frugal cooking

How to be Frugal

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You have seen the reports in the news about the rising cost of ……………well, everything really. The very fact that you are reading this, proves that you have considered your outgoings and realising you don’t get as much for your ‘buck’ as you used to, that you need to find ways to save or make cut backs.  Perhaps changes in your family income, for what ever the reason……….frozen salary base for the past two years ..benefit ‘lag’ effect between redundancy and the state giving you any form of financial assistance…or just the knowledge that its probably going to get worse before it gets better.


I cant deny that there are degrees of frugality.  I was reading an article only today about a family who have seen their weekly budget (based on foods in the UK brought in British Stores) rise from £80 to £110 per week.  That’s a 37.5% rise.  However looked at another way, if you cant find the extra £30 a week, then if your original shop was £80 and everything has gone up by 37.5% in real terms you can only put approximately  half your shopping in the basket.  But what do you cut out?

How is it we have come to the situation, that as one of the wealthiest nations on the planet, we have to hand out food parcels to our own people.  A nation where tens of thousands of people can’t afford to eat every day.

To my mind living a frugal life is about taking care with your money, living on less, living cheaply, making wise decisions using money saving tips and living on a budget.


It is about consuming less, about focusing on the positive things you can do with the money you have, making new dishes for your family  ‘mixing it up’ a little trying new recipes or versions of well loved family favourites , buying seasonal meats, fruit and veg.  Buy British and stretch out the meat by adding bulking ingredients.


Frugal Foods however is not about starving yourself or starving yourself from pleasure.  I’m not saying this has to be a way of life…for life.  Your circumstances will change, but I think that its beginning to be accepted that across the nation we have developed a love of excess and this is unsustainable. …that our love of meat has to be curtailed and we need to consider the cuts we previously avoided.

Personally I won’t be shopping for offal, liver or Kidneys, I was a vegetarian for years and I just cant stomach some foods, but I am experimenting with cheaper cuts of meat and chicken other than breast and learning to make the meat I do buy go further and last longer.

Try and feel ‘abundant; whilst being Frugal.  Love the dishes you make.  Congratulate yourself.  Work on making sides for next to nothing.  Potato Rosti’s take a little preparation, cost very little, but feel luxurant and are considerably cheaper to cook than a jacket potato if you don’t already have the oven on for other reasons.

Being frugal is about prioritising.  Don’t tell me, after you have spent £20 on wine this week that you cant live due to the rising cost of food.  Instead reward yourself for feeding your family well and frugally for a week, with a little treat, what ever floats your boat If you stick with your frugal plan you will feel more in control.


Try incorporating some of the following in to your life.  Revisit this page frequently to remind yourself of these ideas and see if over time you can employ more and more of them.


Low cost tips for keeping the cost of your weekly shop down

  • Make a shopping list – and only buy what you know you will need over the next seven days.
  • Avoid brand names.  Whereever possible take advantage of supermarket basics/economy items
  • Processed food isnt healthy or cheap.  Factor ‘quality’ in to your thinking, and by cooking your own food you will know whats in it!
  • Shop with your ‘eyes open’ – at eye/grab level you will find the higher value items.  Check out shelf edge prices carefully, you may find that two smaller jars are cheaper than one larger one.
  • Don’t ‘buy one get one free’ if the free one will go in the bin.  Just take the one you need or share by giving the extra one to friend or neighbour.
  • A bargain isn’t a bargain if you spend more than the saving on petrol to get to the shop to buy it. Dont forget to factor in the handling and delivery costs for items purchased on line, but also remember that if you have no selfcontrol, by getting the supermarket to deliver what you have already picked – you havent also picked up 10 additional items which you suddenly decided you couldnt live with out
  • Use local suppliers (butcher/greengrocer etc) they are often cheaper and use less packaging. Consider buying at farmers markets and local/doorstep sellers for vegetables, fruit and eggs.
  • Unbeliveably, in the UK we still throw away a third of the food we buy (not in this house we dont!), dont be over reliant on the date stamp – use your nose more
  • Consider frozen food its often cheaper and it doesnt go off in the same way fresh does.



  • Make a weekly menu – carefully plan your meals for the week, ensuring that any more expensive recipe specific ingredients (such as a tub of cream) are utilised enough over the week to use up the whole tub within the use by date.  Do consider doubling up a recipe (batch cooking) and freezing one for another day.Consider factoring in a ‘freezer meal day’ so that any short coded ingredients sourced can be utilised on the day of purchase rather than the freezer meal planned
  • Focus on recipes that utilise fruit and vegetables which are in season.  Dont forget that in the UK Fish is also seasonal.  For example Cod is only caught in the winter and line caught bass has an April to October season.
  • Try cheaper cuts of meat and fish.  Try asking the fishmonger for ideas for cooking what is cheaper today.
  • Bulk out expensive meat with pulses and add beans to stews and casseroles.  Ensure that you make your ingredients go further
  • Source, keep and utilise coupons, but don’t buy things you don’t need just to use up the coupons.
  • When buying ingredients for a recipe think about what items you can swap in for cheaper versions.  Chocolate chips can be, for example, be swapped for small chunks of economy supermarket branded chocolate. When baking use Margarine for baking rather than butter.


  • Utilise left overs, be creative, most leftovers will last two days in the fridge (exceptions are fish seafood and rice) and can be made in to a tasty snack.  Jacket potato toppings, sandwich fillings, stir fry, soup – the options are wide and varied.  Sponge cake makes the base of a trifle.  Yesterdays muffins will ‘recover’ if you put them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds
  • Bulk buying to get a lower price isnt a cost saving measure if you dont use up the entire volume
  • If a Recipe makes more than you need or can eat, freeze the excess – its good to have something in reserve.
  • .

If you are to have a social gathering which involves a meal, consider having it at home, as it remains by the far cheapest way of eating socially.


  • Grow your own now is an ideal time to plan what you want to grow for yourselves next year



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