Many of us now live in a “time-poor” society and freeing up time or not wasting it is a business in itself these days with entrepreneurs cashing in on providing services and gadgets to save us a miserable minute. And, it isn't cheap either to free-up time but don't despair, because I've found a better way to save time and get our lives back beside the pool relaxing…
Beetroot and other veggies at the Supermarket can be easily grown at home
Garden to save time
Significant time savings can be made by transferring some of the grocery shopping time a person would usually spend at the supermarket into gardening, by “shopping” at their “backyard-grocery.” In the time it takes for a person to browse the fruit and vegetables at their supermarket they could have sowed, planted, picked, and maintained their vegetable patch for the week – no exaggeration.
I'm not anti-shopping
We all need to go grocery shopping to buy the things we need and it's great that companies and individuals have developed useful products and sell food we can't make or grow ourselves at home. Buying and selling goods are fundamental aspects of modern human society – the creation of wealth, the capacity to buy luxury items, try different things, or just own or rent a roof over our heads all depends on a monetary system of buying and selling goods and services that works and does so fairly.
However, many of us have become over dependant on supermarket shopping for all our daily needs. Loading up a shopping trolley to the hilt has become the norm as we struggle to manoeuvre these great quantities of goods from aisle to aisle finally arriving at the overcrowded checkout. We have made shopping for everything a habit and like most habits it isn't easy to break. The convenience of going to one place and picking all we need (and want) from a shelf to sustain our daily lives is too great for some people to give up or even to be convinced anything could be easier.
There is a better way
Other than the shopping centre, what if there was a faster, cheaper, more convenient way to get the things we need? Well, there probably isn't a faster, cheaper, more convenient way to get ALL the things we need, although, there is a way we can get some of the things we need… and sometimes a little makes a BIG difference.
A simple vegetable garden is the answer – and before you go, here he goes again, or, I've heard it all before – grow your own blah blah, hear me out because you may not have heard it explained quite like this before.
Beetroot and radish flourishing at home in a raised colorbond garden bed
Convenience means easy and time saving doesn't it? In our modern busy lives being time-poor is often an excuse not to do many things that are good for us; like: exercising, cooking, playing with children, enjoying our pets, or just relaxing. Buying our groceries at one-stop mega centres is supposed to be helping us to save time so we can do the things we want or know we should do; however, grocery shopping is a false positive and here's why we should try to, at least, limit our visits to the supermarket:
Less checkout staff more waiting time – Notice the checkout staff reducing? The supermarkets are about making huge profits and it helps the bottom line to reduce their staff to bare minimum – they know you'll wait, where else will you go? Also, the introduction of scan-your-own wasn't done for the customers convenience, it's to reduce human resources, and unless you've had checkout training scanning your own full trolley of goods is murder and takes ages. But, you could always wait for ages in the ever growing line at one of the few staffed checkouts that's open among the mostly “sorry I'm closed” row of a dozen or more.
Car parking – We all know it's crazy out there and it's getting worse. Parking in a shopping centre or supermarket car park is not only frustrating and time consuming trying to find a spot but it's risky and dangerous. Not to mention the cost – recently, a popular shopping centre in North Brisbane introduced paid parking and their excuse for charging their customers a fee for what was once free is, “convenience for our valued customers.” Yes, that's right, it's for the customers good that a parking fee was introduced (not another way for the centre to cash-in) and the logic spin was by introducing a fee it would move people on and thus free-up more car parks. Wouldn't building more car parking spaces have the same outcome I wonder? It's proof we've become creatures of habit and lost a competitive retail market when an autonomous shopping centre away from the city centre can charge its customers for parking. Now that's what I call confidence in knowing your business has cornered the market.
Driving – Hand in hand with parking is getting to and from the shops and most of us need to drive even if we live close by because we need something to transport the goods home (trolley stealing is an offence). The drive takes time, costs money, is dangerous, and loading/unloading the groceries is also time consuming.
Finding the goods in the shop – These days we're really spoilt for choice with thousands of products in the major supermarkets. People tend to go in for milk and come out with arms full of goods (then forget the milk) and it's easy to get distracted whilst looking for what a person needs thus extending the time it takes to buy and get out of there.
Fighting the crowd – With aisles becoming smaller so as to pack more goodies for us to buy, negating the crowd of other shoppers is always a hassle. Even at the off-peak times it seems the under staffing makes you wait just as long to get served. Over crowding and under staffing just adds valuable minutes to your shopping trip.
Comparing prices/cost – for the shrewd shopper, pricing goods to check they're fair and not a rip-off can take time. Thankfully, my backyard-grocery vegetables don't have prices.
