The thrifty food guide
Thursday, 24 May 2012
These days it can seem like the cost of food is on an upward trajectory that just won't cease. Second only to our accommodation, most of us probably spend more money on edible sustenance than anything else. So it makes sense to become aware of the thrifty ways available to take the edge of that grocery bill without compromising on quality.
Between cooking food in bulk, sale aisle fanatics, temporary vegetarianism and simple recipes with big flavours there are more ways to save than you could shake a reduced stick of celery at.
The idea of the nuclear family is very much in decline, although to look at the sea of recipes for four, you wouldn't know it. With an increase of people living alone, single parents and large families, the act of cooking and freezing is a saviour for the thrifty (and practical) at heart. Plus it helps that the old adage 'it always tastes better the day after' abounds.
For example, make a leek and potato soup to feed six and in a two person home you're able to freeze another four portions for a rainy day. The fact that you have also bought and cooked in bulk will keep costs down to the minimum.
Supermarkets are one of the biggest producers of food but they are also the biggest wasters. Time it right and you can make the most of their profligacy.
Thanks to best before dates, markdowns are a great way to source ingredients at greatly reduced prices, and best of all, everyone does it. You'd be amazed at the sheer range of people from society's vast spectrum to be found queuing in the reduced aisle. Some fanatics even make a rule of purely purchasing sale goods. While it's probably not necessary to dream about the 'red sticker of reduction', a quick check at the supermarket will generally pay off.
If there is one way to get the most from budget ingredients then it is time. Good slow cooker recipes allow for the maximum amount of time for textures and flavours to bind. Cheaper cuts of meat are often the best for stewing and even the rich twang of a budget corned beef goulash can teeter on the edge of gourmet.
As a nation we have a love affair with meat. However, cutting back once in a while will leave those pockets lined with silver, or an extra few pounds at least. For example why not make that lamb moussaka into vegetable moussaka? Besides, vegetables don't come much meatier than aubergines. Lose the mindset of meat as an everyday necessity and your grocery receipt is bound to begin to reflect your thriftier approach to food.
Adopting a thrifty approach to food doesn't mean substituting quality for value. Follow these tips and make mealtimes a money saving exercise in themselves.
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