In times like these, we have all had to tighten our belts a little. It can be difficult to stick to a food budget for ourselves, never mind when you have a large family. That said, there are a few ways that you can feed even a large family on a strict budget – here are 7 tips to do so.
- Make a meal plan (and stick to it)
Making a meal plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks will allow you to write out a detailed shopping list of all the ingredients that you need for the week, so you can mitigate the temptation to impulse buy in the store.
- For those midweek meals, think quick and easy
We all have those days where cooking just seems like a chore – and it’s these days that see us reaching for the takeaway menus. Instead, keep your costs down by making quick and easy meals. Microwaves are invaluable for this, as you can make a budget-friendly meal in a matter of minutes.
- Bulk out expensive ingredients
It goes without saying that the most expensive element of your meal will be the meat or fish. To make these ingredients go further, bulk it out with grains, pulses, and beans – a beef and lentil bolognese, for example, is a thrifty choice.
- If you’ve got space, grow your own
Now, this does not mean you have to go full Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and transform your back garden into a veg patch. However, planting a fruit tree or some edible berry bushes, even a line or two of root veggies can be very cost effective.
If you don’t have a garden, a windowsill herb garden can also save you a bit of money on fresh herbs.
- Spend more to save more
If there are ingredients that you will use several times in the week, or use every single week without fail, it might be worth buying in bulk or taking advantage of deals like 3 for 2 or buy one get one free. Though you might spend more that week than a typical weekly shop, it could almost halve the cost of the same food in the long run.
Of course, one of the issues with bulk buying is that you might have too much stuff to eat before it goes off – but that’s where our final two tips can come in handy.
- Make fridge ingredients last longer
If you are bulk buying fresh food, one of the best ways to make it last longer is to ferment. In fact, in Scandinavian countries in particular, exciting ferments are commonly served alongside even hot dishes like Swedish meatballs, which can be a fantastic way to get those nutritional veggies without the fear of it going off.
Some of the best veggies for fermentation are also the cheapest – especially if you opt for the wonky varieties. Beetroot, cucumber, radishes, carrot, peppers, and even onions can be fermented and stored for months on end.
- The freezer is your best friend
Another way to use every last bit of your bulk-bought ingredients is to make multiple pots of the same dish at once. One can be for your meal on the night, and the other dishes can be frozen and simply reheated in the weeks following – saving you both time and money.