Cooking on a budget

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It you are like me you have probably spent too much at Christmas so how do you give your family good quality healthy meals each day but stick to your budget at the same time.

Well I have a few good tips and hints for you to follow. Let’s look at some budget recipe ideas first.

  • Apple crumble
  • Bread pudding
  • Bubble and squeak
  • Chicken soup
  • Fish pie
  • Broccoli and cauliflower cheese
  • Quick salmon pasta
  • Sausage, bean and sweet potato casserole
  • Tuna pasta bake
  • Easy egg recipes
  • Butternut risotto
  • Squash and smoked bacon

 Some tips on cooking family budget meals

Leave the processed food and ready- made meals on the supermarket shelves. On the face of it, it may seem like the cheapest option but when you look at the labels you’ll find you’re only getting 50% of meat in your chicken nuggets, you really aren’t getting value for money. The food manufacturers manage to make their food cheap by using the poorest quality ingredients and an abundance of additives to cover up the poor quality and taste.

 Plan ahead

Plan the weeks meals before you go shopping. Check to see if there are any tins of food lurking in the back of your cupboards that you can add into your meals. Do a list of your store cupboard and write out a shopping list and stick to it. Try not to wander off and buy the ‘treats’ like cakes etc. Never go shopping when you’re hungry it’s a recipe for disaster.

Avoid wasting food

If you’ve made a bit too much food don’t throw it away. Most foods will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge and can be used again. Always cool left- over cooked food as quickly as possible, cover and store in the fridge or freezer until needed.

 Use local shops

Use your local green grocer, market, fish monger and butcher. It’s cheaper you’re not paying for all the packaging that ends up in the bin.

You’ll be amazed at the amount you get for your money and once you’re a regular and built up a good rapport with the owners it’s likely they will throw in the odd item or two for being a good customer.

Grow your own

If you have a garden don’t forget to have a go at growing your own, it is by far the cheapest way to get your fruit and vegetables and they taste so much better. If you’ve got the time it’s a wonderful way to reduce your food bill.

 Batch cooking recipes

Like a shepherd’s pie or lasagne make twice the amount and freeze a portion for another meal. Cool the extra portions and freeze before the baking in the oven stage. Don’t forget to re-heat at a slightly lower temperature so that the meal doesn’t become dry. I like to cook a large batch of soup or tomato sauce for pasta and then split into several portions before freezing.

Use cheaper cuts of meat like beef brisket, lamb neck and slow cook. There is nothing nicer than a good casserole in winter and any left overs can be frozen for another day.

What is important to remember is if you have done well one week don’t forget to treat yourself to a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates and of course share with the family, if you want.

Happy Cooking

Peter