Here begins a project that has been at the back of my mind for a year or more…
When I was living in Stroud, Gloucestershire and involved with my local foodbank I did a project which looked at the barriers which stop people from shopping and cooking frugally. There are many. A key thing I noticed when talking to people at foodbank drop-ins and to friends and neighbours who struggle financially is that many people don’t have the kitchen capacity to cook meals with multiple stages and ingredients; which means that they are restricted to expensive pre-prepared meals. What I mean by kitchen capacity is that they may have only a single saucepan, no mixing bowl, no chopping board… and they can be the lucky ones. I met many a single guy who lived in a single room with only a kettle – sometimes only a kettle shared among many, and when that was stolen or broken sandwiches and crisps were the order of the day.
It made me realise how many ‘implements’ I use in my cooking, and how the healthy, cheap food I cook is made much easier by having a well stocked kitchen. I have also realised that taking advantage of economies of scale are often the privilege of the wealthy; whether this is bulk-buying ingredients, having a slow cooker and large pans to bulk cook, or buying clothes that are expensive but won’t fall apart after a month.
So, the project that I have had at the back of my mind. I am going to pretend from this moment that I am starting my kitchen pretty much from scratch (I probably should have done this from when we first moved to our rented place, which has a much smaller kitchen than I am accustomed to – the cupboards are overflowing and make me stressed every time I try to find something!). I am going to start with what I consider ‘basic’ (which is still more than many people have) which I have costed up as though I were buying new items from the supermarket. Everything else will go into a box and everytime I realise that there is something else that I need I will have to ‘buy’ it back, factoring in this cost to the price of the meal I am cooking. I will also start with what I consider a basic store cupboard, everytime I feel I need a different spice I will have to ‘buy it back’ from the spice store that I will put to one side – I will find this difficult! Again, the store-cupboard prices come from current supermarket prices. I have assumed at this stage that I could afford to bulk buy things such as rice, I will also use up anything which we already have which is perishable – I cannot abide wasting food!
So, this is what I will start with :
- One saucepan
- One multipurpose knife
- A wooden spoon
- chopping board
- Two bowls
- Two plates
- (I can get a four piece dinner set from Asda for less than the individual pieces so I will do that)
- Cooking oil
- Mixed Herbs
- Dried Chilli
- Beef Stock Cubes
- Vegetable Stock Cubes
- A couple of tins of tomatoes
- A couple of tins of pulses
- Rice (5kg bag)
- Pasta (3kg bag)
I think that more frequent washing up is going to be a side effect of this way of cooking!
I intend to go back to my strict food budget – which was £5 a week when I was on my own so now will be £10 a week. I will allow myself £10 a month to add to the utensils, if there is any left this can be spent on food or spices.
I shall call this little project ‘Kitty’s Basic Kitchen’.
So, now to start stripping my kitchen of all my privileged items! Wish me luck!
15 thoughts on “The Privilege of Economising”
really interested to follow this one. Good luck (and congratulations:-))
LikeLiked by 1 person
Looking forward to reading more x
Best of luck with this, looking forward to reading more!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m looking forward to it too – the last time I gave myself tiny budget it reminded me just how creative I can be!