The Shift to Thrift.

Thrift at the Supermarket.

As the old saying goes, There is more than one way to skin a cat, not that one would want to skin a cat, but still just as there is more than one way to approach any situation and achieve a successful result, there is more than one way to be a thrifty grocery shopper. For me the absolute bottom line for thrift at the supermarket is to stop throwing away and wasting the food you buy. On average Australian households waste well over $1000.00 a year throwing out good food and as the 2019 statistics indicate, we are getting worse, not better!


These statistics are frightening and while to waste this amount of food is criminal, these statistics do not take into account the the time, money, water, energy and production costs of getting the food to the supermarket. So when we waste food, we are not only wasting our money, we are wasting the resources of farmers and others as well as the resources of the natural environment which have been needed every step of the way to bring food to our shelves. Some forethought and planning will go a long way toward eliminating food wastage. The suggestions which I present are strategies I routinely use or have used with success. I found when money was really scarce I needed to shop regularly, however, one can also save money through buying in bulk and certainly for some items this is a very good idea.

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Many researchers advise not to shop on an empty tummy, this triggers an emotional response to hunger and results in purchasing more than is needed, so having topped up before hitting the supermarket; here are twelve tips for thrift at the supermarket:

#1 Before the next shop use the fresh fruit and vegetables already in the fridge. Use fruit by making a fruit salad, fruit crumble, smoothie or stew and freeze for later use. Make a salad with the salad ingredients and make vegetable soups, casseroles, curries, stir fries or fried rice with vegetables. Resist buying more fresh fruit and vegetables and tossing the old.

#2 Check what is already in the pantry, fridge and freezer as there is no point in buying more when there is already sufficient.

#3. Create a menu plan for the week and purchase what is needed to eat well for the week; not the next six months. It is not necessary to have everything all of the time – be selective and enjoy a variety of food.

#4. Shop with your list, have a budget and keep a tally of money spent as the trolley is loaded. I usually do this in my head, rounding dollars up or down to keep a fairly close tally although, if it a really tight shop, take a calculator.

Piles Of Fruits And Vegetables For Sale In Valparaiso, Chile Stock ...

#5. Fresh is Best – buy fruit and vegetables when in season and at their peak in flavour and freshness and when the best value for money. It does not have to be perfect to be wholesome. Buy Australian and buy local. The current trend to buy produce that has been grown/ produced within a one hundred kilometre radius is a great way to reduce the carbon footprint. But the principle is clear, the closer to you the food was produced the less impact there was on the environment to get it to you.

Top Benefits of Buying Locally Grown Food | Arrowquip
Image: Arrowquip.

#6. Implement an Eat the fruit and drink the water policy. Fruit juice is loaded with sugar and does not have the fibre of whole fruit. Do your family a favour and train their taste buds to love fruit, vegetables and plain wholesome food. Not only will this save money at the supermarket; benefits will flow on to reduced dental and medical expenses. Leave the fizzy drinks behind too!

#7. Look for specials and reduced items. If the product can be consumed before the due date or frozen right away – it is a bargain. Be selective- it is not a bargain if the food doesn’t get consumed by the due date or if even at the reduced price the product is still expensive. When money was really tight we joked that if it wasn’t on special or reduced it did not find its way into my trolley! Nevertheless we still ate and had sufficient to share with others.

#8. Consider portion control. It is easy to over shop and then to overeat because the food is in the pantry.

Maps Maponyane on | How much sugar, Breakfast cereal, Sugar
Image: Pintrest Research: Grethe Koan

#9. Buy food which is nutrient dense. In most cases this will be simple food. Basic vegetables and fruits, products such as Weetbix, rolled oats, beans and other types of pulses, lentils, wholemeal breads, pasta, cheeses and some meats. You get the picture. Consider the healthy eating pyramid and leave the sugary breakfast cereals, chips, chocolates, lollies, sweet biscuits, ice-creams, soft drinks on the shelves. These are sometimes foods. Allow for a weekly treat but avoid filling the trolley with rubbish food.

#10. Look for value for money everywhere and endeavour to also support the local butcher, baker and greengrocer. Support smaller independent businesses and buy Australian for the benefit of us all.

