Culling Sustenence For Less

This post has been reprinted from the
Frugal Luxuries Food blog circa 2009.

Interesting and unusual ways to gather sustenance

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 
from my tiny garden are ice-chilled glasses of tea 
to refresh us on a hot summer’s day.
Here are a few 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 roasted chicken; 
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 
To keep a running tab. 
Round off to the highest 
amount to simplify.
I find this simple 
strategy invaluable 
in curbing 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 arein 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 offersintangible 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 

5. Consider joining a CSA: What is a CSA? According to Local Harvest (http://www.localharvest.org/csa/) 
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. 
Advantages for farmers:
* Get to spend time marketing 
their food early in the year, 
before their 16 hour days in the field begins
* 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
* 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 the ranchers. 
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. 
* 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.
* Smaller investment — 
Purchasing even a quarter of beef 
costs about $400-$700 
depending upon the 
quality of beef you buy.  
We've looked into 
grass fed beef, bought in 
quarters as opposed to halves, 
cost approximately $450-$500. 
* 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.

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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeSQmYK8uE4&eurl=http%3A%2F%2F  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 (http://www.neighborhoodfruit.com/home) 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 herbs.

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.

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The original "FRUGAL LUXURIES" ~ Based on the books by Tracey McBride ~ Established 1993

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"FRUGAL LUXURIES: Simple Pleasures to Enhance Your Life and Comfort Your Soul" was written by Tracey McBride and published by Bantam Books, NY, in 1997. It was the first of its genre to synergize the elements of simplicity, frugality and gracious living.

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