Friday, 7 February 2014

Day 7 of Extremely Frugal February - I'm Steaming!

Day 7 of 28 - No cash spends at all.


On the seventh day of February, someone must have said, 'let the sun shine'... and it did, in between rain and hail and then eventually for most of the afternoon. The washing machine went on, the laundry went out on the line and several hours later came back in again, just ever so slightly drier than it was when it came out the machine!

I won't keep posting all the price break-downs of our daily meals as I have been cooking and eating the same way for years and most of the prices are already on the blog somewhere. On average, I spend an average of £1 per person per day on groceries and find this to be sufficient by the time I have bartered or exchanged Frugaldom surplus and used up any affiliate or friend referral payments throughout the year. I know that if a chicken costs £5 that I need to get at least 5 or 6 meals and a pot of soup out of it. Cheese can no longer be looked upon as a snack food (it needs to be part of a main meal) and I certainly cannot bake with butter on a regular basis - it's mosty 25p tinned margarine or reduced buttery spread, depending on what's available. Even that is becoming expensive!

The biggest difficulty I have in maintaining the £1 per person per day budget is in ensuring we consume sufficient fruit and vegetables in our diet and that's where I need to get very creative. With no immediate access to regular supplies of fresh fruit from shops, we are more reliant on vegetables and home grown fruit, like rhubarb, apples, plumbs and berries, plus dried fruit like sultanas and raisins. I try to add extra dried fruit into any biscuits I bake, we love raisin bread and I prefer to have turnip rather than just potatoes. White cabbage is fairly cheap and a whole cabbage goes a long way, so getting the opportunity of 3 for £1 can't be missed. Just now we are eating cabbage on a regular basis, but I also make the most of frozen vegetables whenever I get the chance to buy some. You can usually get up to a kilo of those for around £1.

This year, I have been very extravagant and have ordered several types of seed potatoes, including heritage varieties, and some onion sets. The garlic is still progressing well and I have several packs of seeds sitting waiting to be planted as soon as the worst of the winter is past.

Based on the 80g per serving fruit or veg theory of the 5-a-day, we need to consume 400g of fresh fruit, vegetables and pulses per person per day, excluding potatoes, as these don't count. Beans count, so we should keep a good stock for both this purpose and for their protein content, likewise with lentils for curry and soup-making. Otherwise, the more fruit, veg and herbs I can grow, the less I need to buy, but it still amounts to the best part of 300kg of 5-a-day foodstuffs per year just for this Frugaldom household of 2. I think it sounds just as big a challenge to consume that amount of food as it does to grow it.

This being an extremely frugal month, I am trying to eat from my store cupboards again, hoping to reduce the amount that needs to be moved before I can progress to the next step of my home décor project - making a mini bar/refreshments unit for entertaining friends! I have allocated myself a special celebratory budget of £20 for this - pure extravagance! :)

For dinner tonight I has a turnip, some red and white cabbage and some more 'Nile' mince to use up, so the diced turnip went on one tier of the steamer, cabbage on the next and mince with a couple of handfuls of sweetcorn in a glass bowl in the top tier - this cooking method greatly cuts down on energy use and actually costs less than keeping the stove blazing hot enough to do the same job. Homemade apple and sultana pie (compliments of last night's visitors) for pudding and, as one might expect, served with instant custard.


Usual 'waste not, want not' approach to vegetable peelings applies and we now have one additional method of recycling these after a friend's sow had 14 piglets! This little lot will be heading to mummy piggy very soon!

Before I forget, I have a porridge update!

I decided to read the side of the porridge pack this morning and it states that a portion is only 30g! My pricing is for 50g portions but when I weighed them they are actually only 45g. This is quite worrying, as I was thinking we were only consuming about 10% above the recommended serving when, in actual fact, we are consuming an extra 50%! I will try to cut down, thus further reducing the costs per serving, but there's no way would my Jack Spratt housemate survive on a 30g serving, that is just crazy! On the other hand, if we did stick to the recommendation, it would mean getting 33 bowls of porridge from a 1kg bag of oats costing 75p. Now that's what I call frugal food!

NYK, Frugaldom

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