#11. Keep an eye on the register as your shopping is going through the checkout. Mistakes do happen so check your docket before leaving the store. The last 2 times I have shopped, I have been overcharged, once the bacon was put through the register twice and the next time my Aussie grown oranges were put through as lemons at over twice the price of oranges. In both cases I did not check the docket until I was home and in both cases just wore the mistakes but in another life, I simply could not have afforded those extra dollars.

#12. So in a nutshell, plan what you want to eat, buy what you need at the best possible price, shop for healthy and nutrition dense foods, now take the groceries home, enjoy happy, healthy eating and be mindful to be thankful but not wasteful.

These tips will contribute to your financial security, improved health and well being, reduced medical and dental costs, they support primary producers and local business plus they are environmentally friendly and reduce pollution. Whoever thought grocery shopping could be such a win/win.

Next post we will look at the thrift of the four week meal plan.

The Shift to Thrift.

The Thrift of a Plan.

My way leads onto way life has taught me that very frequently life doesn’t comply with my plans. Whenever we make plans we need to leave room for the flexible factor; the plan B. To quote John Lennon, Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans and this is true.

But I have been a teacher for too long and as I often told students, planning was a very important process in gaining pleasing examination results. I would share Benjamin Franklin’s quote, If you fail to plan , you are planning to fail. And really it is just the same out of school; there needs to be some kind of planning for success even in the most unsuccessful of times.

Quotes about Central Planning (36 quotes)

We might not be able to plan for every contingency but there are some things we can plan for. For example, we know the electricity bill, the telephone bill, payments we have committed to and the car registration are coming! So we plan to have the finances there to cover them. We do that before making discretionary purchases. Too many people have it the other way round, preferring to spend on non essential items, such as recreation and entertainment and then find themselves struggling to find the money for necessary expenses.

Living on a shoestring - Idioms by The Free Dictionary
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So the shift to thrift means that you put the big blocks in first, you honour your responsibilities; and if that is difficult, you cut the cloth to fit! For example, you don’t pay for electricity you don’t use; turn the lights off, use less hot water, only wash when there is a full load, in winter put on some extra clothing and watch tele under a blanket before putting on the heating. There are ways to reduce the cost of living and most of them do not hurt nearly as much as living beyond our means does.

Many thrifty ways start with planning and there is no better place to begin than with the grocery budget. Even when money is plentiful it is a good idea to keep a lid on the grocery bill, however when money is tight, it is essential. For many years I was a single parent of four-now wonderful adults- but we lived on a shoestring and often my prayer was, “Lord, just let me keep these children fed”. When large bills or unexpected expenses arrived the only area of manipulation was the grocery bill which had to be reduced in order to pay other bills. I became very good at stretching money and found that much less could be spent yet, everyone ate healthily and well for the week.

The next bog will discuss Thrift at the Supermarket.

The Shift to Thrift.

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So today we are going to define what I mean by thrift. The word can be a little confusing to some as there are two similar words with opposite meanings. The Oxford dictionary defines thrift as a noun meaning: the quality of using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully. For example, “the values of thrift and self-reliance”. But there is also the word spendthrift a noun which refers to: a person who spends money in an extravagant, irresponsible way. For example, “Putt was a spendthrift and a heavy gambler”. We are discussing the former definition in which we want to be resourceful, careful and not wasteful.

When I speak of thrift by no means do I suggest that thrift means being stingy, tight or mean – quite to the contrary- thrift means to manage the resources at hand wisely, carefully and confidently allowing sufficiency for ourselves and the opportunity of gracious hospitality and generous sharing with others.

We have become very used to having everything all of the time. However, right now we are in a time when our world is being redefined. Some people will actually prosper as we go through this time of global shift because they can supply essentials which are in high demand, still others will truly suffer, they will lose loved ones, employment, small businesses; for most of us though it is a time to rethink, to settle ourselves down, to rein in expenses, to walk lightly on the globe, to take stock of how wasteful we have become, to be reminded what is important, to be content with less but paradoxically blessed more and learn again how to look out for one another.

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Image : Funny Money quotes.

In 2012 I wrote; I believe the season of wilful waste is over, our global economy, our environment, our employers, our families and relationships can no longer stand under the pressure of the rampant consumerism which has increasingly gained momentum since the end of the second World War. I think it would be true to say that most people under the age of fifty know very little about thrift. Those around thirty have even less of an idea, however, in the face of employment uncertainty and the rising costs of living, it would be a good time to return to some of the tried and true ways of thrift.

