I make no secret of the fact that we stick to a strict budget. We love food, and love to eat well, and quite firmly believe that you can do so and save. In fact, I would argue that the best food is homemade, as you can control what goes into it, and also what it’s going to cost!
Cooking from scratch takes planning and some organisation. I am not suggesting that you start devoting an hour a day to food. What I am suggesting is that you build up a list of quick, easy food that you can get together quickly, that’s fairly healthy, and tastes good!
Here are some of the tips that I use :
Use your freezer
I cannot believe how long it took me to start using frozen prepped veggies! You can get most veg pre-prepped, and you just throw it in the pot from frozen and cook as normal. I’ve just taken a quick look in the freezer and this is what I have in there:
- Diced Onions
- Sliced Leeks
- Sliced Mixed Peppers
- Crushed Garlic
- Chopped Chilli
- Chopped Ginger
- Sliced Carrots
- Mixed Veg
- Sliced Celery( This I slice myself and pop in a Ziploc bag)
Buying frozen prepped veg is cost-effective. You can keep ingredients in the freezer until they are needed, knowing they aren’t going to go bad and still be
Now, I know an onion doesn’t take an age to peel and dice. I also know that peeling an onion and carrot, dicing them, then chopping mushrooms and peppers for your dinner all adds up. That’s 5 minutes of your time can be taken up by prep, and when you have 15 minutes to get supper on the go
It’s a lot easier to grab a bag from the freezer, and pop it into the pot, so it’s going to save you time and effort.
Using your freezer is a great way to buy in bulk. Quite often the shops have a great special offer on chicken/mince etc, and you can buy extra and keep it in the freezer for ages! I try to use the one
Use your weekends
Stick with me here. I get a bit precious about my weekends, so I don’t want to be slaving over a hot stove all weekend either. But as Gemma from Team TOMM says, this is about being your future friend- See post here
If you had 5 dishes that took an hour in the oven from fridge/freezer to table that you had made on the weekend, you would have that hour to do the rest of your many tasks.
Manage your available time
Decide how much time you have for cooking in the evening. By this I mean break it up into active and passive time. If you get home and 6 and need dinner on the table by 7, that gives you an hour. I would put money on it that you don’t actually have that hour to spend in the kitchen. Look for recipes that have a small amount of prep, and longer cooking time.
If you can carve out an hour over the weekend you can get a whole lot of meals pre-made, and that can save you so much time in the week. Pasta bakes can be made and popped in the fridge, ready for baking. You can pre-make sandwiches for the week, and freeze them ready to be taken to school or work.
As much as I loved the idea of Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals, they do involve some serious speed cooking, and 15 minutes of complete focus! I much prefer a recipe that comes together with minimal effort. While it cooks I can get on with something else, bonus!!
Some ideas for this kind of recipe…..
-Lasagne, fiddly to make but freezes beautifully
-Chicken stew with dumplings – this is mostly a throw in the pot and cook kind of recipe. Dumplings are dead easy to make and pop on top to cook.
– Sausage Ragu
-One pot Greek Lemon Chicken and Rice
– Cheats Chicken Parmigana
There are so many options for easy meals. My main issue is that if I don’t have a menu plan in place then dinner ends up being a free for all. I get stressed and grouchy, and dinner ends up being something beige and boxed.
My time is precious, as is my money. And life is too short to eat bad food! I’m going to be sharing recipes for all of the meals I have suggested, as well as sharing our weekly meal plans, in the hopes that some inspiration may get you saving money without losing your mind and time!