Cooking to Save Money
The average household will throw away between £15,000 and £24,000 of food in a lifetime, that’s between £600 and £700 per year. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could save that money every year instead of throwing it away?
Whether or not you are in debt, these times of financial uncertainty are unsettling to everyone and managing our housekeeping budget is just one of the plates we have to juggle. Reducing our food bills, by learning to make the most of the food we buy is a really practical way to ease the financial pressure. Let’s face it, our grandmothers were great at it, so there’s no reason why we can’t.
Making the most of the food we buy means that we can cut our food bills without having to cut back on the quality of food we eat and it is essential that we still eat a varied diet, with lots of fruit, vegetables and protein. There’s no need to panic and think that we have to buy cheap, innutritious food in order to cut back on the pennies.
How successful we are at making our food go further depends on two things: buying the right ingredients and doing the rights things with it. Here are a few things to remember:
Cooking with leftovers requires a kitchen that is stocked with the right ingredients – the ‘DNA’ of leftover cookery – and there is no need for this to be expensive. My suggested list of essential kitchen ingredients will ensure you have all the tools you need to create delicious meals from leftovers – making your money and your food go further.
Kit out your kitchen
It’s also important to have the right equipment in the kitchen but this does not mean you have to rush out and buy lots of new gadgets to clutter up your kitchen. We are trying to reduce costs, not add to them! If some of these items are missing from your kitchen, try looking in charity shops or second hand electrical goods shops.
Plan your shopping
But none of this is any good unless we plan our shopping. A third of us go shopping without a list – not surprising really with the busy lives we all lead, often having to juggle work and family life. However, just spending five minutes each week to plan our shopping can make an enormous difference to our food bills and reduce the amount of food we throw away. Here are some things to bear in mind: try and buy food that is in season and local, as it will be cheaper, and try not to shop when you are tired and hungry when all common sense goes out of the window and you end up with a trolley full of expensive snacks and Gu chocolate pots!
One of the reasons we have lost the art of using leftovers in cooking is that we have become so governed by ‘use-by’ dates and we’re taught to throw away anything that has exceeded its date – regardless of whether it is perishable or not. We’ve forgotten to use our senses: smell, sight and taste will often tell us whether food is still edible although I would stress that meat and fish should not be kept for more than 3-4 days after cooking.
Don't be afraid to try!
Finally, cooking with leftovers is all about having the confidence to try things. When we have money worries, confidence is often hard to come by but I urge you to persevere and hopefully you’ll be surprised with what you can do.
Bish Muir is author of The Use-it-all Cookbook, published by Green Books.
It can be purchased from Amazon and other sources.