Posts Tagged ‘time is money’

Time = Money

If there is one thing that has helped us to live more frugally – in a happy, contented, non-miserly way – it was getting our heads around the fact that time is money, particularly where food is concerned.

It’s pretty simple maths:

Least Time Spent →  Most Time Spent

Eating Out →  Cooking Prepared Meals →  Making From Scratch

Most Expensive →  Least Expensive

We’ve found that the more time we can put into preparing our food, the more we can afford to spend on really great ingredients, while still saving quite a bit of money (understand, of course, that we’re not buying truffles or organic lamb backstrap on a regular basis).

Here’s a personal example:

We used to (and still occasionally do) buy takeaway pizzas.  They were (and still are) very good, but expensive.

Five years ago, we started making our own at home, using supermarket ingredients: McCain’s frozen pizza bases, Leggo’s pizza sauce, shredded cheese out of a bag, pitted Spanish olives from a jar and ham in little packets from the cold section.

Now we make our own pizza bases from flour, yeast and extra virgin olive oil, and top them with homemade roasted tomato passata, marinated Kalamata olives, hand sliced fresh mozzarella, dry cured pancetta and Italian anchovy fillets.

The more time we’ve spent on the pizza we’ve eaten, the less money it’s cost, even with the substantial increase in quality of the raw materials.  That makes sense, because when we have a takeaway pizza, we’re paying for someone to process our food for us, which saves us time.   Even our first attempts at homemade pizza cost us more than our pizzas do now, because there was still an element of processing – someone else made the bases, grated the cheese and prepared the sauce.

Now, were we to have the time to plant, harvest and mill our own flour, grow our own tomatoes and raise our own meat, we could probably reduce the cost of our food even further. But that’s not an option currently available to us, nor one we would necessarily like to take up!

This post isn’t intended to make you feel guilty about how much food prep you do or don’t do.  We’re blessed to have the time and inclination to try and make things from scratch, but someone who works 60 hours a week is unlikely to have the  energy to turn a box of tomatoes into sauce. Every family needs to find the time-money balance that suits their lifestyle.

But the knowledge that what you’re paying for in food is often time, rather than ingredients, might help you to make more informed decisions about where your food dollars are spent. And maybe you’ll be able to find painless ways to save money, by doing small things which don’t feel like a chore. It might not be much, but every little bit makes a difference!

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