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Budget Friendly Cooking

14 October 2022

Eating a healthy diet is crucial to your mental and emotional health as well as your physical wellbeing. It can make a huge difference to your mood, energy, waistline, and how well you think and feel.

However, at a time when so many of us are adjusting our spending habits or living on a tight budget, finding food that is wholesome, tasty and affordable can be a challenge.

Even when you’re eating on a tight budget, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy mealtimes. The pleasure of eating even the simplest of meals increases when you share it with other people.

Whether you cook for the whole family or live alone, you can find ways to make inexpensive meals more enjoyable – and more beneficial to your health and wellness – by making them more social experiences.

Shop with others. Getting your kids involved in shopping for groceries and preparing meals is a great opportunity to teach them about different foods, how to read food labels, and how to balance a budget.

Make mealtimes a social experience. The simple act of talking to a friend or loved one over the dinner table can play a big role in relieving stress and boosting mood. Gather the family together and stay up to date on everyone’s daily lives.

Cook with others. Invite a friend to share shopping and cooking responsibilities – one prepares the main, the other dessert, for example. Cooking with others can be a fun way to deepen relationships. Splitting the costs can make it cheaper for both of you.

Right now, we’re all feeling the pinch in our pockets, below we’ve put together some tips and suggestions that may help you to cut costs as well as food waste.

Stock up on food cupboard staples includes Pasta, Rice, Lentils, Tinned Tomatoes, Tinned Tuna, Herbs & Spices, Onions, Pulses, Plain Flour, Stock cubes – All are super handy to have in at home for batch/bulk cooking, saving you even more money, enabling you to plan ahead.

There are many websites providing a variety of Low-Cost recipes for Vegetarian, Vegan, and Meat eaters alike.

Cook once and eat multiple times. Cook a large meal at the beginning of the week so that you have extra portions to use later in the week, or to freeze, or for when you don’t feel like cooking. Preparing large portions of food to use over multiple meals can save you time and energy as well as money.

One-pot dishes, such as soups, stews, or casseroles, save on preparation time, money, and dishwashing. Freeze leftovers or re-use for lunches. For a cheap and nutritious breakfast, cook one pot of oatmeal and heat up a serving each morning; vary it by adding fruit, nuts, or seeds.

Make new meals from old ones

Instead of throwing away leftovers or forgetting about them at the back of the fridge, get creative and use them to make new meals.

Soups, stews, or stir-fries. Create a base with broth or a sauce, or by sautéing onion or garlic, then add any leftovers you have. A small amount of meat is perfect to add flavour and substance. You can also experiment with herbs and spices to create unique flavours.

Everything burritos. Most leftovers make very tasty burritos. Simply put everything into a tortilla wrap with a little cheese or salsa and enjoy.

Reimagine, don’t waste

Bread: 20 million slices are wasted every day

Bread can do two things when past its prime: go stale or go mouldy. Stale bread is fine for making loads of delicious recipes, most simply a quick eggy bread or its classy cousin French toast.

Blend stale bread (including crusts) for breadcrumbs. Store a bag in the freezer to dip into for fish cakesstuffing or potato croquettes. Toast stale bread, drizzled in oil, in the oven to make tasty croûtons to top soup or salads. Treat wraps and pittas in the same way to make excellent healthy crisps and pitta chips.

Potatoes: 4.4 million wasted every day

Potatoes are the most commonly thrown away food in the UK. If they’ve gone soft, mushy, wrinkly, cracked, green or mouldy, don’t eat them. But if they’ve just started to sprout little shoots, no worries, just chop them off and use them in any of our delicious potato recipes. If you have leftover mash, you can use it in bubble and squeakfishcakes or potato pancakes.

Root Vegetables

If you find you’re throwing root veggies away, try making a batch of vegetable soup for lunches. Even the trimmings of your vegetables can be frozen in a bag to make free veg stock

Meat, including 2.2m slices of ham, wasted every day

Chicken, bacon and ham are the most popular meats in the UK and they’re also the most wasted. Slice cooked chicken into thin strips for quick leftover chicken fajitas or soup or curry – just be sure to heat it right through. 

Energy Saving Advice & Tips – kitchen appliances

The microwave is generally the most efficient way to heat up and cook food – it’s always quicker and its smaller size (as opposed to the oven) means that the heat is more focused on whatever’s being cooked. Choose the microwave whenever possible.

Use the kettle to boil water quickly and transfer to a pan on the hob for steaming and boiling vegetables or pasta. When using water to boil anything in a pan, make sure that you only use as much water as is needed to cover the amount of food you’re cooking – one of the most common forms of energy wastage is the energy it takes to boil water you don’t need.

Slow cookers are also an energy-efficient cooking appliance – they use just a little more energy than a traditional light bulb, and you can leave your food to cook slowly throughout the day while you’re at work or when you need to get on with other things.

When using an electric oven, turn it off ten minutes before the food’s finished cooking. The oven temperature will remain the same so the food will still cook through to completion without the oven using energy.

The newest edition to our kitchens is that of the air fryer… a real phenomenon, in terms of speed, energy savings and great cooking versatility…