One tactic I’ve often used for budgeting is meal planning. Usually I’d do it on at weekly basis, or sometimes I’d make meal plans as far as 2-3 weeks in advance. I’d sit down with my recipe box, pick out what to make, and formulate a list from that. Then I’d buy everything in one trip, except the perishables, which I would buy weekly.
This does not work when you have only a bar fridge.
At first I thought it would be pretty difficult to adjust, but hell, it’s been the norm for plenty of Brits, and half the world has no refrigeration at all, so I figure I can cope just fine. And it has been very easy.
The first casualty of the minimalist regime was the condiments. Gone are the days of having six bottles of salad dressing, two kinds of hot sauce, BBQ sauce, ketchup, three kinds of mustard, hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce, four jars of jam, and of course the horseradish. We have one kind of jam at a time, and at the moment none of the other standard condiments, because we haven’t cooked anything yet that they typically go on.
The second shot fired was the go-shopping-every-day cannonball. My typical grocery bill these days is under £5, and I’ve only topped £10 once or twice. The exception is the Saturday farmer’s market where I get all my vegetables – generally I will spend about £20 there and fill up most of my fridge.
Then instead of making specific recipes, I’ll generally just make three things, including one or two vegetables. Steamed vegetable with a can of baked beans and biscuits for example. Or baked tofu with stir-fried cabbage and green beans. Or pasta with tomato sauce and roasted turnips. Or baked potatoes and carrots and brown rice. Soups have started to figure prominently. You get the idea. So once I get home, I look in the fridge, figure out what to make, and go buy what I need. Usually it’ll be something like an onion and a jar of sauce.
Another result: with the combo of only buying what I need right before using it, and having no room for things to get lost at the back of the fridge and turn into science experiments, there’s much less wasted food.