7 Easy Steps to Kitchen Frugality and Tasty Food!

1. Understand that food is not just fuel, food is the way we maintain life. It speaks of our families and our culture, our identity as persons, families, communities, "You are what you eat", as they say. Eating is an agricultural act, and eating is a moral act. Our food choices have impacts far beyond our own kitchens. The nice thing about that is what's best for us in the kitchen is also best for the planet too. This is why we are abandoning manufactured fast foods in favor of slow food, true food, good food, loving and healing food, nutritious food, tasty food..

2. Develop a certain level of organization in your kitchen. Plan your meals and organize your shopping. In the beginning, plan more, as you gain more experience you can improvise more but in the beginning it is best to write everything down and make lists and schedules. The busier you are, the more necessary it is that you do this. Most of us waste a tremendous amount of money in groceries stores because we buy on impulse, or because we think we might need something sometime in the future for some unknown recipe. Then we get home and find we forgot something we actually needed, so we go back to the store and end up with more junk that we didn't really need because we went in to get "just one thing."

3. Start cooking your meals from basic ingredients. Stop buying mixes and prepared foods Use the strategies described in this publication to reduce your monthly supermarket food cost.. Shop smart, and shop wisely. Practice does make perfect in these activities.

4. Start a garden. If you have no land, find a community garden. Get some food processing equipment, learn weekly, monthly, and seasonal food processing. Grow as much food as you can, and preserve food you grow in the summer for eating in the winter. If you don't have a freezer, get one Share one with a neighbor if necessary.

5. Stock up on basic staples and increase the amount of food you keep in your pantry so that you are not vulnerable to weekly or monthly mood swings in supermarket prices. Note that this is the equivalent of having your own in-home grocery store. The more times you go to the store, the more money you will spend, so shop less and you will spend this. To do this successfully, you must keep more food on hand in your pantry.

6. Set aside one or two afternoons a month and "cook ahead". Look at your meal plan, and do what you can ahead of time on these "cook days". Use your freezer to help you prepare quick meals of "slow food" later in the week or month. You can make bread dough for a week in 20 minutes. If you will need 4 pounds of fried ground beef for 3 meals, fry all 4 pounds on Cook Day and freeze it until you need it. Make soup stocks and freeze them for use later. Keep a bag of cooked, frozen meatballs, and a bag of cooked, frozen hamburger patties in your freezer, and there are the basic ingredients for spaghetti and meatballs, Oklahoma meatballs, hamburgers, or Redneck Salisbury Steak. Do one or two projects at a time, don't attempt too much at first. Don't be afraid to start small, that's the best way.

7. As you get more experience with this Better Times way of doing slow food easily and conveniently, you will save money on your supermarket groceries because you are changing your shopping and cooking habits. Now you can look for better quality ingredients from local sources, even if they cost a bit more. You will find that you can spend a little more for quality local ingredients (depending of course on your access to them) - such as locally grown organic produce, free-ranging and grass fed meats, olive oil instead of shortening, butter instead of margarine - while at the same time spending less overall on your groceries. My household now gets 80% of its food directly from Oklahoma farmers, and we aren't spending any more money than we did when we used to get everything from supermarkets. Some of this savings is possible because we have a garden and grow vegetables, we also have fruit and berry trees and bushes. Having fruit and nut trees and berry bushes is like having money grow on trees right there in your own yard.

Robert Waldrop

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