Sometimes I conduct a secret experiment.
I walk through the supermarket and pretend I am shopping 50 or 60 years ago. Of course, supermarkets did not exist in Australia 60 years ago, but bear with me.
I ask myself what would I have been able to buy, and which products would not have existed.
Some of the things that I might have purchased include flour, sugar, milk, butter, cheese, eggs, fruit and vegetables, meat or fish, oats, plain biscuits, cocoa, rice, tea, coffee beans and canned goods. The cost of shipping was high, so imported goods were usually more expensive than local produce.
There would have been no cook-in sauces, instant noodles, little tubs of snack puddings, corn chips and any number of other processed foods we now take for granted.
Often, if I need to cut my grocery budget, I go through my vintage cookbook collection for ideas. Many have recipe ideas for simple meals using basic, seasonal and local ingredients. Without the many gadgets we rely on today, meal preparation was often fairly uncomplicated; lots of grills, roasts, pies and casseroles for main courses, with desserts that used stewed or fresh seasonal fruits.
Now, I am not saying we should swear off broccoli, bok choi, or brie just because they were not easily available in the past. Nor am I saying we should boil our vegetables into oblivion as so often happened in days gone by.
The point I am making is that vintage cookbooks (which are easily available in second-hand shops) can be a wonderful resource for economical meals. As well, they often contain sections on preserving produce and using leftovers. Asking an older relative about the foods he or she remembers fondly can also provide hints about good, simple, delicious food.
An easy, healthy way to cut grocery costs is to go back to basics, have some fun reading old recipes, and bring back the nourishing, nostalgic cooking that we so fondly remember.
This post is my tip for the week for Kitchen Tip Tuesday at Tammy's Recipes.