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Less is more?
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# 1
cristin
Old 20-04-2005, 8:55 AM
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Default Less is more?

I’d like to start by saying that I don’t eat meat, but the rest of my family does (dh, dd1 and dd2) and I buy it for them. I have noticed that a lot of you achieve your amazing low grocery challenges by a) buying really cheap value chicken/beef b) eating/stretching this meat out to 3 or 4 times a week c) buying really cheap milk.

What amazes me is that nobody here ever seems to worry about all the funny stuff that they put into this cheap beef/chicken e.g. growth hormones, antibiotics, drugs, water, chemicals etc. I don’t buy meat very often because I can’t afford to every week and when I do, I only buy organic - and before you shoot me down with criticism, yes I know organic stuff still contains a lot of chemicals, but nowhere near as many as the value stuff! If I buy beef mince for example, I buy a proper piece of meat and then mince it myself or get the butcher to do it. At least I know what’s in it.

I grew up on a farm (I’m in my early 40s in case you were wondering) and I know what meat should taste like. The meat or the stuff we call meat now is nowhere near (I still taste it when I cook it and even the organic meat doesn’t taste that wonderful sometimes). How on earth can they sell 10 chicken breasts for £2.99 is beyond me. And why do you need to eat meat 3 or 4 times a week is beyond me too, this doesn’t seem very Oldstyle anyway. 30 or 40 years ago we only ate meat once or twice a week if we were really lucky, if not, the norm was monthly. Why do we have to eat it so often now, when there are so many wonderful/cheap veggie alternatives to have. Goes without saying we were also slimmer and fitter then, I wonder why, or are we simply doing less manual work now?

As for value milk, I have a very close friend that has worked for customer services in two cheap/major supermarkets. Guess what the biggest complaints where about? Yep you guessed it milk (that had gone off) and meat.

Cheap fruit and veg: let me not get started on these, only want to say that if I do use them I try to remove pesticide residues from them by washing them in a vinegar or lemon juice solution and soaking for five or ten minutes, then rinsing thoroughly to neutralise the acid taste. I definitely don’t eat the skins unless they are organic, (as I consider them full of poison) – I know most of the nutrients are here.

I would love to hear your comments or view points about all this. BTW I am not trying to change anyone into a veggie (wouldn’t dare), my family still eats meat, I simply choose not to. I just keep asking myself what is the point of saving all this money and going to all the trouble of making homemade stuff if the basic ingredients are going to make you ill and are so full of chemicals? How about eating less food/meat, eating less but better quality food and maybe not saving so much? Surely less is more?
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# 2
Debt_Free_Chick
Old 20-04-2005, 9:12 AM
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I could not agree more! I have resisted the temptation to reply to posts about "value" meat, cheap meat etc. Often, this is not British meat, so one cannot be sure about the standards to which it was raised. Also, as a passionate supporter of the British farming community, I will not, on principle, buy foreign meat. We have the best standards in meat in the World and our farmers will disappear if we don't support them.

Supermarkets looking for cheap meat often have to source this overseas - it's cheap for a reason!

I stretch my meat by buying "thrifty" cuts. This is NOT cheap meat, but a cheaper cut. Often, it requires long slow cooking so one would not find prime rib of beef in this category

There was a fascinating FAQ in the Telegraph on Saturday about bagged "washed" lettuce leaves. If not organic, lettuce can be sprayed up to 11 times with a cocktail of pesticides to deliver your "perfect" leaves. And washed means it's washed in a chlorine solution about 10 times the strength of the water in chlorinated swimming pools! YEUK!

Another thing we need to learn to do is to shop seasonally. Seasonal food is often cheaper as it's available in abundance, so market forces (supply) will determine the price. At least it will at a proper retailer - supermarkets, of course, have their own way of determining price i.e. THEY set the price and the supplier either supplies at that (low) price or doesn't do business with the supermarket. Or, of course, the supermarket goes abroad ... see a pattern here?

We've forgotten how to shop as well as cook. We have been conditioned to the "convenience" of the one-stop, get it all here supermarket. Most people I know go to the supermarket at least twice a week - I go every three months. Just to stock up on tinned & dry storecupboard goods.

Weekly, I go to the local butcher who sells free-range meat from local farms. I grow most of my own veg, organically, and supplement this will a local farm shop. A real farm shop - not the one further down the road that buys in bagged lettuce leaves in December! And contrary to popular opinion, it is entirely possible to grow lettuce, under cover, in the Winter in the UK.

The savings I make by buying storecupboard essentials in Lidl make my free-range or organic meat supplies very affordable. And yes, there is a dilemma here, as most Lidl food is from overseas suppliers. But my conscience is clear buying local British meat and British farmers don't generally supply the tinned & packet foods anyway.

