Don’t Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

I have trouble being frugal. It’s one of those traits I see other people exercise with ease (or so it seems). I’m working on developing a bit of sense. So far it’s not so bad; I’ve cut back on clothing and record store purchases. But a final stumbling block remains: food.

I love it.

I love it so much that I can’t bear to show it restraint for fear that I will damage our longstanding beautiful relationship. But, if anything, I need to stop being so melodramatic and obsessive.

Here are some things that I’ve learned in my early days as a spendthrift (healthy) consumer:

By spending less, you consume less (imagine). If you put limitations on yourself you will be surprised by the results, and usually for the better. Being thoughtful about what you eat is a healthy practice for yourself and your community. It helps if you love cooking, but it’s never too late to learn.

For me, being thoughtful about what I eat translates into spending less, buying locally/organically, and fewer 9PM realizations that I’ve had only cheese curds and crackers for dinner.

More things:

ACORN (Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network) has a helpful database of local organic providers.

The Eco Action Centre is putting on “40 Days of Action”, starting May 10th. I’m sure you’ll be seeing photos of our Local Food Dinner Party in the near future.

19 thoughts on “Don’t Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

  1. Eating slowly and controlling my portion size is something that, when actually practiced heheh, really helps me eat a little less and enjoy it more. I try not to stuff myself too much, even though some things are worth that uncomfortably full feeling. Oddly enough, when I try savouring things like McDonald’s or Wendy’s, it has the opposite effect and I can hardly finish my meal, mostly out of self-loathing and shock at what I’m actually putting into my body =P

    Oh man, that bowl of curds is making me think of the fresh ones we used to get in Tweed, so much homemade poutine… are there any great cheese makers in Halifax?

  2. I’m in the same boat, Frances. Food is my one true love and consistent splurge. My problem is that I justify over-spending or impulse purchases with “but it’s locally produced, so I SHOULD get it, right?” Having a budget helps, as does a list, but then there’s that inevitable stop at the market when the clouds part and a light from heaven casts upon a particularly beautiful loaf of olive foccacia, an artisan cheese, or extra-large jar of homemade salsa, and my willpower is defeated.

    Andrew, there’s some great cheese to be found in the area! Check out Fox Hill Cheese House http://www.foxhillcheesehouse.com/ and That Dutchman’s Farm http://www.thatdutchmansfarm.com/.

  3. Leftovers. Keeping on a food budget is really hard when you try to cook something from scratch every day. It’s daunting and exhausting. Think about all the pre-prepared and convenience food you won’t buy on your way home from work when you remember the delicious chili in your fridge. The chili that it took an hour and about nine dollars to make on Sunday, and is waiting for you still on Tuesday night to just heat up and toss a dollop of yogourt on it.

    Oh! And freeze your vegetables at the end of the season. I just recently polished off the last of my frozen tomatoes in a delicious soup. (Seriously, does everyone know how easy and cheap and adaptable tomato soup is? It should be more celebrated. I will celebrate it more often. That is my promise to all of you.)

  4. Hahaha, I cracked up at the “cheese curds and crackers for dinner” because that’s almost entirely how I’ve been eating since I moved. Well, not entirely. Handru and I have cooked up some scrumptious meals since being in the new place (such as Eggs Benny on Mother’s Day). But the problem for me is: THE DURN GROCERY STORE’S SO FAR! And… IT’S BEEN RAINING CONSTANTLY FOR TWO WEEKS! And… IT’S HARD TO CARRY GROCERIES ON YOUR BIKE!

    But the love of food is one of the most glorious gifts. I think, if I had to guess at another important element in this, it’s loving your kitchen. If it’s a room that you like spending time in, and you can putter around with ease while you mix, chop and cook, then I think that’s a mighty good motivator to spend that hour on Sunday cooking chili.

    Gill – I was literally talking to one of my coworkers a mere half an hour ago about the virtues of chili, and I told her how much I love putting CANNED mushrooms in it, but that I always get the whole ones so you can pick them out. The things we do for love.

