Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Measure Twice, Cut Once"...

We have to try to turn home-cooking into a really enjoyable thing to do. It might be that a mother who stays at home with her small children really does find that 'going shopping' at least gets her out of the house. On the other hand, coping with small children racing round a store is enough to turn a young girls hair grey before her time, so shopping for food might be better done on-line, having the goods delivered to the door at a time convenient (perhaps after the children have gone to bed, or before if they enjoy helping to unpack). Time spent shopping can then be spent going to the park to have a good run around to build up an appetite for supper.

Likewise a person who works full time does not have the time or inclination to 'do a good shop'. More often than not foods are pulled at random from the shelves, ready-meals playing a leading role, and any foods that are quick to prepare chosen above all others. Again, ordering on-line means that time is saved that can be used to prepare a 'proper meal'.
Take advantage of home-deliveries, for these can often give us the time we need to cook when otherwise we would just have opened packages bought on the way home. Whether working or not, we are limited to the amount a trolley holds, and a large order - once every blue moon - is the quickest and easiest way to get the larder stocked up. Myself have done this more than once, and find that as I pay by credit card (getting the timing right) this can give me up to five weeks to pay for the purchases before interest is added. Assuming a family might spend £100 a week on food, this mean we could spend up to £500 in one go without noticing any difference in the budget at the end of the month (as long as we buy no more during that period). Spend £400 online and this leaves £100 to 'top up' the fresh (milk, bread, fruit and veg). Usually when buying more at any one time this widens our horizons when it comes to cooking, and the more choice of food we have the less - overall - the dishes will cost.

Here I am not encouraging anyone to spend, spend, spend. Quite the reverse, but one large, carefully thought out 'splurge' (broken down as a weekly expense should work out no more than normal and can often be less) will be the start of a life-time of economy eating that is gastronomically good.

Many supermarkets sell vouchers that can be exchanged for goods and these make a great gift for someone who is trying to make ends meet. Maybe given as an early Christmas present to allow for those treats that might normally have not been affordable, or a birthday gift for someone who is wanting to cook economically but doesn't yet have the back-up of a full larder. One thing to be cautious about - more and more vouchers have gone 'missing' when posted. Not due to the strike, but there are some people who seem to be able to sniff out vouchers (and particularly paper money) when sent through the post. Maybe it is a birthday card that feels slightly thicker than it should, perhaps some post is held against a very strong light so that the contents can be seen. Whatever, it is always best to type the label for a letter that has enclosed vouchers, send a cheque instead of cash, use a brown envelope instead of the correct white one (even if the envelope is too large compared to the card), and make it look as official as possible, then it will probably be left alone.