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Frugal Tips

#1 Meat isn’t a requirement. Meat, of almost every variety, is one of the most expensive ingredients one is likely to use in cooking. Whether we like it or not meat production is far more resource intensive than arable farming. There are, however, two ways in which one can negate the expense of meat. Firstly, when using meat make certain not to over-estimate the amount required. As a general rule 100g of meat per person will suffice. Secondly, attempt to cut down on the number of meat based dishes you prepare. Remember, pulses such as lentils can be adequate, and often superior, replacements for dead animals.

#2 Seasonality is both frugal and tasty. This may seem obvious, but buying ingredients when they are in season, and therefore in greater abundance, can save one an awful lot of money. Another advantage to buying in season is that the taste of the food will be noticeably better since it won’t have been forcibly grown or shipped in from an obscure part of the world.

#3 Treat yourself cleverly. Being frugal doesn’t necessarily mean that one must avoid pricey ingredients. Instead, showcase the attributes of each and every expense by using no more than one or two in each meal. There isn’t any need to disguise the delicious flavour of asparagus, for example, behind another strong flavour. It is also advisable to be able to recognise the flavour profile of each ingredient. For instance, parmesan cheese has a rather punchy taste and can therefore be used parsimoniously.

#4 It takes a little planning. By planning a weekly menu in advance you can avoid purchasing unnecessary items. Be wary of the allure of ridiculous supermarket offers, it is likely that you’ll end up buying food that will ultimately be wasted. There’s nothing more expensive or immoral than sheer waste.

#5 There’s nothing wrong with a little familiarity. By using similar ingredients in different meals throughout the week, one can save a little money by using up every last ingredient. Happily, this also avoids rather a lot of waste, since a lot of fresh ingredients may not sit around waiting to be eaten. It’s also worth being conscious of which fresh foods can be frozen, bean-sprouts for instance.

#6 Bulk, bulk and more bulk. Help make your food go that little bit further by bulking-up stews, casseroles and other one-pot dishes with lentils and finely chopped vegetables. A stick of celery or a handful of red lentils can go a long way and may help you squeeze an extra serving or two out of each meal. This can also be helpful if you have a busy day on the horizon.

#7 Cooking in advance goes a long way. Meals needn’t be prepared one at a time – producing double portions can go a long way to saving you time and money. It’s important to remember that buying in bulk is often cheaper, so plan what you’re going to make and take advantage of special offers and seasonal ingredients. Cooking one meal and then reheating it will also require less energy and time than preparing two separate meals. It can pay to plan ahead.

#8 Save your wage! Preparing lunch for the week can take as little time as 15-20 minutes every other evening. Why not whip up a little pasta salad, or a wrap full of carrot and coriander hummus? Time spent indulging in a little extra cooking could go a long way and save you in excess of £30 per week. In my case, that’s enough money to buy food for two weeks!

#9 Back to the drawing board. Every one of us submits to the temptation of ease from time to time. Supermarkets, for instance, are the height of convenience and can often seem like safe havens after a long day in the office. However, donating a little more of your time to preparing a meal from its constituent parts can pay dividends, I assure you – even commodities like peanut butter can be whipped up in a flash. Taking this tack also has the added benefit of allowing you to regulate what goes into your diet.

#10 Get Baking! It’s necessary to buy bread and cake from time to time – life can often be unrelenting. However, knocking up some cakes for weekday treats, or baking a couple of simple white loaves of a Sunday afternoon can do wonders for one’s wallet. Go back to basics – you’ll find it tastes better and saves you money.

62 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2011 8:09 am

    Interesting to see someone else’s thoughts on basic ranges – I agree with you about meat, eggs and most cheeses (although Morrisons have an excellent value feta-type ‘salad cheese’ which is great for cooking and a value Brie that ripens beautifully in the fridge if you buy it in advance). I have to disagree with you about tinned tomatoes; I find the value ones to be thin and bitter. I prefer to stock up the cupboard when they are on offer instead. I also use cartons of own-brand passata in place of tinned tomatoes quite a lot nowadays (brill in spag bol). Great blog, keep it up! xx

    • March 13, 2011 8:14 am

      Honestly, try the basics peeled plum tomatoes with a really good amount of tomato puree, they are more than fine. As for bitterness you should always add a pinch of sugar when using tinned tomatoes anyway.

  2. August 12, 2011 9:56 am

    Wow, I am impressed by your motivation and knowledge of food and cooking. especially by someone your age 🙂 and a guy 🙂
    Agree to the plan ahead, shopping list, buy in season.