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And now we have a global pandemic which is knocking the world sideways and changing the very essence of what we think living is. There is no need to panic, when the storm has been weathered, there will be a silver lining. However, with the present uncertainty and a predicted tight economy, it is time to make that shift to habits of thrift and when money becomes more available, the thrifty habits formed open the way for real progress. Please do not see Thrift as a burden; rather it is a freedom.

In the next post we will discuss the thrift of a plan.

The Shift to Thrift.

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The inspiration for this series of blogs comes from the encouragement of my dear friend of over 4 decades who on several occasions has asked me to write about the way I endeavour to walk lightly on the globe. Thank you, David, for your encouragement and your friendship. And from my son who first encouraged me to write a blog and has always encouraged me to write. Thank you, Rick, for your love and your belief in me.

The content of this blog is not some new thought but was written back in 2012, when by the encouragement of my son I wrote an ebook titled A Shift to Thrift. I enclose the preface below; just replace the word book for blog.

© 30/4/2012 Estelle Deshon


The ideas contained in this book are not for everyone. You may be working in a wonderful job which pays handsome rewards and how to pay the bills and move forward in life is not a worrisome burden with which you are familiar. That is wonderful!

This book is written for those who have experienced a change in circumstances which has not been solicited and for which no preparation has been made and at times, for which no preparation could have been made even if one knew what was about to befall. It is for those whose circumstances are moderate but who know that through resourceful management the everyday events of life can be negotiated and a purposeful future secured.

This book is for those times when one has more time than money and more expenses than the means to meet those expenses. This book is for times when change has been thrust upon one and the only way to respond is with a change in attitude and behaviour toward the available resources and finances.

I love how the Apostle Paul expresses life when he says he has had times in his life when he has been prosperous and times in his life when he has been poor, humbled and in need but that in all things he has learnt how to be content. Phil 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Phil 4:12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. ( NIV Bible)

Should you take the challenge to implement even a few of the following ideas, you may be surprised what a difference a few small changes will make but, more importantly, being proactive, learning new skills and moving forward to a more positive and rewarding place will boost your confidence and give you purpose.

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As I reread that preface, I realise it was written for a time such as this. Right now! Today! Our world as we know it is being reshaped! I do not claim to know a lot, in fact, I confess that I don’t know much at all but together we possess a great knowledge and if we can share it and learn from each other we just might all be a bit richer.

So I hope you will read and engage in this blog. Your comments and ideas are welcome as many of us now shift into thrift mode. That’s enough for today, next blog we will define what the word Thrifty means. Enjoy your day; stay safe and healthy.

Pearls of Wisdom.

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This is my final Pearls of Wisdom post and today it is all about chickens.

#11: The Chickens Come Home To Roost.

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The idea of chickens coming home to roost goes as far back as Geoffrey Chaucer, born 1342/43- died October 25, 1400 ( who in his work, The Parson’s Tale, 1390, writes that curses are like “a bird that returns again to his own nest”. By the early 19th Century the saying had morphed into chickens coming home to roost.( and by the time I heard if from my mother it went something like; Be sure your chickens will come home to roost.

In this proverb the word Chickens is used as a metaphor for the attitudes, values and beliefs which inform our actions and the coming home to roost part means that the consequences of our actions come back to roost or sit right along side of us. It is a companion for the proverb which says; Be sure your sins will find you out; a warning to be a decent and honest human being. Often the consequences of actions done in secret come home to roost, sit right beside us, in a very public way. Just watch the news on any given night to get the drift of how that works!

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Image : Pintrest

#12: Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch.

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch is a reminder that NOTHING is a done deal until it has actually happened. We can have the anticipation of any number of events and very often life pans out much as we have planned but Nothing is a certainty until it has become a reality. There is not a single thing that suggests the world should conform to our plans! Understanding this and moving ahead in faith but leaving room for that little bit of apprehension and consideration for a possible plan B will safeguard one from disappointment.

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Image : London Evening Standard
Mary Quant the designer of the 1960s mini and models.

#13: And the last one; You look like a chicken with your tail pulled.

This was one of my mother’s sayings and to tell the truth I have no idea where it came from; it may have been an original of hers. Anyway, it amuses my husband every time I use it. I was a teenager in the 60s; all legs and very little skirt, so my mother would say, You’re not going out in that. You look like a chicken with your tail pulled! The best interpretation I can come up with is that this saying has to do with balance and proportion. A chicken does not have a tail, so if its tail has been pulled the chicken would look out of balance and proportion just as I am sure we did in the mini -mini-mini skirts of the 60s. Anyway, you can put your own spin on it but it is a cool saying and if anyone has an interpretation, I would be pleased to hear it.

