A Little Thought Goes A Long Way - FrugalFeedingFri 27 Sep 2013
Story by Nick Livermore
University can be, in financial terms, a rather tricky time to negotiate for the majority of students. A period of carefree excess, in many ways an undergraduate degree holds no prisoners, with food quality and nutrition often the first casualties. Having grown up with hearty and delicious home-cooked food courtesy of my mother and grandmother, by third year I’d had about as much tinned and basics “food” as I could stomach. A stand was made and frugalfeeding born.
Food blogging has been a particularly effective way to improve my eating habits without “breaking the bank”; allowing me to document my recipes, develop my writing and share my knowledge with others.
To begin with frugalfeeding was, out of necessity, very much about being as cheap as possible. Recently my focus has shifted. I’ve become very passionate about cooking with good-quality, ethically sourced produce and exploring the ways in which it can be used frugally (the definition of ‘frugal’ being closer to ‘economical’ than ‘cheap’).
Almost any dish can be recreated for a fraction of its usual or expected cost given a little thought and careful preparation. Unknown, unused and underappreciated cuts of meat are a particular favourite of mine. Ox cheek, for instance, is one of the most succulent and flavoursome cuts of beef and can be bought for as little as £6.50 per kilo!
Becoming frugal is as much about mind set as it is about “top tips”, but a few pointers here and there never go amiss. We need only change our habits in a few simple yet fundamental ways to completely transform our culinary expenditure for the better.
For me seasonality plays a key part in frugality, particularly if you shop at the local green grocers. It’s simple really; when a vegetable is in season it’s at its cheapest and, crucially, most delicious. Try wherever possible to eat only what’s in season and your bank balance and diet will feel the benefit immediately.
Minestrone is a great way of displaying what’s best about a season; in the winter it’ll likely contain all manner of root vegetables, yet in the spring it’ll have transformed into something much fresher and lighter.
Many feel that good quality meat can’t possibly be part of a frugal diet, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. Little-used cuts of meat can be incredibly inexpensive, as displayed above - but that’s not the only point to consider. The fact of the matter is that society in general has become overly reliant on meat, with many eating it two or three times a day. Such habits are not only detrimental to household finances, but also damaging to our health.
In our house we eat meat, at most, three times a week - usually far less. It’s important to remember that there are other fantastic sources of protein out there - pulses, for instance - that can often be as, if not more, satisfying than meat.
Frugality is certainly a way of life and takes a little preparation. However, you’ll find that with even a little thought and preparation you can quite easily save money while maintaining every culinary standard you’ve ever aspired to.
Check out the full blog here and some of my favourite posts - Chocolate Orange Mousse and Tarka Dhal which both epitomise exactly what my blog is about.
About the author: Nick grew up in west Wales amidst plenty of home cooked and often home grown/caught food.This naturally rustic way of eating has deeply influenced his style and manner of cooking and sits well with a frugal attitude and lifestyle. A graduate of history, he is very much at home with either pen or book in hand. However, during the day he can be found working with local authorities across the UK to encourage the general public to saddle up and give cycling a chance.
Follow Nick for more tips and great recipes for eating frugally on twitter - @frugalfeeding and Facebook page.
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