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Keeping to a food budget can be hard work. But, sticking to spending only a certain amount is important as it can mean that you and your family have more cash for other treats and fun activities.
Yet, even for those that do not have a problem with cashflow, the majority of us waste too much food which is bad for the environment and our wallets. If we all knew how to budget better and eke out what was in our fridge to make filling yet nutritious food, the world would be a better place. Though it can be so tempting to buy a great deal of convenience food or cheaper ingredients in an effort to keep a household income. In the long run, such foods can end up being far more expensive as you need more of them to stay fuller for longer. Here, we look at five meal prep hacks to help keep you on budget.
Making a weekly meal plan may sound dull and a little bit like overkill, but your purse will thank you no end. By planning ahead, you can either buy less of some items or more of others which will always be far more economical and also helps to minimise waste.
Planning ahead can also be incredibly beneficial for households that have to feed many people in them. When many different people constitute one household, the likelihood of everyone being present for every meal is low. Yet we often do not do a weekly shop with that in mind. It means we buy too much food, which inevitably goes off or to waste.
Planning ahead can also mean that you are able to cater to different people’s tastes when certain people are absent. Planning ahead is also a way of ensuring that those who are fussy still manage to receive a varied diet which is vital to ensuring your entire household eats a balanced and nutritious array of food.
Eating seasonally is one of the easiest and quickest ways to reduce your food bill. When foods are in season, they are so abundant that their prices drop. In season produce will therefore always be far cheaper than when food is force grown. Plus, it ultimately tastes better too when in season. Your tastebuds will thank you when you are eating a plethora of tomatoes in August which actually taste of tomatoes - unlike tomatoes that are force grown in the Winter and taste more like water.
In season food is also often far better for you too - as well as cheaper. Their nutritional value is often higher than their force grown counterparts. Plus, they are far kinder to the environment. Intensive farming methods are exceptionally detrimental to the world around them and as a result, eating in season requires far fewer greenhouses and pesticides which have been found to be harmful to the planet.
Many of us overeat. As food is so abundant to us now, we forget that it has been hard to grow and cultivate. We eat too much of it as a result as well as finding it difficult to know what a healthy portion size of food actually is. The majority of us will find a healthy portion will be around a third less than what many of us eat on a daily basis now.
Obviously, eating more has repercussions on how much you spend on a weekly shop. Simply by eating what your body needs as opposed to eating as much as you can, your food bill should plummet. And, of course, your waistline will likely be thankful too. We are all prone to overeating when food has been put in front of us, but by putting an appropriate amount on our plates, not only do we buy less food, we are less likely to binge too.
Meal delivery kits are great at portion control if you struggle with that area. Top rated meal kit delivery services companies send only the right amount of food for each recipe which helps in your meal prep time too. By keeping to portion sizes, you keep your time that little bit shorter in the kitchen too. That’s great for your meal prep and your budget.
Food waste is a chronic problem the world over. Yet, it really should not be, given that so many of us have a freezer these days that can materially reduce the amount of waste we produce and therefore the amount of food we buy. And, of course, if we reduce the amount of food we buy, we have a far more budget friendly food bill each week.
And so much food, that many will not realise, can be stored in the freezer for the future. Really simple ideas like frying off onions and carrots just before they are about to turn, then freezing them not only helps your food bill but also your prep time in the future as you can just throw these ingredients straight into risottos or ragus or curries. Herbs often go off quickly too if not growing on a plant. You can make, then freeze, herb butter into ice cube trays that are like little flavour stock cubes for a wide array of recipes and dishes.
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Finally, while making smaller portions can help reduce cooking time in the kitchen, making much much larger batches can conversely do the same. If you spend a concerted 2 hours in the kitchen prepping food to eat that week to store in the fridge or freezer, you will often have far more spare time during the week when eating is merely a case of reheating something or throwing a few pre prepped ingredients on a plate. Batch cooking also helps prevent waste, which then means you will help your food budget stay on the straight and narrow.
Staying to a budget can be tricky with food bills. When we go shopping without a list, the temptation is to buy food we don’t need and then waste when we get home. But, with just a little planning you can not only reduce your food bill you can also reduce the amount of time you spend in the kitchen.