Making a healthy balanced meal go a long way can seem a little daunting, especially if cooking from scratch perhaps is not something that you are used to! So below are our top 10 FoodWise tips for stretching your pennies, bulking out your meals and keeping them full of nutrients.
1- Half veggie, half meat: This works perfectly for foods such as cottage pie, spag bol, curries, or a chilli. Simply half the amount of meat that you have in your recipe and either bulk it out with vegetables of your choice (maybe carrots, peas, sweetcorn, sweet potato), or with a tin of lentils/mixed beans/chickpeas – or both! Check out this BBC recipe that bulks out a cottage pie with some baked beans.
2- Buy own brands: Did you know that most of the time, supermarket own brands often have a similar nutritional value and taste to the branded alternatives. In fact, Good Housekeeping found that some own-brand foods are BETTER than branded foods! Why not trial and error with some supermarket brands with foods such as cereals, tinned foods, frozen foods, fruit and vegetables. Then you can ditch the fancy label and save yourself a couple of pounds.
3- Write a grocery list – and stick to it!: It can be tough sometimes, you go into the supermarket with a list but get lured in by lots of different offers. Try and make yourself a list of the foods that you and your family specifically need and go straight to these items in the supermarket rather than walking the aisles. The bright colours are there to catch us out and although the offers may look good – ask yourself if you really planned to buy that food in the first place?
4- Use your leftovers: Cooking large batches of food and keeping the leftovers for another meal can really help stretch your pennies. This can be anything from cous cous to a roast dinner – just keep it in a microwave safe tuppaware and either keep in the fridge or freezer and reheat! Do be careful though to ensure that the food is piping hot throughout when reheating. When you are planning on saving foods, you should ensure that they are cooled down on the side before being placed into the fridge and if you are keeping it in the fridge then it should be used within 3-5 days.
5- Don’t put up with food waste! Did you know, the average family with children wastes almost £60 of good food every month. Like above, try only buying the foods that you will use and be strict about what you will actually eat, cooking the correct portion for the amount of people eating.
6- More veg please! Why not have a couple of meat free days? Meat, fish and poultry usually cost the most in a meal, so swapping these out for beans, lentils or pulses such as chickpeas and mixed beans can cut the cost significantly. They are also a good source of protein and fibre and they contribute to your 5-a-day. You could make it fun and join the other thousands of people taking part in ‘meat-free-Monday’.
7- Freeze your bread: Bread is one of the most wasted food items. If you find that your bread is mouldy before you have finished the loaf, then you could try freezing your bread to store it. You can put it straight in the toaster if you are after toast, or if you are packing a sandwich for lunch, then the added bonus is that it will stay fresh until lunchtime! Storing bread at it’s freshest will help preserve the taste.
8- Toddlers eat the same: If you have a toddler, get them into eating the same meals as you. Ensuring that you do not use any salt and be careful with spicy food. Simply blend or chop up their portion to a size to best suit them, you can even freeze leftovers for convenience. This is also a great way to bond, share a meal with your child, increase their likeness for different foods and ensure they are eating healthfully too!
9- Buy frozen: Did you know that frozen fruit and vegetables have a similar nutritional value as fresh? This is because they are frozen when picked retaining the nutrients, flavour and colour. The added bonus is that they also come already chopped and prepared! Be careful not to choose those with added salt, sugar or fat.
10- Buy in bulk: Buying rice, pasta and pulses in bulk can keep the cost down and add to your store cupboard essentials. Try to avoid single use/microwave packets of rice and pulses which increases both the cost of the shopping and plastic going into the environment. You can even buy bigger packets of meat which will be cheaper per kilogram and freeze in portions for convenience. Lastly, you could cook a whole chicken ready to add to curries, sandwiches, salads. A whole chicken will give you two thighs, 2 breasts, drumsticks, wings and a carcass for making stock!
Do you have any tips and tricks for saving the pennies on your food? Whether it’s ways to eliminate waste or ways to make your meals stretch further, we would lov
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