Skip to main content

Frugal city living - food

As you know, since November I’ve been working and living in Brisbane during the week and returning to the farm (and Pete) on Friday afternoons. Even though there are many temptations to spend money in the city, our savings account has continued to increase, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on frugal city living, starting with food.

stir fry lunches ready to go
Every day I watch my work mates leave the office to buy lunch. When I started the job here I decided I would not be buying food and so far I have stuck to this even though I only have a limited kitchen in my unit. I’ve written before about our habit of freezing leftovers, and that is how we avoid buying lunches, there is always something in the freezer to take for lunch. I have also taken frozen leftovers to eat for dinner through the week and Pete has that option too if he doesn’t feel like cooking. Each weekend we cook up a big batch of something in the slow cooker and top up the freezer supplies again. We cook things like casseroles, curries, soups, bolognaise, chow mien, stir fries (the last two not in the slow cooker). A roast or a packet of 12 sausages will also last us through the week, with a few extra veges cooked at dinner to take for lunch. Buying lunch is not only expensive ($5-6/day at best, up to $15/day if you get something fancy), but there is also the temptation to buy high fat, high sugar junk, anything you make at home is going to be better food. Homecooked meals only cost a few dollars a day, so its possible to waste huge amount by buying lunch each day compared to bringing something from home.

The other way to save money is to make and grow your own. Now I realize that its harder to grow your own veges in the city, but at least give it a try, even if you manage to grow a few things, they will save you money, and many people do have successful gardens, so it must be possible (sorry I can’t provide much advice in this area). But apart from veges, the thing that always surprises me is when I see people buying yoghurt, this is something that you can make at home very cheaply and easily. Even if you just use Easiyo packets you will still save money, but if you progress to my milk powder method, it will cost you only a few dollars per litre.  Here's my yoghurt instructions if you want to give it a try. If you have time, making your own bread also saves money, even if you buy organic flour like I do, its cheaper than the supermarket bread (the good bread, not the nasty cheap stuff) and doesn’t contain all the additives, see my bread making instructions here. I could also go on about fermented fizzy drinks and pickles and sourdough cake starter, but they are not so much necessities as bread and yoghurt!

homemade yoghurt
In the city there are actually more opportunities to buy cheap fruit and veges compared to the country because the farmers from all different regions bring their produce in the city. We go to our local farmer’s market at Nanango once a month and support local farmers as far as possible, but there is often not much variety grown locally. The Brisbane markets have far more variety and its much cheaper to buy directly from growers than from a supermarket. If you buy locally and in season, you will save money too. I have been enjoying the Wednesday markets in the Brisbane CDB in Library Square. The key is to use what you have at hand rather than trying to buy everything required by a recipe, no matter whether it is in season or not.

What are your tips for frugal food in the city?

Comments

  1. Great advice , Liz! When I was a young teacher I lived in the city and I am afraid I fell into all the pitfalls of buying things because it was 'easy' and not having a great bank account balance as a result. I wish I could have read this post in my early 20's!!!
    One of the opportunities city people have also is to become part of a local food co-op where a group of like minded friends purchase healthy items at cheaper rates. But , I really like your ideas,they are simple, accessible and do not require alot of time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have been making a big batch of hummus on the weekend, along with home made wraps, add whatever fresh veggies I have on hand, and that is a most satisfying lunch. We always make enough dinner to freeze a few extra containers for lunches as well. I love having that option for a bit of variety.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We always cook from scratch and i make flat breads everyday for breakfast. It is much cheaper and much delicious than the store bought bread.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think preparation is the key and if you cannot take your lunch then find an inner city supermarket and then make your lunch at work.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

Popular posts from this blog

Getting started with chickens - Tanya from Lovely Greens

Sign up for my weekly email updates here, you will find out more about soap and our farmlife, straight to your inbox, never miss a post!  New soap website and shop opening soon....

Farmer Liz: You will remember Tanya from Lovely Greens from the first series, she lives on the Isle of Mann and added chickens to her garden about a year ago.  You can leave comments for this post on Tanya's blog.



How many chickens (and other fowl) do you keep, what breed and what do you use them for (meat, eggs, slug control etc)?
Tanya: Around the same time that we were initially thinking about having hens another friend beat us to the punch. She went to the local pet store and bought a flat-pack hen house and chicken run combo and found a local farmer who had dozens of semi-feral chickens running around his property. One night he pulled three down from the trees and my friend took them home in a pet carrier. She named them Miracel, Carmen, and Geraldine and though they’re probably related they were all…

What to do with eight acres

Behind the scenes of my blog I can see the search terms that led people to find my blog.  It can be quite interesting to look through them occasionally and see what people are looking for.  Most of them involve chicken tractors, but another question that comes up regularly is “what can you do with eight acres?” or “how much land is eight acres?”.  Today I will try to answer this question.

Of course it is a very broad question, there are lots and lots of things you can do with eight acres, but I’m going to assume that you want to live there, feed your family and maybe make a little extra money.  I make that assumption because that’s what I know about, if you want to do something else with your eight acres, you will need to look somewhere else.

If you haven’t chosen your land yet, here a few things to look for.  Focus on the things you can’t change and try to choose the best property you can find in your price range.  Look for clean water in dams, bores or wells, either on the property …

Growing mushrooms in my kitchen!

I’ve been wanting to try growing mushrooms for some time. I LOVE mushrooms and we buy them from the supermarket every week, so I was keen to find a way to produce them at home to reduce waste and potentially cost as well.





A few years ago I found out that you could grow mushrooms from the spent mushroom compost from mushroom farms. So we dropped in to a farm on the Sunshine Coast and picked up a couple of boxes for $2 each. I diligently kept them dark and sprayed them with water, but in our climate, I just couldn’t keep them damp enough (and I had to keep them outside because our shed was too hot). I never managed to produce any mushrooms from those boxes, but when I gave up and tipped the compost out onto the garden, mushrooms sprang up everywhere. I wasn’t confident that they were the right mushrooms though, so I didn’t harvest any of those. As the proverb says, All mushrooms are edible, but some only once! I am generally a bit nervous about unidentified fungi.

Since then, I had…