    • August 13, 2011 12:02 am

      What a compliment! Thanks! I guess maybe I pick things up fairly quickly. But also I’ve grown up around food to a certain extent and have also watched way too many food shows !

  3. October 1, 2011 9:40 pm

    You’re absolutely right – there’s no need to spend a fortune to eat well. Eat local, eat in season, eat in moderation … and don’t be afraid to get in the kitchen and Do Stuff!

    I’ll be checking in now and then to see what you’re cooking. ~waves~

  4. October 19, 2011 3:47 pm

    Wonderful tips particularly good idea about purchasing meat in an evening and freezing, saving money and getting a great ingredient.

    Great to read your basics too- It’s so simple to create wonderful food within a budget and with basic ingredients too.

  5. October 25, 2011 9:20 pm

    Great ideas, and all so true. So much can be saved by simply planning ahead!

  6. November 3, 2011 11:26 pm

    I disagree with you about buying houmous. I make my own. Mind you it’s taken a while to master it and I haven’t yet posted the recipe 🙂 One thing for certain, there is nothing like houmous made from organic dried chickpeas which you soak and cook yourself! Will try to measure the ingredients and post the recipe the next time I make it. I also make a lot of beany dips – there are some recipes on my blog. Another shameless plug! But am sure you’ll like the recipes! http://alisonamazed.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/tomato-onion-and-bean-sandwich-spread/
    http://alisonamazed.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/sandwich-spread-02/
    http://alisonamazed.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/minty-vegan-sandwich-spread/

    • November 3, 2011 11:31 pm

      I haven’t updated that page for ages – I disagree with myself in this case. I have posted a recipe for houmous and personally consider it delicious. It’s now been deleted and the page will be reconstructed tomorrow (maybe).

      • November 5, 2011 9:41 am

        Wasn’t intending to kill the page! You’re allowed to change your mind! 🙂 I also have mixed feelings about making homemade bread. Though I love home made bread it’s just incredibly time consuming to make and I because I keep my home cool I haven’t really anywhere warm enough to raise the dough properly. If I had a bread making machine – yes, but I do it by hand and it seems an awful lot of work for small results. Of course, if I had a freezer it might work better, then I could prepare batches and freeze the extra loaves.

      • November 8, 2011 4:56 pm

        Haha, don’t worry. I really need to re-do it. You don’t need a ‘warm’ room for bread to rise. Honestly, it will rise at room temperature.

  7. November 3, 2011 11:28 pm

    One thing I’ve wondered about is the cost of cooking! Because I cook for one, I sometimes wonder if using the gas is more costly than buying prepared. Maybe I should start cooking for selling…

  8. April 26, 2012 8:11 pm

    I’m currently trying to cut down/replace meat in most meals with lentils, or beans, as a step towards becoming more economical! So this has been pretty helpful 😀 thanks!

    • thegreatbritishbutler permalink
      April 30, 2012 2:33 pm

      Love the Idea of having a signature ingredient strong, noticeable and used sparingly brilliant.

      I second the seasonal ethos, using good farmers markets, local butchers and farm shops, instead of supermarkets, will also help keep the menu seasonal. I also seem to get a little more for my money if I buy local.

      Thanks

      • May 6, 2012 10:24 pm

        Yes, it works rather well! The seasonal thing isn’t just about money either, it rests easily on one’s conscience.

    • May 1, 2012 11:16 pm

      Thanks! I’m so glad it’s helped even a little.

      • May 2, 2012 4:02 pm

        …having said that though, the lamb and apricot recipe you posted the other day is a dish I certainly won’t be replacing with lentils hahaha!

      • May 3, 2012 9:05 am

        Well, no! But it’s so easy to do that on the cheap.

  9. July 19, 2012 5:30 am

    I read so many of your recipes (beautiful, they are) and only just realised you’re a male. I like that – the foodblog world is awfully female dominated! I live just beneath the Arctic circle in Canada in a tiny isolated community. Needless to say, I too place HUGE emphasis on frugality, locality and utilisation of dried beans and pulses. Your blog will be VERY useful in inspiring more of these such meals. Thank you – very pleased I stumbled upon your blog.

    Christina {De La Casa}

    • July 26, 2012 9:52 pm

      Thanks! Haha, yes I’m all man, as it were. Your life sounds so interesting. I hope you enjoy what I have to offer.

  10. September 13, 2012 11:49 pm

    Love the blog. I may be borrowing one or two of your recipes, if that’s ok with you, for my http://www.greenjamjar.com blog. With plenty of links back to you of course. Keep up the great work! K

    • September 14, 2012 11:56 am

      Thanks. Of course that’s fine, provided you link back of course :D. Thanks!

