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rant 1 : advice from the Guardian

I spotted the advice blazoned on the front of yesterday's G2. buy lentils in bulk it said. Something in the subtitle suggested that it was a great way to save money, and I am sorry, internets, but I read the article. So you don't have to, here's a snippet:

"Make your own ice cream, it's a doddle. Invest in a mincing machine as an attachment to a food processor, and turn the leftover roast lamb into a base for shepherd's pie. While you're at it, invest in a sausage stuffer and ask your butcher for some sausage skins when you buy the pork."

That's right, people, the best way to save money on food is to invest in pointless kit you can feel guilty about not using, as you zap yet another packet of pre-prepared coriander mash (one of your five a day!) in the microwave. Never mind the entire lifestyle encoded in the phrase "ask your butcher".

Tip one, is (predictably enough) "avoid your supermarket". Sorry, but bollocks. If you want to make a meal for under a quid, Tescos is your friend. Especially if you want that meal to be something different the next day, tescos is your friend. When Tescos first came to our local town (I grew up in rural England) I remember the dizzying sense of liberation. No more attempting to wheedle a few pounds of scrag end of neck out of a butcher who knew you were too poor to bother with and too old to flirt with, no more taking whatever the greengrocer brought you that week any more. Choice, stock and products available for a reliable price. Thank you Tesco. I still remember with fondness my first non gingham shop-bought summer dress.

Tip four is where the lentils come in. Because they want you to bulk buy non-perishables. "In our house we bulk-buy rice in seven kilo bags," snoots one of their commentators. well, good for you, mate. In my kitchen there is no space to keep a seven kilo bag of anything, and the damp, anty, mouldy atmosphere reduces non-perishable to perishable within months, sometimes weeks. Trust me, I've tried, and paid in flour beetles. Especially, don't bulk buy orange lentils. In two years time, you'll still have your pot of orange lentils at the back of the cupboard, because nothing wants to eat them. Especially not you.

There's plenty more, but they're too easy to knock down really. Mostly they come down to the great capitalist myths; save money by buying more stuff, or rigid planning avoids unnecessary expense or our grandparents knew this stuff instinctively.

But then, it is from the lifestyle supplement, and I have to go home now, and cook.


( 42 worms — Feed the birds )
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9th Jul, 2008 17:34 (UTC)
I do use my mincer, and having just used the last of my home made hummous for today's lunch I have to say that home made hummous is definitely much nicer than Sainsbury's.
9th Jul, 2008 18:48 (UTC)
ah, my old bete noir
I think we've had the mincer discussion before.

It's not so much the concept of owning a mincer (I admit my hatred of them may border on the irrational) but the idea that you couldn't just chop up your damn roast leftovers for your pie, you had to process concept of roast into concept of shepherd's pie via the mincer.
Re: ah, my old bete noir - badasstronaut - 9th Jul, 2008 19:40 (UTC) - Expand
9th Jul, 2008 17:35 (UTC)
Yeh I read that article too and snorted. Home Counties disease.
9th Jul, 2008 17:45 (UTC)
Modern houses don't have old-fashioned larders! That's what's needed for the "lifestyle" they are on about. Hmmm...
9th Jul, 2008 18:55 (UTC)
I don't know, I have lived with a few larders in my time. (Houses round here often have a fridge shoved into them). Things still rot in them, they just go in a slightly different way.

To be honest, advocating huge bulk buys as a way to reduce food waste is absurd. They (sometimes) save money, but the bottom third of it often goes in the (compost) bin.
9th Jul, 2008 17:57 (UTC)
tesco is good in general indeed. I find it easier to buy what you need and not go over board.

7 kils of lentils, my delicate sensibilities are curdling at the thought. I hate lentils why would anybody want that much *boaf*
10th Jul, 2008 08:54 (UTC)
tesco is good in general indeed.

Well, it's anticompetitive, anticonsumer and indulges in tax avoidance schemes (Private Eye passim) that also makes it antisocial and, if you like your dog whistles, anti-taxpayer. I'm not sure what "good in general" means in that context, but I'm sure it's something to do with two-for-one offers.

K. tried a supermarket challenge with her boss once. He had to do our regular order on the Tesco website, and on the Waitrose website, and compare the prices.

Unfortunately that didn't work, as the Tesco website is still so unuseable (five years on) that he couldn't work it. It was also suffering from temporary problems, I think.

So he tried Sainsbury versus Waitrose instead. K. gave him five items off our weekly shopping list, which included red lentils because we hate ourselves. At the end of the whole procedure he gave a whoop of delight, because Waitrose had only saved him fourteen pence, so he'd won. No, I don't understand either.

Our weekly shop comes to around £30 so we're hardly the lifestyle shoppers that are being mocked here, but we go through a bag of lentils every week or so. The red ones go with onions and curry powder to make dhal. Green lentils, on the other hand, make good mix for shepherd's pies and the like. Buy lentils. Buy them in bulk.

And don't get K. started on chickpeas.
(no subject) - monkeyhands - 10th Jul, 2008 10:10 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - phantomsophie - 10th Jul, 2008 11:49 (UTC) - Expand
9th Jul, 2008 18:06 (UTC)
My god, even for G2 that's bad. "Make sure to buy your organic owls in sixes rather than singly! Why not grow your own courgettes next to the croquet lawn? An iPhone makes a perfectly serviceable pestle at a pinch!"

