Frugally Food

Ten Dollars of Fun

Jul
13

Recently I was at a birthday party for a one year old child and he received an incredible quantity of birthday presents. One present was more grand than the next. By the end of it he was surrounded by hundreds of dollars worth of toys and the only thing that he was interested in was the helium balloon that kept going up and down. One helium balloon kept his attention for a good twenty minutes. The only other thing he was interested in was the chocolate cake.

However it is NOT necessary to spend a lot of money on presents.  Here is what you can get for $10 that a small child would really like.

The most popular present I ever got a one year old was a rubber ball that looked like an ordinary, run of the mill, rubber ball until you bounced it on the floor…at which point the centre of it would light up with a million different coloured lights. This thing looked like a disco ball from outer space. It was amazing! And do you know that one year old was the biggest hit at his day care with this incredible bouncing ball. All the other mothers wanted to know where he got it from. Total cost for a rubber ball that lights up like crazy and will make a one year old the most rad person in the whole world: $2.00!

In case you can’t find one of those insane bouncing balls (and they’re hard to find…believe me a lot of mothers were looking for them!), you can get a bubble kit that will make those really big bubbles that kids go crazy for, for only $1.50!

Really cute picture books for kids can be had for two to three dollars.

And a bag of jellybeans that the one year old will love (but his parents will not) only costs $1.00

Oh and finally, a helium balloon is all of $1.00!

So we are up to a whole lot of fun that will keep a one year old busy (and popular) for a long time and we still have only spent $8.50!

What about you?  What is your favourite low cost present that you got for a youngster that he or she just loved?

Minimalism and Frugality

Jun
26

Today I sent a guest post to Miss Minimalist about my journey to minimalism which was definitely an incremental process.  The biggest motivating factors were often moves from place to place and the unwillingness to pack yet another box full of stuff that I would never use.

Through this journey I discovered that minimalism and frugality naturally go hand in hand.  It is amazing how much money you can save when you don’t feel the need to buy anything.  And it is wonderful how that one-two punch of minimalism and frugality opens the door to so many more possibilities in your life.

If you want to write instead of working at a mind numbing, soul sucking job then it’s easier to save money to build up a fund.  And the money you save goes a lot further because your expenses are very low.

Some people pursue other dreams like being full time parents.  Others want to work on environmental causes or travel the world.

Whatever your dreams, they are easier to achieve through minimalism and frugality.  Luckily there are plenty of sources of inspiration and advice for that journey.  Miss Minimalist is one of them.  And of course you’ve already found me here at Frugally Food!

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Serving Size

Nov
14

I recently saw a poster that showed recommended serving sizes for various types of food.

For example for cereal, rice or pasta the serving size should be about 1 cup which is about the size of a baseball.  And for beef, chicken or pork the serving size should be 3 to 4 oz or about the size of a deck of cards.

I can’t remember the last time I went to a restaurant where these guidelines were met.  The last time I ordered French fries, a mountain of potatoes appeared before me, easily 3 cups worth (not the 2/3 cup which is recommended for starchy foods).  Plate sizes and the quantity of food on them just keeps increasing and increasing at restaurants.

Which is yet another reason to cook at home…you can control the serving size, the salt and fat content and all for a lot less money than you would spend at restaurants.  (Have I convinced you yet?)  

For the times when you do eat out, consider eating a smaller amount and get a doggie bag for the rest (in some places that would be enough for two more meals!)

So here is a list of the recommended serving sizes:

  • Cereal, rice or pasta    1 cup   (the size of a baseball)
  • Beef, chicken or pork   3 to 4 oz  (size of a deck of cards)
  • Lunch meat, sliced cheese  2 to 3 oz  (size of 2 to 3 CDs)
  • Bread, potatoes, starchy foods   2/3 cup   (size of tennis ball)
  • Milk, yogurt, soup    8 fl oz  (size of paper coffee cup)
  • Beans, hot cereal  ½ cup ( size of 2 golf balls)
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Gleaning

Oct
18

The fall is the time of the year to practise the fine art of gleaning, otherwise known as harvesting wild foods from public land or from the yards of willing neighbours.

Usually in any neighbourhood there are more than enough crabapples to keep all the gleaners and any resident deer happy.  There are so many varieties of crabapple around that it is impossible to know from one tree to the next which will be the best.  A little trial and error is in order and definitely worth it.  Some of the best applesauce I’ve ever had came from lovely pink fleshed, thin skinned crabapples.

Saskatoons are another great gleaning find but much more rare since the location of any saskatoon bushes are usually a closely guarded family secret.  You of course need to know what you are doing.  Don’t eat anything unless you are 100% sure of what it is.

Nowadays the age old art of gleaning has gone high tech and there are organizations in a lot of cities that connect people who want free produce with people who have fruit bearing trees on their property with no intention of using the fruit.  A little labour on the part of the gleaner and voila everyone is happy.   I’ve just finished a breakfast of oatmeal and gleaned fruit from a pear tree and boy did it taste good.

And not much is better in the middle of a snowstorm than opening the freezer and heating up some homemade applesauce.  Makes you feel like summer is not too far away.

 

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Back to my Roots

Oct
13

As I said in the very first post of this blog – 40 posts ago – Wow! already – the number one way to save money on your food budget is to cook your meals yourself.

The message doesn’t seem to be reaching anyone however judging by the number of frozen dinners I see littering the garbage at work.  I think I am the only person who brings home-cooked meals for lunches (one guy said he can’t schedule meetings with me shortly after lunchtime because the smells make him too hungry lol).  But I digress.

So people still need to receive the message that it is possible to make healthy, home made meals that are less expensive than anything you can buy at a fast food joint.  To that end I am working on a cookbook that will help people do just that.