So glad you posted that - I've been bursting to post something similar myself.

Will be interesting to see other responses.

Regards
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# 3
Curry Queen
Old 20-04-2005, 10:11 AM
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I think you may be confusing "cheap meat" with the "cheaper cuts of meat" ... i.e. a rolled brisket joint for Sunday lunch rather than rib rack or sirloin joint. I can't speak for everyone obviously but I personally never buy "value" meats (although I guess a £3.99 2kg chicken may well fall in that category) but on the whole I buy my meat from the butcher rather than the supermarket, which is guaranteed to be quality British meat. Although if Tescos have, for example, prime steak mince on offer I'll buy it as it works out cheaper than my butcher!

I fully understand where you're coming from and I agree that we shouldn't compromise our health for the sake of saving a few quid, but then some people don't have a choice. I think you'll also find that most of us will pad out meat dishes with extra vegetables etc too to keep costs down, so we can still enjoy good quality meat but use less!

Given a choice I'd also use the local organic greengrocer, which sells locally grown produce, but not being able to get out makes that rather difficult so more often than not all my fruit and veggies come from Tesco too, but again I avoid buying "value" packs for most stuff (apart from onions as I use rather a lot!) and buy Fair Trade bananas etc.

I think most people just try to do their best with the means they have available and I feel it's a little unfair to criticise without knowing their full situation.
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# 4
moggins
Old 20-04-2005, 10:29 AM
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Well said CQ! I was trying to come up with an eloquent answer but you beat me to it.

As my mum used to say, sticking to your principles is great if you can afford to have principles in the first place.

Living with a family of hard core meat eaters, any vegetarian meals I have tried have been picked over with disdain, now I compromise by buying good quality meat when it's reduced.

I find it much harder lately to find the old cuts that I used to cook and all the less popular things just seem to head for the dog food factory instead of being a cheap alternative at the butchers. The price of meat seems to have gone sky high and if some people would rather buy cheap meat than not eat meat at all then who are we to criticise?
Organised people are just too lazy to look for things

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# 5
Austin Allegro
Old 20-04-2005, 10:29 AM
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I agree that good quality meat eaten in moderation is a good idea, but it is often quite difficult to get such meat and to be sure it has been well reared.

Also, it's not quite true to say that our ancestors didn't eat much meat. They tended to have a large joint on Sunday, and then consume the leftovers throughout the week in pies, sandwiches etc. This is harder to do if you are single or don't have much time for cooking, baking etc and so it's tempting to use convenience foods and meat of suspect quality.

I also don't agree about all the poisons on fruit and veg. If the skins are poisoned, surely that means the rest of the fruit/vegetable is as well? I'm all for washing fruit and veg thoroughly but I think not eating skins is a bit extreme, as these are a good source of fibre.

Finally I'd like to extol the benefits of fish. With the exception of farmed salmon, fish is a cheap and plentiful 'wild' food that's about as natural as possible. I am however open to correction from peole who say it's wrong to buy fish because of Spanish Cod Wars or killing dolphins or something.
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# 6
Debt_Free_Chick
Old 20-04-2005, 10:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curry_Queen
I think you may be confusing "cheap meat" with the "cheaper cuts of meat" ... i.e. a rolled brisket joint for Sunday lunch rather than rib rack or sirloin joint.
Agree entirely. The HFW Meat Book has a whole chapter on "Thrifty Meat" based on cheaper cuts and using leftovers.

Quote:
I fully understand where you're coming from and I agree that we shouldn't compromise our health for the sake of saving a few quid, but then some people don't have a choice.
I think we're trying to suggest, perhaps a little clumsily, that they do. But like us, I think they need to get more meat from the butcher. You don't see breast of lamb, for example, in the supermarket. And now is a great time for cheaper cuts of British Lamb.

Quote:
I think you'll also find that most of us will pad out meat dishes with extra vegetables etc too to keep costs down, so we can still enjoy good quality meat but use less!
Exactly what is suggested

Quote:
Given a choice I'd also use the local organic greengrocer, which sells locally grown produce, but not being able to get out makes that rather difficult
Is there not a veg box delivery scheme in your areas?

Quote:
I think most people just try to do their best with the means they have available and I feel it's a little unfair to criticise without knowing their full situation.
With sincere apologies - no criticism intended. Far too many people have been brainwashed by the supermarkets, who are not really interested in food quality, so long as they can pile em high and sell in volume. Also, they make more profit out of CDs, DVDs, clothes & electrical goods these days, so guess where most of their effort is?

