Use of this resource
Food budgeting and cooking may come naturally to some – but not to all. How can the church practically support those who may be struggling financially, even to feed their families? We hope this resource, produced by professional Chef Jon Aslet, can be a component in supporting your community outreach – but these tips may be useful to you too!
This can be a tough thing to do as most of us find comfort and pleasure in the naughtier and more expensive foods. A good takeaway, or snacking on a chocolate bar, can feel very satisfying in the moment, but when money is tight it can leave a bad taste in our mouths. So here are a few tips and tricks on how you can make your food go further, and how you can learn to be savvier with the food you buy and cook.
Whenever you peel your vegetables, throw all the peelings into a saucepan and fill it with water. Then bring that to the boil and now you have a veg stock that can be used to flavour stews and soups.
A good example of this would be if you were making a cauliflower soup. Cauliflower has a lot of wastage, but by using that ‘waste’ to make a stock that can be used in your soup rather than a stock cube, you will have enhanced the soup’s flavour and made savings!
Cooking large amounts of food and freezing it can be a great time saver as well saving money. When you have the urge for a cheeky takeaway, knowing that you can just grab a meal you have already made from the freezer and have it defrosted and heated through in less time than it would take for your takeaway to arrive can be a great way to save money – and be healthier too!
Plan for the week ahead and think about how you can incorporate one ingredient into several meals.
For example, you could make some sweet potatoes into a curry and a soup, and then roast some as well. If you think you may get bored of that one ingredient, use it on alternate days. A good mince can be used for bolognaise and lasagne, and can be spiced up to make a chilli. Use this meal plan to create a shopping list you can stick to so that when you go to the supermarket you aren’t distracted by special offers on things you don’t need.
A lot of supermarkets are now selling the veg that would have just been thrown away because it didn’t fit the ideal shape that supermarkets thought their customers wanted. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this veg and not only is it cheaper but it is also very environmentally friendly.
Eat less meat
As a meat lover myself, cutting down on meat is very tough, but making it a once-a-week or even once-a-month treat does mean that it is that much more special when I do have it. Meat is always going to cost more than vegetables and is generally bad for the environment as well. I would recommend sticking to vegetables, beans and pulses rather than buying replacement products as they can be quite expensive too.
If you can’t give up meat you can definitely make it last longer than one meal. Chicken is the perfect example of this: the breasts can be roasted, shredded and mixed through a pasta; the thighs, legs and wings can be grilled and served with a salad; the carcass can be put into a stock which can be used in a multitude of dishes. Find cheaper cuts like beef skirt or beef cheeks, which may require longer cooking but are packed with flavour and definitely worth the wait.
Use pulses and beans
Pulses and beans are not only a good source of protein, but they are also extremely filling. They can be used as a great meat substitute – for example, you could make a lentil curry, or rather than using 100% meat in a bolognaise you could 50% meat 50% kidney beans.
Most of us love a little snack – chocolate, crisps, you name it! But having a healthier and much cheaper alternative to nourish those cravings is well worth it. For me, having some satsumas in the fridge gives me that sweet and sugary hit while also only costing a fraction of the price of a chocolate bar.
Don’t let anything go to waste, know what’s in your fridge and in your cupboards and when it goes off, and plan your meals accordingly. Being organised is very important for saving money – it stops you from buying too much so that the food ends up spoiling or you have five of the same jar when you only need one.