Eating at home is always more economical than going out for a meal, but there are ways to save in the kitchen as well. Here are some ideas on how cooking can be thrifty, tasty and healthy.
- Bag it: Like jacket potatoes? Buy your spuds by the sack. They will keep well for couple of weeks if you store them somewhere cool and are much cheaper per pound when bought in large quantities. This way you always have something at hand to put a meal together when you haven’t been out shopping, or have last minute visitors. The same goes with rice. If you often make risotto or like to have homemade rice and curry, a big bag of rice will serve you for a long time and is much more value than smaller pouches. But be sure not to waste, and to use only what you need. If you’ve cooked more than you need, store it for later.
- Time it: Supermarkets today have vegetable and fruits from around the world that are neither seasonal nor local. This increases both the cost of the vegetable and its quality. Knowing what is in season and local could help you shop much more economically. Make yourself a fruit and vegetable calendar by learning what is in season each month. March is the time for spring green and savoy cabbage, kale, leeks, and cauliflower. With these fresh ingredients you can prepare coleslaw, sautéed kale with sesame seeds, leek soup or cauliflower gratin. (1)
- Freeze it: If you are at the bakers and get tempted to purchase a big loaf of walnut bread but are quite sure you won’t be able to finish it all, slice it up, and freeze it. Sliced bread thaws nicely enough to even be great for a sandwich later on. Wrap it in cloth and then in a plastic bag before freezing and keep it covered while it thaws to hold the moisture. You could also re-wrap the bread in foil and warm it in an oven preheated to 250 degrees, for about 20 minutes. Don’t use the microwave as your bread will lose its texture. (2)
- List it: Make a shopping list every week. Taking into account what you actually do have in your kitchen cabinet will do a lot saving for you. Don’t repeat purchases- know your kitchen, and all the condiments in it. Stick to the list without being taken in by special offers. An average household wastes about 60 pounds of good food a month. Buy only what you needed and are sure you will use up, including things like fresh parsley and basil. A few times a week consider having dinner left overs for lunch as it is healthier than a store bought sandwich crisps and canned drink. (3)
- Glug it: For children’s breakfast serve cereal in mugs with a spoon. This way, they will eat their cereal and then drink up all the milk, not wasting any. If you have babies or toddlers, don’t waste money on store bought baby food. Puree up small portions of the grown up meal before adding salt and spices, that way they have eaten with you and tried a whole range of different types of food. (4)