Quite apart from the fact that, despite being initially sceptical regarding Gordon's finger-wagging about how it's all our fault that we've got no money (wastrels one and all) it then cheerfully accepts the whole idea for the sake of getting an article about it.

Anyway, as all good anti-capitalists know, you go to the supermarket to buy the stuff they cross-subsidise as a loss-leader, thus helping to bring down the system etc.
9th Jul, 2008 18:07 (UTC)
by the way I made a casserole with half of my orange lentils yesterday, so poo to you

admittedly they had been there untouched for quite a while before that
9th Jul, 2008 18:40 (UTC)
I wonder ....
... did the guardian remind you they were there?

I'm a bit of a lentil hater, thanks to um -- what would one call it? Young Ones Cuisine?
Re: I wonder .... - fridgemagnet - 9th Jul, 2008 18:49 (UTC) - Expand
9th Jul, 2008 18:48 (UTC)
Just a snipped of history: Black Americans and poor whites were high end users of mail order for which they were frequently mocked. When they were finally asked why, the answer turned out to be "because mail order sells us what we want, rather than what the shopkeeper thinks we are entitled to." The same was and is true for branded goods.
9th Jul, 2008 19:08 (UTC)
Too true, too true. I'd rather my access to produce had large organisations with many rules as their gatekeepers, than the social judgement of individuals.
Re: ha! - brixtonbrood - 9th Jul, 2008 19:55 (UTC) - Expand
Re: ha! - cleanskies - 9th Jul, 2008 21:50 (UTC) - Expand
Re: ha! - monkeyhands - 10th Jul, 2008 10:16 (UTC) - Expand
9th Jul, 2008 19:53 (UTC)
Not entirely convinced by "...the entire lifestyle encoded in the phrase "ask your butcher"."
The butchers on Randolph Street is pretty white & middle class, but not so the Moroccan butchers that sells the lovely merguez sossies. And I do ask them for advice, & suspect little old Moroccan ladies might too.
9th Jul, 2008 20:09 (UTC)
To be honest I didn't think that that article was too bad
But then my comparison was this horror from the Money section - containing such culinary clangers as:
Hummus (a packet costs £1.05) takes 90 seconds to make in a food processor and the ingredients cost almost nothing to buy. That would be ninety seconds including the hours spent simmering and soaking the chickpeas then? or would it be the "almost nothing" that a tin of pre-cooked chickpeas costs (50p ish - cheaper yes, but not a negligible proportion of 105p - and you have to wash the food processor up)
And Never buy pre-made pasta sauces (£1.50 a jar) as these can whipped up in the same time it takes to cook the pasta - at a fraction of the cost. Fry an onion, add some tinned tomatoes, a few herbs, a dash of wine - and in eight minutes you're done. No you're not, because in eight minutes (less the time to chop the onion) the onion would still be rigid and the tomatoes and wine would be raw. It would be edible, just, but it would not be a patch on Loyd's finest.
9th Jul, 2008 21:52 (UTC)
Re: To be honest I didn't think that that article was too bad
Nah, that's one's just absurd. I laughed loads. I think the trouble with the food one is that people might believe it.
9th Jul, 2008 20:23 (UTC)
"That quarter can of coconut milk that wasn't needed in the pumpkin curry..."
Yeah, that happens to me *all the time*. Sausage skins? WTF? What a splendid rant. Thank you. My waste-saving tip is to get an evil cold so for three weeks you just live off whatever's to hand because it all tastes the damn same anyway. Sorry for not getting back about pond inspection, I will be in touch as soon as my sense of smell returns and I can hear out of both ears.
9th Jul, 2008 21:53 (UTC)
Re: "That quarter can of coconut milk that wasn't needed in the pumpkin curry..."
I am sending healthful thoughts your way. Better weather will have to wait, though...
9th Jul, 2008 21:17 (UTC)
With you on the vast majority of the rant but did buy 10 kg of rice 3 years ago so it even moved house. It came in a sealable plastic tub so resists damp and can be stored in the mankiest area. It cost literally the same as 1 kg of rice and we've nearly finished it so it has been useful over the years.
Civilization is about getting other people to provide you with stuff cheaper and easier. Just because I know how to dig clay, build a kiln and fire tiles doesn't mean I don't go to B&Q and by them for a few pence each and sausages are just the same.
9th Jul, 2008 21:55 (UTC)
possibly it's my own high entropy field
But I seem to be able to rot almost anything, and wouldn't hold out high hopes for 10kg of rice.

Seriously, did you know that eventually things turn up and eat your chamomile teabags?
9th Jul, 2008 22:35 (UTC)
9th Jul, 2008 22:42 (UTC)
only lentils can save mankind
The way some people talk about lentils you'd think they were the solution to global warming, world poverty and nuclear war.
10th Jul, 2008 08:57 (UTC)
Smug in my bunker
Lentils won't stop nuclear war, but having a larder full of dried and canned goods does impart a warm feeling of apocalypse-proofness. Also, lentils are darn tasty if you bung lots of aromatics in - lovage is my current favourite, grows like a weed.

(Our house didn't use to have a larder, but I built one, and it is now full of dry stuff in airtight jars. Pretty.)

Worm bins, on the other hand, invisibly darn the holes in the ozone layer...
9th Jul, 2008 23:19 (UTC)
Well said!
That said, I'm looking forward to some home pickling or jamming adventures this summer. It'll let me re-use my store-bought glass jars in dandy fashion. :-)
9th Jul, 2008 23:22 (UTC)
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( 42 worms — Feed the birds )

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