Providing healthy, tasty food for the whole family every day of the week can be quite a challenge when you’re trying to stick to a budget. Easy ready meals and frozen pizzas beckon, and we’re bombarded by fancy packaging and cleverly positioned products as we run the gauntlet of the weekly shop at the supermarket.
However, you can feed the family nutritious and tasty meals every day without spending a fortune by sticking to a few simple tips and tricks.
Planning next week’s meals in advance is an excellent way of keeping control of your food budget and shopping habits. Check your cupboards for anything that could be incorporated into a recipe, and take into account what everyone’s doing during the week too – if someone is away for a mealtime you can reduce the amount you need. Tinned pulses can add bulk to stews, casseroles, and soups, and are a good source of carbohydrates and fibre.
Figure out exactly what you have and what you need for each meal, then write your shopping list and stick to it.
Make it from scratch
Though ready-made and processed food may appear to be a cheaper option, you’re actually getting much less for your money than if you make the same meal yourself. You’ll also be getting a big dose of extra salt, preservatives, and other unhealthy additives, as well as the lowest quality ingredients.
Instead of buying frozen oven chips or wedges, get a large bag of potatoes and make some yourself. You can make a big batch and freeze the extra for another day, and they’ll be healthier and cost a lot less!
Use the freezer
Your freezer is the most useful tool when it comes to saving money on your food bill. You can store leftovers for lunches or dinners, and you could also buy in bulk when you make recipes like Bolognese sauce, so you can freeze the extra mince to make other dishes like lasagne or chilli.
Frozen vegetables are also a good alternative to buying fresh from the supermarket; they are cheaper, just as healthy, and you can measure out portions as you need them. Always swing by the reduced section in the supermarket too, as you can pick up some real bargains, and freeze anything that’s about to go out of date.
Make use of your local grocers, butchers, and markets if you can, as you can often pick up better quality produce at lower prices. You can also buy everything loose in the quantities you need, so you’ll have less waste as well as getting rid of all that packaging. Your local greengrocers will stock what’s actually in season too, so it will be cheaper and taste better.
If you do end up with leftover veg you can chop it up for delicious homemade soups, and overripe fruit can be used to make a healthy smoothie.