Saturday, October 22, 2016

Saving Money On Groceries

Just a couple of thoughts on healthy eating and cutting your grocery bills.

First of all and most important is to learn to cook without cookbooks. Yes, you heard me well. A basic cookbook which teaches you how to make a simple soup and how long to cook your vegetables is fine, but all these modern, fancy cookbooks and cooking magazines which cost you a lot of money really contain very little useful info. Many of the dishes they feature are of a type that you could think of yourself, like all the summer salads, for instance.

They are great for giving you ideas, they make a good present, they encourage you to spend more time in the kitchen, which is all fine, so if you have enough money why not buying them, however, they aren't really essential, except those containing baking recipes as unlike with salads, baking often means precision.

Plus, they often require exotic ingredients and entice you to go above your budget. And sticking to your grocery budget is the most important thing to do if you really want to trim your expenses.

Second, remember, you don't need to be a millionaire to eat healthy. The experts all agree that "healthy" means above all, ditching all or most of processed food. The more you cook from scratch, the better. Nearly all vegetables and most fruit are healthy. Every week supermarkets offer a discount on some of them, so that every week you have your chance to try another sort of healthy veggies. Some of the  healthiest things out there are dirt cheap, like onions and garlic (and it will protect you from vampires, too:).

The same is true about meat. Fish is trickier, as it's quite pricey over here, but it can be acquired frozen or canned (avoid canned in sunflower oil, though. Olive oil appears to be better). If potatoes are expensive, they can be substituted by rice, which is usually quite cheap.

Third, here we come to dessert, which is too often bought ready-made, and full of unhealthy stuff like too much sugar. Be creative! Yogurt with honey makes for a great dessert and it's not expensive. Substitute store-bought things for homemade. The same goes for all the baked goodies from a supermarket which are too often made with margarine instead of real butter and have an amount of sugar and conserving agents in them enough to prevent one from reaching 90 after 2 times use.

Strictly avoid wasting money on sodas, chips and similar, except for birthdays or treats. Dark chocolate with high cacao content is better than candy bars, btw. As with all other things, moderation is the key, so you don't need to deprive yourself of all pleasures of life, just change your eating habits slightly.


  1. I thought I was among the minority who never use cook books except when a special cake is to be done. Many ingredients can be easily replaced if needed. What I have noticed: using less stuff in recipes isn't a tragedy, things don't need to be perfect. A soup without celery and with fewer carrots is healthy too. When I made a thrifty soup like that and I felt sorry for the meatless and poor soup, my husband told me: don't worry, your soup is made with love, the most important ingredient.

  2. Your husband is right! I do use cookbooks, sometimes, it's just that they are mostly repetitive. And the same is true about glossy magazines though they are often fun to read:)

  3. Housewife from FinlandOctober 24, 2016 at 7:22 AM

    I like OLD cookbooks. Modern ones are useless. I really cannot understand why every cooking blogger must make a cooking book. What one needs is some basic recipes and creativity.

    When it comes to baking, I find old recipes best (and some creativity). Modern cakes, popsicles and such are really weird. And they usually require some expencive and processed ingredients, like some flavoured curd.

    Every now and then I try something modern and fancy and usually notice that I like my old spice cake better. :)

    Now I must dash to make some tortilla espanola for dinner. :)

  4. It's probably because old cookbooks teach principles of how to make things, alongside with some (basic) recipes. The one I have, for instance, teaches the correct proportions of stuff needed to make a cake and how to substitute some ingredients and with what. Once you know it out of your head, you can use your fantasy and create anything you like. Modern cookbooks often feature fancy recipes with expensive ingredients, but don't really teach you anything. Some of them are quite nice, though.

    And I hope you dinner will be a success! Do you make flour tortillas yourself or do you buy them? Or do you mean the sort of tortilla which is really a very thick omelet?

  5. Housewife from FinlandOctober 25, 2016 at 3:45 AM

    I mean the omelette style tortilla. :) It is nice way the get rid of leftover potatoes. We never eat flour tortillas since I must eat gluten-free and they do not work too well without gluten.

  6. I think eating the fruits and vegetables that are in season in your area only when they are is one to follow. Yes we can get them almost year round but to get them out of their local season they have to be imported from elsewhere and are costly. When we know that some berries or fruits and such are only available for a short time each year it makes them extra special. Like the special holiday foods each family usually only eats only during that one holiday a year makes them special. We look forward to it..savor them more. We can't hardly wait for that special day so we can eat them again! Eating local is not just about saving the gas to truck in the items into our area and such. Yes you can I understand freeze or can things to eat them later out of their usual growing season. But having them fresh and waiting for them to be ready adds to the specialness of them. We used to eat like that years back. Usually these things are cheaper to buy at those times too as the stores know it is 'the season' for them and everyone wants them.
    There are times I get tired of cooking. I keep a list of the family favorite menus and have it also broken down to what proteins are used or such for quick reference. This helps me during those times my head just is not into figuring our what to cook! :-) It is amazing when you list the families favorites..the list gets long! Foods you have all loved through all these years. Recipes used over and over because they are good. Recipes that you can cook easily as you probably always keep these ingredients in your pantry. So many of them use pretty much the same ingredients but how they are cooked or a different very basic spice or such makes them different. After we have cooked a while we all know pretty much what our families will like and can adapt most anything if we are out of something.
    I do have some basic cook books. Ones that have been passed down in our families. Looking through them feels like those we have loved are closer in some way. Cooking the same dishes and also even using the same mixing bowls and such too. :) I look through cook books in the library and many include store bought ingredients you have to buy to make them. The older ones are really from scratch recipes and basic techniques.
    By the way if any that come here live in Ireland I had some friends that just come back from a long visit there and they loved your very beautiful country. Also the food!! They felt very welcomed by the local people who made them feel at home. Sarah

  7. Sarah, I'm afraid there aren't any Irish reading this blog, at least, I don't see them on my stats. I have a couple of British readers but most are Americans.