Tips for eating well on a budget
Meal planning is my absolute number one top tip for eating well on a budget. It saves us money, cuts down our food waste and helps me to feed my family a healthy balanced diet. It saves time and helps me feel more in control during the week. Here's a few meal planning tips:
- Have a look in your fridge & freezer to see what needs using up. Baked bubble & squeak is a great recipe for leftover mashed potato.
- Use seasonal recipes to save money and get the best quality produce. Butternut squash & feta salad is perfect in the autumn.
- Think about where you can make extra portions of dinner for packed lunches the following day.
- The NHS recommends at least two servings of fish a week (including one oily fish) so make sure you get them in there, even if it's something as simple as a creamy tuna pasta or sardines on toast.
- Once you have made your meal plan, make a shopping list based on that. Don't be tempted to buy more than you need.
Make meat & fish go further
I prefer to buy less good quality meat and fish these days than lots of cheap stuff. It's more expensive but I have a few tricks to make it go further:
- We eat vegan or veggie meals 3 times a week, like chickpea curry. It's so much healthier and cuts the food bill right down.
- I make meat go further by cutting it into smaller pieces or bulking it out with beans or lentils, like beef & butter bean stew and turkey dhansak.
- When buying chicken I tend to go for thighs as they are the tastiest (in my opinion) and also they are much cheaper.
- Squeeze out the sausage meat from good quality sausages to make super-quick spaghetti & meatballs - a few sausages go a long way.
- Leftovers roast chicken makes a lovely chicken satay stir-fry bulked out with lots of vegetables to make it go further.
- Strip the carcass and prep the leftover meat after a roast as soon as possible. it's easier and quicker to do while it's still warm and much less inviting when cold.
- Good quality tinned fish is in-expensive and readily available. Tinned salmon makes great fish cakes mixed with mashed potatoes, spring onions, seasoning and an egg to bind. Quick escabeche-style mackerel is a great recipe for tinned mackerel.
Use the freezer
My freezer is jam packed with things which I freeze instead of throwing away:
- I freeze leftover cream in an ice-cube tray and then add a cube or two straight into dishes which require a tablespoon or so of cream such as chicken in cider.
- Houmous can be frozen and used as a dairy-free alternative to cream in a risotto or pasta dish like red pepper, tomato and houmous spaghetti.
- I finely chop and freeze celery, onions and carrots which are going soft and cook them straight from the freezer - perfect for tomato based sauces.
- I freeze all sorts of cheese leftover from Christmas to use in cheese sauces or soups such as broccoli & stilton soup. It can be grated first or just cut into cubes.
- Stale bread gets blitzed into breadcrumbs and used straight from the freezer in all sorts of recipes such as pork & apple burgers.
- When there's a glut of apples in the autumn they get peeled, chopped, sprinkled with lemon juice and frozen to be used in breakfast smoothies and apple & blackberry crumble cake.
Now over to you! Do you have any tips or tricks for eating well on a budget? I'd love to hear them, please comment below.