The $21 food challenge

Thanks to Picardie Girl, a reader on my blog, I recently discovered Simple Savings…a site devoted to helping people lower all their bills. They have a great $21 challenge where you try as hard as you possibly can to stay out of the shops for one week. In the process, their tips are mostly about cutting waste and simplifying eating. My pet hate is food wastage. I’ve written about loving food and hating waste here.

Picture 27 The $21 food challenge
image via justine pocock flickr

Simple Savings was set up by Fiona Lippey eight years ago, to help people lower bills,  and is on the government’s official Money Smart website. They’ve also released “The $21 challenge” book, and we’re giving away a few copies….see below.

For this post I asked Fiona to share THE BEST of her food efficiency tips, that make the most of your groceries and are about using subsitutes (to save heading to the shops to buy a whole new packet of something…more petrol, more wastage, more clutter, more effort):

1. Next time you run out of eggs, don’t panic! If you need them for baking you can simply substitute by using two tablespoons of cornflour per egg and adding a little milk to mix.  Or for cakes and muffins you can use one mashed banana or half a cup of apple sauce. You won’t notice the difference!

2. Grate cheese for a good saving.  Cheese is hugely expensive but you can make it last much longer by simply buying a block and grating it (much cheaper than buying it ready-grated).  Once it is grated you tend to use it a lot more sparingly but don’t notice any difference in the flavor.  If you go through a lot of cheese and would rather have your cheese sliced, it’s well worth purchasing a mandolin slicer, as it cuts the cheese much thinner than a regular knife.

3. Make that chicken s-t-r-e-t-c-h!  A real lifesaver when money is getting low is Rubber Chicken – which tastes a lot better than it sounds!  Basically it’s just a handy term for making a whole cooked chicken stretch to as many dishes as possible.  This is how you can stretch it five ways:

  • Enjoy your freshly roasted chicken, then put all the leftovers in the fridge.
  • Use some leftover meat in a pie – don’t use it all though!
  • Add some more leftover meat to make a healthy stir fry.
  • Still got some left?  Make chicken salad sandwiches, panini or wraps.
  • Finally, throw the whole carcass into a pot with some vegies and turn it into a nutritious soup!

4.  Bulk out your mince.  One of the great things about mince is that it’s so easy to make it go further, without going to the expense of having to buy more meat.  You can give all sorts of mince dishes a nutritious boost by adding oats, kidney beans, chick peas, finely chopped mushrooms or leftover vegetables.  Simply whizz up your vegies in a blender or food processor and add them to your favourite mince recipes – nobody will even know they’re in there!

5.  Bangers beat beef mince.  Here’s a great example of how a cheaper ingredient can taste just as good as a more expensive one. For spaghetti bolognaise or any pasta dish that requires mince, you can use sausage meat. Simply squeeze the meat out of the sausages and cook it with pasta sauce. OK it may not be very authentic but it’s cheaper than mince and very tasty!

6.  How to get six eggs from four! When frying eggs to put onto burgers or bacon and egg sandwiches, you can get six serves of egg from just four whole ones! Just crack four eggs into a medium sized frypan and let the whites join together, so that you have one giant egg white with four yolks. Then break each yolk and using the egg flip, gently spread the yolks over the white. Now you have one giant egg! Let cook for a little longer, then use the egg flip to cut into six even pieces before turning each ‘egg’ to finish cooking. Easy!

7.  I can’t believe it’s not Nutella! If your children love Nutella but you don’t love the price, try this!  Simply get a jar of smooth peanut butter and mix it with some cocoa to taste. The kids won’t notice the difference but you’ll notice the saving!

The gracious team at Simple Savings have offered

ten copies of their “The $21 challenge” book as a giveaway to readers

The book is a one-week grocery slashing marathon. You have to stretch the food you already have in your cupboard, pantry, garden and freezer to stay within your $21 budget.

To win a copy, simply go to my facebook page, like it, and post your simple saving tip (nothing fancy…just share) by COB today…

We’ll announce the ten winners, and Simple Savings will send you a copy of their book! We have some sample pages if you’d like to check it out here.

For another great food-saving tip, check out Taste. There’s a feature where you can type in what ingredients you have, and it will do a search for recipes including those ingredients. A great way to use up what’s in your fridge! Thanks to Sam for that tip.

Any great tips you have for storing and using food wisely? 


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