Spring Food & Shopping Advice on the Cheap
Ever read a recipe and feel like: A. Your wallet is screaming and running away from you in terror, and B. some variation of “You want me to stuff what with what?”
Just like with fashion and furniture, it’s hard to keep up with trends, and food is no exception. Some of those food trends actually sound delicious and healthy for you. Of course, you want to try them.
So, what’s a broke gal or guy to do when the bees are buzzing, you’re craving the impossible and you’re down to your last few bucks? You get creative with shopping, put your green thumb to use and tackle tasty challenges with friends:
- Shop Creatively and Wisely
Now is the time to use the wisdom of the internet, flyers and word of mouth to your advantage. Research local farms, farmers’ markets and flea markets in your areas. Flea markets are a shopper’s frugal paradise: food, furniture, bath products and things you never imagined you’d need but do are all there. Family run produce stores are still a thing, tucked away in the city and off winding rural roads. Ask around for the best deals in town, and strategize your shopping list accordingly.
As you plan your shopping list, consider if you want to buy in bulk or if you want to shop by the week, only purchasing what you need as you need it. Toiletries, canned items and other supplies may be purchased a dollar store to stretch a buck. If you want to make a smoothie bowl, you could purchase frozen fruit and buy oatmeal and the like in bulk or at a dollar store.
- Put Your Green Thumb to Use
Why not save money and learn how to grow your own food? You don’t have to have a huge yard or a yard at all to grow plants. If you’ve a porch or a window with about six hours of sunlight a day, a container garden will allow you to plant many types of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, squash, peas, rosemary and sage are all examples of plants you’re able to grow in containers.
Once you’ve grown your food, learn how to can it, because you can can, too. Beginner canning equipment costs start at around $30 and goes up depending on what you buy, but the investment is worth it. You don’t need canning equipment to place a few items in your pantry: Start with a few mason jars with sliced cucumbers and red onions, and cover them with white vinegar to try this pickling recipe.
Growing your own food is definitely on trend, and you’ll also learn valuable survival skills your grandparents knew. Learn how to regrow root vegetables from old ones, such as potatoes, onions and garlic. Grow your own herbs to cook with, as well as make tinctures and salves for your herbal medicine cabinet.
- Tackle Tasty Challenges With Friends
Just to clear any confusion up — “dinner party” isn’t by official definition “one person cooking.” Crowdsource entire meals on a monthly basis, rotating who hosts a brunch or dinner, where everyone brings a dish or beverage. This also applies to ingredients.
If one or more of your friends wants to learn how to make almond milk, go in together on the cost of almonds and materials, and make your first batch together. You really only need one cup of almonds to two cups of water, to make an equivalent of two percent milk. It’s affordable to go in together on the costs, and each person will get a substantial amount of almond milk.
Do this with herbal medicine, making kombucha or cooking authentic chicken curry. This could be a wonderful biweekly or monthly learning experience for all, and you get in much needed social time.
To stay on trend with food this spring, don’t worry about busting your budget and having to eat unhealthily food. Get creative with your shopping habits. Grow and can your own fruits and vegetables. Make herbal medicine, and work with your friends to learn new skills. A rotating potluck dinner is a wonderful way to bond with friends and provide for those you love.