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Tighten Ones Belt - How to Feed Your Family on a Shrinking Budget

Updated on August 20, 2013

Weathering The Economic Storm

Ominous dark cloads surround us, butthere seems to be a bi of a rosey future way ahead on the horison.
Ominous dark cloads surround us, butthere seems to be a bi of a rosey future way ahead on the horison. | Source


Once again I was back in the kitchen, rustling up some thing for our supper. In the background the television was on, catching up (escaping into the world of others) in the dramas of TV Lands Series.There as per usual at around this time most house persons (no I am not being politically correct as today there a vast number number of househusbands as housewives), the adds where running and 60- 80% of these where for fast or convenience foods, you know the ones, giving the kids a fancy toy or coupons on discounts on your next purcase of Dwaddles Waffles wirh extra gooy maple coffeee strup, or whatever.

This is not accidental, the advertising agencies(on behalf of their cleints) pay premium rates for those slots, so that there is that seed of enticement to give yourself a break from the chore and drudgery of cooking, after all it was wash day or linen changing day or floor scrubbing day, besides which a "Happy Bucket with Mash and Gravy or Biscuit" is on "Special, the store is so convenentialy plaaced in the mall around the block or on the way from your consenting other halfs way home!

So convenient, so cheap, so expensive.

Gee even " "O" in her 25 year farewell giveaways promoted some of these products, so a it must be good, and it makes it a must have!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maybe you are not tempted this time, your neighbour mightbe, and who knows next time this add pops up, and it has been on of those frustrating days, you weaken. We do have to tighten our belts a bit, but it we do not have to cinch them all the way in?

Or you order in a Pizza, as it contains al full basic meal , starch protien, and veg, on goes a long way.

The Food You Buy, Preprocesseed and Others

This is probably one of the most challanging areas to reduce costs, maintain nutritional balance and satisfy the changing needs and tastes of your family.

Take Ways

These 2 for the price of 1 great value or not really? Why do I say that?

Firstly by experience, both as a consumer and having worked next to a Burger type joint.

The patties that they serve are a slightly smaller same diameter but thinner, the relish etc is ia bit more than the regular ones. They are usually prepared and kept heated so that all they do is slap it in the wrapper and bag the two together. (Dont get me wrong they might not all do that, but look at there turnaround timess and feel the heat of the buns and tomatoes,)

Secondly they usually do not come with fries

Thirdly while you are there you either buy a soda or a milk shake each.

Bottom line, you have spent a bit more than you would have with for the price of 2 regular burgers with fries. This is a marketing stratergy, get you in there and maximise on each sale.

Heat and Eat Meals

Often a better choice than take aways, however, have a good look at the end product, very often, again as I have experienced, you pick up a frozen Lasagna,you get a base of a pasta sheet, a layer of the meat and sauce, a layer of the white sauce another layer of pasta and a cheese topping. With the Spaghetti Bolognese you get this mound of sghett with a watery sauce and minuscule amount of mince, the pasta will have two, the sauce will just stretch to two and the mince maybe enough for a child, this advertised for a family of four.

These then sometimes cooks up perfectly according to the instructions, yet the packaging collapses when you remove it, usually on the inside of the oven door, or if you were lazy on the floor, as you used the microwave.

When you complain about it it the refer it to their Food Technicians, and tell you that it must be some thing wrong with your equipment, you eventually find out purely by accident that they test and design their products at SEA LEVEL, to bad they do not tell you that on their labels. Which are filled with all sorts of other bits of information.Which all all useful.

You can even even in these tough economic tines still have your occasionanl treat. - IF YOU MAKE IT YOURSELF.
You can even even in these tough economic tines still have your occasionanl treat. - IF YOU MAKE IT YOURSELF. | Source

Not Too Sure What a Decent Carrot Cake Would Cost You

A department store bought cake of similar size is being marketed for R45-00, Tthat is South African currency, I am selling mine for R35-00. Ytue they might not contain exactly the same ingredients, for one thing I do not have any emulsifiers, extenders or soy added to the mix.

My Carrot cake contains Carrots,Flour,Pecan Nuts,oil, sugar, salt, nutmeg,baking powder, bicarbinate of soda, eggs, Orange zest. And that is all, The Frosting Orange Zest. Fresh Orange Juice and Icing Sugar.

It is a very light cake, moreish and addictive, once bought repeated sales!

My Recipe For Rusks, You will find it on my profile

I was selling quite a few, to a lot of regular outlets, one by onre they stopped buying as someone was coming in at a lower price. Well all is fair in in love and war, so i relooked at my costing, and found I was actually nearly, for the time spent making them, not really making any profit.

So how where my competition coming at a lower price than me. So I bought a batch from two different places, which were also selling health rusks.

These were my findings, My rusk, you can read up on the contents, in my hub.

Rusk exhibit 1. Used half the amount of nuts and fruit in it than mine, very little all bran and mainly raisins and cashew nuts.

Rusk exhibit 2. Used about the th same as exhibit 1 but dropped the nutty wheat.

Yes so there prices were cheaper, their quality was cheiper, and that is really what it is all about, Buying what you can afford and getting the best you can for your money.

Why go out for a pie, with a bit of miced beef, sme veggies and a top decck of puff pastry, served with homemade chips, your kids will love you! So will your Budget.
Why go out for a pie, with a bit of miced beef, sme veggies and a top decck of puff pastry, served with homemade chips, your kids will love you! So will your Budget. | Source
Peeling the potatoes to make the chips
Peeling the potatoes to make the chips | Source
A  plate pf crispy skins, appetisers for those hungry kids
A plate pf crispy skins, appetisers for those hungry kids | Source

Grand Finalie - What You Need to To Try And Do

What you need to do is analys what you are spending your household budget on.