Surely, Money Saving Old Style does not mean save money at all costs and to hell with the consequences? In this case, I think we're suggesting that shopping Old Style will lead to Money Saving AND healthy beneficial consequences.

Sorry if any offence caused ... I have only dramatically changed my shopping habits in the past 2 years as my nearest supermarket is 12 miles away - so it's not all convenient for me and I have had to change my habits. It really has been an eye-opener.
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# 7
moggins
Old 20-04-2005, 10:48 AM
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Debt Free Chick, I do understand completely where you are coming from, it's just that peoples circumstances are so completely different that no one way is the right way.

I used to love buying cheaper cuts of meat (flat rib, hands of pork, offal etc) now I'm lucky if I see these meats every six months or so. My local butcher only sells what is popular, he is a lovely guy and always knocks a couple of quid off for me if I spend a bit, but I don't want to be stuck to chicken portions, chops, steak and mince. He rarely has much meat out on display and there are never any prices displayed either, I hate to keep asking how much, it makes me feel like a pauper if I have to say, no, that's too much when he tells me £4 for a couple of pork chops.

Feeding five people, I need meat I can stretch, not to have to buy 5 chops or steaks and pay nearly a tenner for the privilege and I don't want to live on mince or chicken for the rest of my days either.

Oh for the days when I had 4 or 5 butchers to choose from
Organised people are just too lazy to look for things

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# 8
Ticklemouse
Old 20-04-2005, 11:18 AM
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I don't buy supermarket value meat - well, I accidentally picked up a pack of value pork chops once (wasn't concentrating) but never again. They had been filled with so much water and probably other nasties that by the time they had been cooked, there was nothing left of them! I get meat from Costco as I think it's good quality. I am lucky in that there are decent local butchers, who also source locally. I have also got into the habit now of buying the "cheaper cuts" rather than "cheap"

I do buy some of the value veggies at Tesco's - carrots and parsnips. I always peel and top and tail them and wouldn't use those bits for stock as that's where the pesticides remain. I do buy organic sometimes, when I can afford it.
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# 9
Debt_Free_Chick
Old 20-04-2005, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mightymo
II'm afraid I might make a fool of myself in the butchers - can I ask for a piece of beef that would feed three?
I do all the time and any butcher would be used to it. They know they are threatened by the supermarket and will not make you feel silly - though some of the cheeky ones may engage in a little harmless teasing.

"Piece of beef to feed three please"

"Blimey missus, how many blokes have you got on the go?"

or

"Three greedy people or three skinny uns?"

That kind of thing

I often order like this as I too am useless. Also, it depends on the cut. You need more person if the meat is on the bone - unless you eat bones of course

Go on ... give it a try. Would be really interested to hear of your experience and it might encourage others too!
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# 10
Eliza252
Old 20-04-2005, 1:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Austin Allegro
Finally I'd like to extol the benefits of fish. With the exception of farmed salmon, fish is a cheap and plentiful 'wild' food that's about as natural as possible. I am however open to correction from peole who say it's wrong to buy fish because of Spanish Cod Wars or killing dolphins or something.
umm.. well you do say you were open to criticism!
There is a large body of evidence that new technology in sea fishing is so succesful that its wiping out populations of fish completely - its a massive problem in which nobody wins because all the new government regulations to try and stop it are putting fisherman out of business - a bit of a sticky problem really....unfortunately fish are not that plentiful after all. Also, I would have to contend with the idea that fish is a 'safe' option in terms of chemicals etc - we pump a disgusting amount of rubbish into the sea, and then we eat stuff that lives in it - yuc! (not that I dont love eating fish)

Nb - with regards to meat, I also think value meat is scary, but then I have the luxury of only having to shop for myself and I generally dont eat it, maybe buy the occasional organic chicken.
- organic veg is very expensive, I gave up trying to fit all organic veg and fruit into my budget. I am currently trying to get hold of an allotment so I can grow my own veg - total nightmare, they are SO popular the waiting lists are so long I cant even add my name to them - wish the government would invest in creating some more - solve so many problems in one go: Get people more active, get kids outside, help people grow their own veg, much healthier and cheaper.. hhmm.. havent heared it as an election issue yet though!
I've made my debts bite-size too depressing to look at all at once so am handling them one at a time - first up Graduate Loan £1720 paid off! only £280 to go!!!
Money to raise for tuition fees: £3000
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on!!
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# 11
rchddap1
Old 20-04-2005, 1:06 PM
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Trying to get hold of a local allotment myself at the moment. Mind you I've contacted 4 different people and I feel like I'm being passed from pillar to post. I'm waiting to end up back with the person I started with.
Baby Year 1: Oh dear...on the move

Lily contracted Strep B Meningitis Dec 2006 Now seemingly a normal little monster.
Love to my two angels that I will never forget.

