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Benvenuti al Tutti!

Welcome to Luigi's Tastes of Italy

This blog is my small dedication to Italian cooking, and is abolutely 100% free of pretentiousness, complicated ingredients, or any effort to present Italian cuisine as anything other than it really is, very simple.

Hope you enjoy reading my posts and maybe trying out some of the recipes.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Living on a budget, or just plain not wasting money!

It amazes me that despite the financial turmoil, there are still huge numbers of people wasting hard earned money, and more importantly gambling with their families health by purchasing readymade meals, pre-prepared vegetables, and takeouts (takeaways) on a regular basis.

I wish people would stop and think before purchasing these, not only are they not friendly to the environment, because of the packaging, production costs, and food miles (transport costs). They are also extremely bad for your health.

Despite the blazen claims of many producsts which boast "Does not contain, artifical flavouring, colouring or preservatives", these do all to often contain huge amounts of hidden salt, and/or sugar. Neither of which are good for you!

Cooking on a budget however, could not really be easier, it is literally just a case of learning a few basics, buying the "essentials" and being imaginative and NOT wasting a single thing! Really, Do NOT throw away food! Ever! Stop it!

In the UK there are hordes of shoppers continually throwing away perfectly good food. I read recently that in the UK, the combined household waste consisting of perfectly edible fresh fruit, salad items, and vegetables is estimated at being several hundred tons annually, at a cost of millions of pounds. I am sure the exact same thing happens around the world.

Here are the few simple techniques which we employ, it is easily possible to save £20-30 ($40-60) upwards, a week, just by being slightly more prudent.

1. FORGET "best before" dates on vegetables.
It's just silly! Vegetables do not need best before dates. Just use your common sense. When possible, buy them loose, or from a fresh market. A Cucumber, in shrink-wrapped plastic, sitting on a supermarket shelf, with a best before date printed all over it, is the most absurd thing, I have ever seen.

2. Buy WHOLE Chickens.
Buying chicken pieces rather than whole, is an expensive bad habit, and a complete waste of money! To save some money, and get better value, buy whole chickens and cut them into pieces, turn the leftover carcasses into stock, or keep the carcass for making a broth. Once cooked you will be able to pick off lots of extra meat from the body. Perfectly fine, tasty, edible meat which would have been discarded. You can use this to make things like chicken fajitas, or as a filler to a chicken pie, no problem at all.

If you have any qualms over cutting up your own, youtube or videojug are full of videos showing you how to do it. Generally you will get two wings, two legs, two thighs, and one carcass (and not alot of waste). The portions can then be frozen, and used later.

3. Buy LOTS of Vegetables.
Vegetables are fantastic, they can be used for a huge range of things from soups, to curries. They are ideal for bulking out meals, and are basically far healthier for you anyway. Veggies are an economical shoppers friend, your larder should always contain lots of vegetables. If you have purchased to many, do not be scared of the freezer. Also any which are looking tired, can be used in stews, casseroles or can contribute towards making a vegetable stock.

4. DO NOT throw away stale bread.
Turn any slightly stale bread into breadcrumbs, or make Croutons for adding to delicious soups. Breadcrumbs can be used to coat things such as flattened out chicken or turkey fillets, or are a good natural 'filler' to add to things like meatballs or home made burgers (how delicious are they!).

5. MAKE a list, before you go shopping!
Avoid impulse buys! If something is on offer, buy more of it. However if you see something on offer, which is something you don't normally purchase. Avoid it!! Your not saving money, if your purchasing something you would not normally have.


Jelli Bean said...

Buy cheese as a chunk and grate it yourself, chop veggies if they're getting older and freeze in ziplock bags for soup bases, make your own bread, pasta, jams and granola. Just a few additional tips. I highly agree with you about food waste. Such an unfortunate truth.

Donna said...

Yes! I couldn't have said it better myself! Great Post. I may link this to my blog.

Country Mum said...

Another tip - buy in bulk not in small individual packages. For example, yoghurt in a large tub not snack size

Kim said...

I agree with you 100% on trying not to be wasteful. I loved all your tips and usually try to follow them. Meal planning is a big help :D

Joanne said...

I love these tips and am with you on your frustration with the public for spending tons of money on premade food. It is so much cheaper to buy first order ingredients and cook for yourself! ARRRGH.

Queen B. said...

* simply P E R F E C T post*

Micaela said...

Ciao Luigi e grazie per aver visitato il mio blog! è molto carino anche il tuo, a presto!

Velva said...

If you think the U.K. wastes food then the U.S. raises it to a new level. We waste a lot,we eat often the run. Americans are really trying to get back to basics when preparing meals. We are growing more food within urban gardens and developing relationships with our farmers. We are eating locally and composting! We are making progress!

Heidi said...

Great money saving ideas!

Sweet Charity said...

Totally agree with everything!
You know, it's getting to the point where I think Home Economics should be a compulsory course in high school... waaaaay too many people have no idea how to cook anything, or budget for food, which is why so many people throw away a ton of money on all of that pre-shredded, pre-cut, pre-cooked, pre-fabricated crap.

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