family life

new years resolutions: saving money in the kitchen

This year one of my resolutions is to save money on the little things.

That’s different from other years because frankly, I don’t necessarily need to. This has not always been of course. I have my college poverty days in my repertoire. There are plenty enough stories in my history, as there are in everyone’s, to demonstrate that my life is not an HGTV Travel Magazine Family Ties replicable life plot.

Still, I can accomplish my goals with ease when everyone wakes up on the right side of the bed, which happens often enough. (Though not today;)

I will strive to choose to live the simple life this year.

It’s easy for me to just live. But to live more simply takes work.

I can buy the soup stock in a carton. At $2 a litre, this is a considerable sales price where I live. Or, I can save my kitchen veggie scraps and make my own. I can save the chicken bones from the roast chicken and make my own stock. And on a rare occasion that I buy a piece of cow with a bone-in, I also make my own stock. Simple.

Canning. I’m convinced this is not a less expensive product if you must first buy produce from the grocer at regular price. But I live in southern British Columbia, where fruit trees abound. The prize of the colour of jars alone are appealing as they adorn my kitchen counter. This year I’m going to try my hand at pickling cucumbers. If I can pickle carrots, I can surely make one with someone’s garden cucs. Surely not my cucs, though, as they always arrive bitter (suggestions?)

Beans. I introduced bean meals since our first trip to East Africa five years ago. We learned to make them and ate them a lot. After we visited a rural school, the matriarch of that school was so pleased that we visited her primary school, she gave us a 10 kilo bag of beans. We survived happily without cows, and only an occasional chicken, and I learned to homemake tortillas (yes, in Africa). In fact, I probably felt healthier, certainly lighter, when we were there. Twice a week, I plan dinner meals without meat. One beans, the other eggs.

Eggs. I’ll make my own. Well, the edible variety I’ll begin breeding at our homestead. When we move to our backyard in spring we’ll build a chicken house and order a few pullets of our own. This endeavor, I understand, is not less expensive. Just tastier.

Spending the grocery budget well. I will purchase deli products that come in plastic containers on special occasions. I can make my own delicious hummus, and leave those delicious olive tapenades, roasted red peppers and feta stuffed hot peppers for special occasions. Yes, and that will include deli meats. My husband balks if I ever buy the Italian bologna, mortadella. (Apparently bologna is not good for you. Tell that to the maker of my elementary school lunches, my mother. Curiously, my kids love it when they rarely consume it.) But deli ham? sliced turkey? Well, I’ll just roast one of those and slice it ourselves.

Bread. I will make it, mostly. Have you tried making it? It really isn’t difficult. Only very recently did I fall upon a fantastic recipe that taught me how to make a soft loaf…high heat to begin, then low and slow on baking heat. But not so low and slow that I have a big yeasty bread soup at the bottom of the oven.

I’ll continue to make soup for lunch. Inexpensive. And super easy approach to saving money. Cause pretty much everything that’s leftover in the fridge can transform into a delicious soup ingredient. I balked at my dad’s approach to soup making as I grew up. “Get the ketchup. Hey look, a little bit of mustard…” Who knew what was in those pots? Us kids didn’t want to find out. Now I get it. Soup bases from leftover vegetable slices on the cutting board make a rich, and inexpensive, soup broth.  Teaspoonful of spices. Why waste the parmesan soup rind? At the final stage of the soup, throw it in for flavor. Add a can of beans, a garlic bulb and fresh spinach, and you, my friend, have a soup found on Italian’s luncheon tables. Drizzle olive oil on a slice of bread and toast in the oven, (with a glass of prosecco–cost savings from above spent on Italian sparkles), and voila, you are in Italia!

What do you do to save money in the kitchen?

I’m eager to find out as I’m turning towards grocery savings this year.

6 thoughts on “new years resolutions: saving money in the kitchen

  1. We do all the things you mentioned, though we gave up on eggs when our part-time move to town made keeping chickens impractical, and we do more freezing and dehydrating than energy-intensive canning. But I’m really writing to suggest, if you’re not already doing so, buying bulk/wholesale dry goods. We buy all our dried beans, grains, nuts, dried fruit etc. etc. from Organic Matters http://www.omfoods.com . Twenty-five pounds of organic dried garbanzos (for under $50) makes enough hummus, felafel, chickpea curry, etc. for us for a year or more… and as mostly vegetarians we eat a lot of that stuff. Also, if you really get into baking bread with whole grains, try milling your own flour … the difference is amazing! We have this attachment for our mixer: http://pleasanthillgrain.com/grain-mill-kitchenaid-mixer which is going strong after 10 years.

  2. bitter cukes are no problem for pickling- in fact most pickling varieties are bitter. have fun with it, and if you want my pickle recipe, i’ll be happy to share or show you! thanks for writing about our blogs. i sent you an email, but i assume this is still the only way we can communicate.

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