Frugality begins at home

Words like “frugal”, “simple” and “green” are bandied about no end these days, and seem to provide endless fodder for the blogosphere. But frugality took on a new meaning for us this week. Due to the ongoing saga of our car, Tony and I found ourselves still a week from pay day with only twelve euros in our pockets. I wouldn’t want you to think of us as reckless, irresponsible people who don’t have room in their budget for unforeseen expenses. Believe me when I say that this particular car saga has involved some extremes of trouble and mischance. Chastened by the knowledge that we were in no real danger of going hungry (unlike so many others), I decided not to dip into our emergency funds or accept the kind offers of others. Instead, I would make our twelve euros last. It was exactly the sort of challenge I needed. The first thing I did was cash in our bottles. Germany has a brilliant system of bottle recyling, whereby a price includes a deposit for the bottle (something like 8-25c). An intimidating machine swallows them up and spits out a voucher, redeemed at the register. Chaching! The next thing was to put a stop on transport. With no car and the bus trip costing five euros, Tony worked from home, while Rose and I made our fun in Botnang’s parks and playgrounds. Gaining momentum as the week went on, I mastered a few of the of the thrifty cook’s tricks. Lessons learned:

* Soup is the thrifty cook’s best friend. Using lentils from the cupboard and a few senescent carrots, I made a soup that lasted three meals using no other ingredients than water. I did throw in the rind of some old Parmesan for flavour; a dollop from a forgotten jar of pesto made the whole experience more palatable. 🙂

* Apples go a long way, especially with small children. They take more chewing, and last longer than other fruit. Exchanging peaches, apricots and bananas for apples made our fruit budget go further. A couple of lucky apples made it into Heidi Swanson’s Unfussy Apple Cake, which (claiming only pantry ingredients), filled our tummies nicely.

* Mouldy food is not scary, it is merely seeking attention. Mouldy cucumbers were rescued just in time to be part of sushi (made with tinned tuna, the remaining carrots and some avocado). After mould was rinsed from the rind of an orange, Tony observed that the flavour seemed, if anything, enhanced.

Well, pay day has now arrived and we are flushed with funds, but I do hope frugality will stay with me. In all seriousness, food wastage is an enormous problem. We all need to work on it. Are there any thrifty ideas out there people would like to share?

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4 Responses to “Frugality begins at home”


  1. 1 Bec July 25, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Hey Ally,
    I definitely commiserate with you – here at the Ranch it seems I get to about 5 days from payday and have maybe $10 left with 5 meals to go!!! Slow cooker meals are excellent – especially with ham hocks because you can (sometimes!) reuse them!
    Also, as an organisation who provides 3 meals for our campers, we sometimes find our kitchen and cool room stuffed with leftovers! This is usually up for grabs by any of the staff who live here (the single males love it…i am reminded of damo!) or it goes to the Sisters of Mary down the road (protestant nuns..took me a while to work out they weren’t catholic lol!) they are the essence of frugality and rely totally on the Lord for all their meals (!!!) often we hear stories of how there is nothing to have for dinner before a surprise delivery makes its way to their door! Now if that’s not living frugally i don’t know what is!
    Hope the car doesn’t trouble you for much longer!

    • 2 mavisandfrank July 26, 2010 at 8:21 pm

      Wow, that is certainly frugal. I’m not much of a slow-cooker girl, since Tony is less than inspired by slow cooked meat (which means I feel unrewarded and cranky whenever I cook them). But pork is absolutely dirt cheap here, and there’s lots one can do with it! Today I bought a big bag of locally grown capsicums for 60c to have a go at goulash (a slow cooked pork thing). My last effort was not terribly successful, but you cant argue with the maths!

  2. 3 Annaleise July 26, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Fascinating blog entry, Ally 🙂 It’s funny how you were fine really, but it’s still an alarming challenge to hear of you facing! How great that you can squeeze a few pennies out of your recycling bin! And what a pesky car! Agh! To be thrown in to such a situation for such an annoying reason! That 70s classic has a very current cover. It could have easily said something else – like Vogue Dining, but I dont actually know if there is such a thing and if that’s their style, but that’s the sort of thing I mean. Glad the weather is good enough to enjoy Botnag parks with Rose. I hope you all are well. Love Lil

    • 4 mavisandfrank July 26, 2010 at 8:18 pm

      Yes I think the cover has been revamped and it’s been reprinted. Delia, what a legend! It was quite humbling to see that even in our cushy, wealthy life we’re not above eating mouldy food xx


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