Cheap as Chips: Meat Free Living on a Budget
After a hard day at work or school, we all want a delicious and fulfilling meal that will revive our depleted energy stores and provide us with plenty of nutrition.
We’re very lucky these days that there is so much choice for both ingredients and specialist products. However, without a bit of planning and creativity, the weekly shopping bill can begin to rack up which, if you have a family, can be quite a worry. Meat, as I’m sure we all know, is expensive and getting more expensive each year, and that’s where reducing meat intake can be good both for your purse strings and for the environment.
So, we’ve put together a few tips and ideas to help you and your family eat frugally without compromising on taste or nutritional value:
- Meal planning – Boring right? But it makes life so much easier, especially if you have a hectic career and/or children to look after. If you’re in need of inspiration, check out the recipe ideas on our website.
- Buy groceries at cheaper supermarkets – We love the fruit and veg from Aldi!
- Buy foods that are in season and also buy frozen vegetables – the latter can be stored for long periods of time and nutritionally, are just as beneficial as fresh.
- Buy in bulk – grains and beans can be bought in bulk and are so cheap! Think brown rice, chickpeas, black beans, oats and nuts online (although it is, of course, better to buy locally wherever possible – better for the environment and for independent shops).
- Check out your local farmer’s market - such a nice shopping experience and you can often haggle a little! Plus, the produce is usually very fresh indeed.
- Make extra – there’s nothing better than having curry or stew from the day before – two healthy and delicious meals in one go.
- Grow your own herbs – yes, we’ve all tried that one. You order fresh herbs from the supermarket and they die in a week. The key is to buy them from a nursery or garden centre and plant them in the correct place. With a little love and care they will flourish and provide you with a much cheaper source of herbs.
As well as the above, keep your cupboards well stocked with the following basics:
- Rapeseed oil: contains omega 3 fatty acids and is cheaper than olive oil.
- Lemon juice: can be used in salad dressings and is cheaper than balsamic vinegar.
- Wholemeal flour: you can make your own pizzas, bread, healthy muffins – baking is surprisingly easy, too, not to mention being creative and fun to do with the kids.
- Tinned beans and pulses: a cheap staple for a multitude of recipes and an easy back up if your dried bean supply runs out. Make sure you choose sugar free and salt free options.
- Tinned tomatoes: a great basic ingredient for pasta dishes, stews and curries. Own brand tend to be the cheapest.
- Dried pasta: there are so many quick and easy pasta dishes to choose from.
- Rice: definitely a store cupboard keeper. Choose brown rice because it’s much better for you.
- Baked beans: a must have for every household!
- Vegetable stock: can be used to flavour all manner of recipes.
- Dried herbs and spices: Mixed herbs (they can go in anything and everything!), oregano (for some Italian inspired cooking) ground coriander, cumin, paprika and chilli (all of which can be perfect for Mexican or Indian)
- Yeast extract (for example Marmite): a great source of vitamin B12
- Soy sauce: WE LOVE it! It’s great with noodles and rice dishes.