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Staggeringly simple tip number 1 – Plan your week’s meals
This would be my ultimate budget tip. It helps keep you on track and stops you going off-road into unknown territory where takeaways are lying in wait to entice you into their lairs.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate just a list of what you will prepare each day and the ingredients you will need to achieve that.
For the sake of ease at the moment my repertoire is very narrow so my list doesn’t change much. Unless I see a special that I can’t leave then it’s change city. For example, the butcher had pork hocks on special this week one of which is sitting in my fridge while I wonder what the heck I am going to do with it. Google will be getting work out later today.
2. Buy in season
Just as you wouldn’t buy last season’s neon green and pink stripped culottes neither would you buy the fruit and veg. Just a foot note to that, you can shoot me if I ever so much as glance in the direction of a pair of culottes let alone a green and pink pair. I know I am guilty of fashion murder, often, but messy slaughter is a whole other ball game.
Fruit and vegetables are usually in abundance when they are in season keeping the prices down. Produce that is transported long distances is often harvested before being fully ripe. If you can, buy locally sourced ingredients.
3. Cheaper cuts of meat
Lamb neck, hock, offal, mince, because these are the cuts no one else wants they tend to be cheaper. Slow cooked with some herbs and spices they are delicious.
These cheaper cuts of meat are generally the parts of animal which do the most work such as the shoulder, neck, shank, that chatty neighbour’s jaw, kidding that would taste awful.
Because of the work these muscles do there is more connective tissue. More connective tissue means more collagen great news for those of us trying to keep a lid on the wrinkles and cellulite but these cuts when cooked long and slow will retain more moisture.
4. Keep your waste down to a minimum
The best things you can do for your budget is reduce your waste. Some tips:
- Don’t overbuy, that is why tip no 1 is so important.
- Store your food correctly to avoid spoilage.
- Keep your fridge and freezer organised so food doesn’t get forgotten. Who doesn’t have a dried up, unidentifiable piece of meat at the bottom of the freezer. Label and date everything and there won’t be the need for playing ‘name that meat’ at the table.
- Keep portion sizes sensible, this one’s good for your waist too!
- Try to use everything. Once a week I gather all of the veg we haven’t used including the sad wobbly piece of broccoli at the bottom of the crisper and throw it all into a wok with herbs and spices and voilà a meal. You could just as easily add stock, wiz it up and make a soup.
- Freeze all that lovely juice left in the bottom of the casserole dish and add it to your next casserole or put it in the left-over cook up .
Fruit that is bruised or near the end of its life, chop and stew or make a quick pickle.
5. Shop at farmer’s markets
You are guaranteed the freshest ingredients and they are often a lot cheaper than the fruit shop at the mall with excessively expensive rents. Especially if you go at the end of the day when they tend to discount items.
6. Shop around
The health food store I frequent has Saturday specials for members. Keep an eye out for those products you use and buy in bulk.
I get veg from a local grocer where the produce is always fresh and cheap and if you go just before they close they have some amazing discounts. Their specials are always worth the drive over to my old neighbourhood.
7. Cook in Bulk
When I cook I always cook more than I need and freeze the extra. Then if you have a day you don’t feel up to cooking or things don’t go to plan…
Chef can make freezer surprise.
This works especially well with stews, chilli, frittata or anything that freezes well. It doesn’t need to be a huge amount. Even one portion is a bonus.
Keep banking them until you have saved enough to spend.
Now you have a few tools to help you on your way to spending less and eating better.
Do you have a tip for helping us to stay on a healthy diet without blowing the budget? We would love you to share it.