Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Frugal Food Like The Old Days

written by Gavin Webber from The Greening of Gavin and Little Green Cheese.

In today's society of instant gratification, seldom do the people take the time to make food for themselves. Here is my argument. When I worked in South Yarra a few years ago, the first thing some of my co-workers did before they got to work was go to a local Cafe and buy a coffee (in a disposable cup) and a muffin for breakfast. Then, at morning tea the regulars headed for the snack trolley for more cakes or a meat pie. Then at 1 pm it was off to lunch. 

All of this prepared food must cost them a small fortune. Here is the maths as I see it. Coffee + Muffin = A$6.00, Meat pie + Cake or doughnuts = A$5.50, and lunch at a local Cafe = A$12 to 20. So this lifestyle, if continued each working day, costs between $117 to $157 a week, and oh, those calories! I am not saying that some of the people I used to work with are a bunch of fatties, I am simply stating that from my point of view, it looked like normal practice and probably is the norm in most city office environments. For all I knew they could have exercised every day to keep fit, so the high calorie intake may have been cancelled out. The point that I am making is that the money they could save could have been used for better things.

For example, compare this weekly spend to the cost of buying a few basic groceries, like cereal, milk, coffee, bread, sandwich fillings etc, all of which will last for a week with only one person consuming. This would save them at least $100 a week (I am being generous). Better still, if you still crave for that muffin in the morning, buy a box of muffin mix for $3 and make 6 muffins to a box, and put them in the freezer for breakfast. Oh, so very simple. Think of what one could do with all of these savings. One could pay down some of their credit card debt, or make an extra mortgage payment, or if renting one could save for a house deposit (if so inclined).

I regularly go that little bit further, by baking bread regularly, and Kim baked cakes, scones and biscuits for lunch boxes. I take my lunch to work at least four times a week (a man has to have a treat once in a while), whilst Ben has never bought his lunch from the school canteen when he was at school. It all adds up when you have a family of five mouths to feed, which includes the dogs!  Now that I think of it, we eat very cost effectively and eat healthy food most of the time. I suppose with such a large vegetable patch, it is hard not to do!

Kim has watched the entire series of "Little House on the Prairie" that she bought off of eBay, and she loves the characters and the simple life it portrays. Now, because of the show, and all that baking Caroline does, Kim has a baking bee in her bonnet. She is a great baking cook. A while back, she made a Streusal cake (tastes great) and a batch of scones. The recipes were taken from an old 1992 book, first published in 1963, called "The Dairy Book of Home Cooking" that she bought from the milk man when she lived in the UK (remember when we had milkmen?). To show how simple it is to make scones, here is the recipe;

225g Self raising flour
half tsp salt
50g Butter or Margarine
150ml Milk

Sift flour and salt into a bowl, rub butter into flour until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add all of milk, and mix to a soft, but not sticky dough with a knife (?). Turn on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead quickly until smooth. Roll out to about 1 cm thick. Then cut into 7 or 8 rounds with a 6.5cm biscuit cutter (cookie cutter for Americans reading). Transfer to a greased baking tray. Bake at 230 degrees C (450F) for 7-10 minutes or until well risen and golden. Cool on a wire cooling rack. Then spread with home made jam and scoff the lot (I added this bit in).

The scones were so yummy, that my daughter Megan and I had to have one each for morning tea, smothered in Gav's strawberry jam. I believe that it is the simple foods in life that are, and taste the best, and that simple, sustainable living is much more gratifying than the instant type I mentioned at the beginning of the post.

Who is up for a scone and jam?


oldgreenpastures said...

I'm new to simple living and have stated to bake everything from scratch. One of the big things as per your entry is what goes into the lunch boxes and how much $$ we waste at the shops. The husband and kids are slowing coming around and now can see how much we are saving.

Marijke VanderVlist said...

So with you there! At my previous job in the city we had a lunch scheme going. We would all put $15 a week in a jar, then taking turns, one of us would quickly duck into the supermarket across the street and buy bread, milk, cheese, salad, spreads,... Our boss donated a little fridge, we all brought a plate and cutlery with us. We would have an enjoyable lunch together, taking turns again doing the dishes.

I went to the school playgroup (my son will start school there next year). I was told to bring a snack along for the morning tea. I put a couple of banana’s, mandarines and a bottle of water in my handbag. I was stared at.
I would at least needed a cooler bag, with sandwiches, fruit poppers, cookies and a muffin (packaged), a bag of chips and some cut up grapes. We’re talking morning tea, lunch is only a hour later. What will they have then?!?!

Gwen said...

I'm up for some scones and jam! My fiance and I have the day off for the Queen's Jubilee today, so we're taking our own home-made scones (some cheese ones, some current ones) and some other picnic fixings to a park near us - which has an extinct volcano in it. Hiking and home made food with people you love, nothing better...

Kimmie said...

Gav I have The Little House Cookbook - Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories. I think your Kim would LOVE a copy, I know I love mine. I got it from eBay!

Greta post


Anonymous said...

Hi Gavin
I've been reading your posts for a few months, they're very interesting and informative.
We've never been big spenders-I could never figure out how folk could afford to eat meals out all the time...of course now I now, they live their lives on credit as indentured servants
One of the perks of been thrify is being able to retire at 52(my husband) and 55(myself) and then get to spend your days doing whatever you fancy.I fancy sewing,knitting,gardening,baking etc.
Your recipe for scones sounds great but we don't use self-raising flour on Canada, do you know how much baking powder would be in a cup of flour?


denimflyz said...

I have been frugal for many years, out of pure need. My Amish grandparents raised me that way.
Scones are the best, especially with homemade jam or preserves, or dripping with homemade butter and honey.
To the comment about how much baking powder to use in a cup, I am in Nebraska, and during summer baking, I use 1 teaspoon to a cup of flour, I use a mix of bread flour and all purpose flour. Our flour here is of the hard red winter wheat. Experiment with it and then adjust. I also use buttermilk in my scones instead of milk.
Have a wonderful week, great post.

queen of string said...

I had the dairy book. They came out annually and were a brilliant basics cook book. I currently work in an up market grocery store, the prices people will pay for a scone, a muffin or a lemon square ( all made on site) astound me.I watch my co workers buying lunch every day. For someone on basic wage, you spent your first hour working to pay for your lunch! Needless to say I pack my lunch most days.

sailorssmallfarm said...

Neither of my kids likes to spend their spare cash on the canteen food at school, so they take packed lunches from home; as you say it just takes a little planning - I shop once a week, and make sure there is a choice of fruit, whole wheat bread or buns, and fillings like peanut butter, hard boiled egg, ham, lettuce, cheese, cuke, cream cheese, canned salmon etc. One of the kids bakes on the weekend so they can have a sweet treat in their lunch too - usually involves chocolate! I take leftovers for my lunches at work - there's a microwave to heat them up, and a small beer fridge to keep them in. I really love the idea from one of the other commenters about the group lunch fund at work for buying lunch fixings. Might try that!

Easy Flapjack Recipes said...

Sound delicious for this recipe! It's make me so hungry! I can't wait to eat this :)