A classic Example is my late wife and I where sitting on the beach in the sun drenched Camores and musing in the midday sun, as most people do when relaxed and enjoying the peace and tranquility of a Island holiday, a once off for us, I might add. What with three kids all at school, extra mural activities and the like, you all know the scenario.

Somehow or other the topic ic of soup came up, yes now I remember, the bath soup in the hotel was imported from South Africa, the hotel shop also had some of the same brands for sale in there small shop, from which the staff and guests could purchase. The price was siomething like 300% higher than we where paying at or local shops back home in South Africa.

The point of the soap saga, was we started counting all the different soaps that we are "consumerised" into buying and useing almost on almost a daily basis, we reached 13, but I am pretty sure there are a maybe a few less or more.

These are in tn the end all soap, could we not cut down and use the same soap for quite a few different applications?.

So if we reduce our soap expendature by 5, we have achieved an economic saving, as well as a contribution to reducing our CARBON FOOTPRINT. one hopes.

In fact whilst being an assistant manager at a Steakhouse many manty years later, I actually saw that in effect, the floors, walls, dishes and staff uniforms where all wahed with the same soap, hey the bosses car was also washed with it every other day of the week.



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    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      5 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Sweetiepie, thanks for the information and ideas.

      Have only recently obtained, a digital camera the has the video feature attached so the possibility of doing video cooking Youtube is now becoming a soon virtual reality.

      I have a host of recipe books that will be advertised on FB and would be reasonably priced, in PDF format.

      Need to check if vids would also work.

      Will keep Hubbers posted on titles etc. As soon as available.

      Keep well.

    • SweetiePie profile image


      5 years ago from Southern California, USA

      You have some great ideas for budgeting and cooking. I am wondering: do you do YouTube videos on your recipes? This might be another revenue stream for you, and we allow you to get traffic from around the world. You could even embed one of the videos here on the hub, such as if you did a demonstration on how to make a rusk.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      5 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Should be about November if I get into top gear!

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      5 years ago from Norfolk

      I guess it is no different the world over but hard to stomach while the fat cats get richer. The book sounds like an interesting idea. I will look out for the preview. Have a great day.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      5 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Sallyeabea, believe it or not it is even more so now than when I wrote this hub. More and more families or being reduced to a single income status.

      Our petrol prices fluctuate monthly, the first Wednesday of each month, this is based on oil prices and Rand Dollar rates.

      Electricity prices are now getting higher!

      In those bad days of that dreaded A word, the Government would by now Frozen Wage and Price increases.

      My personal sales have now dried up to a tricklbe, as these are now deemed as luxury items.

      I now only make them to give away as gifts, and home treats.

      When purchasing meat, will work out how to make it to last for two meals per person, then look for the cut and type of meat to meet my budget.

      By the way starting to write a cheapside cook book. WATCH MY HUBS FOR A PREVIEW!

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      5 years ago from Norfolk

      I am left feeling amazed at the increase in prices of basic foodstuff in South Africa since I left and also thinking how lovely the images are that you have provided for this hub. Thanks for sharing.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      6 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Thanks for the xommebt, qill bw reading more of you as well.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for the useful info and for following me. I'll be back to visit again.

    • manthy profile image


      7 years ago from Alabama,USA

      Beautiful hub loaded with good advice.

      Please Follow me back.



    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      7 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Ah the berries easy to grow, devine to eat and sweet too share, dipped in chocalate and sipped with a chilled wine afor two, will sti;;l write the Food for Lovers and old married couples book - real tongue in cheek type read, with pictures of course.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      7 years ago from France

      Growing your own fruits and vegetables (if you have the space for it) is also a good way to cut costs. There are many fruits like raspberries -very expensive in the supermarket- butvery easy to grow and care for.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      7 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Jaye, It is only a pleasure to post a short "eye opening hub' to give a broad and general overview of what is happening out there.

      I too am aware of the plight of the people, alone, couples, and indeed entire families, living off a meagre income from a single earner. This is a World Wide Problem. Strangely enough you have mentioned that there are smaller discount stores that are selling basics cheaper than the supermarkets. The days of the old Mom&Pop stores will be returning, with the essentials as you have just discribed, more home facories are spring up, making amongst other things:

      Babies nappies

      Single Ply Toilet Paper

      Dish Washer

      Household Cleaners


      Small packs or loose sweets for the kids.

      and why not this will help the economy grow.

      As a lot of these items could not be made in the same place if you in your suburbs created a collectice and each person could contibute, and one or two would market , man the entire nieghbourhood benifits.

      Good Luck Jaye

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      7 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Hi, Rodney...Good hub and good suggestions.

      Since I don't eat meat or dairy, I cook nearly everything I eat from scratch (or eat raw veggies and fruits). There are a few processed foods in my pantry, but they are without exception healthy ones. I still must watch my budget because I am retired and now living on a smaller fixed income.

      My favorite place to shop is the large farmers market on early Saturday mornings. While organic produce is not cheap, I buy less in order to know I'm eating safe food. It also tastes so much better!

      I've adapted many recipes from my earlier meat-eating days, and these are almost without exception cheaper to make than the originals. I cook large amounts so I can eat leftovers (unlike some people, I LOVE leftovers!)and/or freeze what remains for a later meal.

      The U.S. economy is so terrible and uncertain right now, that most people I know are attempting to economize on food to some extent. People have less money, but grocery store prices increased...this makes an economy mindset crucial. I've learned which discount stores sell brand-name cleaning and paper products cheaper than the supermarket, and, though it's time and energy consuming to go from store to store, can save money that way.

      Thanks for reminding us to avoid those ads!



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