Frugal Food – please share your tips :)

I have been wanting to do a Frugal Living post for some time and have decided to do this in a series of posts that I am hoping others will add to from their own store of tips for cutting living expenses…because I consider that those who read my blog (and myself) are a community of like-minded people and I often receive comments from others sharing their wisdom on frugality. Please do feel free to add yours in the comments section.

So, because my blog is mostly about food I’ll start here with a few of my own tips for eking out my food dollar.

1. Has to be growing whatever we can ourselves, wherever we can and with whatever we have at our disposal. Not everyone has a garden but there are many containers we can use to grow in from buckets to shopping bags to juice containers. Seeds can be taken out of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini etc to start off new plants. Explore the net for ideas and inspiration. I have articles here on frugal gardening for beginners.

https://quarteracrelifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/my-list-of-the-best-value-for-money-vegesand-fruits-for-the-home-garden-pantry/

https://quarteracrelifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/beginners-guide-to-frugal-food-gardening-1/

https://quarteracrelifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/beginners-guide-to-frugal-food-gardening-2-seed-saving/

There are other articles in the gardening section reblogged from others for ideas and inspiration.

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2. Foraging. Easier if you live near rural areas, there may be wild blackberries, apples, nuts etc just growing wild around you somewhere. This is a great article on food foraging http://www.realfarmacy.com/foraging-52-wild-plants-you-can-eat/. I can tend to be a bit shy about doing this but my husband is not, he is very quick to notice fruit trees that are un-owned and to raid them 🙂

3. Develop a from scratch mentality and rely little on convenience foods because we pay dearly for that convenience. For the price of pancake mix we can buy a bag of flour and a packet of baking powder that will yield a whole lot more than one batch. Make your own yogurt for 1/4 the price https://quarteracrelifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/crockpot-yogurt-yogurt-ricotta-and-labneh-yogurt-cheese/. Seeking information, improving our own cooking and baking skills pays off big time over the years, I am 54 and have raised my family but am still always seeking new, better, cheaper ways of doing things. I buy things like chickpeas, lentils and pulses because they are cheap and nutritious to cook with. Buying them dry, cooking a whole pot and freezing in cooking sized portions means I am unlikely to buy them canned for convenience sake.

4. Shopping. I buy house branded (cheap branded) flour, cocoa, toilet paper etc etc rather than more expensive brands, the quality is often the same, they are often packaged by the same companies. I get to the checkout and look through what I have…there is nearly always something I have picked up on impulse that I will return because I no longer feel I need it. I stock up on different things on special each week and will forego something else in order to buy 1/2 dozen (or more) somethings that are extremely cheap if I use alot of it eg coffee on extra special. I check that an item on special (often a leading brand) isn’t still dearer than a cheaper brand. I don’t buy anything I couldn’t make myself cheaper. We don’t get coupons here now but I remember years ago spending ages before I went shopping cutting out coupons. I base meals around what I have and what is on special rather than just buying random foods to make up meals I feel like and I always write a list of what I NEED, there is always room to accommodate specials too good not to stock up on.

5. Make use of the freezer. I will buy something like a 1 kg packet of bacon on special and split it down to use in odd recipes to eke it out. I use mine alot for freezing leftovers to use for another meal eg a smallish amount of meat or chilli sauce sauce can be mixed later with pasta and topped with cheese sauce for another meal. Excess grated cheese can be frozen. A large pot of soup can be frozen in serving sized quantities, Fruit given from a friend can be cooked and frozen, extra sausage rolls, leftover homemade scones, milk bought cheap…virtually anything can be frozen.

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My Provident journey has started a series on using the freezer, find the first one here http://myprovidentjourney.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/provident-uses-for-your-freezer-dairy/

6. Minimise food waste: Don’t purchase more than you can realistically use, store well, either freeze or plan leftovers for another meal. Be creative…my husband cooked a few nights ago and used leftover sliced lamb on toast with barbecue sauce and cheese, grilled…I thought it sounded weird but it was delicious, leftover sausages are nice like this too or sliced, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and fried lightly. Fritters, quiches, frittata, pies, soups are all good ways of using leftover meats and vegetables.Baked goods can be refreshed in the oven, or re-crisped. Turn over ripe bananas into cakes, breads or fritters…I will also make a carrot cake or dog biscuits out of softer carrots , or they go into soup. The list in endless here.

