We have been away on a lovely but money guzzling holiday for ten days. Now that we are home again, it’s time to cut back. What is an Elastic Mom to do?
The most flexible part of any budget is the food bill. There are many ways to save money here. Cooking everything from scratch is a start. Forget about buying any pre-made sauces, condiments or ready meals. I try to buy pure basic ingredients and make everything from scratch. From bread to dips and pasta sauces, cakes and all my meals. Frozen and canned vegetables are very expensive and it is far better to pick or buy whatever is in season and going for a song and freeze or preserve it at home. It also helps that I have a vegetable patch, chickens, a beekeeping husband, a cow and we live on a farm. I know that living in suburbia makes it harder, but USE WHAT YOU HAVE still stands.
Elastic Moms plan their meals from what they have in the house before rushing out to buy anything. For example, take my menu for this week. First I peeked into garden, freezer and pantry, then I planned our meals.
I have eggs from our chickens, some mieliemeel (corn meal), flour, sugar, farm honey, bags of picked and frozen apricots, a bag of oats that I was able to buy for an excellent price and milk from the farm. The milk and cream will be turned into butter, yoghurt, cream cheese, buttermilk and also used fresh.
So I plan to make scrambled eggs on toast, apricot honey and mint smoothies, muffins, mieliemeel porridge, flapjacks with yoghurt, honey and fresh grapes, poached eggs, and some homemade muesli with the oats.
We have half a loaf of frozen bread, plenty of eggs, a half block of cheese, vegetables in the garden and fridge, two cans of tuna fish, some pasta supper leftovers, farm milk, lentils in the pantry as well as quite a few jars of jams, preserves and pickles.
I will bake bread, and some lunches I will serve are leftover pasta with salad followed by jam on toast, tuna salad, summer vegetable quiche, lentil burgers with roasted vegetables, homemade cream cheese and pickles on bread, garden brinjal dip, and maybe a curried spinach and egg salad or a homemade soup.
In the freezer, I have, amongst other things, a meal of boston baked beans, some kudu mince from my kind brother-in-law, and lots of tomatoes and tomato sauces from the summer. Then there is everything else that I have mentioned already.
I will make some lovely dinners: reheated boston beans on mashed potatoes with green beans and gem squash from the garden; eggs and leftover beans on hot fresh bread; chilled cucumber soup with homemade bread and an apricot crumble; Babotie (South African curried mince dish) with rice, lentil dhal, chutney, cucumber and tomato; Spinach and homemade cream cheese on my made-from-scratch pizza or pasta; Defrosted tomato sauce and tuna on rice with vegetables on the side. My husband will provide supper on Friday night as that is our Special Night tradition.
There is a packet of popcorn in the pantry just waiting to be popped. There are plenty of grapes on our verandah vine. The prickly pears are fruiting, the walnuts are falling and there are pomegranates for the picking. Once I have baked bread there are jams, honey and marmite for toast, and if my children feel so inclined, they are welcome to bake anytime.
So there you have it, delicious meals, healthy, home grown and homemade and my shopping list for the week consists of two lightbulbs, a jar of peanut butter, some cleaning products, and that’s it. I might even make some of the cleaning products from scratch too, but that’s another blog.