Food costs

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February 19, 2009 by missmegany

Yes, we’re managing to eat well. But we’re lucky where we have the internet and 22 cookbooks (I am NOT exaggerating on the number–and that’s after we got rid of six or so) to help us find recipes, and we have cupboard with bulk wholefoods and links to a food coop. Could we eat mostly organic if we were just shopping at farmers’ markets and supermarkets? I don’t know…. Could we survive on a mostly-wholefoods diet? DEFINITELY.

But many people struggle to meet their nutritional needs–they struggle just to know what those are. If they didn’t, obesity wouldn’t be such a concern in rich countries.

In fact, even though we pay lots of attention to what we eat, I had fresh fruit for the first time in weeks two days ago. I found apples marked 2 for £2 and managed to get 16 British gala apples or 12.5p a piece. They are awfully tiny.

For that same amount, I could eat 2 1/2 peanut butter oatmeal cookies that I made. In fact, for that amount I could probably have half a pack of cookies if I had bought them from the supermarket.

I just finished reading “How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day” by Kath Kelly and found the following extract:

It was harder work still getting my ‘five a day’ of fruit and vegetables though. In the supermarkets, in terms of calories per penny, it was so much better value to get a packet of digestive biscuits (18p) than one orange (18p too). It quickly became clear why there is more obesity among the poorer sector of the British population. That packet of biscuits would fulfil half the calorie needs of the average person for a day, and with some cheese spread or something at under 40p, would be quick, cheap and easy to carry to work. If I tried to get fresh and healthy foods, I found them much ore expensive, heavy to carry on food and requiring many extra trips to the shops, because of their perishability.
I had to eke out my food supplies as long as possible while eating healthily. I’d never given this much thought beore, but under the circumstances I had to cook for maximu nutritional and monetary value to make my supplies last. When we walked over to the St. Marks Road street party to watch the parade and join in te dancing, I begged my friends for advice. Between them they came up with some great ideas.”

Those great ideas included:

  • Don’t add salt to dried beans when soaking them,
  • Keep red cabbage in the dark,
  • Make stirfries because they use very little oil,
  • Use a hand blender to turn leftovers into soups,
  • Add different herbs and spices to meals (eg. add curry or chili/Italian spices and the same food would be totally different),
  • Cook onions with meat (not a concern for us) to save on using double the oil,
  • make white sauce for lasagne using half milk, half water, cornflour and seasoned with mustard and cayenne pepper instead of butter milk and flour.
  • Use tinned or frozen fruit and veg instead of fresh,
  • Freeze foods to make them last,
  • Keep leftovers labeled in the fridge,
  • Separate fruit and veg in storage to keep both longer,
  • Put dry stuff from packets into dry airtight containers once opened.
  • Eat regular snacks so you feel less hungry and aren’t tempted to eat more.
  • Don’t waste ANYTHING! (I’ve recently learned that vegetable peels can be turned into veg stock–doesn’t work for us because we don’t peel most of our veg and we don’t have a place to store stock, but still a useful tip!)

A great read. Made me think about my purchases in general. I’m quite happy with what I spend money on most of the time and I think my ‘buy nothing new’ year will help with the rest. Still, good food for thought.

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Less and Less and More is all about enjoying more, all whilst worrying about less. Whether enjoying better health because you eat less junk, having more time for friends and family because you spend less time on acquiring, or lots of other big and little things that we want more of, I look at examples of people doing more.

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