cooking on a budget

  • How to reduce your weekly food bill - supermarket alternatives

    The Guardian published a fabulous piece today on 'savvy shopping' with 10 top tips on how to reduce your supermarket weekly bill, I've written some for the piece which you can check out on The Guardian online.  Here are some more:

    Supermarket alternatives:
    - local butchers for your meat and sausages - butchers make their own sausages so you know exactly what goes into them, some do sausage making workshops in the evenings where you can make your own, great fun.  Unlike supermarket sausages where you never know what parts of the animal is included (!)
    - local markets - purchase your fruit and veg at the local market, they'll be way cheaper than supermarket, no plastic so way more environmentally friendly.
    - shop at the end of the day - especially on Saturday afternoons when the market is closing as the traders will reduce fruit and veg that is ripe and won't keep until Monday.  The fruit and veg will taste better as it's ripe and it will be cheaper too.  I bought a huge bowl of baby aubergines for £1 at 4pm in our local market the other Saturday, took them home and made a lovely aubergine curry that I froze half of.
    - Shop on a day to day basis - take advantage of buying meat, poultry and fish on the day you want to eat it as you can make the best of daily offers and also those marked down as they are close to their 'use by' dates.
    -  If there are offers on make the most of it and buy in bulk and freeze the excess so you have ready meals in the freezer.
    - local bakery - ditto above or even try artisan bakers at markets or farmer's markets, so you're boosting the local economy too, you may be able to buy locally milled flour as well keeping smaller family mills in business.
    - Grow you own items that are easy and take little space and little attention - strawberries are fantastic, herbs such as basil, coriander, mint and parsley can be grown on a window sill. Rhubarb in a bucket, potatoes in a bag.
    - Make your own convenience food/ready meals - pot noodle with chicken stock left over chick, nest of dried noodles and frozen peas, store cupboard and freezer items that cost a fraction of the price of a pot noodle.  Rice pudding, make your own rather than buy the ready made pots.  Make your own flapjack instead of buying biscuits, make pitta crisps instead of buying crisps - healthier too, get the children involved to help you and they're more likely to items that they've help make.
    - Roast and freeze wilted veg and use them in stews or as a pasta topping or mix them with a tin of tomatoes, whizz them and use them as pizza base or a base for spag bol.
    - Use over ripe bananas to make muffins and banana bread for snacks.
    - go vegetarian - the children won't notice, make vege chilli with root veg and different beans, use roasted aubergine in place of half the mince in spag bol and whizz it like the French do so the children won't notice the difference in texture.
    - eat the seasons, eat food that is in season - it will taste better and be cheaper, ie don't eat Strawberries in December,they are really expensive and don't taste of anything.
    - plan your weekly meals so you know exactly what you're going to cook each day so you don't overshop with a big weekly shop that you end up throwing lots of items away.
    - buy whole spices rather than ready ground and grind them yourself in a pestle and mortar - they'll last longer and taste better.  Ground spices have 6  months before they deteriorate in flavour and aroma once they're opened, whole spices have 2 years.
    All the above mean less packaging, less plastic, you support the local economy, you could even cycle there or walk to reducing fuel consumption, gives you the opportunity to meet friends for a quick cuppa and it's a much more sociable way of shopping, yes it does take time but the quality of food will be worth it.
    However, if you work full time and have to juggle childcare, work, etc then just choose one of two and it will help, it is much more convenient to have a weekly supermarket delivery but I get really bored of this and although it's really 'sad' I admit that I love going round the shops or even into the supermarket to check out what's in season, what's fresh, what's on offer.
    I'm just about to call our local fantastic butchers to order 3 ribeye steaks for the Oxford Foodies Festival as I'm demming with Castillero del Diablo - food and wine matching, i wouldn't trust that the supermarket would have these in to my spec and definitely wouldn't trust a delivery service relying on someone else choosing my meat for me.

     

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