetables self sufficient lifestyle thrifty sustainability

Share your home-grown veg with friends

As you grow your own food, you will find that sometimes you get a glut of a particular fruit or vegetable, as the weather and growing conditions have produced an abundance of growth. This is a fantastic opportunity to share your home-grown food with friends, family, neighbours and fellow food growers!

If you grow on an allotment, perhaps you can leave spare food near the gate with a sign saying – free, please take what you need. If you grow in your garden at home and have a glut, why not take your spare food to a neighbour or friends. You may even find that your friends, neighbours and fellow growers are inspired to do the same.

Talk to fellow food growers, share tips and success stories, share food and left over seeds. Not only might you make someone’s day, but you just might learn something and make a new friend too!

More articles about growing and preserving your own food coming soon.

Similar posts: Grow your own – Planting & Picking Calendar

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oyster mushrooms foraging forage december forager thrifty sustainability free food wild

Foraging in December – Free food in the wild

Free

Foraging for food in the wild is a fantastic way to bulk out your meals for free.

oyster mushrooms foraging forage december forager thrifty sustainability free food wild

Oyster Mushrooms

It’s also great exercise, great for connecting with nature and great for boosting your self-esteem as you start to discover the wealth of free food that’s just poking out of the ground or dangling off a tree in your local area… if you only know what to look for!

Here is a short list of the kinds of foods that are ready to find and pick in December, although free food is far more scarce this month, there is still something to be found for the eager forager.

Each item in the list is a link that will show you a description on Wikipedia, so that you may identify the food correctly before you pick and eat it.

Foraging in December:

Blewit    Chanterelle    Chickweed    Fairy-ring Champignon    Honey fungus  Navelwort    Oyster mushroom    Wood Sorrel    Velvet shank

Be safe when foraging, make sure that you are picking something edible and not something poisonous! It is a good idea to use a guide book or to research online before you go foraging. For example, try looking up each of the above on Wikipedia to find an accurate image and description.

I recommend the following books about foraging for free food – they help you to identify, harvest, prepare and preserve your findings:

My favourite is ‘Food for Free‘, because it is a pocket-sized guide that you can take out foraging.

If you would like to receive Thrifty Sustainability updates by email when a new article is added, please subscribe here:


 

christmas chutney yummy tomato apple diy home made gift gifts thrifty sustainability making relish

Make it for Christmas: Tomato & Apple Chutney

Making & DIY, Thrifty

Tomato & Apple Chutney is a great recipe to have a go at in October/early November as the fruits are in season and once the chutney is sealed in the jars, it will have time to mature to be extra-delicious just in time for Christmas.

tomatoes tomato apple chutney chutny pickle pickles home made preserve thrifty sustainability cheap foodGetting into a thrifty mindset, it is a good idea to make and prepare DIY Gifts all year round so that you have a little stockpile of beautifully-made, special presents – ready to give to your loved ones, family and friends. Making your own gifts can also save you a small fortune at Christmas. If you get swept up in the commercialism of Christmas and of gift-giving, it’s easy to believe that the more you spend on a present, the more the recipient will feel loved. The truth is, the more thought and time you put into a present, the more the recipient will KNOW they are loved.

With this gift idea you can put even more thought into the design by personalising and decorating the labels that you stick on each jar.

Making your own gifts can save you a small fortune at Christmas!

You will need:

First off you will need clean, sterilised, glass jars with lids. You can shop around kitchen stores or supermarkets during the sales to find cheap, empty jam and preserve jars, or you can save even more money by recycling your empty jam and chutney jars.

To recycle your own jars, ensure you wash each jar and lid thoroughly then when you have a good stash, sterilise in bulk, all the jars and lids using sterilising solution. You can buy a pot of sterilising powder for under £2 which will make a few batches of sterilising solution – available from anywhere that sells home-brewing equipment, or here is one from Amazon – VWP Cleanser and sterilser – 100g


Tomato & Apple Chutney Recipe:

(Makes about 6 jars)

Ingredients

  • christmas chutney tomato apple diy home made gift gifts thrifty sustainability making relish450g (1lb) Apples – finely chopped (do not use the core)
  • 450g (1lb) Onions – finely chopped (do not use the peel/skin)
  • 1kg ( 2lb 3oz) Firm, ripe tomatoes – finely chopped
  • 300g (10 ½ oz) Sultanas
  • 450ml (16 fl oz) Vinegar
  • 350g Brown Sugar
  • 1tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • 1tsp Nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

christmas chutney tomato apple diy home made gift gifts thrifty sustainability making relish make

