Culling Sustenence for Less

and unusual ways to save on that delicious stuff of life…


George Bernard Shaw pointed out

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food” and I heartily agree!

As a confirmed Foodie, I find a type of romance in raw ingredients.

Like Michaelangelo saw his masterpiece David inside a block of marble, I see berries and envision jams, juices, cobblers and pies.

Nutty whole wheat flour, water, yeast and a bit of sugar meld to become crusty loaves of homemade bread,

the mints, verbena and lemon geraniums in my tiny garden are ice-chilled glasses of tea to refresh us on a hot summer’s day.

Here are a few unique sources and classic strategies for keeping faithful to your food budget!

1. Eat by design: Establish a food budget and then design a weekly, bi weekly or monthly menu. Don’t assume you have to buy everything you need. Shop your pantry, refrigerator and freezer as you compose your menu and plan your meals around what you already have in the kitchen. Remember to include leftovers when planning your menu. In fact, PLAN some of your leftovers for use in future meals.
For example:
Homemade chicken tacos and chicken soup are made from Sunday’s roast chicken meal; while homemade tostadas and white bean hummus are created from the leftovers of a large pot of Navy Bean soup you prepared for your card party on Friday.

2. Create a shopping strategy: Start by keeping your debit card, credit card, and/or check book at home. Bring along only the cash amount you have allotted for food provisions, as well as a pen and paper or calculator (I use the one on my cell ‘phone) to keep a running tab of your purchases. (To simplify things, I round off to the highest amount.) I find this simple strategy invaluable in curbing my impulse spending.

3. Eat by the seasons: Take advantage of the opportunities to transform the local harvest of each season into delicious foods. Taking a cue from the past, I prepare seasonal foods while they are in abundance—in order to conserve time and money, as well as to store away delicious treats for future enjoyment.

For a list of what foods are in seasons when check this link:

4. Buy foods grown locally: Not only is it often less expensive and environmentally friendly (i.e., very little shipping and/or storing required) it is often more nutritious due to the fact you are getting it from the farm to your table in less time. As well, it’s a pleasure to rediscover the bounty available to us from local farmer’s markets and farms.
Knowing what foods are in season in your area, and the people who grow and or craft it personally, transforms the food from mere sustenance into a community building/bonding even that offers intangible as well as tangible rewards for all concerned.
On top of that, you are keeping your money within your own community.
You can find individually owned local bakeries, coffee shops, breweries, ethnic food stores and vegetable markets by consulting the phone book, community center, or local message boards—actual message boards or online sources such as Craig’s list. To find farmer’s markets and farms near you check out Local Harvest .

5. Consider joining a CSA: What is a CSA? According to Local Harvest ( Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.
Here are the basics:
A farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer.
In brief...

Advantages for farmers:

* Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin

* Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow

* Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

Advantages for consumers:

* Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits

* Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking

* Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season

* Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm – even veggies they've never been known to eat

* Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

Developing that personal relationship with local farmers can go one step further with a harvest box from a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. In this case, farmers will sell you a share in their produce for the growing season at a flat rate, and you’ll get a box each week with whatever is freshest on their farm. CSA’s have grown in popularity in recent years, and many farms have long waiting lists.

Some people go in on harvest boxes together to save money, and for those who can afford the investment up front, it ensures that you’ll be able to eat your veggies all year long. Some farms even have an installment payment plan or plans for low-income folks who are interested.

It may be too late to join up this year, but it’s never too late to get to know your local farmers, and when sign up time rolls around in the spring, you’ll be on a first-name basis with them.

6. Carnivores Can Buy Beef by the Side or Quarter: Growing up in a frugal family of six (four children two adults) my parents made a habit of buying beef by the side, not only to save money but to ensure a high quality meat source. According to An increasing number of foodie carnivores are ordering grass-fed beef straight from local farmers. Here's why: The practice directly supports local farmers with a vested interest in taking care of the environment. Unlike grain and corn feed, grass requires no fossil fuel for transport. The regrowth of grazed grass removes carbon monoxide from the air. The bonus? It’s often less expensive per pound.

