The cost of eating well… is a myth! How to eat well on a budget, how to shop organically, how to feed a family on a tight budget without compromise on taste or nutrition or variety. In this article we are going to look at tips and techniques to employ when shopping, cooking and eating. You may have to discard some of your preconceptions about shopping, shake off the ‘norms’ which have infiltrated society and go back to shopping how your mom’s mom did. When it comes to cooking, you may be a little scared. A lot of people ‘cannot’ budget because they are afraid of cooking. Don’t be! That is all there is to it. Don’t tell yourselves or others that ‘you are no good’ at it. If your partner ever complains, hand them the wooden spoon and suggest they try. The worst that could happen is they do try.
Keeping in mind your possible fear, there are some good convenience products which do not compromise on taste, nutrition or cost the earth. There are also many sites with excellent simple-to-pro recipes and don’t forget the handy cookbooks. You may find, as I have many a time, that older cookbooks without colour photos or glitz and glam have sturdy, easy to cook, tasty and nutritional recipes.
So lets get started. There are three main points we need to get across. Firstly, that frugal food shopping starts with intention and is followed through with action. Secondly, we need to drastically change the way we eat, to be both healthier and budget happier. Thirdly, knowledge is essential. Once we know a little about the food we eat, like, want and need we will make healthy choices happily.
‘Frugal’ is not a word we use often today, one your grandma likely uses as endearing and your young mothers generation as demeaning. When the war era of our world was over, and far fewer young men than hoped came home, we kicked into overdrive to re-establish our nations and most importantly feed those of us whom had gone hungry for so long. With much diligence, ingenuity and general hard work we created a surplus of food, choice and, we had hoped, happiness. Rather than make us happier, it has made us lazy and fat. Now with an economic crisis gathering like a thunderstorm the price of food has skyrocketed for some items and steadily increased for others. We find ourselves buying convenience foods full of empty calories and we come home with empty pockets to an empty kitchen.
Just by change a few habits and perceptions and we can change ourselves. So take a ‘frugal’ approach which starts before we enter the grocery store. Think about where you buy food from. List them all from supermarket to local greengrocer. Think harder, about the morning coffee, the mid afternoon doughnut, the bottle of soda with your gas. If we change the locations we buy food we can increase quality and reduce the cost. Weigh up want with need when it comes to daily little habitual snacks. But we need to go further. Most people buy all their food from the ‘supermarket’. It is convenient and everything is there. But do you drive further, to go to a bigger market; when your local strip shop may have a greengrocer, butcher and baker?
Next week we will look at look at challenging the way we eat, and how to find out about the food we consume. For now, I will leave you with a few rather handy recommendations.
Kitchen Parade discusses more money saving tips in detail, as well as having some great recipes.
101 Cookbooks is one of my favourite recipe, inspiration and food sites.
Elise shares her stories and her parents budget meals.
Eating out loud has more handy hints on how to eat ‘during a recession’.
Hunger Challenge is all about feeding yourself on less than a dollar per meal!