It’s a strange time to be alive, and I’m sure a lot of us can agree that many of the stresses of our modern world are related to our finances! When the price of healthy food, especially plant-based food, is often more expensive than unhealthy food, that can be a recipe for a distressed economic and physical condition. In fact, an Australian study showed that low-income families that want to eat healthily spend over 30% of their household income on their food bills! This can pose a significant contributor to stress and unhealthy eating habits!
So we thought we might give you some ideas to help take back control!
Here are four cooking tips to help with your budget!
1. Buy in Bulk!
Did you know that buying certain items in bulk can reduce your spending by up to 219% compared to the packaged alternatives? Often, the cheapest stuff in supermarkets can be hidden in plain sight! When you’re at the shops, you may be tempted to grab the packaged food for ease, but you can actually save a lot of money by taking from the loose, free weight sections. A loose sack of potatoes, for instance, is a great thing to grab, as it’s pretty cost-effective, you can use them for all kinds of dishes, and they tend to last a long time if stored correctly. Other vegetables or dried foods like pasta, oats, or nuts, are also excellent for this — and it’s much better for the environment too! Another great tip here is to visit smaller grocery stores like greengrocers or international supermarkets, as they often have the option to get larger supplies of foodstuffs for less! The trick is to shop around and find the right solutions for you. If you put a little time into finding the cheapest options, you can keep going back to these places and save yourself a fortune in the long run!
2. Make Things Easy for Yourself
It can be so tempting after a hard day at work to just order some takeout and veg out on the sofa, but that isn’t always the best thing for the old wallet! It’s just too convenient, and that’s why the best way to circumvent that problem is to make things easy to cook at home. Plan ahead and have meals prepared on your days off, so when it comes time to get home after work you can have something easy that you can simply pop in the oven. It doesn’t even have to be a full pre-made meal; you can simply cook large quantities of items like vegetables that can be used for a whole array of different healthy meals! This leads on to the next tip — instead of spending time cooking every day, just cook once or twice a week and pre-cook your meals. Cooking several different things at once can save you time, money, and energy in the long run!
3. Cook in Bulk and Store
So, it’s all well and good saying, “buy in bulk and save money,” but it can be a little bit different in practice, especially when it comes to cooking the food. And the great thing about cooking in bulk is that cooked food often lasts longer than uncooked food, so here are some ideas to get you started!
- Store Pasta With Oil. One top tip is that if you put a little bit of olive oil in your cooked pasta you can store it in the fridge without worrying about it sticking together or losing its texture and flavor. This means that instead of boiling up one portion every time you go to make a pasta dish, you can instead cook a huge batch of pasta and store it in your fridge for easy cooking when you need it. Just put your cooked pasta in a colander and drizzle oil over it, shake it off to remove any excess liquids, and store it in a covered bowl or Tupperware!
- Pre-Make Sauces and Freeze Them. Another great thing to do, if you don’t have time to be making sauces for every meal, is to simply cook a large amount at a time, say bolognese or filler for fajitas, and if you freeze it, it’ll last for a long time, and will make cooking easier! The only thing with freezing is that defrosting something once should have little to no impact on flavor and texture, but if you refreeze something you can ruin the food — and it can sometimes be a safety hazard, so the best thing to do is separate your sauces into portions in individual boxes before you freeze!
- Pre-Make Sandwich Fillers. This is a great one too, on the same note as the sauces. You can save a lot of money on daily lunches if you batch cook things like egg-mayo. Then when it’s time to make yourself a sandwich, all you need to do is spoon it onto the bread!
Start Growing Your Own
Our final tip for you is one that absolutely everyone can do, and it’s so easy and rewarding! You can start growing your own food! The best way to get started with this, especially if you don’t have a garden, is to start a small herb box. There are tons of different herbs that grow quite happily indoors on window sills, like mint, basil, or rosemary. They generally take very little maintenance and just need a bit of sunlight and water, and before you know it you have a supply of your favorite herbs! Visit your local gardening store and check out what they have in stock. Seed packets and soil are often even cheaper than buying already growing plants, and it’s so nice to watch your little green friends growing up in your house!