Cooking on a budget can be
fun and tasty

Cooking on a budget is becoming more important as the credit crunch bites hard. But you can still eat simple to cook, tasty food that is also good for you. 

Start by setting a limit to the amount you want to spend at the grocery store. And then stick to it. I think of it as a challenge! This is how much I can afford, now how can I get the most for my money?

Are you throwing money away?

"How about if I buy own brand products? Those 2 for 1 deals are great, eh? Oh, and I could snip vouchers! They should help me spend less on groceries!"

Yes, they can help. But unless you keep an eye on the big picture you could still waste money.

Think back over the last couple of weeks...

  • Did you throw out of date food away?
  • Did you throw out leftovers, that you had put back in the fridge to use up?

On the whole we throw out much too much food. Food that we have spent our money on, and then just wasted.

Most people do not go shopping every day, but do a week or a month's shopping at a time. So, learning how to store food is important when cooking on a budget.

Even without freezers, our ancestors found ways to preserve foods for winter. Maybe we should look into the methods they used? 

Processes like canning, drying, pickling and jam making? 

During World War II people began growing their own vegetables. This supplemented their meagre rations. They learned that putting some aside to use when it was out of season was a wise move. 

We can still do this today, even if our situation isn't so dire. When we have a glut of produce from the garden it would be a shame to waste it. Finding ways to store it to use later is important, especially if you are cooking on a budget.

Your Master Shopping List

Start by writing a master shopping list. A list of all the foods that you like to cook and eat.  You can do this on paper, your computer, or best of all, on your smartphone. 

Check your till receipts for items that you have bought recently. If you are likely to need them again, add them to this list. For more ideas, check out my page on the well stocked pantry.

You can then refer to your master list when planning your weekly meals.

Create weekly dinner menus

Weekly meal planning is a good idea when cooking on a budget. Or you could even plan for once a month cooking.

Does this sound like hard work? Don't worry,  I promise that this will save you time and money in the long run.

Even if you only plan your main meals for the week, it will help. Planning ahead means you are less likely to spend money on food that doesn't get eaten. 

It also helps you vary the ingredients used, so you don't get bored. No-one wants to end up in a rut, eating the same things all the time! Mixing things up ensures you get all the nutrients you need too.

A lot of those nutrients come from fresh fruit and vegetables. Plan to use these just after your shopping trip, while they are still at their best. You can then rely on frozen produce later in the week.

Making food go further

Chicken breasts used to be on my weekly menu, but they can be pricey so I now buy a whole chicken instead. It can then be roast for Sunday lunch, and the rest used the following day. This also provides a carcass that makes wonderful chicken stock, ideal for homemade soup. Three meals out of one chicken can't be bad, eh?

Using leftovers from your main meal for the next day's packed lunch, is a good plan. You can even cook extra the night before on purpose.

Leftover vegetables and potatoes make great additions to a Spanish omelette. If you can't make use of them immediately, pack up your leftovers and freeze them.

I include ideas for using up leftovers  at the end of my recipes, where possible.

Cooking on a budget is possible!

Now forget boring budget meals and put the tips on this page to use!  Enjoy, and don't consider cooking on a budget a negative thing.


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