Pearls of Wisdom

#10: You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Image: Home Pearls
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Well, this is another old proverb which has been around since the mid 1500s. Its original meaning is to juxtapose silk, something considered to be refined and superior, with a sow’s ear; the ear of a pig, which was considered unclean, definitely unrefined and inferior, therefore the silk purse was the most desirable. The proverb claims that it is impossible to turn something ugly and inferior into something of beauty and value. This comparison was not only for articles but extended to people, with an understanding that people were superior or inferior and that position could not be altered.

Image: worthpoint. Pig skin purse.

It may be true that you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but you can make a lovely, soft, pig skin purse; dye it a lively colour and jazz it up with some snazzy decoration and you have a purse that makes a statement, a purse that is practical and a purse which will most likely outlast the silk job.

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Image : ebay. Silk purse

As you can see from the images above both the pigskin purse and the silk purse are beautiful. The moral of the story is this: whatever you have to work with, make the most of that. Most of us have limitations on our lives, but generally it is not our limitations that hold us back as much as our inability to find our strengths and build those into something of value. We are not all the same and beauty comes in many and varied forms. Our magic and our blessing is in our differences.

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Quote from Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love.

So, go on; make your purse; make it from the materials you have available and make it beautiful!

Pearls of Wisdom

#9 Empty Vessels Make the Most Noise

Below is the image of a empty oyster shell; sadly no pearls of wisdom; it is empty!

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Image : Home Guides

Empty vessels make the most noise is a very old saying, actually is goes back to Plato, the Greek Philosopher, 428/427 BCE to 348/347 BCE who said, An empty vessel makes the loudest sound, so they that have the least wit are the greatest babblers ( and is repeated by Shakespeare in Henry V; who writes, The empty vessel makes the greatest sound (Act IV, Scene 4).

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Image : Ancient World Magazine

One could tell if an earthenware vessel was empty or full by tapping the side, the full vessel absorbed the tap and the empty vessel echoed the tap; therefore empty vessels made the most noise. This truth is used as a metaphor for people and if you observe people you will find that it rings true over and over again. People who are wise, who have knowledge that they rightly apply, who have skills and life experience, who have a depth of character and a compassion for their fellow humans, rarely have to grandstand. They do not need to make a lot of noise about what they know, rather others will seek them out and ask them to share of their wisdom, which if asked they will do humbly and gently.

On the other hand, empty vessels, people who lack wisdom, people who are reactionary, people who are desperate to prove their worth, make a lot of noise and like to draw attention to themselves. I am sure you can think of some examples in your own life and in the broader sphere of the media which support this. I need to make it clear that I believe all persons to be valuable, but from experience as a school teacher I know that it is those who listen who learn and those who talk all the time….. well, not so much.

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Image: Brainy Quote

There are some other examples in nature which support the notion of shallow and noisy. The babbling brook makes all the noise as is shallowly tumbles over the rocks in the stream while we also say that still waters run deep. In Max Ehrmann’s 1927 poem, Desiderata, he warns us to avoid loud and aggressive persons as they are vexations to the spirit.

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Image: Quote Master

The truth is anyone can make a lot of noise but when to speak and when to hold one’s silence is the stuff of wisdom. My favourite book shares its wisdom in Proverbs: Chap 17: V28, Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding (KJV). Paraphrased by Abraham Lincoln this goes; Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

As The Tremeloes sang in 1967, Silence is Golden, but my eyes still see. It is important to be quietly observant, to be prepared to listen, to learn, to protect the interests of others, to fill our vessels (ourselves) with wise counsel and then to hold our counsel wisely.

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Pearls of Wisdom

#8 The Mill Cannot Grind with the Water that is Past.

This was one of my mother’s sayings. It comes from a poem written by Bishop Reginald Heber; an acknowledged copy is provided below. It is a beautiful poem and a section of it was written in my mother’s autograph book. My mother would recite the poem to me as we did the dishes; she washing and me wiping as we tackled what seemed to be the never ending number of dirty dishes in our large family. Still, I learnt a lot during those times, lots of stories of events that occurred long before I had been born and stories that I treasure.

