Kitchen Savings: Eating for Dollars a Day

Reading Time: 3 minutes

fresh food illustration

 

Food is essential, but it’s sometimes the thing we take the most shortcuts on. Read these tips on how to save money on your food bill, and how to eat well too.

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The kitchen is arguably where we can waste or save the most money in our homes.

It seems like every day, there’s another story about some new food we all have to brace ourselves for ever-escalating prices.

Locally, my area’s had an outbreak of avian flu and poultry prices are about to skyrocket. Elsewhere, water shortages in California have avocado crops failing and record-high prices are expected as Mexican cartels muscle-in on the industry. Chocolate is the latest thing we’re being told will fall into global shortage.

Poor people who don’t cook stay poor?

A recent scandal occurred when a UK politician said a lack of cooking skills ensured the poor stayed poor as they kept buying more expensive prepared foods to compensate for their inability to cook.

I shared the original article that caused the outcry and my friends all weighed in it, saying it wasn’t just lack of cooking skills, it was lack of time, lack of access, a whole lotta lack that caused people to take shortcuts on food.

I agree with them — the issue really isn’t as simple as “if you cook, you will save money.” It devastates me that food subsidizing means it’s oftentimes cheaper for people to buy mass-prepared processed potatoes than to buy the real vegetable and cook from scratch. There’s something disturbingly wrong about that, but that’s the world we live in.

At other times, though, the processed version is not worth the money spent. When 2 cups of hummus costs you $4 versus being able to make it from scratch with double the end result for, say, $1.50, those “shortcuts” cripple us financially.

Kitchen savvy saves us all

I’ve written a couple of popular posts this fall — one on how to minimize your kitchen so you can get rid of unnecessary gear, resulting in less counter/cupboard clutter as well as making it easier to clean up and more efficient for cooking. The other popular post was on how to take control of your kitchen inventory so as to plan ahead for meals and cook what you’ve already got on-hand.

While I may disagree with the sentiment of  that British politician, I do believe cooking is among the most valuable skills we’ll ever learn. I’d rather spend $15 to make a great steak dinner at home than spend $60 to have one similar in a restaurant, because I can do it just as well as they can. Skills, baby.

When you cannot only cook well, but smartly, it’s amazing what you can be eating and enjoying at home on just a few dollars a day. That’s good for your soul, your life, your wallet, and your health.

So after you’ve organized your kitchen, cleared out the clutter, and made an inventory of what you’ve got in your kitchen, the next brightest thing for you to do is to download this incredible free cookbook written by Leanne Brown.

A recipe for savings

Leanne wrote the Good and Cheap cookbook as a Master’s thesis for her degree in Food Studies from NYU. She never imagined the life it would take on once done. She launched a Kickstarter fundraising bid to turn it into a paperback, and instead of raising her goal of $10,000, more than $144,000 came in, enabling her to print it for sale as well as make it available to non-profits at bottom-dollar prices.

The premise is simple: Eat real food for $4 a day. She wanted a cookbook that could empower people forced to live on food stamps, or families barely ekeing by in these tight times, and she’s done a simply incredible job of making her dream a reality.

You’re allowed to download it, share it, print it — anything you want, as long as you give Leanne credit where it’s due. After all, she’s earned it. At 172 pages, she’s got everything from French onion soup to dessert cobbler and “things on toast.” There’s an approximate cost-per-serving, and lots of helpful, healthful advice for taking charge of your finances and your meals.

Changes require change

With climate change, drought, and the end of artificially-cheap food upon us, making changes to how we use our kitchens, how we plan our meals, is arguably the most practical way to affect our budgets and will increasingly be the case as times change — whether it’s a party of one or a table for five.

In 2015, it’s time to rethink how you manage your kitchen. With a small food garden of your own, smarter buying decisions, and brilliant recipes and food planning like those provided by Leanne Brown, who knows how much you can affect your bottom line by? Wouldn’t you like to find out? Start today. Find a few recipes for things you have on hand, and get used to having more money in your bank.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.