Our family reverted to a single income at the end of June when my work contract ended. Since then I have been looking at ways to reduce our costs in all areas of the household budget. The list below outline the things that have made a difference in our home that I hope will help you also.
To my surprise, I have found that rather than being a hardship, I have found each change to have been a I have been a satisfying experience.
1. This is obviously my number one tip – Grow your own herbs and salad greens.
- Start small if you don’t grow anything now. I am sure that you will be hooked once you get started. You know the saying – from little things big things grow….
- Herbs and salad greens perish very quickly when purchased from the store making it difficult to obtain value for the cost of purchase.
- They are easy to grow in a pot or the garden. They can be grown from seed and you can pick leaves as required to add a fresh flavor burst to your next meal.
- Ultimately, the more fresh food you can grow yourself the less you have to purchase. Plus you know how it has been grown (minus pesticides)
- Use everything you have at your disposal – it is all about the planning and thought process of what you have available to use
- Menu plan based on what you have rather than what you would like to cook
- Vegetables that are on their “last legs” can be used to make stock or in slow cooking casseroles
- Buy a whole chicken rather than select pieces and use it for multiple meals, including using the carcass to make stock/soup
- Wasted food = wasted money.
- See points 6,11 and 13
3. Buy on sale. If an item you use often (pantry staple or something you can freeze) is on sale – buy it
- Eg: pasta and tinned items
- Find the space to store excess items
4. Buy in bulk – grains, rice and flours
- Join a co-op
- Locate a catering supplier who supplies the public
- Take your own containers and buy at the Market by weight
- Buy direct from the supplier/farmer
- This can take extra work and research but the savings are significant.
5. Use small quantities of strong flavored ingredients in main meals. Ingredients from the pantry can be combined for a satisfying meal
- Dry spices such as clove, cinnamon, cardamon, and tumeric
- Home made chutney or relish
- Parmesan cheese
- This helps to avoid waste
- Select fresh ingredient that can be used in multiple meals
- Make at least one large batch meal and freeze half
- I have used one chicken to make three meals. One of those was my Winning Soup Recipe that sent me to Italy this year. With some thought and planning it is possible to stretch what you have and make it go further.
- My e-book contains a month’s worth of recipes that can be slotted into the included menu planner – easy! You will also find a shopping list to help you get organised.
7. Have at least one meat free meal per week and/or increase the percentage of vegetables in each meal
Find some recipe inspiration on my Recipe List page under the heading Vegetarian. Mr Fresh took a couple of weeks to get into the swing of not having meat on the plate but he is now unconcerned when it is a meat-free day. If you have not met him I can not begin to tell you that this is a BIG deal!
8. Experiment with cheaper cuts of meat
Buy cheaper cuts and cook them for longer on a low heat, or with your slow cooker
9. Purchase grass fed and free range meat from a local farmer.
- The meat may be more expensive but the flavor difference is incredible. You will find yourself eating smaller serves and appreciating it more. I wrote a post about cooking grass fed beef here.
10. Make your own meals from scratch
- This provides immense satisfaction
- It is usually cheaper
- The food is unprocessed with no additives, preservative, colors etc. and therefor healthier
- This is better for the environment as it reduces packaging, transport, storage, and numerous other industry related costs to the environment and to your family budget.
Some of the things we make from scratch on a regular basis include:
- Tomato Chutney
- Three Dips
- Pumpkin Bread
- Strawberry Jam
- Muesli bars
- Sausage Rolls
- Locate and start to shop from Farmers Markets in your area
- Locate and shop at local farm-gates
- Experiment with in-season produce, learn how to cook it and find different ways to use it. You will be amazed at how creative you can be with an ingredient.
12. Visit nearby farms where you can pick your own produce.
- Berries can be frozen for later use in baking. Other fruits may be stewed, made into chutney, relish, jams, sauces, or dried.
- Each year we pick berries at a local farm. You can check this site to find places near you.
- Traditional recipes often include ways to take advantage of in-season or available ingredients
- Use your local library to loan cook books and find new ideas
Do you have any other tips that you can share? I would love to hear them.
Have a wonderful weekend.
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