: What've you been eating lately?

Sep 18th, 2009, 11:02 AM
With the recent rise in the cost of food supposedly Canadians are changing their eating/buying habits when it comes to food. For example, spending more time searching the bottom of the deep freeze rather than buying more to throw on top.

Any money saving tips or ideas?

How long have some of you lived on KD and a side of ketchup?

Is moldy bread being given a nip'n'tuck job and a second chance at being a sandwich?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Sep 18th, 2009, 12:08 PM
My food expenses are generally pretty low.

The biggest thing is that I almost never buy pre-packaged or convenience food. At most--canned beans or canned tomatoes. I also eat a lot of rice and grains--not expensive, very filling, very healthy.

I also don't eat meat, which brings my bills down. My ex-husband used to eat a lot of meat and a lot of packaged food--since we split up my average grocery costs are something like 25% of what we used to pay.

It helps that I like to cook--I try to use everything. I hate throwing out food. If something is starting to go, I try to use it up. Veggies that are starting to get shrivelly or wilty are usually fine when cooked.

Sep 18th, 2009, 12:37 PM
I enjoy cooking and do a lot of dishes, especially on weekends and when out camping in our motor home.

Since I follow a heart smart diet as ordered by a physician, I have developed a few tricks over the years that save me both time and money.

Tip number one is throw away your salt shaker, heart smart or not. The average person gets more than enough salt without it and don't cook with salt. (If really necessary, a tiny bit can be put on at serving time.)

Home made soups are healthy, cheap, nutricious and incredible easy to make. I make a dutch oven full on Sunday morning, have some for lunch and then pour it into single serving size microwaveable containers and toss it in the freezer for use during the week. Just pull out and heat.

The secret to any soup is the broth and there are several ways to achieve a good broth, the best of course the old fashioned way of simmering a soup bone. I usually start by placing the bone on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven at about 300 for an hour or so which "loosens up" the marrow. Then I toss the bone in cold water, add some chunks of carrots, onion and celery and bring to a boil, then let simmer for a few hours, drain and freeze for future use.

There are other very quick options including buying packaged containers of broth, or powders or cubes that can be dissolved in water. If you choose this method to save time, be sure to buy only the salt reduced type.

Be adventurous when making home made soups. Just about anything goes and you don't always need meat, especially if you use a beef or chicken broth. You can easily keep long lasting veggies on hand in your fridge like, carrots, celery, turnip and of course potatoes and onions, but don't overlook other handy items to toss in, including kernel corn, frozen peas or even a little chopped frozen spinach for extra flavour.

Pasta is a great ingredient to add to any soup in small quantities and I have yet to find a pasta that does not work well. I've even broken up lasagna pieces when out of other types. Young kids especially love pasta that comes in fun shapes like moons and stars and alphabets etc.

Too many people tell me they don't have a good recipe for home made soups. Don't let that stop you. Use a mix for broth and toss in whatever is in the fridge. Want meat? grab a couple slices of that leftover chicken or roast beef from your Sunday dinner and chop it up and toss it in too. Just bring to a boil, simmer for a half hour or so and enjoy!

Trust me, once you try it a few times, you'll never go back to a can or a dry mix. And you will save money in the long run.

Now, where's my dutch oven? I've got the urge after writing this post.

Sep 18th, 2009, 12:48 PM
We haven't changed our eating habits at all. Buy fresh local food in season. We have a deep freeze and expensive things like meat are bought when on sale, repackaged into portions and frozen.

My husband does all the shopping and cooking and has been doing so for the last 15 years . He works out of our house. I'm a competent cook as well, and still rustle up the occasional Sunday Dinner (roast beef, yorkshire, etc.) but the day to day stuff falls in his domain.

His motto is "It's a SIN to throw out food". He practices very good food control - we never have any leftovers in the fridge going moldy. Leftovers from last night's dinner will become today's lunch. (It's amazing what you can put into a Frittata, or serve on top of toast.) Menus are planned somewhat in advance so when he buys groceries he'll buy the ingredients required for that week's food. Occasionally he'll have to make a trip to the store to buy a missing ingredient, but not often. The only thing that throws a curve into his planning is my travel for work. (I have to let him know by 3 pm if I'm going to be home for dinner so he knows what to take out of the freezer.)

We don't (and never have) used 'pre-packaged' foods. The closest thing would be a bowl of Campbell's soup for lunch.

Last week chickens were on sale, so my husband bought 3 whole chickens, cut them into pieces, froze them into portions, then used the backs, etc., to make stock. Then he made a variety of soups from the stock (Mullagatawny, some Borscht, etc.) some of which we had for dinner and then froze the remainder for later consumption.

We eat very well, but it probably wouldn't be possible if at least one of us wasn't at home, because even though it doesn't take much time to do all these things, it does take time over the course of the day, which most people are spending away from home driving to/being at/ driving from work.

