Having a low-ball food budget doesn’t have to mean pasta surprise seven nights a week. While you may not be dining on fine wine and steak, it is possible to eat well without breaking the bank. With a little creative zest and some good planning, there are a ton of clever hacks to keep you eating healthy. Here are our favourite tips for keeping tantalizing plates on the table whatever your budget.
Plan in Advance
Wandering the supermarket aisles without a clue as to what you want to cook can be a noose for your pocket. This is when all those spontaneous shopping purchases come in and you end up at home with a range of random ingredients. Planning your weekly meals in advance not only gives you the chance to check what’s already in the fridge but also means you hit the supermarket with a shopping list worth sticking to.
Perfect Pantry Stocking
Great cooking becomes so much easier when you already have the basics tucked away on your shelf. Spices, herbs, flour, olive oil, stock, salt, pepper, not to mention onions and garlic. It also helps to have rice, pasta, legumes, and frozen fruit and vegetables chilling in the freezer. Having these already in means that you can whip up healthy and delicious meals without having to start from scratch and also that you always have some staples to build on.
Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Don’t shy away from stocking up on a freezer full of frozen fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that the bags of pre-cut frozen berries and veggies are actually no less nutritious than when you get them fresh from the shelf. If you always find yourself throwing out a rotten fruit bowl then their frozen counterparts could be the perfect solution. Not only are they cheaper to buy but they are also easier to dole out into easy meal portions with minimal waste.
Utilize Social Media
While you may tire of seeing people post pictures of their breakfast on Instagram, social media can be an amazing tool for foodie inspiration. The World Wide Web is jampacked full of delicious recipes, videos, and tutorials to up your cooking game. From brushing up on basic skills to breaking out of the same tired old recipe tropes, hit up Instagram, YouTube and google budget cooking blogs for a pinch of fresh inspiration.
Meat the Treat
Going veggie will undoubtedly save you a ton of money when it comes to your food budget. If you don’t want to skip out on meat and fish then perhaps opt for only turning to meat as a treat. Instead of opting for pricey fillets turned instead to cheaper cuts of higher quality meat – thighs and legs can make tasty stews and whole chickens deliver the best bang for your buck as every inch can be used.
Buy Herb Plants
Fresh herbs can make a huge difference in your cooking. Torn basil on spaghetti, a sprinkle of cilantro on your taco, and even chopped parsley on your salad – these soft scented leaves bring oomph to your food. Instead of buying herbs for each meal, start your own herb garden. Herb plants are often relatively inexpensive to buy and if looked after right, they truly are the gift that keeps giving.
Raid the Sales
Choose your shopping trip time wisely. Towards the end of the day, many supermarkets tend to deal out the sales often marking bread, pastries, and other daily fresh foods down in price. This can be a great time to stock up on bread which can be frozen and then toasted. Always check the deals section out but be wary of getting carried away with the promise of special offers and loading up on goods you don’t need.
Cooking in bulk is also a great idea if you have a freezer. When you cook big portions of chilli, curry, and stews you can always divide up into portions and freeze for a later date. This is a great tactic especially as it means that during times of extra frugality you always have a well-stocked freezer to turn to. Cooking bulk also reduces waste which is great for the environment and means that you don’t have to whip up something fresh when you are feeling particularly lazy.
What budget-conscious cooking tips do you have to share? Let us know in the comments.