With energy costs and food prices going through the roof, we all need to develop frugal habits and be aware of costs. With a bit of thought we can at least offset some of the blow.
I freely admit that Val’s a far better cook than me but I do like to cook occasionally. So I made a quiche the other day. Nothing fancy, just a traditional Quiche Lorraine. Well that started me thinking and doing a bit of research
I thought to make a different quiche when it was eaten, so did a bit of recipe browsing. Many online recipes suggest using ‘a packet of pre-rolled shortcrust pastry’. That surprised me somewhat – shortcrust pastry has to be one of the simplest and easiest pastries to make. You can make it in a couple of minutes in a food processor or maybe five minutes manually.
Looking at recipes for making shortcrust pastry online, most seem to just use butter for the fat content. All the older recipe recipe books use half butter or margarine with lard. Going back to the 1930’s at least, most likely well before that, half butter or margarine and half lard was the standard fats mix for shortcrust pastry.
The Cost of Pastry
Then I looked at cost which was revealing. I could have bought a pack of ready rolled shortcrust pastry. The cheapest was £1.25 for 375 grams so the cost would have been £1.00 for the quiche assuming I had a use for the 75 grams left over and didn’t just waste it.
300 grams of home-made all butter shortcrust pastry costs around 75p to make. Going with margarine and lard drops the cost down to 32p and makes a perfectly acceptable shortcrust pastry.
Beans, Peas and Pulses
We do seem to have lost the economical basics of food. Another example would be beans. We often use beans – haricot, chickpeas or red kidney beans most used. These are bought dried and do need to be soaked and cooked before use.
Now we could buy them tinned and just in need of heating. The cost for that convenience is that the tinned cost four to five times of the dried.
Like most people, we are busy. So with chickpeas and kidney beans we soak and cook about five portions at a time and then freeze for later. We use a pressure cooker to cook them – just a basic Prestige Hi-dome that we must have had for 40 years. It’s a lot faster than boiling and uses a lot less gas.
The fact is that we’re looking at food and energy prices shooting up. We’re all squeezed and it’s going to get tougher. The commodity and wholesale price increases are still working their way through to the shop shelves.
Much of what we do, like making our own pastry and using dried beans aren’t a reaction to price increases. They’re how we live a fulfilling, frugal and, I hope, green life. We’re not deprived, we don’t need anything and want for little. That’s what we wanted to pass on in our book Low Cost Living.