How to eat well-Even when the budget is tight!
I think it is safe to say we have all felt that sinking feeling after doing the groceries on an empty stomach, getting to the cash register and forking out your life savings for a weeks groceries!?
So what are some tips to help ensure that you can get the most for your money?
-Meal Plan your week
By knowing what recipes you are making for the week ahead you can plan what ingredients you need to buy, when you may need to get fresh meat etc for meals later in the week and how much. It will also assist you in time management, knowing you are having a certain dish that can be slow cooked for the day, meaning little or no meal prep after work is a true blessing after a long day.
The other benefit of meal planning? You can utilise meals from the dinner before for your lunch the next day- i.e. Roast chicken on Sunday night may be a perfect left over for mountain bread wraps with salad for school lunches. Or, perhaps even on Tuesday night you may have Spaghetti Bolognese with Zucchini pasta, and re use the left over sauce to make an eggplant lasagne on Wednesday night? Two meals in long meal prep!
-Shop online for your pantry goods
The main grocery chain stores offer a home delivery service, direct to your door at a time convenient to you. It is easier to see specials, all of the categories are broken down so you can search for what you need super quickly. I also find it cheaper as it stops you from impulse buying anything that isn't on your list for the week ahead.
-Buy in season
Probably one of my biggest tips- in season! Strawberries can be up to $9 a punnet when not in season vs in season $2!!! By knowing what is in season you will not only be saving money, but also buying fresh produce.
It is becoming more common to shop at the farmers market and I know that up here on the Gold Coast we have 4 local produce markets to choose from, and one farmer direct produce to purchase from. When buying from the farmers direct you ensure it is locally grown, usually it is cheaper and is certainly fresh!
-Buy your meat and non perishables in bulk when on sale
When buying in bulk for your meat, I find the best thing to do is to divide it into smaller weights, around 200g, writing the date purchased, and weight on the bag. I also find it helps to keep a list on the fridge/freezer door of what we actually have in there, so we don't double buy and waste food.
For the non perishables, if you are after tins of tomatoes (ensure no sugar/salt is added) or chickpeas etc- shop around. Sometimes bulk buy places have the items you're after half the price and can last a year in the pantry saving you big bucks.
-Cook your meals in bulk
Once cooked, portion and freeze with the date in the meal. It will help you for convenience and also for your budget!
-Reuse your leftovers from the night before for lunch and even dinner the next night.
As mentioned above, this is such a great way to save money- here are a few meals we 'take two' at:
Salmon fillets > Salmon Patties
Spaghetti Bol Sauce > Lasange
Roast Chicken > Quinoa Chicken Risotto
Roast Vegetables > Into a salad, risotto, soup- anything!
Slow cooked meats > Wraps/'burgers' (we use mushroom bases or rye)
-Only drink water
Sodas, juices and other drinks are super expensive, so save money by only drinking water!
By implementing these changes into your weekly shopping, you can be assured that you and your family can live on a budget- without sacrificing taste or health!