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Signs that you are economizing on food


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I've found myself in one of those periods, and some of the behaviors which have crept up on me are horrifying me now that I sit down and think on it. I come from an upbringing of super-economizers (a father, for example, who would drive a half hour out of the way to save 2 cents per gallon on gasoline, a mother who would buy economy sizes we'd never finish) and as an adult have always loathed it--to the extent that typically I'm something of an intentional wastrel when I can afford to be (as a continuing form of rebellion, I suppose).

We may all have our own signs of economizing (I expect tons of people to chime in on this) but here are some I've seen creeping into my own routine:

-To my shock, for the second time in as many weeks I've bought meat IN BULK because I saw it on a really big sale. My freezer is full. Note my freezer has never been full before. I am not a "bulk" person or a "freezing" person. I am a bachelor who goes out and buys stuff when he needs it. Or I used to be...

-I'm finishing leftovers. I HATE most leftovers. And I don't just mean leftovers of things I've bothered to cook, since the "trouble" behind cooking certainly makes those more rewarding as leftovers, but in this case I mean the dregs of ingredients. The little bit of a green pepper left over from something. The last slice of cheese starting to get a bit hard. I know this sounds ridiculously commonplace to many, but you have to realize where I'm coming from. My old routine is that if I'm bored with it, suspect it might even slightly have a chance of being bad, or can't be bothered with concocting something to eat out of fragments... well then I used to toss it. As I said, I was something of an unashamed wastrel.

-Of course, the classic sign. Eating at home more and "out" less.

-Less snacks, more meals. More fruit, less breads/chips/etc. Frankly the fruit is cheaper.

Thankfully I am still occasionally buying the occasional ridiculously expensive food item to preserve SOME of my identity. I bought an expensive piece of super sharp cheddar just because I wanted to. Of course I bought LESS of it. :wacko:

Anyone else have any signs you notice when you are economizing? Note I'm talking more about the things you start to do without realizing it, but the conscious ones are okay too, if less startling. You don't have to be in such a period now, just have a good memory. Also, I suspect the signs, and the impact of them, differ between big families and people who are single.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I actually do it consciously every once in a while. Just decide to clear out the frig and pantry as much as possible. I think it's good for the cooking sense to have such restrictions on you and have to be creative. It takes a lot more skill, imo, to make up something from a miniscule number of ingredients in your pantry than to pick a recipe and go to the store and get all the ingredients for it. Plus, I don't like to waste. I get mad when I discover a fruit or vegetable in the bottom of the crisper that I let go bad. I try to generally move things to the front that need to be used first.

One economizing trend: buying the "marked down for quick sale" meat. It's just like aged beef, right? It should be marked up, not down.

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I've started saving all the stems from my fresh herbs to use in stews, stocks, and sauces. Another thing that I think is actually kinda cool is I saved peanut shells, soaked them, and used to 'smoke' some grill roasted chicken.

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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-To my shock, for the second time in as many weeks I've bought meat IN BULK because I saw it on a really big sale.  My freezer is full.  Note my freezer has never been full before.  I am not a "bulk" person or a "freezing" person.  I am a bachelor who goes out and buys stuff when he needs it.  Or I used to be...

Let's put a positive spin on this. It sounds like you're being frugal and there's nothing wrong with that. I enjoy a good Porterhouse, for example, and when a local store has "Family Pak's" of Porterhouse's on sale, I'll spring for a package or two and split the packages up into smaller portions for freezing. It's called taking advantage of a good price.

Full freezer? Time for an eGullet Shindig!

-I'm finishing leftovers.  I HATE most leftovers.  And I don't just mean leftovers of things I've bothered to cook, since the "trouble" behind cooking certainly makes those more rewarding as leftovers, but in this case I mean the dregs of ingredients.  The little bit of a green pepper left over from something.  The last slice of cheese starting to get a bit hard.  I know this sounds ridiculously commonplace to many, but you have to realize where I'm coming from.  My old routine is that if I'm bored with it, suspect it might even slightly have a chance of being bad, or can't be bothered with concocting something to eat out of fragments... well then I used to toss it.  As I said, I was something of an unashamed wastrel.

Again, a positive spin would be:

1) You're being frugal.

2) You're being ecologically responsible by not throwing away something that can be used or recycled (leftovers!).

3) You grew up being told "Eat everything on your plate, there are kids starving in China" and the message is just now sinking in so you're hestitant to throw anything away.

