How much does it cost? Week 1


First haul of the month

Some people have concerns that waste free is expensive. Buying organic also costs more than normal produce, so I’m going to do a little experiment to see how much I spend in August on all groceries. This unfortunately not unfortunately will be hindered by the fact we’re on holidays from the 21st, but hey, it’s still worth doing the sums.

The cost of living in Switzerland is the highest in the world. Isn’t that just peachy?! Although we don’t live in one of the top 10 most expensive cities in the world (Zürich and Geneva make that list), it still costs a pretty penny to enjoy the spoils of the country’s capital, Bern.

On Tuesdays and Saturdays (also Thursdays during the warmer months), the centre of town hosts a produce market. I’ve been going there weekly since Plastic Free July began. Before, I was a regular at either of our two local supermarkets. I like the idea of the market because it has a large bio (organic) stall and interacting with the people is fun.

The debate still rages about organic food and if it’s worth it. A while ago, I saw this video about a Swedish family who ate organic for two weeks and the changes they noticed, and started to think more about exactly what goes in. Here’s a TEDxManhatten talk regarding the expense of organic, which I found interesting too.

I’d like to eat more organic, but not everything is available, so I just take the wins and accept the losses. Eventually there could come a time when I just refuse to buy what’s not available as organic, but for now, regarding food, I’m still in the “baby steps” stage and am not going to be too tough on myself. I’ve been a plastic bag refuser for years, but changing the food habit is still fresh (ahaha, get it?!).

So, ahem, without further ado or bad puns, here goes. All prices are in Swiss Francs (CHF).

4 August – first shop:

14.70 1 lettuce, 2 carrots, 3 tomatoes, 1 radish bunch, 3 bananas (I didn’t get a receipt for a breakdown because I’m not a fan of receipts for food, but then realised I should keep note of how much things cost, so below, I noted prices in my phone)


5.50 1 tub raspberries (in my own steel container. They say they will use the waxy cardboard one again, and I hope they mean it. Not surprisingly, the young girl was totally up for the idea of me using my own container and giving theirs back. The older man thought I was weird. I’m getting used to that and standing my ground!)
8.30 1 pineapple (shock! Not a local product, but it looked so good and has been so long since we’ve eaten one)
1.50 1 pink grapefruit
1.80 2 Granny Smith apples
3.50 2 nectarines


11.35 250g soft cheese with herbs (and they let me use my own container! Win, but an expensive win)
22.80 1 fresh buffalo mozzarella and half a jar of kalamata olives (in own jars too. This is the cost that made my eyes pop. And no I wasn’t ripped off, paying for the weight of the jar or anything, but they’re both the best I’ve ever had, so I keep going back)
3.60 1 x 330ml mandarin drink (in a swing-top glass bottle, shown below as part of my lunch yesterday)


Fresh bread, soft cheese and a drink which will be upcycled to be our new, homemade salad dressing bottle


4.50 medium loaf
4.80 small round loaf (in above photo. Not good value, won’t buy it again)



Expenses still to come:

00.00 No trip to the butcher this week (sob) as there are things in the freezer to use and yes (gasp!) they’re vacuum packed. Remnants of the bad old days!
20.00 estimate of additional items, which includes milk, Leo’s favourite chips, and other smaller items. The less waste thing is my passion – he’s joining in and understands how much it means to me. So if he wants chips for now, go for it. Maybe I can come up with a recipe to beat the store-bought brand? Am I even up for that kind of challenge? (I think I need to be realistic about that!) At least he buys the biggest packet possible and reseals it which produces less waste. (As an aside, all non-hard rubbish in Bern is incinerated. I’ll be doing a story about that in the future. Even if it doesn’t get buried, we still need to reduce how much goes up in smoke.)


102.35 estimated cost for two people for week 1.

THIS NEEDS TO BE REDUCED!! These items will mainly cover breakfasts and dinners as we tend to buy our lunches (Leo five days a week, me four). The challenge is set to lower this total for next week. It will be interesting to see how much gets used and how quickly too. I’m not about to make this a test/struggle to have the cheapest food shop ever – it’s an experiment.

Do you have a set budget for groceries each week? Do you budget for food at all? Do you buy what you feel like on the spur of the moment or do you plan ahead? It would be great to hear how you shop, so please leave a comment below.

On another low waste theme, Leo was a clever clogs last night and created a new meal using almost all the remaining fresh things in the fridge (before I came home with the market haul) … and it was delicious! He sliced up a homegrown zucchini, potatoes, onion, spinach, cheese and garlic, mixed in a leftover couscous salad with green beans and sweet potato, then added spices, half a litre of water and a few whisked eggs. In the oven for 40 minutes or so on a high heat and hey presto! My Italian superchef!


You can make that one again Leo!

Wishing you a wonderful, waste-free day!

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