See yesterday’s post for Part 1
6. Cook a meal using seasonal, local ingredients, preferably organic
It’s so easy to get to the end of a hard week and say, ‘I’m having that take-away because I have worked hard and I deserve it’. The same motivations can also encourage you to buy ready-made, pre-packed options at the supermarket.
However, in a great many cases, it takes you as long if not longer to heat through these chemically enhanced, over-packed delights, as it does to cook something far more delicious from fresh.
You could save a fortune cooking simple recipes from scratch, using quality, raw ingredients and you don’t have to be a chef to put together a few basic, wholesome meals.
Soups can be really quick to prepare and consider using ‘normally’ shaped vegetables from local farm shops, not the perfectly shaped ones the supermarkets claim we ‘demand’.
Food miles are very important. If it’s been harvested locally, it’s probably fresher and more nutritious than something that has travelled half way around the world.
7. Enjoy the enormous benefits of keeping a few chickens, preferably ex-battery
Following recent high-profile television broadcasts, there cannot be a person in the country that isn’t aware of the plight of the battery hen.
Fantastic people like my friend Jane Howarth at the Battery Hen Welfare Trust, liberate thousands of these delightful birds. If you offer a home to a couple of ex-batteries, you are not only giving them a wonderful chance of a real life, but you will decrease your stress levels by untold amounts by simply spending a little time watching them in the garden.
Of course you also get to enjoy the delicious benefits of fresh, free-range eggs every day too.
They’re very simple to look after, you can build a run on an absolute budget and you’ll be giving Jane another great reason to do her next rescue.
See Chicken Out! for details of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s campaign.
8. Hand-make a simple card for the next birthday or event on your calendar
This is a shocking exercise. You’ll need a pen and paper.
Write down the number of your immediate family members. Multiply it by 2 (representing their birthday and Christmas). Add at least another 12 (representing one a month for birth, death, anniversary, driving test etc). Multiply it by £2.50 (average cost of card and postage).
What’s the figure?
Now, do bear in mind you’ve not allowed for a single friend, or chums of your children, or neighbours, the list goes on and on.
You can save a fortune by making your own greetings cards and you will create far more of an impact with the recipient, because you have taken the time to create something personal.
Made in batches, you can do a dozen at a time quite easily and they are also a great way to get the family around the table for a giggle at your ‘Blue Peter’ efforts!
9. Tonight, turn the television off, switch the radio on and play a few games and talk
Family mealtimes are fragmented affairs these days. Many are spent with a tray on a lap, watching a bit of ‘relaxing’ telly and are very rarely spent as a complete unit talking to each other.
Make tonight different!
Here are the rules. Start off with a simple meal, everyone firmly invited to attend at the same time, involve chairs, a table and place settings for all!
No TV allowed, even as background noise. The silence will either deafen you, or inspire you all to start talking about your day. What have the kids done today at school, who is going out with whom, what are the plans for the weekend, what might be nice to plan as a family? The topic list is endless.
After dinner, pop the radio on and get a game out. Scrabble, cards, monopoly, hangman, it’s not important what you play. This exercise is simply about pulling the family back together, getting some dialogue going and realising there is more to life than the telly!
10. Book a half-day off work to spend entirely with someone you love
The concepts behind downshifting are simple.
The more money you spend, the more time you have to be out there earning it and the less time you get to spend with the ones you love.
Once you’ve grasped unlimited potential of slowing things down a gear, you’ll soon feel the benefits of spending ‘proper’ time with the important people in your life.
On your half-day off, you should indulge a special relationship; that doesn’t mean go DIY shopping together either!
Make up a few sandwiches and a flask and go for a nice walk. Enjoy the elements and each other’s company and remember why you fell in love with them in the first place.