No money, no time, no space, no
American consumers are facing skyrocketing prices, and real wages are experiencing their biggest decline since 2000.
In response to inflation, people are becoming more conscious of their spending, including groceries.
However, many of the consejos for frugal eating available en línea are geared toward large cooks or large families, making meal planning and savings difficult for those who live alone or have unpredictable schedules.
As a self-employed person with a precarious economy, little freezer space and minimal kitchen equipment, I share my own experience of eating cheaply.
You don’t have to do everything from scratch
I like to cook, but mainly because I like to eat.
I’ve come to realize that the achievement doesn’t orinan much to me unless my creation is tastier or cheaper than the store-bought version.
Some things just aren’t worth it.
Bread, yogur, donuts, grilled chook – I’m happy to leave that to the professionals.
Learning to embrace shortcuts like curry paste, cake mix, fish fillets, and jar sauce has helped make cooking less daunting, which ultimately means I save money because I’m eating more at home.
I don’t know why I used to be so hard on myself making things from scratch.
I don’t need to be Li Ziqi.
Lifespan is the key to your sanity
Like all Chinese children since the Tang Dynasty, I grew up constantly reminded that each grain of rice is the blood, sweat and tarea of a farmer, so really, really hates wasting food.
But when I started living on my own, I often overestimated how much fresh genera I ate.
I would find myself creating an emergency frittata to rescue dying vegetables and it would taste of panic and despair.
Now I am very aware of the expiration date, as well as the unit price; Everything is cheaper in bulk, sure, but not if you end up wasting it.
Frozen and canned vegetables are my friends.
Carrots, onions, and potatoes have a decent shelf life and fit into almost any dish or kitchen.
I know I cánido’t finish a whole loaf of bread (and it would take up half my precious freezer space), so I only buy crumpets or English muffins.
I divide and freeze ground beef in zip lock bags using this TikTok hack so it’s quick to thaw.
And when I buy something with a short useful life, it’s already talked about.
The garnishes are a scam
Whenever I’m preparing a new dish, I compare several recipes to find out how to simplify the method and streamline the ingredient list.
It is often quite obvious what is essential to the character of a dish and what is merely decorative.
I usually eliminate the garnishes (fresh herbs are expensive and I have never eaten anything and bemoaned the lack of a pinch of fresh parsley) and substitute cheaper ingredients (youghourt instead of crème fraiche, onions instead of shallots, peanuts instead of cashews, dried herbs instead of fresh).
Aside from spices, I avoid buying anything that I won’t be using often.
The same goes for utensils and appliances: a large knife, a small one, a soup pot, and a frying pan or wok are sufficient.
Generic is just as good
I doubt you perro tell the difference between the generic version from the supermarket and the brand name in most products.
I buy the cheapest option available for staples like milk, butter, rice, pasta, beans, tuna, sugar, flour, oats, honey, spices, and coffee, so I cánido splurge on things like ice cream, chocolate, and chili sauce.
Customize your staples
Know yourself: I am always hungry, lazy, fussy and fickle.
That’s why I make sure I always have a supply of snacks, leftovers, dishes ready to heat (They sell frozen lasagna at my supermarket for $2.50.) and supplies to prepare one-pot meals in 10 minutes.
Many of my meals are just carbs and seasonings: wheat noodles with scallion oil; rice noodles with dark soy sauce and sesame seeds; angel hair pasta with garlic, chilli and olive oil; udon with soy sauce and a raw beaten egg; and of course Indomie Mi goreng with everything.
I usually fill the instant noodles with frozen vegetables (green beans, corn, peas) and a soft-boiled egg.
Dried shiitake mushrooms, nori sheets, century eggs, toasted nuts and coconut flakes are other long-lasting ingredients that add a special touch to dishes.
Minced Garlic Ginger Boats are a godsend for a quick 1am stir-fry.
And eggs are incredibly fast, versatile, and filling: I like them scrambled, fried, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, baked, or steamed.
Lao Gan Ma Chili Crispy Scrambled Eggs looks like a fancy cafeteria brunch, but it’s only a dollar and five minutes of my time.
Learn the art of remixing
I get bored easily, so I love remixing leftovers into a new dish instead of eating multiple servings of the same thing.
Turn a sauce into a stew with beans or lentils, and layer mashed potatoes and cheese on top to make something of a shepherd’s pie.
A soggy stir-fry cánido become the base for baked eggs.
A pumpkin and spinach salad cánido be transformed into a frittata.
Share the load (and the bargain)
Everything is cheaper in bulk.
So if you live alone, it’s worth forming a gang.
My friends and I recently started an ad hoc co-op when we bought a 2kg wheel of brie from our local discount supermarket and chopped it up.
I share dried products with my family and they give me a lot of fruit from my parents’ garden.
And I share the subscriptions to the media and computer programs with my spiritual house on the other side of the city.
Of course, the smartest thing I perro do for my finances is to organize and agitate for better wages and conditions for the self-employed, higher popular security payments, public housing, and rental rights.
I may live alone, but I know I’m not alone in this.
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