Wasting food, my secret shame

So, we’ve all read the articles and seen the TV programmes about food waste – 1.3 billion tonnes, was it? I read an article which said £60 a month is thrown away by the average family.

Okay, so I don’t throw away that much (being frugal-ish, £60 a month is over a quarter of my food budget) but I do throw food away. Last night’s victims were an elderly butternut squash (it’s crime was having lots of fuzzy, white mould or mildew on it, not just being elderly) and, the one that broke my heart, a honeydew melon that I had neglected then forgotten about. What’s that, £3 into the bin? Something like that.

So there’s my The Frugal Girl style confession – not quite food waste Friday but Saturday will have to do!

The one thing I do usually manage to save are the black bananas for banana bread –

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This one was a triumph – I think it’s the first one I’ve made that wasn’t soggy at the bottom, and it not only saved three bananas from the bin, it provided a less chemical laden snack for Mr Aspiring Frugalista to munch on over a few days.

I also like to donate to the local food bank run by The Trussell Trust – hey have drop off points all over the place and I was so glad to see that my local Tesco have FINALLY kept their donation point permanent this year. I’ve had tins etc that were bought in good faith for the hubs and when they remained uneaten (but still in date) they’ve been donated, rather than left to fester, go out of date, and never get eaten. If you can make room for a couple of pounds in your food budget to be spare, you’d be surprised what you can donate in food goods.

I’m also starting to frequent the Love Food Hate Waste site for ideas, and Abel and Cole have a great section on their site with veggie recipes, searchable by vegetable. Then of course, there’s the amazing A Girl Called Jack, whose site should be required reading for anyone wanting to cook on a low budget! She really can do so much with so little; and I admire the way she has used her success to benefit others and draw attention to the plight facing people on the poverty line.

And finally, please check out this Guardian article about food waste initiatives around the world – if nothing else it’s a really interesting read!

Thank you for reading, until next time!

 

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Meal Planning for…well, forever

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Last week, I set myself the task of meal planning right through to November payday. The grocery budget is one of the places I find it easiest to cut back with little compromise in quality, however that does mean more work when cooking. I find this a pretty acceptable compromise, and even cooking from scratch I have a collection of convenience meals up my sleeve.

Up there is my first page of planned meals. Some of them may seem a little extravagant (gammon steak!) but they are based around what I have in my freezer. The gammon, for example, came as a pack of six from Farm Foods, for about £3 I think. Decent size steaks, minimal fat and hardly any shrinkage under the grill. Just how Mr AF likes them! Ticked items have been cooked and served, starred items are heading up the meal plan for this week.

This week we have:

Spaghetti Bolognaise (made last week, leftovers frozen into sensible portions)
Gammon, egg and chips (homemade chips, eggs an ever present staple, and the aforementioned Farm Foods gammon!)
Omelette, boiled potatoes, mixed vegetables (you can tell when I’m trying to save money, lots of eggs)
Fish pie and vegetables (fish pie mix was on offer a while ago and I found it in the back of the freezer)
Cottage pie (home grown onions, value mince with the fat drained)
Bacon and mushroom fried rice (whenever I cook a rice based meal I keep some back to make fried rice with. This one always goes down well)

Meal planning for a month or so is harder, I find, as my cooking skills are, ahem, self taught. As a fussy eater my scope of meals is more limited but meal planning over a longer span of time forces me to do a little more research to avoid too many repetitions. Aside from the gammon. Which Mr AF loves.

Any hints on meal planning? Any resources you love?

The Real Cost of Cheap Food

My grocery budget is often the thing I find it easiest to cut back on.
 
 I’m not so sure I want to do that now.
 
 I’m currently watching the Channel 4 Dispatches programme ‘Supermarkets: the Real Price of Cheap Food’. I know these programmes are set up to provide shock value and a lot of the things I knew anyway but…
 
 I grew up in a farming community and I should know better, but I was moved almost to tears by the impact that supermarket promotions have on farmers. It’s made me determined to find a good green grocer or a market stall to buy produce from. But is even the produce there ethical? I cannot afford local farm shops, that’s for sure. I grow as much as I can myself.
 
 I know my few pounds a week won’t stop the big guys from ripping off their suppliers but maybe I can find a pocket that it’s better off in.
 
 

Frugal Food – a week eating out of the store cupboard

With the prospect that I might be £100 left in my grocery budget this month, I’ve taken to using up my stores to keep the bills down. So without further ado…

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From the top we have a pepper and cheese omelette, stir fry, a poached egg salad, bangers and mash and finally freezer surprise, which may or may not be a portion of chicken paprika.

Sorry this is a short one but I’m now going to crawl back into bed with a migraine!

The Basics Brigade

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Okay, I’m going to say something now that a whole lot of frugaleurs will probably disagree with.

Value and basics ranges are not always the best value for money.

I must admit to being very selective when it comes to value ranges and I am a bit of a tart when it comes to baked beans. I love the supermarket own range and always buy them in the most economical pack available. I can’t stand value baked beans, so I’ve drawn my ‘value line’ there.

Value ranges aren’t economical if you don’t like them; they will sit in your cupboard gathering dust until some hapless child’s harvest festival presents you with the opportunity to donate them. Value cooking ingredients are however brought into my house with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. I wholeheartedly use flour and pasta from the value range, anything where I know that the finished article will be greater than the sum of it’s parts. I have however moved away from value eggs, free range are only a few pennies more expensive, don’t support the battery hen industry and are far better quality. One day I’m hoping to keep my own chickens so it will no longer be an issue!

My shopping this week came in at a handsome £25.92 which I am rather pleased with. I am sticking to my meal plan, hurrah, and this is starting to work it’s way nicely into my routine. Click and collect is truly working wonders for me, curbing impulse buys and as it’s now free I’m all for it!

Next on the hotlist to control is my petrol expenditure; the food budget plate is spinning along merrily so it’s time for some economical driving! I filled up on Saturday so I’m going to record my mpg figures after a week of “normal” driving so I have a starting point of how much my driving is really costing me. I shall enjoy my girl racerhood for another few days!

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