-Of course, the classic sign.  Eating at home more and "out" less.

Positive spin:

Thanks in part to eGullet, your palate and food-wisdom has become more refined and you subconsciously realize that you're a better cook than most chefs so you stay at home where you know the food will be good.

-Less snacks, more meals.  More fruit, less breads/chips/etc.  Frankly the fruit is cheaper.

Positive spin:

You're eating healthier, not avoiding expensive snacks.

Thankfully I am still occasionally buying the occasional ridiculously expensive food item to preserve SOME of my identity.  I bought an expensive piece of super sharp cheddar just because I wanted to.  Of course I bought LESS of it.  :wacko:

Postive spin:

1) See "frugal".

2) Less is more. As we grow older, we realize we don't need to eat that entire box of candy when only one or two pieces will carry the entire experience of the pleasure we seek.

Or, you could just be getting older, period (thanks for that Marlene!). :laugh:

edited to add a period

Edited by Toliver (log)

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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I don't know if we are actually economizing on food--suspect not, overall. But one consequence of cooking almost everything from scratch is that the volume of washing up has increased to the point where we go through a litre of dish detergent (plus a shitload of dishwasher powder) every week or so and now buy the stuff in 10-litre jugs.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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I wouldn't say I am economizing more (that would be damned hard to do, I think) but I am using food much more imaginatively including leftovers. Thanks, are largely due to eGullet and the books, articles, and such that I track down because someone here mentioned them! Also, because some of you told me, in no uncertain terms, to stop following recipes. :biggrin:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Our Shop Rite is having their annual "Can-Can" Sale. All things canned in the store are on sale. I sent my hubby today to buy canned Tuttorosa crushed tomatoes. I now have a flat of 12 cans sitting in my pantry. Couldn't resist at 40 cents a can. These cans will probably get me through a few months of sauce for my family.

First time I've done this. I'm kinda giddy. :raz:

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Fuck frugal. I recognize the practical reasons for it. It's the emotional element--the fact that in some ways I see this as an abridgement of my freedom to be selfish and wasteful and do whatever the hell I please.

Yes, it's part of getting older, as well as a temporary economic necessity for practical reasons. But we all loathe the idea of turning into our parents, and I've never been especially politically correct with the "children are starving in Africa/Asia/Alabama/Antarctica/Wherever Your Generation is Told" logic.

I suppose we can flip this topic on it's ear. I mentioned at the head about the parents driving far for cheaper gas and buying economy sizes we never finished. Surely there must be OTHER forms of so-called enonomizing which actually lead to waste. For one, I'm thinking... cheap ingredients. Sometimes you don't finish 'em--you waste them--because even though they are cheaper you don't LIKE them as much. The massive purchase of canned foods is one example. I had to toss some cans last year which had been sitting in my closet for 5 or 6 years. Isn't that waste? So I don't really buy cans anymore, except for individual items I know I have a specific need for in the next few months. And even then... flash frozen wins out most times (obviously this wouldn't apply for tomato or sauce ingedients in general).

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I suppose we can flip this topic on it's ear. I mentioned at the head about the parents driving far for cheaper gas and buying economy sizes we never finished. Surely there must be OTHER forms of so-called enonomizing which actually lead to waste. For one, I'm thinking... cheap ingredients. Sometimes you don't finish 'em--you waste them--because even though they are cheaper you don't LIKE them as much. The massive purchase of canned foods is one example. I had to toss some cans last year which had been sitting in my closet for 5 or 6 years. Isn't that waste? So I don't really buy cans anymore, except for individual items I know I have a specific need for in the next few months. And even then... flash frozen wins out most times (obviously this wouldn't apply for tomato or sauce ingedients in general).

You haven't met my husband! There are more canned goods downstairs than I can count. That we never use. He's got to buy a six pack of tomato paste, when one will do :biggrin: He keeps telling me "you know, if the big one hits, we're set". What the hell are we going to do with two dozen cans of tomato paste when the big one hits? :blink: I suspect his compulsive stockpiling of canned goods come from growing up on a farm in the wilds of Saskatchewan, where they could only get to town once month or so :rolleyes:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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i live alone, buying huge economy sizes is more expensive cuz everything goes bad.

my form of economizing is buying from a wet-market instead of shopping at speciality groccers.

