Thursday, 29 May 2014

Cheap Eats —Shopping Tips and Cooking Ideas on a Budget

Whether you enjoy spending time in the kitchen or not, cooking for the whole family and serving up a variety of healthy meals is an everyday occurrence for the majority of mums. Still, even though it happens every day, it’s not without challenges such as getting the kids to eat their greens as well as combating rising food prices. 

Even so, you can still provide nutritious meals for both young and old family members without having to break the bank. What’s more, you might be surprised at just how tasty some of the dishes you conjure up really are.

Shopping tips

Buy cheaper cuts of meat and poultry — Even though sirloin steak and chicken breasts are some of the easiest cuts of meat to cook with, they tend to be fairly expensive. However, braising steak or chicken thighs are much cheaper and provide just as much nourishment. To get the meat as tender and tasty as possible, you should consider using a slow cooker

Plan for the whole week — Try and buy everything you need in one go during the weekly shop. Constantly going back to the supermarket is inconvenient and expensive. You can always buy two loaves of bread and put one in the freezer. This will also help you stick to a set budget, as it will be easier to avoid making spontaneous purchases of luxury items that often aren’t entirely necessary.

Compare everything – This might take a bit of time but comparing everything you put in your basket or trolley will save significant amounts of money. It can also help you to eat healthier. Don’t assume, check to see if the supermarket brand is actually cheaper than the alternatives. Be sure to check the value of the supermarket’s loyalty scheme too as fierce competition has improved the value of having your points card handy.

Cooking ideas

Make food fun and from scratch — Processed ready meals might be cheap and convenient but they can often lack nutrition. If you make food from scratch and get the kids involved, everyone will benefit. Children are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables if they’ve taken part in their preparation and cooking. When it comes to serving, a range of colours or patterns on the plate also goes down well with kids.

Avoid wasting food — Don’t throw away last night’s leftovers, as it can probably be eaten again as part of another meal. Roast chicken can be used for sandwiches or a curry while vegetables make the perfect soup which will last for days. If you’ve made too much food, put half in the freezer and reheat it within a couple of days.

Grow your own — If you’ve got the time, inclination and space, you could always grow your own fruit and vegetables. Not only is it cost-effective but the kids can also learn something from the experience while developing green fingers of their own.

Even though austerity measures are still necessary for a lot of families, it is possible to achieve healthy living on a budget. Shopping and cooking might take up a bit more time, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Marina Wolsey is a single mum who writes part time about the joys of cooking, good food and raising her twin boys Adam and James.

Image by Vox fx used under Creative Commons License

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