Food prices at the moment seem to be rising on a weekly basis and it is becoming more difficult to cook healthy, tasty food on a budget. There are some tricks however, to reducing cost without compromising on taste or nutrition. The simplest way to reduce costs is to make more meals at home instead of buying ready meals and ready made sauces.
This may involve an initial investment in items such as herbs, spices and other store cupboard ingredients, but will work out much cheaper in the long run. A jar of oregano for example, can be used in roughly eight meals depending on the amount you use.
One if the ways to reduce meal costs is to shop around for bargains and special offers and take full advantage of the, For example, buying vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes, when they are reduced, making a large batch of tomato sauce and freezing in portions, will provide the basis for meals such as pasta, stews or pies. All that will be needed to be added is meat or pasta. Shopping towards the end of the day will often yield some great bargains as this is when supermarkets reduce stock that will be going out of date. For cheaper fruit and vegetables, it is also worth shopping at your local market. Their produce is often cheaper than in the supermarket and tastes better too.
Baking your own cakes, bread and biscuits is not only cheaper than buying shop bought baked goods, but healthier. A basic sponge cake is quick and easy to make and can be varied by adding ingredients you may have in your store cupboard such as nuts, seeds or dried fruit. Home made bread is delicious and again, can be varied with the addition of store cupboard ingredients such as dried herbs or spices. There are many great recipes online with step by step instructions or cookbooks aimed at cooking on a budget will give great tips.
To reduce the cost when making a stew or other meat dish, reduce the amount of meat used by about half and replace with lentils or other pulses as well as other vegetables such as carrots or potatoes. This will bulk the stew out without compromising on taste. Buying vegetables at the market or when reduced will cut down the cost further.
Swapping butter for margarine is a small change that could save money. There are many spreads around which claim to taste exactly like butter and it is worth trying a few to find one that does. Supermarkets often have these spreads on special offer and they are just as good for baking and cooking as butter without the cost. In fact, they are better for baking as you don't have to wait ages for the butter to soften, and they are easier to beat in.
Making your own pizza is a great way to reduce costs. A pack of pizza bases is cheap or you could be even more frugal and make your own using flour, olive oil and yeast. This doesn't take much time and you can pretend to be a professional pizza chef while rolling it out. For the toppings you can either use tomato purée or some home made tomato sauce reduced down to a thicker consistency and spiced up with any herbs you may have I. Your cupboard such as thyme, oregano or basil to give that authentic taste. The best thing about making your own pizza is that you can add any toppings you like. A mushroom and ham pizza made with ham and cheese bought on special offer can cost less than two pounds to make but taste just as great as a takeaway.
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