Last edited by rchddap1; 20-04-2005 at 1:08 PM.
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# 12
Debt_Free_Chick
Old 20-04-2005, 1:12 PM
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Re allotments.

If you've not already done so, speak to a local allotment holder and ask them for the details of the Chairman. Often, they have some control over the waiting list and you don't necessarily have to wait for the Local Authority/Council to allocate them.

Sunday morning is a good time to button-hole the allotment chairman
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# 13
rchddap1
Old 20-04-2005, 1:16 PM
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Ours are held by a village charity organisation. I'm waiting for them to come back to me as I type, but thanks for the advice.
Baby Year 1: Oh dear...on the move

Lily contracted Strep B Meningitis Dec 2006 Now seemingly a normal little monster.
Love to my two angels that I will never forget.
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# 14
moggins
Old 20-04-2005, 2:06 PM
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I would love an allotment, I grow as much as I can in my garden but really need more space, trouble is our local allotments are completely empty and overgrown due to vandalism and theft. Everybody just got disheartened and let them go. The council would not allow the holders to club together and pay for a water supply to the site either.

p.s. I've just spent 15 minutes just chatting to my butcher extolling the virtues of this site and having a great discussion about whether people really know how to cook these days.
Organised people are just too lazy to look for things

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# 15
Curry Queen
Old 20-04-2005, 2:47 PM
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In an ideal world I would have my own small-holding and raise my own meat/poultry, produce my own eggs, milk, dairy products, grow my own fruit & veggies ... all organically of course


Came close to it once but life has a habit of kicking you in the teeth
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# 16
filigree
Old 21-04-2005, 12:45 AM
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I love the idea of living in Deliatown and chatting to my friendly high street butcher about the Sunday joint. In reality I tried my local butcher who wouldn't sell what I asked for because it was reserved for favoured customers. No wonder people prefer the supermarkets!

A few years ago I tried the compromise of buying from the supermarket's organic selection but the huge price hike was just too much. Around that time our benefits were reduced and £10 a pop chickens had to be cut from the budget.

I'm not stupid and I could and would cook unusual cuts of meat IF THEY WERE AVAILABLE - however, it would be ludicrous for me to spend time and money trekking across town in search of a hand of pork because it's allegedly an economical meal! It's not economical if I spend £5 on the return fares, is it?

I enjoy shopping and cooking for the most part, and I'll try new ingredients. I agree that organic food and adventurous cuts of meat are very yummy and healthy, but I know from experience (because I tried) that it is not feasible as a daily way of life for my family.
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# 17
Debt_Free_Chick
Old 21-04-2005, 12:53 AM
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Filigree

I have never heard of butchers selling only to "favoured" customers. Could you not find another butcher? Even if "across town" it might pay you to go once in a while & stock your freezer. They might even deliver! Or you could buy online and stock your freezer.

Also Cristin's post was about having better quality, less often, rather than organic every day.

You don't need to buy organic. Free-range or traditionally reared may well be raised to "organic" standards, it's just that the farmer has not converted to the Soil Association's standard - which takes time and money.

The above are just friendly suggestions, should you wish to pursue the "Less quantity, more quality" meat route.

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# 18
filigree
Old 21-04-2005, 1:44 AM
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The butcher in question has unsurprisingly gone out of business, boo sucks to him and his snotty staff! The only alternatives locally are Halal which is of questionable ethics in itself.

With no car and a small fridge freezer there is no possibility of bulk purchases. My freezer is full-ish at the moment and according to my meticulate meal planning, contains two weeks' meals.

For the time being I console myself that however cheap the ingredients I do "proper" cooking so at least we're not eating dubious meat in ready meals full of even nastier chemicals. If and when finances improve I'll step up the ratio of organic produce in the trolley
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# 19
Sofa_Sogood
Old 21-04-2005, 1:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Debt_Free_Chick
Filigree

I have never heard of butchers selling only to "favoured" customers. Could you not find another butcher?

Strangely enough Debt_Free_Chick we had a butcher that had "favoured customers"

He wouldn't sell me lamb's liver unless I'd bought some lamb etc. His theory was the lamb's had plenty of meat but not enough liver , so I kind of understood it. I think he liked the power he weilded to be honest, but as my Mum bought his lamb, we got liver anyway via her.

And look now? People won't even ask for it, let alone eat it!

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# 20
Debt_Free_Chick
Old 21-04-2005, 8:04 AM
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Favoured customers .... blimey. Brings a whole new meaning to the idea of a "Loyalty" scheme
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