Do you ever feel like you’re spending too much money on food? Or at the very least, do you wish you could spend less every month? Budget and resources differ from family to family, but there are changes that everyone can make to feed their families well with a little less.
Here are six ways to help you cook for a family on a budget, while still enjoying a healthy and varied diet.
1. Switch To Ingredients That Go Further
Certain foods that cost less can be used to substitute more expensive ingredients or make meals last longer. Legumes or pulses (such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans) are an excellent source of protein and help to bulk up dishes. Next time you make lasagne, substitute half your mince with lentils for a cheaper and healthier version. Pouyoukas Foods stocks a wide range of pulses, seeds, and grains.
Eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen as they can create a host of meals – from omelettes and frittatas to quiches and savoury muffins. Keep a few boiled eggs in the fridge as a quick protein snack.
Seasonal vegetables are affordable, especially when bought in bulk. Pile up your plate with leafy greens and starchy vegetables to help you save on expensive meat cuts (and calories). You can even think about introducing a meat-free night once a week to reduce your monthly grocery bill. Have a look at our delicious range of vegetarian recipes for inspiration.
2. Keep It Simple
Do you have items in your pantry that you bought on a whim, but have never touched? Changing up your meals from time to time is good, but try to stick to the basics of a simple diet. Not only will it save you money, but it will also make your life a little easier. These pantry-staples will give you the most bang for your buck: oats, lentils, beans, rice, wholewheat pasta, potatoes, tomato sauce, cabbage, onions, garlic, frozen veg, frozen fruit, canned tuna, flour, cornmeal, baking soda, vinegar, peanut butter, chickpeas, and dried herbs.
Of course, ‘simple’ doesn’t need to mean boring. Seasoning is a great way to add flavour and excitement to your food. Cape Herb & Spice recently launched a new range of spices, called Tastebud, which is gluten-free and suitable for vegans. There are seven innovative flavours to choose from, including Zesty (perfect for fish and chicken), Seeded (adds crunch to salads and veggies), and Caramel (which is ideal for pork and marinades).
3. Use A Meal Plan
One of the easiest ways to cook for a family on a budget is to devise a meal plan. Have a look at what’s in your pantry and freezer and plan your meals for the week accordingly. This way, you won’t have to buy as much food in one go, plus, you can take advantage of sales. If there are significant sales on certain items, make sure you include those in your plan.
4. Embrace Leftovers
Eating leftovers is a great way to save money and time. If you cook more than you need for one night, you’ve organised the next day’s lunch as well. Think of great ways to get more than one meal out of whatever you’re cooking. For example, the leftovers from a roast chicken on Monday night can be used to make soup on Tuesday.
5. Take Advantage of Sales
Taking advantage of sales is a great way to cook for a family on a budget. Stock up on ingredients as soon as their prices are reduced. Then, make large quantities of meals that you can freeze using those items. To do this well, you need to familiarise yourself with the usual prices of your favourite items. Also, stock up on ingredients that can be chopped and frozen for when you need them, such as peppers and onions.
6. Or, Try These Handy Tricks
- If you’re faced with a load of vegetables past their prime, pop them in a roasting pan with oil, herbs and salt, and roast. They will keep for a few more days for salads and sides.
- Stale bread can be toasted and pulsed in the food processor to make breadcrumbs for crumbed chicken or delicious bread-and-butter pudding.
- A leftover chicken carcass is an excellent source of stock, plus the meat will make a great soup.
- Too many tomatoes in the fridge? Make slow-cooked tomato sauce for pasta dishes and lasagne. Once the sauce is made it can be frozen until you need it.
Compiled by Food and Decor Editor, Claire Badenhorst