  1. Put all of the ingredients apart from the sultanas, sugar, salt and pepper into a large, heavy-based saucepan – there is no need to add cooking oil. Bring the ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thicker
  2. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in the sugar, sultanas, salt and pepper
  3. Put saucepan back on a low heat, increase heat to bring the mixture back to a simmer and simmer for a further 30 mins – 2hrs until the mixture is very thick
  4. Remove saucepan from heat and spoon, whilst still warm, into the sterilised jars. Seal the jars and add your own labels – you can add a square of clingfilm across the top of the chutney before you screw on the lid if you wish to help it to keep longer

Storing the chutney

The chutney will mature and the flavours will deepen if you can leave it sealed in the jar for a month or two before opening and enjoying. You can leave the chutney, sealed in its jar, for a year or two in a cool dark store cupboard – it will still be safe to eat. Once opened, keep refrigerated and the chutney will be fine to eat for a good few months… if it lasts that long!

How to thicken runny chutney

Making chutney is not an exact science and sometimes it can take ages to thicken. The runnyness is due to how much liquid was in the fruit that you used and there is nothing you can do other than wait it out.

As you simmer your mixture, the liquid from the fruit evaporating is what makes the chutney thicker, so keep it simmering and eventually it will thicken.

If you would like to speed up the process, transfer your mixture to a couple of wide-based pans – an increased surface area of the mixture will allow for more evaporation.

christmas chutney yummy tomato apple diy home made gift gifts thrifty sustainability making relishDecorating your jars of yummy chutney

There are lots of ways to make the label that you put on your chutney special…

  • You could personalise each jar by writing the name of the recipient
  • You could draw a picture of the ingredients on the label
  • You could write serving suggestions, such as: Great with Sausages, Cheese and in Christmas Sandwiches!
  • You could add the date that the chutney was made
  • You could add stickers, glitter, whatever… get creative!


If you’re a complete chutney nut, you can, of course, keep the whole batch for yourself and scoff the lot! Enjoy!

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giant puffball mushroom fungus forage foraging forager frugal thrifty free food wild sustainability

Foraging in November – free food in the wild

Free

Foraging for food in the wild is a fantastic way to bulk out your meals for free.

giant puffball mushroom fungus forage foraging forager frugal thrifty free food wild sustainability

Giant Puffball Mushroom

It’s also great exercise, great for connecting with nature and great for boosting your self-esteem as you start to discover the wealth of free food that’s just poking out of the ground or dangling off a tree in your local area… if you only know what to look for!

Below is a short list of the kinds of foods that are ready to find and pick in November, each item in the list is a link that will show you a description on Wikipedia, so that you may identify the food correctly before you pick and eat it.

Be safe when foraging, make sure that you are picking something edible and not something poisonous! It is a good idea to use a guide book or to research online before you go foraging. For example, try exploring each of the below on Wikipedia to find an accurate image and description.

Foraging in November:

Blewit    Cauliflower fungus    Cep      Chanterelle     Chestnuts    Chickweed     Cowberry fruits     Dandelion root       Fairy-ring Champignon    Field mushrooms    Giant puffball mushrooms     Gorse flowers     Hawthorne berries    Hazelnut/Cobnuts    Hedgehog fungus    Honey fungus    Hops    Horse mushroom       Jelly ear     Navelwort    Oyster mushroom      Rose hips      Saffron milk cap      Shaggy cap     Sweet chestnuts    Velvet shank    Walnut     Wood sorrel
Happy Foraging!

I recommend the following books about foraging for free food – they help you to identify, harvest, prepare and preserve your findings:

My favourite is ‘Food for Free‘, because it is a pocket-sized guide that you can take out foraging.

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carrier bags carrier bag Shopping trolley cart eco friendly sustainable carrier bag charge 5p sustainability

Why are carrier bags 5p now? – Explanation & alternatives to save you money

Sustainability, Thrifty

You have probably noticed by now, that most shops in the UK are charging 5p per carrier bag at the checkouts. It’s caused some confusion and has caused more than a few cross words over the last couple of weeks, at tills across the country. Lets take a look at why carrier bags now cost you money, and the thinking behind this new cost.

