Food is always important, but as soon as I had children it took on extra significance. Suddenly, that soggy ready meal didn’t really feel right, and it certainly wasn’t going to feed a whole family.
Cooking for your children means filling, healthy food that doesn’t necessarily break the bank, so I’ve listed a couple of cheap recipes and general tips below that are sure to prove useful when you’re cooking on a budget.
Chilli Con Carne
Chilli is one of the best budget recipes around because it’s filling, uses simple, cheap ingredients and most importantly, it’s delicious.
Simply fry some beef mince, chopped onion, peppers and garlic in a pan for a few minutes, then add some kidney beans, chilli to taste and a tin of chopped tomatoes and allow to simmer until the sauce has thickened. Then simply serve with some boiled rice.
The great thing about chilli is that you can change it to suit your own tastes. You can add some cumin or paprika and make it as spicy as you want.
Remember where possible to buy ingredients in bulk to save money. Things like rice, tomato puree, and tinned tomatoes last a long time, so buy bigger and you’ll invariably buy cheaper. Chilli is also great for home freezing, so make more than you need and get multiple meals out of it.
One of the best ways to save on your food bills is to buy less meat and this lentil curry recipe is a vegetarian dish that doesn’t compromise on flavour.
Gently fry some onions and garlic in saucepan for a few minutes until softened. Add 1tbsp of curry powder and any other spices you have lying around and then add some vegetables of your choice – I like potatoes as they help thicken the curry, carrots and cauliflower, but any hardy veg will work just as well. Then add your lentils (about 50g per person is usually enough), pour in some vegetable stock until the ingredients are covered and wait until the veg is softened.
Again, this dish is great for freezing and its main ingredients – lentils, potatoes, carrots and stock – are cheap. When cooking on a budget it’s important to remember that going without meat, doesn’t mean going without flavour.
While it can be easy to simply cook the same thing over and over again, there are plenty of websites like budget cooking blog A Girl Called Jack offering great recipe ideas. And remember, cooking is also about community, so ask your friends and family about any great recipe ideas they may have!
Creating a meal plan is also a great way of reducing your food bills. Planning the week’s meals in advance means you can buy in bulk easier and create multiple meals from the same set of ingredients. Meal plans and shopping lists also help you avoid making those impulse purchases that you really don’t need.
Those of you that use an AGA for cooking could also save plenty of cash by making sure it’s in tip-top condition. Regularly servicing your AGA every six months will improve its efficiency, reduce the risk of harmful carbon monoxide leaks and save you money in the long run. BoilerJuice offers an AGA servicing quote free-of-charge so you know how much it’s going to cost in advance.
Saving money elsewhere around the home is another great way of taking some strain off your cooking budget. Are you heating your home as efficiently as possible? Would a boiler servicing lower your energy bills? Are you getting the best deal from your supplier? These are important questions to ask and could save you hundreds of pounds over the course of the year.
Do you have any great food budgeting tips? If so, it would be great to hear them so please leave a comment below.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.