Monday, 5 October 2015

Being a FRUGAVORE

I'm a bit of a 'frugavore' these days.  If you've not heard of the term is was the recent title of a book by Arabella Forge and essentially outlined how we could live more sustainably, more locally and hence more cheaply by cutting back on excesses, growing our own food, etc, etc.  It's not rocket science, but it does take a bit of an effort.  It helps that I work from home (while raising three small children), and that I pull in enough money from all my little bits and bobs to get in home child care when I need a few hours to smash out a blog post, or write some assessment documents (that's right, my life is not all about wine!), or cook up a pot of stock, or a huge meat sauce.  It also means I have the ability to search out the cheapest local produce to cook with!

 Wherever possible I try to buy organic produce, however in my old age I am beginning to see just how important food miles are, and free range of course.  My priorities have shifted a bit and I'd buy a locally grown, seasonal, free range product over organic if push comes to shove.  I will also choose free range eggs over organic.  Gotta love a happy hen!

The best way to be a frugavore is to grow your own vegetables, and if possible to keep a couple of happy hens who will keep you in eggs.  Obviously it is cheaper if you are a vegetarian, which I am not, but we do try and eat mostly vegetarian meals, with meat appearing on the menu only a few times a week, and then in small quantities (a 100 gram steak is all I'd ever dish up to my family members).  It's also really helpful to think about meals further ahead than 'tonight'.  For example, tonight I am poaching a whole chicken with a bunch of vegetables.  The kids will eat the chicken and veggies for dinner.  We grown ups will have the chicken with a salad from the garden, and tomorrow I will make a soup from the broth.  The rest of the chicken will go for a few more days, with bits for the soup, for wraps for kids lunches, and possibly in a pasta dish.  There won't be any waste (except for the bones) and I know that we will be eating nutritionally, and cheaply, for at least 4 evening meals this week from that one starting point.  Any broth left over I'll freeze for another day, always good for risotto or the like.  A bit of planning will really save you in the long run.

I've got a few tips below on how to keep your grocery costs as low as possible (I spend about $50 a week on fresh vegetable/fruit produce for a family of five, plus about another $100 on dry good, bread, milk, meat and incidentals like toiletries, cleaning products and such).  I'd love to hear your tips, so feel free to leave me a comment!



1.  SHOP SEASONALLY!  When I was a bit younger and had more time to fiddle around in the kitchen making amazing meals to impress my friends I would buy whatever I needed at whatever cost...WTF was I thinking?!  Now I buy only what is in season and Australian (preferably from my own state).  No more Peruvian asparagus, or Chillean blueberries.  If it's not in season, it's not hitting my table.  Yes, this can be a bit dull.  My kids are thoroughly sick of apples and pears by mid-winter.  When those first punnets of strawberries and blue berries become available it's like Christmas (literally!).  Fortunately, we can all adapt, and sometimes we could all use a lesson in what it means to fly exotic fruits across the planet.  Global warming is that lesson.  I'd rather have a planet that we can live on than a mango out of season.


2.  Find your local fruit market and use it!  I walk up to the Brunswick Market every week and do my shop.  The produce lasts the whole week, is local and fresh.  It's also lovely to see the cultural groups who live in your area doing their shopping.  The Brunswick Market is super 'Turkish', so lots of Evil Eyes, Halal meat and okra are on offer.   I can always get a piece of cheese, or locally packed spices, which is great and it keeps my menu ideas interesting. 



3.  Cut back on the meat.  Yep, no-one NEEDS a 500 gram t-bone steak to meet their iron needs.  Meat is expensive and just not necessary in such quantities (or at all if you are willing to balance your diet in other ways).  Try reducing your portions, or making several of your meals 'meat free'.  Your body will thank you for it, and so will your wallet.

4.  Don't go shopping when you're hungry.  Seriously.  How did that packet of chips end up in your trolley?

5.  Have a vegetable plot and grow seasonal veggies in it.  Leafy greens like chard or kale are always a winner (and dead easy to keep alive), beans, peas, tomatoes, Asian greens, herbs, the sky is the limit depending on space.  Nothing is more impressive than cooking up a meal with ingredients entirely grown in your own garden.






6.  Get into food trading!  My neighbours and I have a 'food swap' situation going on.  Each of us cooks up something on a three weekly rotation and delivers it to the others in the swap.  It's awesome!  One night a week we have a meal delivered that we didn't have to cook.  Many a time it's been a lifesaver, for all concerned.

7.  Buy and cook in bulk.  Large sacks of rice.  Big batches of Bolognaise sauce, or Passata.  These things will freeze, or last for ages, and mean you have meals at the ready...less takeaway baby!

If you've got the time have a look at Arabella Forge's Foodwise site.  It's pretty clearly laid out and shows how a bit of thought and effort can help you live more cheaply and healthily!

Of course - WINE. as an aside if thinking about your carbon footprint is important to you when it comes to selecting what wine you drink please have a look at our website.  Wineries that produce organic wine tend to care about the way they produce their grapes.  Sustainable practices are often at the forefront of their production.  They aim to lessen their impact on the earth, and leave it in better nick than when they found it.  You can see that buying organic wine isn't only better for you, but better for the planet.   Most of the wines we sell are Australian (no, not all of them, but most), and many have super light glass bottles (again, not all...Kalleske you know I'm talking about you...).  Making a wine bottle as light as possible means that it has less of a carbon footprint when it's being shipped, locally or from overseas.  Many of our Temple Bruer bottles are uber light, and our Spanish wines by Vicente Gandia are prime examples of a 'lean green' light wine bottle, perfect for the export market.  'Phew,' I hear you say...thank goodness there is no need to stop drinking wine in order to be a frugavore!

Happy drinking!