Cooking On A Budget

Ever wondered how to make a delicious, healthy meal without breaking the bank? Here are some tips on cooking on a budget!

Cooking for a week on a budget is quite easy. Sticking to a tight budget permanently is much more challenging.

Eating frugally for one week is a necessity that comes to us all once in a while. We’ve overspent, and yet still need to feed the family. What do you do?

DON’T PANIC! For one week, it’s not going to killáanybodyáto knuckle down and eat good old fashioned filling food and go without the luxuries. You can empty the cupboards and eat whatever’s in there. The REAL challenge is to cook for a week on a budget without anybody knowing.

Start by going on a health kick, and ditching all the sweets (candies) and crisps (potato chips). These are bad for you anyway. Once you have established that you’re going to be eating healthily for a week you can cut out any regular take-away meals you usually have. You won’t be eating in a restaurant this week.

Firstly, get everyone to eat breakfast. It might seem like an odd idea to eat on a budget by getting people to eat more, but breakfast really does keep hunger at bay. A big bowl of muesli or porridge is best, or any other wholewheat cereal. Check that there’s not too much sugar in it, or it will have your tummy begging for more by 9.30.

If you have small children, go for a walk and see if you can pick up any free food. The autumn (fall) is ideal for this. It’s not so easy in the city, of course, but there are other tricks for you. If your partner is a fisherman, now’s the time to send him out.

Make everyone a packed lunch to take to work with them instead of letting them buy lunch. If you can use cupboard ingredients to make home-made cookies or cakes to go in them, so much the better. Save on sandwich fillings by using cheaper things this week.

If you are eating lunch at home, a vegetable soup is cheap and filling. Kids love to help making this, too. Add tiny pasta shapes to make it more filling, or pearl barley. Save a bit of meat from the day before to add to it.

Leave your shopping until the stores are about to close, and see what they have reduced. Very often they will be marking things down to ridiculously low prices. If they aren’t marking down when you go in, don’t be afraid to ask an assistant what time of day they usually do it. Pop back then – it’ll be worth the extra journey. Check out the prices of larger pieces of meat. It might be more economical to buy a larger turkey or larger piece of beef and use it several days in a row. Scour your cookbook for ways of disguising it! Roast one day. Cold with salad the next. Curry the third.

It’s not ideal in a long-term diet , but the old-fashioned way of filling up on stodge, stodge and more stodge is the way to stop being hungry on little money. When you serve dinner, add some slices of bread, biscuits, pitta or bread rolls. Pile on the mashed potato, fluff up the rice, and dole out the pasta.

Extend your meat by making stews and casseroles packed with healthy vegetables. They’ll take on the flavor of the meat – especially if you add an extra stock cube!

Desserts are best kept simply. Your first route is to look in the freezer and finish up what you have in there. Next, sponge puddings or cakes, with fruit if you have any. Milk puddings such as semolina, tapioca and rice pudding are all schoolroom favorites. Make them with powdered milk and serve with a blob of jam. Jelly and ice cream cost very little, too – sprinkle a packet of Jelly Tots over them and call it a party!

You should come out of this week very healthy, having cut down on processed foods and increased your vegetable intake. If you’ve also realised that exercise is actually an appetite SUPPRESSANT and been to the gym every night, you’ll be laughing!