Do not expect INTJs to actually care about how you view them. They already know that they are arrogant bastards with a morbid sense of humor. Telling them the obvious accomplishes nothing.

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I guess that I just economize as a natural habit. I always have and probably always will even though I don't really have to. I just hate waste. so, I don't see any cycles or changes.

I also live alone so sometimes I am really challenged to throw things out. I do also cook sometimes with an eye to leftovers. I did another corned beef the other day and just had a dynamite batch of hash. There are still a few sandwiches and maybe a small batch with some cabbage left. At least I don't seem to get tired of that. Leftover smoked meat goes into my BBQ posole. That sort of thing. I do enjoy a challenge with using leftovers and what I have around to think up something. Sometimes it is even really good.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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i've been cooking a lot more recently, and as i get older (as someone suggested), i'm becoming more and more aware of wasting food. so i've actually eaten leftovers once or twice recently.

the most notable was new years day. we had some sausage left over from xmas. it was really freakin good, so i couldn't bring myself to chuck it, although i had no plan on having sausage and peppers as a meal again.

fast forward to a hungover and lazy new years day. a few of us sort of woke up, and we were hungry. i figured i'd do my recent trick of ham in muffin tins, with chopped mushrooms and an egg on top. but i didn't have mushrooms. in went chopped up sausage instead. as i was heating it up and throwing a bit of a brown on the chopped sausage, my friend was eating it right out of the pan, proclaiming it "the best fucking sausage, dude". so it went into the ham mold, with the egg.

we were all very happy, and i have leftovers to thank for it. go me.

Edited by tommy (log)
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Anyone else have any signs you notice when you are economizing?  Note I'm talking more about the things you start to do without realizing it, but the conscious ones are okay too, if less startling.  You don't have to be in such a period now, just have a good memory.  Also, I suspect the signs, and the impact of them, differ between big families and people who are single.

I always have the habit of looking to see which supermarket in the Wednesday ads has frozen uncooked medium tail-on shrimp on sale. I know, not nearly as good as fresh, but in some things it works okay. Inevitably at least one store has bags for $3.99/lb. The sad thing is that I look for this special even if I don't plan on buying any that week! :wacko:

Edited to say, BTW I'm single...

Edited by deibu (log)
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I've started saving all the stems from my fresh herbs to use in stews, stocks, and sauces. Another thing that I think is actually kinda cool is I saved peanut shells, soaked them, and used to 'smoke' some grill roasted chicken.

I have about 6 or 8 poultry carcasses in my freezer at any one time. I used to mostly buy frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts. Now I almost exclusively buy whole poultry and debone it or cut it up myself. One of the happy accidents is that I've gotten into a lot of braises and uses of dark meat that my wife actually likes even though she has traditionally preferred white meat.

Plus, now I keep all my extra vegetable choppings, even the outer peels of onions, in a freezer bag as well so that when I roast the carcasses for stock I can roast these vegetables as well.

I don't know if we are actually economizing on food--suspect not, overall. But one consequence of cooking almost everything from scratch is that the volume of washing up has increased to the point where we go through a litre of dish detergent (plus a shitload of dishwasher powder) every week or so and now buy the stuff in 10-litre jugs.

This may be one of those false economizations talked about down thread. It'd be interesting to look at which is worse for the environment: the excess use of water and detergent or the excess trash from fast and packaged foods.

I had to toss some cans last year which had been sitting in my closet for 5 or 6 years. Isn't that waste?

There always seems to be a canned food drive somewhere or for something in our neighborhood. I buy canned food so that I have something to give away when the Boy Scouts come around.

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I always have the habit of looking to see which supermarket in the Wednesday ads has frozen uncooked medium tail-on shrimp on sale. I know, not nearly as good as fresh, but in some things it works okay. Inevitably at least one store has bags for $3.99/lb. The sad thing is that I look for this special even if I don't plan on buying any that week! :wacko:

Well that was another of those creeping signs of economizing I almost added to my list above--saving those damn sales circulars you get in the mail (every Friday in my area). Used to be I used them to line my garbage cans. Now, for pity's sake, I occasionally actually read them.

Trust me, I'm shuddering as I type this. Really, I'm used to impulse buying. It's just "me".

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Well, I now shop at Wal-Mart on a weekly basis. The prices are great, but the screaching, running children without parental supervision make me almost want to pay someone to do all this for me.

