Every cheapatarian needs a £20 pound store cupboard. Cheapatarianism is a portmanteau between cheap and vegetarianism, and it niftily highlights one of the diet’s often ignored benefits. Veggies and legumes are really economical tucker. Though meat can be bought cheaply from frozen or budget supermarkets, it is not of the best quality , and even a pack of frozen ‘reconstituted chicken bits’ are still not as cheap as a crunchy bag of carrots. If you bend towards flexitarianism, one of the benefits is that you can eat predominately plant based foods and save meat consumption for when you have the spare pennies for the organic, free range, locally sourced stuff. Perfect.
My own specific conceptualising of cheapatarianism exists amidst a post recession culture, wherein even middle class pockets have tightened, and budget shopping has become the new fashionable prevail of the tasteful. Where it was once an embarrassment to use charity shops, thrift sales and the budget foodlets like Aldi and Lidl, a tendency for pulling the purse strings reclaimed ‘Cheap Chic’ and snubbed conspicuous consumption.
One specific aspect of this fashion, is the Meals for Under trend; articles detailing advice on meals costing under ten, five, three or even one pound. It seems to be something of a challenge to see just how low you can go. Two niggles; firstly many of the recipes I have seen rely on a bulk buy method, wherein the cost for the pasta, rice or spuds used for the meal is separate to what it would actually cost to buy the whole bag. If you literally only have five or three pounds, and no store cupboard, the recipe is as useless as holey bottomed boat. Having a complimentary cupboard is essential if cheap veggie or flexitarian cookery is to be a pleasure, and so I have devised this small, store cupboard starter kit.
Now, obtaining each item at different outlets would be impractical and uneconomical, so I have cherry picked the supermarkets Aldi and Morrisons as good places to gather your essentials. If however, you are lucky enough to be in an area replete with smaller outlets, Asian supermarkets are fantastic for acquiring spices and green grocers can be cheaper than many supermarkets for onions, garlic and lemon grass. This is of course, a really basic list and the possibilities are boundless . But the idea is that if you are ready prepared with essentials, when you are stuck with only shrapnel (during a difficult week, or at the end of the month) you have the flavours ready to dress your veg. In the coming weeks I will expand on the cheapatarian method by divulging the recipes I use that make these ingredients imperatives.
As you will see, I haven’t including any ‘main’ ingredients, including the carbs, tinned foods or fresh herbs (usually thought of as store cupboard essentials) as this would be to overly cheat this pauper’s Meals for Under program.
Aldi Shopping Trip
• Vegetable oil for curries: Solesta Vegetable 89p for 1 litre.
• Olive oil for pasta and salad: Solesta Olive £2.69 for 1 litre.
• Black pepper: £1.19 for 100g.
• Sea salt: 89p for 90g.
• Wholemeal flour: 75p for 1.5kg.
• Cornflour: 62p for 400g.
• Yeast: 59p for 56g.
• Vegetable stock: 36p 100g.
• Onions: 39p for 1kg.
• Garlic: 89p for 3 bulbs.
Morrisons Shopping Trip
• Rajah spice bags of cumin, coriander, turmeric, chilli, ground ginger and garam masala: 64p for 100g. Total for 6 bags, £3.84.
• Blue Dragon Fish Sauce: £1.35 for 150ml.**
• Bart Tamarind Paste: £1.46 for 100g.** Okay, these are for the flexitarians, not the vegetarians.
• Schwartz Kaffir Lime Leaves: £1.59 for 3g.
• Lemon Grass: 76p for 2 sticks.
If you are a meat free purist then you may wish to substitute the ‘nam pla’ fish sauce and tamarind for soy sauce, or asafoetida if you are in reach of an Indian food specialist. From next week I will demonstrate how you can utilise your £20 store cupboard to make some plant based Meals for Under…