So we’re now in October and having gone through most of this crazy, unusual year of Covid weirdness, for many, folk are now facing a time of reduced incomes. in the UK, many will have come off the government furlough scheme and have been made redundant. Saving money is a hot topic more than ever before.
I came from the hospitality & retail industries and seeing on Linked In every other post of how folk are sadly made redundant makes me really feel for the families, livelihoods and careers represented there. I know when my work stopped in March it was a shock to the system and I literally felt like I was grieving for 2 industries.
Thankfully, I have thrown myself into the garden, growing vegetables, creating recipes & foraging to keep myself occupied. I am also pivoting my career to work on being a nutritional adviser and studying for a nutrition diploma. It will not be a degree, as that will take 3-4 years and a big student loan ( I'm not a fan of debt) so hey ho - I am making the most of a crazy time!
I'm so grateful for the encouragement in my Cultivate Life Facebook group, how folk who have known me have been saying its something I've done most of my life! 'Eat more this or that for this condition I'm always suggesting!'...That has been a way of life for me & I often get asked what food is good for what?! (Think I get this trait from my mum!!) so now to work towards some sort of qualification is proving to be the best ever decision for me. I'm loving learning about how nutrition works for our energy, mood and bodies!
Well, I digress - I'm here to talk about saving money and eating well, recently, I talked with a friend about my new career in advising on nutrition and he said to me, “The difference with you, Yuki, is that you will help people make it affordable which a lot of nutritionists don't seem to know much about!” An interesting comment there- firstly, I'm not here to knock nutritionists ( after all we're in the same family!) but I get his point, often to be well and eat well there is an underlying thought that ingredients have to be expensive or have funny names and the goal of eating well can be expensive or unreachable.
I guess my angle on it is my upbringing it wasn't till I was an adult that I realized that we ate like kings as kids ( but clearly didn't dress like kings, think that's why I studied fashion design!) We knew how to eat fresh & grow our own & saving money was a by product of this lifestyle.
So to cut a long story short, I'm good at eating well and saving money. It‘s a lifestyle for me. Saving money doesn't have great kudos at times, often folk can think it feels like restriction or a sense of lack, but now watching pennies is a more relevant subject & necessary as more uncertainty lies ahead. All I can say is, if I save money on food which enables me to be free to do other things then that's a lifestyle win for me ( and my family!) So here goes, some money saving & eat well tips:
1) Grow your own herbs and vegetables
This is an easy one, do you know those herbs that you can get in the supermarket in pots? well they're great for growing as a window sill plant and herbs are a great source of micro nutrients. Reshooting celery & spring onions make in a glass of water makes these plants last longer- I once had perpetual green onions for a month as I kept this in a glass of water in the fridge! Did you know that sage is a fantastic one for sore throats?
It's highly antibacterial so a few sage leaves in some hot water makes a refreshing tea and will help us in the winter season. No space? No worries even pots of pea shoots are easy to grow indoors. I have plants indoors and out, some plants even help air quality so is a huge win!
A simple basil plant along with a chunk of Parmesan and a handful of nuts can make a delicious pesto that one can have tossed in some spaghetti. Nutrients are all there! Easy to make too. Other things that are easy to grow are salad leaves, tomatoes although these will need to be brought indoors over winter!
2) Use up all you cook - have a place for leftovers!
I'm a big fan of using bones in cooking, bone broth has become trendy now and we hear more of the nutritional benefits of collagen & other vitamins. Growing up, we often had bone broth every week, ( our dentist asked us what we ate as a family as all our teeth were really strong! funny but a true story!) I recently used up a left over leg of lamb in a stew. When the roast was eaten, I took all the bones and put it in a bag in the freezer, then then next time I got a pack of stewing lamb for £3.50, I put the left overs and lamb in a big pot with tomatoes chickpeas, mixed beans & paprika and made the yummiest stew that in actual fact cost me only about £7-8 that covered us meals for a few days! The beauty was the flavor was all there. And to top up saving on time and energy i literally bunged it all in an insta pot (can use a pressure cooker) for 20 mins then time & energy saved too! for a delicious stew
Vegetable scraps can be used for stock, potato skins can be used for crisps, and in a past blog I showed folk how to make orange cordial out of orange skins so no food waste there and guess what? Peels are full of nutrients! It’s been rewarding how readers messaged me pictures of their yummy cordials!
