Frugal Food

24 Apr 2014
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Penny Fray finds out how to shop smarter, cook cleverer and waste less to save money

Some might call you cheap. Others, prudent. But we think your meticulous cataloguing of coupons and sale dates is truly inspired. Which is why we’re sure you’ll appreciate this feature on how to make your money go further when it comes to meals.

It’s influenced by the increasing number of cookery books out there focusing on the art of creating gourmet standard meals without breaking the bank. Forget about pasta dishes and endless variations of curries – let your imagination run free.

“Inexpensive food can, and should be, exciting, beautiful and delicious,” says Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton. “Cook with the seasons – making the most of ingredients when they are at their best and least expensive – and you will eat well.

‘Use inexpensive cuts of meats when possible, such as beef flank and lamb shoulder, which are generally much more tasty than prime cuts. Similarly, select varieties of fish that are often overlooked and considered unappetising like pollock and gurnard. Prepared and cooked in the right way with appropriate flavourings, these forgotten treasures will have you salivating.”

I must admit that these days, I see no point in eating bad or fast food. It gives no pleasure, no proper nutrition and is a little sad and solitary. Far better to sit at a table filled with friends and family, all enjoying the feast that I’ve created for a fraction of the price of a restaurant meal. But how to cut costs when you’re used to premium products and are so easily tempted by artisan labels? I asked some Muscat gourmands and frugal friends for their top tips:

  1. Make a shopping list. Make sure you check your fridge, freezer and cupboards before you hit the supermarket. That way you’ll avoid doubling up and wasting things later.
  2. Shop around.Visit souqs and markets. Also get to know local fishermen and farmers. Not only will it be cheaper to cut out the middleman but it’s chic to be able to recite the provenance of your ingredients to dinner party guests.
  3. Waste not, want not.Last night’s leftovers and today’s forgotten foods could be tonight’s feast. Use the Internet to find some amazing recipes by typing in the ingredients you have available. 
  4. Make useful price comparisons. There are loads of useful online tools telling you what’s in season. Online forums are another great place to pick up loads of useful advice from other thrifty shoppers. Get clued up before you hit the shops.
  5. Never shop when you’re hungry. Studies show you’ll fill your trolley with all kinds of extra treats.
  6. Stock up on spices.They’ll add flavour to the blandest of ingredients. Just buy the big bags rather than those little jars. They’re a fraction of the price and you get loads more for your money. Simply decant them into airtight jars, label them and, if stored correctly, they’ll last for ages. 
  7. Bulk buying is always cheaper,so why not get together with friends and family to share the costs?
  8. Think twice before being lured in by ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ offers. It’s only a bargain if you need it and can use it within the sell-by date. The only exception to this rule is if you see some really good quality fresh meat or fish on offer and you know you have space to store it in the freezer. 
  9. Shop with cash only.That way, you’ll be forced to think about what you buy and whether you really need it. 
  10. Store your food correctly to keep it fresher for longer. Apples go in the fridge, root vegetables in a cool dark place and store bread in the cupboard or freezer. In fact, you’ll be amazed what can be frozen – freshly cut herbs like coriander can be thrown straight from the freezer into the pan.



  • 110 g Butter or hard margarine
  • 1 Tablespoon of golden syrup
  • 170g Self raising flour
  • 85g Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of ground ginger
  • Pinch of bicarbonate of soda


  • Set the oven to Gas mark 5
  • In a saucepan, melt the butter and the golden syrup.
  • Remove from the heat, and stir in the sifted, dry ingredients
  • Take a spoonful of mixture – a really heaped up teaspoon is a good size – roll it into ball and put it on a baking tray.  Leave enough space between them as they spread out during cooking.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Cook’s Tip

Use a large enough pan so that you can sieve the dry ingredients straight in without making too much mess.

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