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31 July, 2011

Frugality —-> Inspiration

Posted in : Food Finance, Staples on by : Lauri Tags: , ,

This little item was so delicious that I had to stop mid-snack to share it with you.  Of course, it’s just a piece of bread with cream cheese and lingonberry jam from IKEA.  But it’s also a prime example of the bonuses associated with breaking old habits and rethinking the way you eat, cook and shop for your food.

(Do I usually buy jam at my furniture store?  When it’s this good, yes.  It’s cheap, and in a nice “sweetish” 🙂 crust, it makes a lovely filling for lingonberry tart, too — with or without a creamy base layer.  Perhaps we’ll get to that recipe at another time…)

So, now that I’m watching my grocery budget so carefully, I find myself reading a lot more labels and, more important, challenging my old ideas of what constitutes ‘staples’:

  • What am I used to having around that is really a luxury?
  • What do I buy out of habit that could be better?
  • What’s on sale, and can it serve as a replacement for something else?

This last question brought us to the impromptu nosh pictured above.  When I bought groceries about a week ago, I knew I was out of the non-trans-fat spread that I like:  I prefer Earth Balance on my toast to just about anything else, and love that it stands up to some moderate cooking, too.  (It works well as a starter for mac & cheese, some sauces, etc.)  I don’t use it very quickly, however, and had just ran out. But when I got to to the store, Fresh & Easy had a rather spectacular sale on whipped light cream cheese — an only slightly smaller tub was about half the price of my usual oleo substitute.  I wondered, “will the sky fall if I have something else on my toast in the morning?”  Chicken Little did not appear, so an experiment was born.  My breakfasts have been lovely, and although I know I’ll go back to my former favorite when the price is right, I’ve been able to work around the change quite well.  (For those who wonder, NO, I do not use cream cheese to start my wine sauce.  But with a little adjustment, it might be good in mac & cheese…hmmm….)

  • What three ‘must haves’ on your list can you challenge?
  • Is there a creative solution on sale that you wouldn’t otherwise have considered?
  • HOMEWORK:  This was a fairly obvious fix.  Can you top it?  The next time you run out of something that you “always” have in your kitchen, take it as a sign from the shoestring gods — what have you never tried that could take its place?
    • The trick is the buy something you can use for its usual purpose, as well, so you can’t lose!

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