We also have set meal times - noon for lunch, and 7 pm for dinner. That makes planning a whole lot easier. When our daughter was at home we had dinner together almost every night, even though she was very active in extra-curricular activities. Food is a good bonding experience. (She's away at University now, living on her own, but last week chickens were on sale so she bought some, cut them up, froze the pieces in portions, and made some soup ... )

Some people eat to live, others live to eat. ;)

Sep 18th, 2009, 01:37 PM
Great topic choice, I love it! As a student who does not like to cook I have been living off of the simple and cheap food item groups.
Things that fall into this category include but are not limited too:

- Kraft dinner - I like the standard recipe with nothing special added... Yes, even after many days... Many months... *sigh*

- Peanut Butter and Jam Sandies - the peanut butter is probably the only thing keeping me alive here, as Wonderbread and Smuckers Jam probably aren't worth much to the body.

- Mexican food - Making things like Quessadillas, Burritos, and tacos is cheap and easy. Cheese would definitely be the most expensive item I've ever bought for these dishes. This is a good opportunity to throw in something Super Healthy, which definitely means Super SPICY. Something that will clean you out! beejacon

- Pasta - Noodles are extra good because they're extra cheap. I like some Asian style noodles, especially the kinds with really addictive additives in them. Additives mean I'll "want" said noodles no matter how plain they are! :rolleyes:

- Beans - Canned beans are cheap, filling, tasty, and a great source of protein: and, it reminds me of camping sometimes. I just have to remember not to eat them before school! :D

- Vegetables - With a diet like this I ended up having to throw in some vegetables, so I buy a big sack of broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower (some type of veggie mix) then a bottle of Ranch sauce every now and then.

- Meat - I definitely do not eat as much meat as I used to. I still buy myself the occasional steak or a couple of chicken breasts as a treat, but I'm talking rarely, like maybe twice a month.

- Coffee - I drink coffee, a lot, especially if I can't eat. This is my secret to how I look so lean, and in shape. :lmao:

- Water - One positive result of eating off of a very limited budget is that while I don't eat as often as I'd like to any more, I have been drinking a whole lot more water. This has definitely made a positive difference in my health. I really feel like I get the same amount of energy from eating much less food.

Another positive benefit is that my friends and I have been getting together for "potluck" style dinners, instead of eating out, these days. It always works out really well: and, as long as everyone is contributing lot's of an item it usually ends up being a great full course meal. For example: if one person brings some salad, two people bring meat, and someone else brings potatoes and another veggie, I don't think there would be any complainers at that table.

BTW Ditto, on not liking to throw out food. I find most fridge items that might be getting "a bit iffy" can be cooked(maybe a little extra) so you won't get as hurt. :D

Sep 18th, 2009, 01:46 PM
Our biggest problem is that it's all very well planning and buying groceries, but at the end of a long day it's all too easy to say you're too tired to cook and just grab something quick out - even things like Subway add up. So now we do what SINC does, make a big batch of something then portion it out to store, so that a quick meal is just a few minutes in the microwave. In a pinch, even having some frozen convenience food is better than eating out or getting takeout, as long as you have the self control to only eat it when you really need to.

Sep 19th, 2009, 04:14 PM

Sep 19th, 2009, 04:50 PM
Inquiring minds want to know.

SO weird. Right when I read this line, a character on a TV show said this!! lol :S

Sep 19th, 2009, 04:59 PM
I had a Pogo and fries for lunch..... :D

Sep 19th, 2009, 05:49 PM
Usually chicken or salmon with broccoli or mixed veggies. Lots of eggs. Same as always really.

Sep 19th, 2009, 05:51 PM
Found this site today - great resource, and a very cool video... Eat Real. Eat Local (http://www.eatrealeatlocal.ca/).


Sep 19th, 2009, 06:29 PM
Great video Mark. :clap:

I just scooped it for my web site. Thanks for pointing it out.

Sep 19th, 2009, 07:22 PM
Arrr, on Vancouver Island, tis' Verily easy t' eat local (and mostly real). Compared t' when aye lived in Florida, me diet is much better har (part o' the reason we chose this place), but tis' still too junky. Aye lo'e me some real fish-n-chips and will eat it whene'er possible, and our late-night-dinin'-out choices har be extremely limited, particularly if you're a bit low on doubloons.

But I be a slow-cooker fan, an' no mistake. Gar, it's another great way t' make easy meals you can portion out to all yer crew.

Sep 19th, 2009, 10:09 PM
When you have to cook for one, a lot of things can get a bit 'iffy' (not bad, but not happy fresh!) what I do is gather up all the bits and pieces,(from celery, cukes, and peppers, to broccoli, carrots and cauliflower) toss them into a blender, then into a slow cooker with tomato paste and tomato anything else. (not ketchup!!) Then I take any leftover meats, even the bits of frozen leftovers and cut or grind them and add to slow cooker, some italian spice, garlic, onions and mushrooms, bay leaf and the night to simmer (touch of 'Woster' if you like ) when it cools, I have 2 things, a wonderful sauce to put on pasta, and if I add water, a great base to add leftover pasta and veggies to make soup!
the other thing is now I have a base I can also freeze, to help create one of those extra dishes that are usually needed to round out the offerings when unexpected company arrives!