7. If using alot of citrus save the peels in cheap white vinegar for cleaning.

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8. Porridge is the cheapest breakfast cereal on the market and is nutritious. Rolled oats are great in baking and homemade muesli and muesli bars. I wouldn’t be without rolled oats in my kitchen, or shredded coconut. These form the base of muesli and many times I have made it just because I have odd quantities of dried fruit sitting in the cupboard (or lots of my own dried) This recipe will use any dried fruit, nuts etc in the cupboard https://quarteracrelifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/homemade-toasted-muesli-with-figs-walnuts-and-feijoa/

9. Preserve, make jam, sauces etc. If you have access to large amounts of fruit or vegetables at times learn the skill of preserving, jam making etc. I buy jars from thrift shops, garage sales…friends save them for me. If you can’t bottle them they can be cooked in syrup and frozen, some fruits such as berries and plums can be frozen as is. Your first ever batch of homemade jam is something to be proud of…I will just share a story of mine 🙂 I was very young and left a large plastic salad server in the pot to stir with – never to be seen again and that batch had to be thrown out, trust me no one can do worse than that, so give it a go!! Only months ago I lost a whole batch of cranberry jelly to the floor, I am still trying to be an expert preserver!! If you are dreading Christmas  now is the time for many to make homemade jams etc that would make nice Xmas gifts, they keep for over a year.

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10. Distinguish between wants and needs. Supermarkets are chock full of yummy things we’d all like to be able to afford and this can be hard to begin with but when things are tight we can’t afford to come out through the checkout with a heap of not such great buys in favour of good nutritious NEEDS and staples. I used to drink only ground coffee but that is no longer affordable and now instant seems perfectly fine (yes, in this house coffee is needed), I don’t need the magazine I often go to throw in, neither do I need the flower oil I used to use in my hair. These are only things I desire, not needs….realising of course that very OCCASIONALLY some little thing is needed as a morale booster because sometimes you need chocolate, or the magazine. Sometimes I get fed up with going without but generally I can manage to get through with only the milk and toilet paper I went in for! I haven’t always been like this and had to learn alot of discipline but it’s actually really rewarding to end the week well knowing I have managed to shop this way.

11. Develop a survivor mentality in dire cases of needing to save money.  There is poverty and there is voluntary simplicity and I have done both…at the same financial level. I am now choosing to live at a level I previously found very stressful (but I’ve been worse) and we are thriving….it’s just taken a different mindset and we work hard at making it work because it needs to. In saying that I have always had a roof over my head. Most would agree there are 3 basic necessities in life food, warmth and shelter and I am always aware many don’t have these things and I am gratified I am not one of them. We can afford shelter, we get free firewood and grow most of our own food. We both agree we live abundantly, but we live within our means and it all takes work. We can afford insurances etc only because we buy few groceries. Not everyone can do this but thinking outside the square and doing what YOU can do well can make a difference.

There was an item on our news yesterday about a primary school in a poorer area of our country who are teaching life skills such as food gardening, cooking from that garden for lunches many of the kids can’t supply themselves, making fire bricks from shredded newspaper etc. These children are already learning how to make something from nothing, how to be self reliant etc….the teachers told how the kids are so much healthier for it, how much more animated they are and how they are all striving to learn as much as they can. I loved this because God knows, it’s needed there, it’s needed everywhere at present.

So please, do share your tips here or link to your own blog of a similar nature, my list is nowhere near comprehensive and there is alot to be learned from each other. Food tips only as I will do another for household etc. Don’t be shy, your tip might be the only one another can use:)

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24 thoughts on “Frugal Food – please share your tips :)

  1. This was a great post. I found that I have to shop more often to purchase fresh ingredients like greens, but I eat whole foods and save money by avoiding the prepackaged, and not very good for you, foods in the stores. I have a garden which is suffering this year as a result of too much rain, but we will still have plenty to put up, the rest I will supplement from the farmers market.

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      • I only have one market close to home and accessible without a car but I find some things are cheaper and some are more expensive. In the end it probably comes out to a wash. Fruit, while pricey everywhere is cheaper at the farmer’s market as are melons, onions and beets. Greens seem to have the highest price by weight.

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      • Yes, I do. It has been an ongoing discussion with my one dil. She believes it is more expensive to shop the farmers market. I tell her it works out in the end but this way I get to help support the local farmers by increasing their profits. The little they re dive from crops when sold through middlemen is simply wrong.

