The Frugal Foodie: Top Tips for Saving Money on Meals
If you are somebody who loves to eat, having to cut down on the amount you spend on food can be an incredibly frustrating experience. From saying no to eating out, to resigning yourself to the most mind-numbingly boring food for your packed lunch (yes, we’re talking about you, rapidly wilting lettuce leaves) – it’s never fun or very satisfying.
But although you might have to cut down on expensive restaurants and using an elaborate amount of ingredients at home, budgeting on food doesn’t have to revolve around an endless cycle of bland and boring meals.
To breathe a bit of life into your money saving meals (and a few alternative ways to cut back), check out our following top tips…
Perfect the art of the ‘slow-cook’
Although cheaper cuts of beef, pork and lamb are undoubtedly going to be poorer quality, this doesn’t mean you can’t make them tender. The trick is to simply cook them for as long as possible, on a low heat, and in some form of liquid. After a few hours you’ll have yourself a perfectly delicious stew and the meat will have broken down enough to be surprisingly soft and even melt-in-the-mouth! If you’re never at home long enough to keep your eye on the stove, a proper slow cooker could turn out to be a great investment – simply set it all up and you’ll have a delicious meal waiting for you when you get home.
Turn the ‘unsatisfying’ into the ‘sufficient’
If the biggest obstacle between you and a money saving diet is that every kind of ‘cheap’ or ‘affordable’ meal leaves you feeling very dissatisfied, aka. hungry, then your best bet is to try and bulk out your meals. By buying cheap staples like pasta, rice and couscous to keep in your cupboard, you will always have a little something extra on hand to pad out those miniscule salads and soups for lunch. Furthermore, these staples are brilliant when you’ve only got a bit of meat or a few vegetables leftover from the night before. Simply chuck in some of the aforementioned ingredients and boom! You’ve got lunch sorted for the next day, and another fiver saved.
Buy economy brands!
If you’re used to cooking with the finest product available, using supermarket-own brands like Tesco ‘Everyday Value’ or Sainsbury’s ‘Basics’ might seem like an alien (and altogether unappealing prospect). However, they’re not as bad as you might think! Fair enough, for some meat and poultry you’ll undoubtedly want to go higher end, but there are so many products you can buy for less without much of a step down in quality. Whether its ketchup, canned tuna, beans and tomatoes - even cheese and cereal – you might not even notice the difference, and if you’re using it as an ingredient in a meal: you definitely won’t.
Think before you throw away…
If you’re guilty of throwing away old salad, fruit or bread - you’re also guilty of throwing away money! Fair enough it might not be a lot, but it all adds up, so by doing your best to prevent food going stale or using up the produce in other ways, you’ll be saving yourself a vital bit of cash here and there. There are loads of hints and tips you can find online - from putting paper towels in the bottom of your fridge to stop salad going soggy, to using up stale bread as croutons or as an ingredient in a dessert – it’s all just about being less wasteful and a bit more resourceful.
If you’re a lover of good food, don’t let a lack of money stand in the way of eating well. With just a bit of planning and creativity, you can create delicious and perfectly affordable meals any time you like. Happy days!