Selecting goods takes time – Picking through fruit and vegetables to ensure freshness and quality is an important lengthy process (especially if you're my mother). At some time, most people have come across hidden rotten fruit or veg and produce claimed as fresh but is obviously old. Finger-nailed apples showing deep “U” shaped punctures are a favourite at my local and pressure marks from thumb presses are almost “normal” on avocados.
Add it up
Multiply the above, by the number of times a person makes a trip to the shops and it sure starts to take a chunk of time out of our lives.
Nevertheless, we can reduce this chunk down dramatically and it's so easy to do. I know because I've done it, I've compared my life now to how it used to be when I never had a food garden and I've proven to myself the backyard-grocery method works and gives me time back to enjoy other things in my life.
Salad in a packet? We don't need that it's so easy to grow at home!
A simplistic example of time saving
Less trips to the supermarket would save many hours over the course of a year. Let's say a person reduced their trips to the shops by one trip per fortnight, saving approximately 90 minutes each trip. That's over 1 ½ days saved in the year and 1 ½ days they could have been doing something more fun.
Of course, to save that 90 minutes per fortnight a person would need to invest some time in the garden. Typically, a small vegetable patch producing enough food to supplement the diets of four people would take about 30 minutes per week to maintain (after initial set-up). This adds up to 60 minutes per fortnight meaning out of the initial 90 the person would save 30 minutes per fortnight or just over ½ a day per year to do something they like.
The benefits of just altering ones lifestyle by a mere 30 minutes per fortnight (2 minutes per day) are simply amazing. Why spend more time fighting the crowds in the shopping centre then we need.
The example above is straight mathematics and a little over-simple sure, but, it illustrates my point. However, the complicated life example using the same principles actually works even better in favour of having the backyard-grocery.
The forgotten item
For example, many trips to the supermarket could be saved per year by not having to make “one-offs” like: forgot the lettuce – substitute and use rocket or cabbage growing out back for a salad instead; or,
I just need another a side-dish for dinner – I'll just pop outside and get some ingredients.
Home grown raspberries make for a delicious snack food (I didn't need to tell you that…)
Skip an aisle
And, what about the time saved not having to go down certain aisles or not spending as long dwelling in the fresh food section – all those minutes add up to hours over a year.
Not visiting the supermarket daily to replace perishables saves time, especially, perishables easily grown at home.
We consumers collectively waste tons of food every year due to over buying. Often, the two for one deals are hard to resist but some foods once harvested just don't last long enough for us to consume them so we eventually throw it out – I can hear my Grandmothers words of “waste not want not” ringing in my ears.
If you have a backyard-grocery you can pick on demand. For instance, lettuce can be harvested as required and only enough that's needed so the salad is always consumed at its peak freshness not kept in the fridge for a week slowly dying and waiting to be chucked-out.
Running a backyard-grocery can be done with minimal effort for maximum convenience by anyone.
Basic Fruit & Veg “backyard-grocery” Set-up
All a person needs to do initially to set-up a backyard-grocery is start a vegetable patch and stock the pseudo shelves with basic easy to grow products like:
These plants are cheap, easy and fast to grow straight from the packet. Also, once growing they provide for many months in the garden as a pick and come again salad or vegetable or store in the crisper for weeks (sometimes months) in the case of beetroot, cabbage, and carrots. A glut of cherry tomatoes and spring onions can be cooked into a quick pasta base sauce and frozen in batches for up to 6 months to be used in pasta dishes, pies, casseroles, pizzas, and many other recipes.
It's incredible how such a simple and small array of home-grown groceries can produce enough food and variety to sustain a family.
Grow some citrus
Want quick and easy fruit? Do the “citrus thing,” and get a lemon, lime, and orange tree for the yard; or, if renting buy the potted varieties. Citrus are very easy to grow and hardy plants, which produce lots of fruit with minimal care. These three varieties can be used in many ways and are perfect for a quick pick to enhance a meal or make a drink.
This basic fruit and veg backyard-grocery is enough to make those time savings by eliminating at least one trip to the supermarket per fortnight. For those who want to save even more time, just expand the backyard-grocery and eliminate totally having to browse the fruit and vegetables at the supermarket.
Regardless, small or big a backyard-grocery will save time (not make more work) and the benefits are quality time spent doing better, healthier, and more rewarding ventures. Oh, I almost forgot, a backyard-grocery will save money too…
Feel free to use the comment section below and have your say (no email is required).
Thanks for reading and thanks for your support,
Look, and see the Earth through her eyes
Mark Valencia – Editor SSM
Home grown mandarin tree laden with all the fruit the family can want