Following The Bag Lady from the Bay's lead I have decided to devote the next few days to food~how to eat cheaply,simply and well!
I have some food allergies (lactose and sulphites-a food preservative) that make eating more of a challenge. There are many foods that are bad for us no matter how tasty they are-including fried and processed foods. The trip to the grocery store can be pretty sobering but there are some tips I have picked up over the years.
1.) Meat is often the most expensive item you can buy. Look for inexpensive cuts that you can roast or braise over a long period of time until they are tender. Organ meats (which get a bad rap) are cheap good for you. Even the dreaded liver can be hidden in a stew or mock stroganoff-type meal. One trick I use is to wait till those huge pieces of meat-pork or beef-are on sale for $11-12. I call them 'slab-o-meat' and cut them in to roasts, often I can get at least ten. I pop them in the freezer and they last us a long time. The food guide says that a serving of meat should be about the size of a deck of cards. Using that principal and following a method used in places like Indonesia serve a small piece of meat stir-fried in strips with lots of stir-fried vegetables and rice.
2.) Try to have meatless meals a few times a week-beans, lentils and legumes are super cheap especially dried. There are so many things you can do with them-sweet and sour lentils:
Try hummus which is great with pita bread cut into triangles and toasted in the oven:
There are many books that have great recipes using beans and eating simply, one of my favourites is a book of Mennonite recipes called More-With-Less:
3.) Don't forget about eggs either-there are so many ways to use eggs-omelettes, quiche (using leftover meat and vegetables) salmon with egg sauce....use your imagination!
4.) Fish is also a great alternative to red or white meats-I always have frozen fish in my freezer (when it goes on sale) and frozen bagged shrimp which I use for shrimp curry.
5.) It's a fact that the items on the outside of the store are the cheapest-fruits,vegetables etc. The inner aisles are full of expensive empty calorie crap-most processed foods so try and stay away from these if you can.
6.) Buy sale items!!!!! Check out the discounted fruits,vegetables and breads. All of these can be popped in the freezer-bananas a little off? Don't pass them over-they are perfect for banana bread or smoothies. If there is a sale on milk stock up-it too can be frozen. Just thaw and shake before using.
7.) Buy fruits and vegetables in season-it is much cheaper. Or find a friendly farmer where you can buy farm fresh stuff! If you live in the city and don't have space for a garden many cities have community plots you can rent to grow your own veggies. If you live in an apartment try container gardening. Most people have enough room for a tomato plant or two and some herbs.
8.) Sometimes you just can't pass up a good deal...try and take advantage of big sales. The local supermarket is selling slightly past-ripe tomatoes? Make tomato sauce and freeze it!
9.) Pay attention to the way other cultures eat-there are many inexpensive dishes that use items that would have been available to them that are also dirt cheap like beans,lentils,bulgar,rice etc.
10.) If you want to eat out keep your eye open for things like a fish fry, church suppers and the like. Often you get a lot of food for a very modest price. Visit restaurants that have deals-like wing Tuesdays, spaghetti Wednesday's, or kids eat free.
These are just some of the tricks I use in Living The Simple Life. Another great resource is social media-Facebook has lots of groups for cheap eating and sharing recipes for example. If you can't find what you want out there in the virtual world than start your own group!
In my next posting I will talk about a passion of mine-wartime recipes. Rationing meant people had to get creative when cooking and I see no reason that those recipes can't be used now, especially if it means reducing the monthly food bills!