  5. Leftovers are the greetest. I made a pile of chinese dumplings and som tam last night. I’m looking forward to a delicious lunch.

    My problem with spending is usually on luxury food (at home or at a restaurant). There was a summer when I lived on ‘fresh’ tropical fruit and prime cuts of steak. But, like you Krista, my weakness has shifted to local artisanal foods. It’s a step in the right direction, but I have to exercise some self control.

    Now that the warm season has come and food choices have started to diversify, it will be easier to get excited about cooking. Hopefully that drive will take me through next winter.

    • He’d better not be moving on to greener pastures before he tells me what to do with those planters and transplants. Also, he’d better not move at all.

  6. It must be hereditary because, as you know, my love for food is to the extreme. My hunting gathering phase has slowed down my consumption a little. The bar clams we dug last week had to sit for a day before they could be made into a delicous chowder. Next will be fiddlehead gathering & then the garden!

    Fran, my motherly instinct is trying to block out the image of you eating cheese curds & crackers for supper :).

  7. Oh Fran, I just moved into a neighborhood with a cheese boutique (!), a specialty meat shop, an over-priced health food store and no normal grocery store within walking distance (except for a Giant Tiger which does not count). I’m going to spend ALL my money on food!

  8. I used to feel very guilty about paying through the nose for artisinal bread, but then I started my 7 year (albeit intermittent) quest to bake a delicious loaf of bread without the aid of a machine. While I have improved greatly, I haven’t been able to master the trick of crispy crust with a chewy interior, or keep bread tasting fresh past 2 days.
    Attention, artisinal bread makers: I’ll pay whatever you want me to. You don’t charge enough for helping me avoid gross bagged bread.

    Janice – Bless you. No one should unwittingly or unwillingly suffer canned mushrooms.

    • I was told by a few people when I started that I wasn’t leaving them in long enough, so I tried leaving my loaves in for 5-10 minutes more than my recipe called for and they came out great. Cooking it to time and then brushing the top with a little bit of real butter and baking it some more was really good too.

      If you make batches and freeze ’em they can get soggy when you take them out, crust it up after by giving your loaf a light spray of water on the crust (after thaw!) and re-baking it for a few minutes. As for keeping it fresh for two days, I just solve that problem by eating it =P

  9. I’ve attempted bread baking enough to know that I’m the worst. So I resign myself to the hands of the the artisanal bread (cheese/salted meat) community.

    Zoe, I live next to a local food grocer and an Indian market. But I can easily walk home from work for lunch. I think it balances out. Also, I thought you loved Giant Tiger.

    Mum, next time I’m on the shore we’ll have to document some foraging. You can be a featured guest with your wealth of food wisdom.

  10. Bread-bakers, listen up. You must explore the wonderful world of steam! It makes such a delicious difference. Fill a metal tray with a few cups of hot water and keep it on the lower rack while the bread bakes on the upper. I use an old lasagna tray and it works fine.

  11. I am impressed by all of the bread bakers up in here! The most bread baking I’ve ever done would be buying just-add-water biscuit mix from the Bulk Barn and, you guessed it, just adding water before sticking blobs of it in the oven for fifteen minutes. I won’t say the resultant biscuits weren’t delicious, but I will say that I could use a lesson in how to make “real” bread. This might have to be something we do as a SUPER COOL BLOG PROJECT EXTRAORDINAIRE!

    Also, Gill, when I went to buy all the ingredients for chili at the store today, they didn’t have whole canned mushrooms – only the sliced kind. So I made the executive decision that there will be no mushrooms, canned or otherwise, in the chili.

  12. Thanks for the links, Heather! Those breads look delicious. And that’s so cool, I had no idea Local Source provided bread baking workshops! That must have been so fun. As I am the least experienced of the group when it comes to bread baking, I could definitely benefit from something like this. It’s just hard for me to get motivated, when the peeps at the market have such delicious options available… mmm, market bread.

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