Living frugal – enjoyment is allowed!
Frugal living doesn’t necessarily mean Spartan living. There is a subtle difference here. The latter refers to a style of living where comfort and luxury are out of the equation. With frugal living, they remain in the equation – but only for special occasions, and never involving a situation where you pay over the odds.
Another important point that needs to be made about frugal living is this: it’s not a strict set of unbreakable rules. You adapt and develop your frugal living strategies and techniques as you go along. And the further down the frugal living route you go, the more often you get little money-saving insights. And when you stack up these insights, they are equivalent to a very decent saving.
Wrong kind of Spartan…
One such money-saving insight came to me a few years ago. My partner and I had been out for lunch with friends one Sunday afternoon. I wasn’t particularly hungry by the time the evening arrived, and my partner has (as he himself admits) the ‘appetite of a starling’ at the best of times.
But habit being habit, I soldiered on with cooking the Sunday evening meal. Meatloaf, potatoes and a big pile of steamed kale. Lovely. Except we hardly ate a thing. The cooked meatloaf hung around in the fridge for a couple more days, may have furnished a sandwich (maybe). In short – a waste. One of those times you wish you had a pet to feed the leftovers to, and also assuage the guilt of food wasting!
Yeah, we steam that sh*t!
Tactical super-frugal solutions
That meatloaf-wasting Sunday (or it may have been the following day) inspiration struck. And the inspiration went a little like this: we eat out of habit, and plan meals with little regard for how we’ll feel on the day itself. Think of the Sunday roast. It’s all about the Sunday and nothing about how your belly is actually going to feel on Sunday.
Enter the tactical super frugal meal solution. This is the standby for when you feel like something light. You can even make recipe inventory of ridiculously cheap meal options. One such is the Italian pasta dish aglio e olio.
Essentially aglio e olio is Italian food devised in an era when people (not unlike nowadays) didn’t have a lot of cash kicking around. But it is really tasty. All you do is get your pasta boiling in some well-salted water, then in a frying pan, gently fry three or four cloves of garlic in extra virgin olive oil (and a small scattering of crushed chilli). When the pasta is done, you drain it and then coat it in the olive oil (olio) and garlic (aglio).
There’s a good few cheap meals of this type that work perfectly on the days when you’re looking to save cash and also aren’t fussed about working your way through a king’s banquet. And you have to love any meal that serves two whose total ingredients cost less than a quid!
Try saying ‘aglio e olio’ 10 times fast!