The advantages of buying in bulk include:

* Superior quality meat — Grocery-store meat is aged 5-7 days. Meat purchased from a local source is generally aged 14-21 days. (Note that not everyone prefers the taste of aged meat.)

* Uniformity of product — Commercial ground beef is often produced using meat from dozens of animals. When you buy a side, the ground beef is produced from a single animal, which minimizes the risk of contamination.

* Support of local business — I like the fact that buying beef from a local rancher allows me to support him, and to support the meat packer that processes the animal.

* Constant costing — Because you’re buying your meat all at once, it’s easy to budget your costs for an extended period.

* Fewer trips to the grocery store — Plus you no longer have to plan your meals around what’s on sale.

* Meat is packed for freezing — If you buy large quantities at the grocery store, you need to repack the meat to freeze it. When purchase a side of beef, this is done for you.

* Excellent pricing — Buying a side of beef can save you money over regular grocery store prices. However, it is possible to save more at the grocery store by watching for sales.

The advantages of buying beef at the supermarket are:

* Less storage space required — When you buy your meat in small quantities, as you need it, you don’t need a spare freezer.

* You can obtain the best possible pricing — If you stock up on your favorite cuts during sales, you can obtain the best possible pricing.

* You can pick your cuts of meat — If you only use certain cuts of meat, a grocery store is your best option because you can select the cuts you like. When you buy in bulk, you receive a variety of cuts, some of which you may not use.

* Smaller investment — Purchasing even a quarter of an animal costs about $300. You can go to the grocery store and pick up a pound of hamburger for $2.50 on special.

* Less work — To buy meat at your grocery store, you simply select it from the refrigerator case. To buy a side of beef, you need to find a source, perhaps find other beef-lovers to split the cost, transport the meat, and find storage space.

The advantages of purchasing a side of beef outweigh the disadvantages for me. You may disagree.

Just how does one go about buying a side of beef? Learn more by checking out this article at .

7. Reinstate Home Cooked Meals: If you don't already know how, teach yourself to cook. Experiment with one new recipe a week, or a month. In a world that touts as desirable that which is quick, easy, or new, there is pleasure in discovering the forgotten art of simple cookery. By sharing simple meals prepared at home, we transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

8. Make your own groceries: Home Food Canning: Home Food Canning holds an appeal similar to that of baking. It's relatively easy and often very inexpensive. As well, it can become an enjoyable, productive and money saving experience shared by family and friends. If you have yet to fill a jar with something fresh from the earth and enjoyed it at a later date. Click on the link below to see a video on just how simple home canning can be.

It will de-mystify this mundane miracle and put you on the path to your own canned goodness.



Swap Neighborhood Fruit! Another often overlooked but clever way to whittle down a food budget and eat locally is to swap Neighborhood Fruit! There is a website devoted to putting neighbors with overabundant fruits together with those who could use it. Neighborhood Fruit ( is an organization designed to help you find backyard fruit and share your bounty with your neighbors. They believe that cities resplendent with edibles are better places to live, and sharing with neighbors is a great way to get there. Through their mediated online platform, you can find fruit in any quantity you want. We hope you let others know about it.

Purchase food in its simplest form
. Steer away from prepackaged convenience foods. Keep in mind that any time you buy a food that has been diced, mixed, cut peeled, washed , chopped, spiced, spliced, or pureed by someone else, and you will be paying an average of 100 percent more for it.

Compare different forms of food—fresh, frozen, canned and dried. The serving cost of a canned of condensed soup, for example, will be about one-third the cost of the water added variety. Fresh apples in season are almost always less expensive than canned apples.

Grow Something Edible: The rewards of growing your own food are almost endless, but include: less time spent driving to the store, fresh ingredients on hand at all times, an understanding of the seasons, which can help you eat better tasting food (see #2 below), and carbon sequestration in its most delicious form, food.

No matter what your living situation, it is possible for you to grow some food at a very low cost. Even if you have a tiny room or an apartment you can grow sprouts and or simple chives.

Feeling more ambitious? Consider Community Gardening for yourself, or split a plot with neighbors and friends. It’s a great way to raise some edibles while socializing.