Kitchen tips

This week we cast a wide net and capture some great money saving tips for the most expensive part of the house – the kitchen.

Eggs, as most people know, are graded by size. A size seven egg is bigger than a size six egg and costs more. But on a weight basis, larger eggs are cheaper – about 10% cheaper – so you get more egg for your dollar. Our supermarket “hunting” forays have also shown that while there may be a saving in the price per egg when you buy larger quantities, you should take your calculator because the in-store specials on half a dozen, ten, a dozen, or a tray, can make all the difference!

Cookbooks. If you are like us you will have hundreds. But it really doesn’t make sense to buy a cookbook if you are only going to get a few recipes out of it. So, we suggest you copy down the best recipes into your own folder of family favourites, then form a cookbook swapping scheme with your friends.

If you must buy lunch, make it a late lunch. One weekend an oily rag dad (ORD) took a tribe of kids camping in the great outdoors (free admission!). ORD had a problem in that he had a car full of piranha-type children that had to be satisfied during the drive (and kept quiet!). Rather than buy chips, pies, lollies, biscuits, etc and the other “essential consumables” demanded by today’s sophisticated youth, he stopped off at a lunch bar late in the afternoon and bought the day’s leftover food (cream buns, doughnuts, filled rolls and so on) at a throw-away price. The shopkeeper made money, ORD saved money, the kids ended up with cream all over their faces, and food was not wasted – a good deal for all!

Here’s an easy oily rag recipe for Cheap Meatloaf, which can be served hot or cold, for lunch or dinner. You need 500g mince, 500g sausage meat, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, 1 egg, 2 onions, 2 tsp curry powder, salt and pepper, half cup milk and half cup water. Combine sausage meat and mince, breadcrumbs, chopped onions, curry powder, salt and pepper, parsley and lightly beaten egg in a bowl. Mix until ingredients are well combined. Gradually add milk and water, and continue beating until the mixture is smooth. Shape into a loaf or press into a greased loaf tin. Bake in a moderate oven, 200oC for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully skim off any fat, but use half of the juice to baste the meatloaf. Bake for a further 45 minutes basting frequently with the remaining juice. Serves 2 giants, or 4 to 6 normal-sized people.

Avoid waste when freezing. Freeze single-serve portions conveniently by placing food in large plastic bags a portion at a time, folding over the plastic bag to separate them. When taking out of the freezer, simply unfold as each portion is required. Another way is to put a twist-tie between each serving, to form a frozen “sausage” of portions.

Planning meals in advance. The whole point of planning meals is that it allows you to take advantage of good buying opportunities and the many free foods coming out of your garden. We suggest you plan meals seven days in advance but plan to use whatever is the cheapest and available, at that time.

An oily rag pantry. What does an oily rag pantry look like? One that’s full of bargain buys! Here’s how it’s done. During each shopping expedition buy one or two extra items that are heavily discounted specials – something that is a real bargain buy. It could be anything from baked beans, to tinned fruit, to something yummy that’s normally pretty expensive – depending on your budget for that week. By only stocking heavily discounted specials, your pantry will be bursting with goodies purchased at the lowest possible price. Once your pantry is full your shopping expeditions really will become “expeditions” as you go out hunting for bargains to replenish your pantry shelves. See how this could dramatically change the way you shop? Instead of shopping for mouth-watering temptations (chips, chocolate, etc), you go “hunting” for bargains. Your pantry, in effect, becomes the corner dairy that you would nip around to if you ran out of something. The difference is, when you shop at your pantry, you know you are getting a real bargain. We reckon the average family can slash up to a quarter off their weekly food bill by using the pantry approach alone.