Scaling down from sashimi laden dinners at a top notch Japanese restaurant to ramen laden/sushi roll lunches at an Asian grocery store. :sad:

Also, I now ask myself daily before I buy something....do I really need this? will I really use this before its expiration date?

Celine

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About a year ago, I decided to treat myself (and family) to dinner out at a restaurant once a week. I used to allow dinner out just once a month, but I figured that life is short and I since we save by not having a housekeeper come by to do the cleaning and by keeping just one car, we deserve to eat out more.

Gradually, though, the petty economizing measures started creeping in, as if in compensation for the weekend restaurant splurges. For example, I would pass up buying and cooking shrimp for dinner even if it was on sale, rationalizing that my family and I would be eating out in a few days and could eat shrimp at the restaurant. Instead of shrimp of something similarly expensive, I would make something simple and cheap, like sloppy joes, or spaghetti and meatballs.

In short, knowing that we would be enjoying expensive culinary creations at restaurants every weekend gave me license to expend less money and less effort on my home-cooked meals.

My small economies have lately come to include making the bread dough using water in which potatoes or pasta was boiled; keeping a "crumb bin" into which I sweep all the crumbs left on the cutting board after I slice bread and even the bread crumbs left on our plates after breakfast (family plates only, though!), and using the crumbs to make meatballs and meatloaves; and slicing open the near-empty mustard bottle to wipe it out with a slice of bread.

How low have I gone? Recently I have embraced what I call my "bean cuisine." Beans instead of meat in a lot of dishes. Cheaper (and also healthier). I take a perverse pleasure in how many beans I can get away with putting into a dish instead of meat without my family knowing of the substitution. I am literally counting beans.

If I go any lower, shoot me!

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My frugal traits are entirely due to my FIL through my wife. She's not quite as bad s he is. You should see some of the food this man eats. 1 oz. of cheese under 8 oz. of mold? Just cut it off. Mayonnaise a month out of date? It doesn't smell too bad,yet. Fuzzy stuff on the meat? Just scrape it off. Nobody could ever poison this guy because he's been building up immunity to food borne pathogens for decades.

Our frugalities are:

leftovers - mainly my wife. She will combine dishes from different nights for lunch (eg stuffed pork loin in chicken curry)

Recycling tin foil and ziplocks (just wash them out)

That said, I do not scrimp on ingredients where the ingredient is the key -- if I buy a steak to just grill I get prime not choice. BUT if it's going into a highly flavored dish then I'll scrimp a little bit.

I always laugh at people in bars getting mixed drinks and specifying top shelf liquor. If you're drinking a SeaBreeze I defy you to tell me you can tell the difference between rotgut vodka and stoli underneath the grapefruit and cran. I buy good bourbon because I sip it on the rocks, I buy gordon's vodka ($13 for a 1.75L) to put in my Vodka TOnics.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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I've found myself in one of those periods, and some of the behaviors which have crept up on me are horrifying me now that I sit down and think on it. 

You need to fight this trend--don't just sit still and accept creeping middle age and over-practicality. Force yourself to go to the best butcher in the neighborhood and buy Wagyu (sp?) beef for dinner. Try the ridiculously high priced jar of Pistachio Cream in Saveur's Best 100 issue that just came out. Have you tried the American Sturgeon Caviar yet? Get on it.

This is no time for complacency and resignation.

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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Our frugalities are:

leftovers - mainly my wife. She will combine dishes from different nights for lunch (eg stuffed pork loin in chicken curry)

I first took this to mean your wife was left over :biggrin::blink:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Do we spend our youth doing whatever we can to NOT become like our parents, and our middle age accepting this as an inevitability? :shock::sad:

I'd say our current bad economy and its dire prospects might be influencing you as well.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Buy me an expensive dinner. :wink:

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Jon, I feel your pain about leftovers. I just don't like them very much, for some reason. I also make a lot of pasta, and leftover pasta is yucky. What's best are leftovers that can be turned into something else, like tommy's sausage. Risotto is really good in that respect, because leftover risotto and a little leftover sausage, ragu or peas can be turned into arancini di riso.

Another strategy, and one I am surprised you haven't used, is to cultivate friends who are willing to help you eat most any time. I have a feeling like you might know some such people. Whenever I find myself making too much of something -- as I did last night when I realized I was making something like 5 pounds of stuffed cabbage in my first attempt to improvise a recipe -- I try to see whom among my circle of hungry friends can be tempted into coming over and helping out.

--

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