The 3 stages of saving
The number one rule for saving money on food is to never throw any out. In order to achieve this ideal you must think ahead and plan out meals. This does not mean having to have the same meal over and over but means being creative.
Stage 1: Create a list of meals that take your fancy which involve overlapping ingredients. Obviously you don’t need to follow a recipe step by step but can modify to your liking/ingredients. Let this list stretch as far as possible, as in general the further it stretches, the more you will save. For example, meat is much cheaper when bought in bulk and can then be frozen. It is good to build up a diverse collection of herbs and sauces in your stored cupboard which can last a long time and create very different flavours from the same ingredients. You must invest now in order to gain in the future.
Stage 2: Now you can enter a shop with a clear list of the things you need to buy and are much less likely to buy anything you don’t need. Having said that, do allow some space for an open mind when it come to offers, but only in terms of dry stores (e.g. cereals, tins and cans etc). Fresh produce on offer should also be considered but only if that can take the place of something already written on your list. For example, if a certain vegetable is on offer and you had another vegetable in mind for your dishes, it is likely that it can be replaced with the cheaper alternative.
Stage 3: It’s now time to cook. What’s important here is to cook more than you need. This saves on energy bills as well as the time cooking; you can cook enough for four meals in pretty much the same time you would spend cooking one! Depending on what you’ve made and what your schedule is over the next few days you can decide whether to freeze portions, have the same meal the next day, or combine part of the meal with other ingredients to give it a totally different feel.
Here is a personal example from the last few days:
My previous blog entry showed you how I made stuffed courgettes. This was a particular recipe I wanted to try so bought all the ingredients specifically. So, when I made the courgettes I made 6 halves and also cooked a large portion of the bulgar wheat and veg – this meant that after that meal, I had lunches to last the next two days (two stuffed courgettes) as well as the bulgar wheat and veg mix boxed up to take to uni two days later and it still tasted great. The next day I used up more of the veg mixture, this time with quinoa. Then for last night’s meal, I boiled the remaining three large tomatoes I had bought to stuff the courgettes, in the same pan I boiled linguine. Meanwhile, I fried together garlic with my left over mushrooms and asparagus which I had previously combined with bulgar wheat/quinoa and then added the tomatoes, which had by that time softened, to the pan. I later added the spinach which I had left from my salad in the previous blog entry displaying my salads. After a splash of the water used to boil the linguine and some seasoning, I combined the pasta and vegetables in a bowl before topping with my left over sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan and basil – all ingredients bought for my stuffed courgette recipe. Another delicious meal created out of ingredients bought days ago. Buon appetito!