3) Learn some foraging basics
This has become a game changer for me, not only is it such a great family thing to do but it helps us get outside and connect with nature which is so therapeutic and great for all around general well being! Leaning a few basics on wild nettles leaves and seeds, hawthorn berries, elderberries, plums, cherries and sloes has got us as a family to be more connected to the great outdoors. The food we produce with these great wild goods are so nutritionally packed that it does add another dimension to delicious food and eating well. I have blogged previously about how to begin foraging and I do advise on attending on a local course of some sort, It would be an investment of a lifetime, I've only been on 2 foraging classes and already it has paid dividends not to mention saved me money! Foraging has enabled me to make elder flower champagne, dandelion honey, elderberry cordial, hawthorn berry brandy and ketchup, wild garlic pesto and capers. Apple and blackberry fruit leathers. The list goes on it’s all such yummy wholesome food too! check out my insta on @cultivatethelife
4) Support local food waste charities and organisations
Where I live in the local community cafe, we are blessed to have a community fridge. These are not food banks, they are places where food suppliers and supermarkets supply left over surplus food so that folk can pick up and use. These are free for the sole purpose of reducing food waste. Often folk think its a food bank and rather save these food items for folk who cannot afford it. These community fridges are there for everyone and anyone, no questions asked and no judgments made. The key reason they are there is to help food businesses reduce food waste.
Other apps like Too good to go and Olio are great ways of supporting local businesses and tackling the problem of food waste. Often cafes, bakeries grocery stores will have surplus food that otherwise will be discarded and for a reduced price often in a form of surprise bag, they can be bought for a low price. Foods can range from artisan breads to sushi to groceries, why not support a local food stall near you and help cut food waste? It will save you money too!
5) Organize your fridge & larder
Since I have learnt foraging, pickling and fermenting are skills that have come with the territory. We now have food, how do we store it? How do we use up what we have first? Do we have a system? We have started having meal planners again not to write down what we are cooking so much but who's doing the cooking! And the best part is, we have a mid week ‘eat left overs‘ day.
If we have over cooked on a certain day then that mid week ( usually Wednesday) is the go to day to eat up all those bits of food in containers and the dinner table looks like tapas or dim sum. It all adds to the atmosphere and the feel good factor about not wasting food is a plus of course! Another one on storage- freezer is my go to space, food that can’t be eaten in time can be frozen ( most things!) I also have pickled vegetables, pickled eggs and made other treats that add to flavor dishes which can free up fridge space.
We are all in agreement in our house of whatever needs to be eaten first gets eaten! This is where home pickled wild garlic capers or dried herbs and chutneys can all add flavour to what ever we are eating!
6) Shop smart
I used to work in Harrods and I'll never forget seeing some ex colleagues turn up on certain times of the day. It was like clockwork. And guess why that was? There used to be big discounts at certain times of the day when all food at food counters were reduced.
This was quite clever as it gave a taste of great food at a fraction of the price.
Well, I know a number of us like a bargain or two. Also knowing the difference between a 'use by' label and a 'best before' label is a good tip here. So a use by label means you have to consume that food by that date advertised. A best before label means you can eat after that date but food colour or quality will be past it's optimum best. Some foods are good in the freezer, if so this is a great way of saving pennies.
I do this a lot with meat, hubby now makes his own Biltong ( South African dried meat) which is a big cost cutter in itself and tastes amazing so I'm always buying steaks when on sale. Breads are another one that freeze well, in fact we store most of our bread in the freezer, with a good toaster, sliced bread can be prepared super quick these days! Other ways of using good shop bargains is also to prepare and store in the freezer. Apples, fruits and berries are great for this! Other ways of preserving food is salting, preserving in alcohol, sugar in jams these are great ways to preserve foods and make foods go further.
Hope this little list has been helpful, Feel free to join my Cultivate Life facebook group and show us any tips you have tried out. Hope to see you in there!