I have an issue with articles like this on http://www.health24.com/dietnfood/Diet_basics/15-1168-1173,46224.asp that give you guidelines on “how to buy healthy food on a budget” and, while I can sympathize with people who are in such dire straits that they often only manage 1 meal a day and their kids have to get sandwiches provided by a feeding scheme at school, the media only seem to focus on 2 extremes…the very rich and the very poor. The tricky part comes in is when you are a person who loves cooking and baking but apparently can’t call yourself a foodie because of your lack of experience in the food industry, the fact that you have margarine in your fridge or because you don’t drink wine (I hear those gasps of horror and the thumps as many people faint – but when you recover, I hope you’ll continue reading).
Every now and then a fellow blogger will post something like this http://blogs.food24.com/sous-chef/2012/07/16/chicken-parcels-feed-4-for-under-r30-00/ and I start thinking, “Now this is what I’m talking about”. Taking advantage of specials is my sport of choice and I often get to try things I wouldn’t usually when I dig out a pack of camembert out of the bottom of a after 4pm trolley at my local Checkers. (After 4pm everyday, Checkers puts out trolleys in their fruit n veg, bakery, convenience foods and occasionally cheese sections with items that haven’t sold for the day for up to 50% off).
It’s because of my lack of money that I have had to explore baking my own bread and cakes instead of buying. I’m hovering on the brink of making my own nougat, Turkish delight and marshmallows as soon as the mini panic attack I get every time I pick up my newly purchased sugar thermometer from www.yuppiechef.com , subsides. So there is a positive side to being the sole breadwinner. It forces you out of your comfit zone and you get very money savvy about where to get the best deals. Never will you see me putting an item in a trolley without checking the price per gram/mil and I often work my recipes around what I could/couldn’t afford.
I am fully aware how important good ingredients are to a dish but I cannot justify frying my toasted cheese sandwich in a “blob of butter” when spreading marg on the outside of bread and frying it in a pan that has been sprayed with “Spray n Cook” does the job perfectly well. And when you have kids who love toasted cheddar sarmies (crusts off please), it just doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. And while I don’t buy butter, I do buy Corden Bleu baking margarine (?) that is currently on special at Checkers for R8,99 and use this when making pastry and biscuits.
I do understand that one day when I blog about the half-price brie and apple toasted sandwich on slices of ciabatta that I got in the bargain trolley at Checkers the day before for R6 that margarine is just not going to do the trick but in between blog posts, I am just a mom, trying to feed a family healthy, nutritious filling meals so we can save our money for fun experiences like ice-skating and horse riding.
P.S. I really hope that this confession doesn’t get me ousted from the blogging community and that you will share you cost saving hints and tips with me 🙂