The poem deals with many aspects of life; work, seasons, youth, love, time, opportunity, and also wasted love, time and opportunity. Life flows forever forward, just like the stream which flows tranquil on its way. This poem is about carpe diem; seize the day.

It is about new opportunity which is presented afresh with each new day and that living requires new water, new hope, new action with each sunrise. It is a reminder that we cannot live in the past; the past is gone, it provides no new energy for today. It is a call to be proactive today so as to avoid the regret of inaction. For the mill cannot grind with the water that is past.

The Watermill
by Bishop Reginald Heber (1783 – 1826)

Listen to the watermill through the live-long day;
How the clicking of its wheel wears the hours away.
Languidly the autumn wind stirs the greenwood leaves;
From the field the reapers sing, binding up their sheaves.
And a proverb haunts my mind as a spell is cast:
The mill cannot grind with the water that is past.
Autumn winds revive no more leaves that once are shed,
And the sickle cannot reap corn once gathered;
And the ruffled stream flows on, tranquil, deep and still;
Never gliding back again to the watermill.
Truly speaks the proverb old, with a meaning vast,
The mill cannot grind with the water that is past.
Take the lesson to thyself, loving heart and true,
Golden years are fleeting by, youth is passing too.
Learn to make the most of life, lose no happy day,
Time will never bring thee back chances swept away.
Leave no tender word unsaid, love while love shall last:
The mill cannot grind with the water that is past.
Work! While yet the daylight shines man of strength and will,
Never does the streamlet glide useless to the mill.
Wait not till tomorrow’s sun beams upon thy way;
All that thou can call thine own lies in thy today.
Power, and intellect and health, may not always last:
The mill cannot grind with the water that is past.
Oh! The wasted hours of life that have drifted by,
Oh! The good that might have been lost without a sigh;
Love that we might once have saved by a single word;
Thoughts conceived but never penned, perishing unheard.
Take the proverb to thy heart, take and hold it fast:
The mill cannot grind with the water that is past.

The quote in my mother’s autograph book, penned by a hopeful suitor, was

Leave no tender word unsaid, love while love shall last:
The mill cannot grind with the water that is past.

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Image : Good free

What good advice!

Pearls of Wisdom

#7: The Pot calleth the Kettle Black

Image: Cosmos Magazine

This is another old saying which goes back to the early 17th Century. Cooking was done over an open fire and cooking pots and kettles were made of cast iron and since both were put in the coals, subsequently both were blackened. Later as cooking moved into wood fueled stoves, the pot was still made of iron but the kettle would be made of brass or copper which was kept polished and shiny and when the pot would behold the kettle it would see its blackened reflection and think the kettle was black.

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Image : Wikipedia.

It doesn’t matter which way you look at it, this saying brings out two truths. Firstly, it is easier to see the blackness of another than it is to see the blackness in ourselves and secondly, when we look at others we see in them a reflection of ourselves. It is another one of those old sayings which calls out hypocrisy.

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Of course there is nothing new about hypocrisy. Jesus in his sermon on the mount recorded in Matthew Chapter 7: v 4 & 5 says, How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (NIV).

Matthew 7:3
Image : Daily Verse

How easy it is to look at others and name their faults and miss the faults in ourselves because our faults are so large they are literally blinding us. Truth is we are all a bit black.

Pearls of Wisdom.

#6 What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander.

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Image: Bergendal

This is another old proverb which dates back to around the 17th Century. Other versions state; what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander or another version; as deep drinketh the goose as the gander ( So we can see that the idea of goose and gander has been around for quite some time.

A goose is of the water bird family; it is interesting to note that the female goose has no particular name but the male goose is referred to as a gander. Long before women’s liberation or the #Me Too movement this proverb championed the concept of gender equality in what is appropriate or good. From a personal perspective, I believe the genders to be different but equal. Each has a role to fulfill; those roles are complementary and create a circle of completeness.

From a broader perspective the concept of gender can be extended and the proverb can be applied to any person, situation or group, meaning that what is right for one is also right for the other. It is the removal of bias and hypocrisy, an antidote to the mindset of special privilege, an appeal to fairness and the embracing of a common foundation. The important aspect is that it is the promotion of Good.

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Image: English Idioms & Slang

What is good for the goose is good for the gander reminds us humanity has much more that unites us than which separates us and if something is good that good is available for all.