For a variety of reasons, despite being financially comfortable, I have been on a frugality drive these last few months, and aim to make it my ongoing ethos. I have really realised the benefits of planning my eating super-carefully, having the shopping planned to the last letter, and being able to spend money on other things such as travel while eating very healthily. So, I was wondering what kind of approach you take to this aspect of our daily lives, and what your top tips might be for combining healthy eating with low cost.
As I live alone, one of my very top buys every two or three weeks has to be a decent-sized chicken. They cost very little, and can literally feed one person for pretty much the entire week. This week, after roasting the chicken, I had a decent portion of it with homemade potato salad (light mayo + low-fat yoghurt dressing), green salad, tomatoes and grated carrot. That evening, I then took every scrap of meat I could identify from the chicken and split it into 1/3 - 2/3 portions. With the larger portion I made sandwiches for five working days - into the freezer with them (I really can't be arsed to make sandwiches at 0530 before work). The next day, I took the chicken carcass and all other bones and made soup - having made the stock and removing the bones and carcass, added pearl barley, then later carrots, then potatoes, then fried onion/leek/garlic, and finally the 1/3 portion of shredded chicken and chopped flatleaf parsley, obviously seasoning well. There was a gargantuan amount of delicious soup, so half went into the freezer - the other half would last three days very generously. For the weekend - there are ingredients for a large amount of risotto - leek and forest mushroom. A little of that can be portioned into small-meal-sized amounts for the freezer for the odd work day too. Every day as a minimum I'll also have an apple, a banana, and some kind of citrus. Probably a couple of handful of nuts too. Along with other staples like semi-skimmed milk, low-fat sunflower spread, that sort of thing, the cost of such a week's food is absolutely sod all. So as not to get too sick of chicken or whatever, the odd tuna sandwich is taken to work, or cheese or whatever.
I also think that using something like a whole chicken so completely is a more ethical way to consume meat, using every last bit of it. And that leads me on to the other main benefit in this approach as a whole - I am not throwing food away. Ever. That feels good.
Other examples of healthy staples for the week might include things like a large amount of chilli con carne, bulked out with beans and veg, eaten with plenty of rice.
Aside from the cheapness, it's much easier to portion control, never leaves you in that 'shit I'm hungry, what can I eat?' sort of state, and on average taking a minimum of about 6 portions of fruit/veg per day very definitely makes me feel a lot better in general. I never have to spend money at work on food or drink. I save a bloody fortune.
So, when it comes to food, what are your habits? Do you really care what you thrown in your supermarket trolley? Do you think more than a day or so ahead? Any suggestions for great combinations of healthy and frugal?
Glad to hear your opinions.