Thrift is the word of the moment. It’s all about recession busting and credit crunching rather than plain old cooking in the kitchen just now. Here are a few ways of stretching those bank notes a little further.
Seasonal and Local
To eat what is in season will mean fresher and tastier meals. Eating what is bountiful now will always mean a lower price. Buying from a local supplier will cut down on transport costs resulting in cheaper produce. Perhaps even visits to local farmers could ensure better deals.
Prepare Your Own
Making your own jams, pickles and chutneys will be more flavorful than expensive bought in items. How about having a go at curing your own bacon, making your own sausages or even producing your own cider? Do you have the space anywhere for growing herbs?
Buying the least processed items are the most cost effective. That means buying whole chickens rather than just breasts, buying the fish, rather than just the fillets and then actually using every little bit. In place of bags of mixed leaves choose the whole lettuce. Anything that has had some form of interference from processing is no longer viable and that means saying no to, amongst others, readymade vinaigrette, chopped vegetables, breadcrumbs and grated cheese. Buying whole spices and grinding them yourself will save money especially if carefully sourced from ethnic food stores.
Is it Garbage?
Think before you throw. Are there other uses for those leftovers? Can they be refrigerated for use in a recipe tomorrow? Use the freezer, old bananas can be frozen for recipes such as banana bread. Strawberries from the freezer will be fine in a sauce.
Be inventive. In Turkey they create a stew from their old fava bean pods and serve it with yoghurt and dill. Briefly roasted Parmesan rind can quickly become a crispy, tasty addition to many a recipe. The Greeks would never throw out beetroot greens, instead preferring to fry them in olive oil. Left over coffee can be used to create ice cream, squash seeds can be toasted and spiced and sprinkled over soups. In France, melon rind is used to make jam and chutneys and the Chinese use dried out orange peel to add fragrance and flavor to dishes. Even the greatly celebrated Heston Blumenthall of the Fat Duck at Bray, UK keeps the vine from his vine ripened tomatoes to infuse the flavor into his homemade tomato sauce.
But even when, having added oatmeal or breadcrumbs to ground beef to make it go further and decanted our oil into a spray, the old saying goes that we eat with our eyes. So make sure to gussy up the plate and don’t forget that carrot top garnish.
Photos courtesy of flckr Mulia, Bethany L King and Mahm.