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Taming inflation: Use capsicum for coriander leaves
Sheetal Mehta
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April 28, 2008

Inflation? Isn't everybody in your family, your neighbourhood, your office and wherever you go nowadays familiar with this word? The sound of the word itself gives you jitters, doesn't it?

For the uninitiated, inflation is an economic term that stands for the general increase in prices.

The dreaded monster seems to have possessed our lives. Almost all newspapers and television channels worth their salt -- isn't salt too getting costly nowadays? -- in the recent past have spent their energies in educating you about this economic reality that hits you where it hurts the most. Your pocket, that is.

The important question facing all of us then is: with increasing prices and a monthly budget to maintain how can you manage? Here are a few time-tested tips and suggestions, which if implemented can help you somewhat in maintaining your monthly budgets. Of course, you will need to make a few adjustments here and there.


If you are a vegetarian then there must hardly have been a day without you tucking into vegetables. With vegetable prices going through the roof, the common refrain nowadays is: "Vegetables have become so expensive." But then can you stop tucking into mouth watering dishes like palak paneer, fried bhindi, and such like? Nah!

So what can be done to adjust rising costs of vegetables to maintain your monthly budgets?

This is best nswered by Mrs Sarla Purohit, 25, and Mrs Jolly Parekh, 40 years, both housewives who have, through experience and tips from their elders, found ways to keep up with the rising prices.

Mrs Purohit tells us how she substitutes coriander leaves with simla mirch (capsicum) when she makes chutneys which is consumed with relish everyday by all her family members. She says, "I use simla mirch instead of coriander leaves as even 100 grams of capsicum suffices and the difference in taste is hardly noticeable. Hence, I save some money as 100 grams of capsicum costs less than that of coriander leaves."

Mrs Parekh, with a family of five, adopts a similar strategy, too.

She substitutes vegetables with pulses for the meals. She explains thus: "Say a one kilogram packet of pulses costs me anywhere between Rs 80 to Rs 90. A vegetable like lady finger costs me Rs 40 to 48 per kg. For one square meal I require 750 grams of lady finger which would cost Rs 36 (assuming it costs Rs 48 per kg). However, if I make pulses I only require 250 gms which would cost me Rs 22.50.

Also, she adds for good measure, the remaining pulses can be stored and consumed for the next 4 to 5 meals, which could otherwise cost me Rs 90 (on the higher side). "On the other hand vegetables for 4 to 5 meals would cost you Rs 144 (36*4)," she says. The net saving per meal then is: Rs 36 � Rs 22.50 = Rs 13.5; with this amount I can buy other things or simply save."


Washing clothes is an unavoidable everyday task. How can you save here?

Let's ask Mrs Purohit who says "If the clothes are not very dirty then just soaking them in soap water and a gentle wash is enough instead of using soap. As for a bucket full of clothes only one to two spoons of detergent is required as compared to a soap bar which would get consumed more quickly. Although, a kilogram of detergent might seem expensive it definitely lasts longer than soap bars and hence on a net-net basis you end up saving."

This is what high inflation and your urge to innovate can lead to. If you can apply yourself in a disciplined manner then here are a few more ideas which can help you tighten your already shooting monthly expenses.

Cooking oil

Who does not like to eat fried food? All of us love those mouth watering samosas, pakodas, vadas, and fried fish. However, eating such things lead to an increase in use of edible oil and hence your monthly budget goes haywire. A pack of 5 kilo refined groundnut oil that cost me Rs 980 a year ago now costs as much as Rs 1,300. So what do you do in such a situation?

The way out is simple: Just be prepared to chuck those fried samosas and other fried eatables out of your meals and see your monthly budget getting back into shape. What's more this just might as well help you get your midriff back in shape too as well as reduce those visits to your pathologist to check your cholesterol level!


Most of us keep the mains of our television sets, DVD/VCD players, extra plug points, oven, microwave, washing machine etc on even after their use is over.

This wastage, although small, adds to your electricity consumption per month. Nowadays even air conditioners are operated via remote controls. Many of you might forget to switch off the mains after switching off your super cool AC with the remote.

If you want to save some money here better switch off all of the mains after using heavy-duty electric appliances like washing machines, ACs, mixers and grinders that consume more electricity. You might argue that the savings done this way are only minimal and not worth your effort. But do you remember the adage: Mighty oceans are made up of tiny drops?

Simply put, over a period these small savings add up to a substantial amount. This way you not only save electricity but also reduce your monthly electricity bills by a small amount.

Similarly, there are ways to substitute expensive products with cheaper ones that can help you battle increasing price rises.

I am sure the question might have arisen in your mind: Inflation affects all products then how come substitution helps? Not all products are affected by inflation. So check what is best suited for your lifestyle and your family and substitute accordingly.  

Bear in mind that it depends upon the joint effort of all members in the family to take on inflation.

Reader invite

Do you have some tricks/ideas/suggestions up your sleeve that could help lessen the burden of increasing prices? Are you implementing them in your homes? How is it helping you keep your monthly budgets in check?

Share your ideas with us. Write to us at -- be sure to include your name, photograph, age, profession and contact details. Interesting responses will be published right here on

The author is a financial consultant and can be reached at

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