Why shops started to charge 5p per carrier bag:

On the 5th October 2015 the Law in the UK changed making it compulsory for larger shops to charge for every ‘single use’ carrier bag. This law affects all of the shops and supermarket chains with over 250 employees. This law does not affect the smaller shops at the moment, but they can choose to charge 5p per bag as well, if they wish to, on a voluntary basis.

When carrier bags are free:
Some items are allowed a free carrier bag, often due to health and safety reasons. Free carrier bag items are as follows: unwrapped food, raw meat and fish where there is a food safety risk, prescription medicines, uncovered blades, seeds, bulbs and flowers, or live fish.

You can read the full terms and conditions set out for retailers on this government web page about the carrier bag charge.

Landfill land fill environment eco friendly sustainable carrier bags carrier bag charge 5p sustainability

61,000 tonnes of carrier bag waste in 2014

Why the government want us to re-use or use less carrier bags:
Single use carrier bags cause lots and lots of litter (at least 61,000 tonnes of litter in 2014). Because they are currently thought of as quite a disposable item, many are thrown away in the rubbish bin, or discarded in the street, the average person uses 140 single use carrier bags per year! UK landfills are full of all of our old carrier bags. As well as causing lots of litter, discarded carrier bags are dangerous and destructive for wildlife in the town and country. And, lets face it, tumble-weed carrier bags blowing in the breeze are not such a pretty sight.

Reducing the amount of ‘single use’ carrier bags will really help our environment and ensure that our shopping habits are as sustainable as possible in the long term.

Where does the money go:
The 5p charge is not a government tax and they do not get the money raised from the carrier bags. The money goes to the supermarkets and shops directly, the shops have to keep track of their carrier bag income and it is hoped that the majority will put the 5p charge to good causes and charities. The 5p charge is already in place in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The charge in Wales has, so far, generated millions of pounds for good causes, so the government’s hopes were well-placed.

The government estimate that the 5p charge will have the following benefits over the next 10 years:

  • an expected overall benefit of over £780 million to the UK economy
  • up to £730 million raised for good causes
  • £60 million savings in litter clean-up costs
  • carbon savings of £13 million

You can read a full breakdown of the government’s explanation for the 5p carrier bag charge on their website.

Alternatives to carrier bags:

Shopping bags eco friendly sustainable recycled materiel weave carrier bags carrier bag charge 5p sustainability

Recycled material shopping bags

I’m sure that we’ve all seen some interesting, creative alternatives for carrier bags over the last couple of weeks. As a few irate customers discover the 5p charge at the checkout and decide not to pay it, they invent new ways to carry their shopping home.

Some of the funnier scenes have included an angry chap in Iceland turning up the bottom of his jumper to make a kind of bulky kangaroo pouch to pile his shopping into – A few pedantic patrons marching out of supermarkets with arms full of shopping balanced here there and everywhere, apart from in a carrier bag. Some supermarkets have even trained their till staff to resolve the arguments that the 5p charge might provoke.

Save yourself from feeling miffed, save a stranger from feeling miffed – carry these alternatives to the carrier bag around with you…

    • Bag for Life – often costs 10p-£1 at the checkout, is supermarket branded, thicker and much sturdier than a ‘single use’ carrier bag and lasts for lots of shopping trips and often the supermarket will replace a worn out bag with a new one for free! This saves you lots of money in the long run
    • A fabric tote bag, made from recycled material – they fold, or roll up, small enough to fit into a handbag or pocket, and they are very strong
    • If you have driven to the supermarket – re-use a cardboard box to carry your groceries. Just pack loose shopping from the shopping trolley into the cardboard box in your car boot
    • Similarly, you could re-use stackable, plastic storage boxes from your home, keeping them in your car boot
    • Start wearing a backpack or carrying a large shoulder bag, such as a messenger bag
Shopping trolley cart eco friendly sustainable carrier bag carrier bags charge 5p sustainability

Shopping trolleys – not just for pensioners!

