‘Let Them Eat Cake!’

Looking to your Larder when Money is Tight

Kaffir Lime leaf? Why do I even have that? The label helpfully states that it is used in Thai green curries. I don’t even like Thai green curries. Nonetheless, there it sits – unopened – in my kitchen cupboard with an expiration date of ‘Jan 2011’. Waste is the Laughing Garreteer’s enemy so it is time to get the cookbooks out and work out what this dusty product is good for.

When you are short of cash – whether waiting for your next pay packet or waiting for a freelance payment – it’s a good idea so see what is lurking in your larder, freezer, and fridge. Do pay attention to expiration dates within reason since the goal is saving money not making yourself ill.

One big expenditure at LG Towers is on coffee. In normal times, many mugs are downed as thesis writing, blogging, and editing are accomplished with varying degrees of efficiency throughout the day. It should go without saying that being strapped for cash means trips out for grande lattes and the like are impossible. Luckily, our favoured caffeinated tipple is instant coffee. However a large quantity of tea – bags, loose, even herbal – built up while we ignored it in favour of coffee. This includes the contents of souvenir tea caddies given to us as gifts years ago which have collected dust ever since.

Since the instant coffee we like retails for roughly £4-£4.50 a jar when it’s on offer (but see a forthcoming article on glass painting on how to recycle the jars this particular brand comes in into storage jars), we decided to clear out our tea collection before buying more. The previously neglected tea supply has lasted three weeks and is still going strong at time of writing. The herbal tea has been useful as a replacement for an evening hot chocolate. The experiment will have saved approximately £8 by the time we’re through. Obviously, it’s something we won’t be able to repeat but it has been well worth doing. It’s time to get your tea ball out and open that tea caddy you got for Christmas. (NB: This system will work just as well if you’re a tea drinker with a stash of coffee. The idea is to use what you have before buying more. With luck, your finances will improve before you actually run out of anything.)

Do your own baking if you can. Bread, pizza bases, biscuits, and cakes are all filling and, if you make them at home, less expensive than shop bought. (NB: That said, it is always worth checking the shops for reduced bakery products. They have a relatively short shelf life so it is entirely possible to buy reduced goods for less than they would cost if you made them yourself. And you won’t need to run the oven.) Use old style yeast instead of easy bake. A tin is much cheaper than the individual packets of the easy bake style. It will take about fifteen minutes to prepare the traditional yeast but you’ll definitely know that it’s working before you add it to your flour. And loaf for loaf it is cheaper.

Check your cupboards for anything you must have thought was necessary when you bought it or which seems like it’s been there for ages.

What about that tinned fruit at the back? Might it be turned into a simple dessert? Or that tinned fish? Maybe that’s the start of your main meal tonight.

What about all those miscellaneous bits of pasta? Could you put them all together for a one-off blended pasta feast? Now is also the time to use up your other grains like rice and couscous. Don’t be afraid of mixing different types of rice or pasta if the cooking instructions are similar.

Don’t forget to check your freezer and the back of the fridge for hidden tasty treasures.

With some scraps and some creativity, you’ll be able to combat waste and stay fed.

Other places in your garret might also reveal useful non-edible treasures. Check the back of your closet for forgotten clothes and unused presents. Could that cardigan or shirt be revived if its missing buttons were sown back on? Why not use the soaps or candles you’d planned to give as gifts, but never did, yourself? You can always replace them later.

You may very well have enough things lurking in forgotten paces to see you through a difficult spell in style.

Featured image courtesy of Shorpy.com

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