  11. petit4chocolatier permalink
    September 16, 2012 3:57 pm

    Well said! And thank you for your frugal tips. I attempt to purchase items (meat included) that may be the sale of the week and determine a recipe from there too.

  12. September 23, 2012 3:08 pm

    Go frugal!! I’m totally with you on that, and not wasting things too… be imaginative is my motto. Thanks for the tips!

  13. November 4, 2012 11:48 pm

    Really appreciated these tips! Also, thanks for the “like” and visit on my blog! (www.lindseywanek.com)

  14. November 9, 2012 6:10 pm

    Can’t wait to check out more of your blog!

  15. November 9, 2012 11:09 pm

    I am totally on your side. But sometimes, I like spending a little more on special moments. I also think we need to go back to nature and stop eating already cooked food from superstores.

    • November 11, 2012 12:35 pm

      I do spend a little more on special moments, that’s the point 😀 – besides, all my recipes are special ;).

  16. November 12, 2012 10:14 pm

    I am in such agreement with Tip #1 (and appreciate the fact that it is #1). I have noticed such a difference in my monthly food spending ever since I cut out meat. Now, if I eat meat, it is a special occasion and in small quantities. My wallet and my body have seen the benefits!

  17. November 27, 2012 10:17 pm

    I love all of these tips! It angers/saddens me so much when I hear people complain that they can’t afford to eat healthily, it’s simply not true. They could do with checking out your blog :0)

  18. December 4, 2012 11:29 pm

    Great blog! Weekly menu planning and then shopping for the week is one of the best things I’ve found in eliminating wasted leftovers, and it makes dinner so much easier.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog so I could find yours. 🙂

  19. December 13, 2012 11:15 pm

    Great blog! I’m just working my way through your recipes and so far they all sound fantastic. Thanks for the tips.

  20. strawberryquicksand permalink
    December 15, 2012 1:31 pm

    I love your tips but have been bulking my wet dishes up with finely chopped veggies forever! That way I feel less guilty when I’m not sitting down to an obvious meat and three veg kinda meal as I know I am still getting my veg along with some lentils and other pulses. 🙂 Plus it makes it a one pot wonder which is just too easy!

  21. December 15, 2012 5:07 pm

    All right, I just adore this section!

  22. December 23, 2012 11:42 am

    You’re across the pond from me but you had “liked” one of my recipes (the Pizza Pockets and Sloppy Joe combination meal plan)…. and so I had to check you out, of course! Feeding…Frugal… yeah, I might like this!

    Turns out, you’re right clever! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your recipes with the world. I might have to try a few.

  23. January 2, 2013 7:45 pm

    I’m so glad I came across you! And all coz you clicked a small button on my Hatephotoshop. Cooking (and eating!) – best things in the world! And oh, yes so much more fun when the competition of living on a shoestring budget comes in the game…
    I found it always an extra pleasure fun game to hunt for the cheapest raw-milk blue-cheese in town or to collect heaps oh’s and ah’s on a dinner surprisingly cooked up from left overs.
    I’m going to spend some time reading through your blog now. Thanks for sharing all this 🙂

  24. January 3, 2013 6:50 pm

    Cool blog! Thank you for making me find you ;p I absolutely agree with everything you said. I take my lunch to work, leftover from the night before or put together a sandwich, etc. It takes just a little thought to do it. I love bulking up food, too. I often make stir-fry or stew type dishes for most time of the week and eat a nice dinner of steak or fish 2-3 nights a week. We need more blogs like yours at the time of environmental and financial crisis. 🙂 Good work. Thank you!

  25. February 17, 2013 10:05 pm

    Great tips here! I’ve recently brought a slow cooker and it is great for cooking a bulk batch of food. I like to cook a basic ‘mince’ base, freeze portions, and then when I come to eat it I can add a few other basic ingredients to make, for example, a chilli or lasagna. Thanks!

  26. February 24, 2013 9:28 pm

    This is great! Some friends have been asking me for tips and I will gladly share this post, since you’ve said everything so much better than I can.

    I absolutely agree with menu planning. It helps cut down on trips to the market and purchasing unnecessary items since I know what exactly is in my pantry and fridge.

    Here in the States, many farms offer a CSA share (Community Supported Agriculture). You purchase a prescribed amount of food and each week, you are given a box of produce that was harvested that week. Local and seasonal.

    • March 2, 2013 10:47 pm

      Thanks – so glad you like my tips 😀 – that’s a great idea. We have a community farm around here actually. I keep meaning to sign up for a box!

Trackbacks

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