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  2. RT says:

    This is a great summary of ways to use our resources more wisely. I love your picture of the milk jug garden – I admire people who don’t buy into the complicated, expensive versions of gardening and just use what they have! This year I have a garden but, since this is my first try in a new location of the country, I am depending more on the local farmers markets for produce to can. I’ve canned about 5 pounds of carrots from my own garden but did pickles from the farmers market and have peaches waiting to be processed. I try to keep my food supply at a level that I can buy what I need on sale, rather than running out of something and having to pay full price. I am very impressed with the primary school you mentioned. Providing our children with applied knowledge, rather than just “book learning” will serve them their whole lives. As you said, those kids are learning to be self-reliant. With self-reliance they will gain confidence and be more resilient. Great post!

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    • Thank you 🙂

      I wish I knew whose that photo is but I think it’s one of those pictures that has done so many rounds it’s origins are lost, I have tried to find it to give credit.
      It sounds like you do great, it takes a while to learn about new areas, what grows best etc. Like you I don’t let food levels drop too much for the same reason. We only have a wee local store which is way too expensive to have to pop down to.
      I was impressed with the school too, very. Kudos to those teachers, I hope more schools follow suit 🙂

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  3. I try to shop online when I can. Yes, I pay for the postage but I can’t see and then pick up impulse buys, my kids aren’t with me so they don’t whine for things and there’s no panic about realising we’ve timed it wrong and needing to buy drinks, lunch etc.
    I also buy heaps of things in bulk. I’ve got several kilos of coconut flour, I buy my baking flour from a bakery in 10kg bags and as a member of an unofficial co-op I bought 50kgs of kamut wheat, 40kgs of oranges of which I’ve bottled most, pulses and legumes, again for canning and probably nearly 200kgs of fruits for canning including tomatoes. My canner has been one of my most frugal buys too as now I can buy bulk and store it without needing power. We have a wood fired heater/stove on which we are cookng for our first winter here and although we’ve bought in some wood to fire her this year we have also harvested several tonnes of wood for the price of time, sweat and fuel for the car and chainsaw..
    I make my own laundry powder too which costs mere cents per wash, line or clotheshorse dry only, use LED lights or no lights and open the blinds. Frugality is a habit more than anything I think. Get into the habit step by step.
    As for farmers markets, we have one monthly in our town but the prices aren’t that much cheaper than the supermarket although the produce is much better. We buy many of our veggies through a CSA though, a little dearer but supports a local farmer and family and it’s delivered fortnightly at the moment (weekly over summer).
    Great post too. 🙂

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  4. Where is the LOVE button! 🙂 I love this idea and from someone who isn’t American! I can join in!!! :). Love the linkies but it’s tea time here so I can’t really do this post justice at the moment, back when I can 🙂

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  5. Awesome post! I’ve done much of what you do, but not all; never had a freezer (well, I’ve owned a small one since ’96, but it’s in storage in BC), so it was all planning and canning. Here we have no storage for jams, canned fruit, etc. and only a small fridge freezer that isn’t adequate for more than storing a few things. Growing your own and then preserving it is one of the best frugal paths to be on, I think.

    I loved the comment about the school that is teaching the old skills; good, before they are gone altogether!

    When I worked at the organic and natural wholesale company, we sold to buy groups (buying co-ops) at a price between wholesale and retail. We had a lot of groups then and our trucks delivered to the ones out of town or way up-Island.

    Sometimes it’s possible to buy in bulk with a friend or two (without being an official buy group), then split the purchases at someone’s house. Not as good a saving, but at least you can take advantage of cheaper pricing for bulk buys and not have the waste of trying to use it all yourself. ~ Linne

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    • Thanks you and thanks for your comments. We sometimes go halves with another couple for things but not often enough really….great idea.
      The school item was great, really excited me to see kids so interested in what they were doing – and teachers teaching real life skills.

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  6. Hi everybody,
    I enjoyed reading all the good comments from other people. I have self -sufficient since coming to Canada, I live and grow all my fruits and vegetables. do canning, drying etc. Also made my rasinnis to use and eat during winter months. I get my wood for fire, 3 rain barrels for gardening of water so I get rebate from the city because of saving water. Washing dishes I save my water and use in my flower garden so less sewage consumption too. Oh I live very healthy and I just shop for milk and eggs only. Rest of all the food and fruits comes from the garden. Make herbal teas and sell to my good friends who love it. My two adult appreciate what I do. I save my maple leaves to turn into “Black Gold” for my garden, No chemicals whatsoever. I like your web page please keep send.
    thanks
    almas

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