In order to write the most useful cookbook I can I would like to ask people where the stumbling block lies.  What keeps you from cooking your own meals?  Is it:

  • lack of knowledge on how to cook?
  • lack of time to do any cooking?

Or is it some other reason?  Let me know.  Leave a comment or send me an email.  Any and all of the above issues can be addressed and easily overcome, believe me.  You’ll be eating healthier and saving money in no time!

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The “L” Word

Sep
25

There comes a time in the life of any blog about saving money to talk about the “L” word – that’s right – Lentils.

Now lentils always seem to get a bad rap and I don’t know why.  Lentils are very quick to cook (only 15 minutes).  They have a very mild flavour so you can add them to anything and it won’t compete with the other flavours.  They are very filling.  And they are the least expensive form of protein around.

I am speaking solely about red lentils here because I don’t use the other types of lentils too much (they do take longer to cook).  But dollar for dollar red lentils are one of the best deals around.

To introduce you to the wonderful world of lentils try out the following recipe:

Yam and Green Pea Dal

1 medium yam

pinch of cumin

1 cup red lentils

1 cup frozen green peas

Peel and dice the yam.  Put enough water to cover the bottom of  a soup pot on medium heat.  Add the yams and put the lid on.  Steam the yams for a 2 or 3 minutes to soften them up a little.    In the meantime rinse the lentils under cold water.

Add the cumin to the steaming yams about 1 minute before you add the lentils.  Then add the rinsed lentils along with 3 cups of water.  Put the lid back on and allow to come to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the frozen peas to the boiling mixture when there is four minutes left of cooking time.  Enjoy!

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Benefits of Broccoli

Aug
25

I always knew that broccoli was good for a person but I recently read even more interesting information about broccoli.  Did you know that broccoli has more vitamin C than an orange and is one of the richest sources of vitamin A?  Broccoli is also an excellent source of calcium and has a high amount of flavonoids (which helps reduce the risk of heart disease).

Broccoli is also full of folic acid which is a mood booster which helps people suffering from depression.  What I did not know is that cooking food destroys 50 to 90% of the folic acid so the best way to get the most bang for your buck is to eat your broccoli raw.

The following recipe can be made with either raw or cooked broccoli.  I like my broccoli lightly steamed but I think I’ll try it raw in the future and see how I like that.  This recipe is also great for the summer since it is low-cook (and now possibly even no-cook).

Broccoli Pesto Salmon

1 can salmon

3 Tbsp  pesto

1-2 cups broccoli

Cut up broccoli into bite sized pieces.  Lightly steam if you want (5 to 7 minutes).  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Add salmon and pesto.  Enjoy!

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Great News

Aug
23

I have the best news!  Dark chocolate (in moderation) is good for you!

According to the Phd’s who wrote the book “Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer” dark chocolate that has at least 70% cocoa mass is loaded with polyphenols which have been shown to slow the growth of some cancers.  They do say however that the presence of milk will prevent the absorption of polyphenols so enjoy your chocolate without milk inside or on the side.

So what you are looking for in the grocery store is a really dark chocolate.  I’ve found one that is 83% cocoa mass that doesn’t have much sugar in it that tastes fantastic!!  The best way to eat this is to let it melt in your mouth then have a blueberry or two.  Repeat.

However I should warn you that this is definitely not a time saver.  You can’t be in a hurry and truly enjoy your dark chocolate.  No for this you need to put on your favourite music, sit in a comfy chair, put your feet up, break off some chocolate, let it melt in your mouth, close your eyes, breath deeply, let your worries melt away, relax.  Geez I feel better already just describing it.  And any time spent de-stressing is time well spent.

Try it for yourself and see how dark chocolate works for you.  Keep the whole moderation concept in mind though.  Usually 2 to 4 squares of chocolate in one sitting is more than enough to satisfy any chocolate fix.  I never eat a whole chocolate bar in one sitting.

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Step Away from the Herd

Aug
01

You want to be unique and stand out from the crowd?  Be an individual?  No need to dye your hair purple or get a neck tattoo.  All you have to do is: be frugal.  Guaranteed you will probably be the only one of your coworkers who isn’t a massive, plugged-in, consuming drone like 99% of North American society.

When you brown bag your lunch instead of spending ten bucks on fast food junk, your coworkers will almost break their necks trying to see what is creating the wonderful smells coming from your cubicle as you eat your delicious homemade meals.  Ride your bike to work instead of driving a gas guzzling piece of crap like all the other lemmings and believe me you will be the talk of the entire floor at work.  Every time you get on the elevator with your bike helmet, people will immediately start asking a million questions about this amazing feat that you have accomplished.

Not individualistic enough for you?  You want to go hard core?  Alright then.  Just tell people that you don’t have any tv.  That will Blow.  Their.  Minds.  And when you rattle off all the other things you manage to accomplish because you didn’t waste your life in front of an idiot box, they will stare at you open mouthed as if you are someone from another planet.

You want to be an individual?  Be frugal.  Only then will you know what it is like to stand out from the crowd.

Hello

Jul
11

Hello and Welcome to Frugally Food!  This is a website that will tell you all about healthy eating that is fast and frugal.  That seems like a tall order: healthy food that is quick to prepare yet easy on the wallet.

But I have been honing my frugal ways for many years now.  Combine that with a constant interest in eating healthy and wanting more time to pursue other interests.  Those three topics have combined to create a lot of wonderful recipes as well as time and money savers.

Since there is a definite need for more people to eat healthy and spend less (judging by obesity rates and debt levels which are at record levels) my hope is that people can benefit from my years of trial and error in the kitchen.

So come along.  See if there are any tips that can improve your life.

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