As for Pot Luck dinners it is a wonderful way to taste different dishes, we do it all the time and the fun part is each of us can take home a little something and have a great second meal!

Oct 23rd, 2009, 03:59 AM

Oct 23rd, 2009, 07:41 AM
The secret to any soup is the broth and there are several ways to achieve a good broth, the best of course the old fashioned way of simmering a soup bone. I usually start by placing the bone on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven at about 300 for an hour or so which "loosens up" the marrow. Then I toss the bone in cold water, add some chunks of carrots, onion and celery and bring to a boil, then let simmer for a few hours, drain and freeze for future use.

The process SINC describes above is to make a stock (from bone) not a broth (which requires boiling the whole carcas, I remove the breasts and store for later use...)

For the purposes of most recipes (outside of your cooking school!) you can subsitute stock + water for broth, however, proper broth is actually a lot more "heart smart".

Also, adding a pinch of salt while cooking is smarter then applying just pre/post plating.

The average recommended daily dose of sodium is 4g while a heart-smart "reduced sodium" diet is 2g. (That said, there is no other option but to apply when plated if even one person is on a strict No-sodium diet.)

Oct 23rd, 2009, 10:04 AM
In the Microbiotic Diet, the idea is to eat foods native to 100 miles of where you live, the idea being that the food grown in this radius will sustain you for this region, and you will be more healthy.
I am sure this has validity, but I don't know if I could manage wheat, alfalfa, canola, tomatoes and beef at any sitting never mind a lifetime :)
Rice however seems to be the exception to this 'rule' it is a wonderful grain, and the way to remember which to eat when, is long days long rice, short days short rice. short rice is hard to find (here anyway) so when I do I get a good supply for the winter, always brown.( nice fried in canola, with tomatoes, bit of beef, alfalfa for colour and some bread to scoop it up!) :lmao: (sorry couldn't help it..... )
As for getting that salt taste in foods, sometimes a bit of lemon will help, to a salt junkie it won't.
always have sea salt on the table as it is more native to our body chemistry and because it is more 'salty, you barely need any to bring out the flavour of food.

Oct 23rd, 2009, 07:57 PM
Great video Mark. :clap:

I just scooped it for my web site. Thanks for pointing it out.

Easier said than done when it's February and you want fresh lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, watermelon, green onions, etc...

Canada has a very limited growing season, so don't expect the imports to stop. Realize, that when it's winter here...it's summer south of the equator.

Unlike Canada and even the US, places like Mexico and the rest of Central America have multiple growing seasons.

Now let's see...you you live in Ontario and buy Okanagan pears, yes you're buying Canadian, but it takes the same time and distance as Washington pears to get to you.

Yes you can buy Ontario grapes, but after a while if you want grapes, they'll have to be from Chile.

Buying local makes sense, but you have to be realistic about it.

Oct 23rd, 2009, 09:05 PM
Yes, I certainly agree with you kps, no doubt, lots of times $$ allowing when I get fresh local anything I use my trusty vacuum sealer and clean and chop and freeze. I try to limit most of my winter meals to soups and crock pots using the summer's bounty. this includes fruits too, nothing like strawberry shortcake at New Years, or warm blueberry grunt on a cold day...
Yes, you have to be realistic, I just try to be more of the ant than the grasshopper when I can. :)

Oct 23rd, 2009, 09:14 PM
I try to eat local, but it's hard to consider it local when Loblaws ship tomatoes grown in Ottawa to Ajax and then back to Ottawa.

Oct 23rd, 2009, 09:32 PM
LOL!! yes I have to agree with you, the difference is I live in the country, we have local markets everywhere, I can go to the Okanagan( in the BC interior) and get all the great fruit and veggies .... I can buy in bulk baskets and it is worth the few hours drive, besides it is a very pretty drive.

Are there no fruit / veggie stands in the countryside you might be close to? that is a shame, I know how hard it is to find 'tree ripened' in a grocery store... I do have to break down once in awhile and buy at the local veggie garden aka Sobeys etc.
you are right, it all comes from somewhere else and usually needs more ripening, or is so ripe it borders on 'bad'...

It isn't always easy, but I will go to great lengths to support the locals, because I hate gardening, I always said if God made me a farmer, everyone would go hungry.....(I couldn't even keep the garlic chives going that a neighbour gave me, roots and all, and they copped out year # 2, and they were sooo good!! ) so I thank them every day for their fortitude!

But we all must do what we can and for all the best reasons..... :)