  • a small fabric shopping trolley with wheels. Once the favourite of pensioners across the UK, these useful carryalls are making a comeback for all ages, thanks to how much you can cram into them and the fact that you don’t need to carry the weight of the shopping – the wheels do that for you
  • A fold up, into a little pouch with a clip, fabric shopping bag – these can be found in any pound shop and in some charity shops and are usually water-resistant too
  • According to government research, the average household is supposed to have about 40 carrier bags stuffed around the house – Go through your cupboards at home and find all of those unloved old carrier bags that may be lurking. Grab a handful and keep them in your bag or pockets for reusing at the checkout. You could do a frustrated stranger a favour by ensuring you have enough for them also at the checkout.

Feel free to share your ideas for carrier bag alternatives, or amusing checkout stories, in the comments section below.

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carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability
carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability

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diy gift christmas idea glass jar decorate decoration embelish embelishment design present pebeo paste 3d creative project

Make it: DIY Gift Ideas – 3D embellished glass jars

Making & DIY

Getting into a thrifty mindset, it is a great idea to make and prepare DIY Gifts all year round so that you have a little stockpile of beautifully home-made, special presents – ready to give to your loved ones, family and friends. Making your own gifts can also save you a small fortune at Christmas. Have you ever received a DIY gift? How did it make you feel?

If you get swept up in the commercialism of Christmas and of gift-giving, it’s easy to believe that the more you spend on a present, the more the recipient will feel loved. The truth is that the more thought and time you put into a present, the more the recipient will KNOW that they are loved and that you consider them worth the effort, of making something especially for them. With this DIY gift idea you can put even more thought into the design by personalising the jar with the name of the person that you are giving it to.

diy gift christmas idea glass jar decorate decoration embelish embelishment design present pebeo gold relief paste creamYou will need:

First off you will need clean, dry, glass jars. You can shop around kitchen stores or supermarkets during the sales to find cheaper mason and storage jars, or you can save even more money by recycling your empty coffee jars or by using any glass object that you care to decorate, such as wine glasses or recycled jam jars.

You will also need a tube of 3D paste – For this example ‘Pebeo glass & metal paint relief paste outliner‘ has been used as they have a very effective metallic gold paste, which is fitting if you are considering making Christmas presents. If you shop around online using sites like Amazon and Ebay, you can find a tube for about £3 – a small tube will last you for a lot of projects, as a little goes a long way.

 

How to make 3D embellished glass jars:

This is the easy and fun bit! Hold your jar steadily in one hand and use the tube of relief paste to carefully doodle and swirl your design onto the glass. You don’t have to be a great artist here, less is more so here are some suggestions:

  • the recipient’s name
  • a simple heart shape
  • easy to draw geometric shapes like squares and rectangles – dotted around the jar
  • a spiral
  • a sunshine or stars
  • an outline of a spoon and the word sugar / coffee / tea
  • the word sweets / biscuits / treats
  • an outline of a cat or dog or the word miaow or woof
  • an outline of a leaf or tree

diy gift christmas idea glass jar decorate decoration embelish embelishment design present pebeo paste 3d creative projectJust use your imagination when drawing out your design and remember, that it is the thought that counts with this DIY gift, and whatever you create it will be wonderful for the recipient, because you made it for them.
Once you’ve added your design to the jar, you must now leave the jar to dry in a safe, out of the way, dry place for at least half a day, to ensure that your design sets solid.

Once dry you will notice that you can run your fingers over the design and it has created a 3D effect on the jar. It looks really interesting and as is pretty durable too, so your design will endure a few knocks and bumps and last for years.

If you want to get really creative, why not take things further by experimenting with glass paints too!

The finished jars are beautiful as they are and you can always fill them for an extra surprise.

Here are a few ideas of what you could pop inside:

  • Sweets
  • Biscuits
  • Small party-favour toys and games
  • tubes of glitter / googly eyes / beads / sequins and other crafting items
  • a rolled up message on a piece of coloured paper, that you have written especially for them
  • a rolled up tie or pair of colourful socks
  • Small make-up items and bottles of nail varnish
  • tea bags / coffee / sugar
  • Dried fruit / nuts
  • herbs and spices
  • a candle

You could fill your jar with anything you like, or leave it looking empty and elegant, it’s totally up to you as it’s your creative project. You can’t go wrong and your DIY gift will make someone’s day because you have made it for them yourself!

Enjoy… and if you have any design tips or ideas for filling the jars – let us know in the comments below – thank you!
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