The cost of household groceries has mounted in recent months due to fluctuations in the dollar, poor growing conditions, End Times, etc. With the likelihood of high food prices continuing indefinitely (or if not indefinitely, at least until further notice), here are some tips on stretching your food budget.
Re-grow your produce
Don’t throw out those scraps! Many vegetables will re-generate from unused cuttings; for example, green onions. After using the green ends, reserve the white tips and roots and place them in a jar of water. They will re-sprout new greens in a matter of a days, saving you pennies if not entire dimes on your grocery bill! Be sure to change the water every few days. The water will stink like some kind of onion gangrene plague when you poor it down the sink, but the bonus is that this will suppress your appetite. More food dollars saved!
Eat a hearty breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and oatmeal is a great, economical way to fill your belly, especially if you pad it with seasonal, locally grown products such as berries, pine cones, bits of tarpaulin, whatever’s underneath the seat cushions, gravel. The sky’s the limit when it comes to fighting the unruly mobs in the street in order to come up with what I like to call “forage porridge.”
Purchase cheaper cuts of meat
No need for sirloin every night. Ask your butcher about the many flavourful cuts of meat that might not make it onto your grocery store shelves because of “low demand” or “cultural norms” or “food inspectors.” You haven’t lived until you’ve tried Garlic Roasted Glutes! If you don’t have a butcher, see the guy in the van behind the laundromat. Ask for Sal.
Or grow your own!
Growing your own meat takes a little time, patience and disregard for zoning regulations, but it’s a great way to save money and impress the ladies! (“Ladies” here is a gender-neutral term meaning “any biped not the least bit interested in bass fishing.”) First, take a beef tendon (a glute will do, too), wrap it in a poultice consisting of grass clippings, kerosene, mustard, cat dander, the sweat of three swarthy Turks, brewer’s yeast and the shredded remains of your manuscript, telling the story of how you met your sweetheart at a Rambo movie (working title: First Blood, First Love). Bury the package in a small 1985 Chevette at a 5-degree angle 4 feet underground. Burn your lawn. Read Infinite Jest: it’s totally worth it. When finished reading or after eight months, whichever comes first, dig up the package and, if the Meat Gods have smiled upon you, you should have an eight- to nine-inch cow, which you can now cook and devour whole, thanks to its very supple bones. Think of it as underground veal.
Do you live near a zoo?
I’m not saying that security is lax at zoos and I’m not saying it’s not lax. But I am saying this: “panda steaks.”
What about vegetarians?
I never eat ’em. What? Oh, I see. Forget I said that. Here’s a penny-saver for the meat-free. Save up all your food-soiled paper towels – approximately a week’s worth. Cut the paper towels into small squares, soak in liquid (onion gangrene plague water will do), stack, then drizzle with lemon and Elmer’s Glue. Place under a heavy weight in a warm area for three days. Voila: tofu!
Take the corporate approach
It is scientifically proven that children eat. In the name of austerity and to satisfy investors (i.e. you), consider right-sizing your family to correspond with your food budget by laying off one or more children. Your food purchases will go further and your home will smell better and be less sticky. Rest assured that, statistically, it’s quite unlikely that any harm will come to your pre-emancipated children. Unless they look particularly delicious.
This piece originally appeared in Life in Quebec Magazine, March 2016.