1. Forward plan
Setting out your meals for the week can help you stay on track in more ways than one. First, check what’s in your fridge or pantry and consider how you can incorporate these into dishes over the next few days. Then, plan out what you’ll cook for each meal throughout the week, making a list of exactly what ingredients you need.
2. Batch cook
Even if you’ve planned out your meals and stuck to recipes, you may still find yourself with a surplus, but that’s okay. Make the most of leftovers by thinking about ways you can reuse them – perhaps in a soup, sandwich, or stew? It’s also worth batch-cooking and freezing foods in containers that are the perfect portion size. This is a handy solution for when you don’t want to cook!
3. Make it fresh
Granted, we all have days where we’re too busy or simply don’t feel like cooking. But all of those takeaways and ready meals can really add up. By cooking for yourself at home and using plenty of fresh produce and dry ingredients, you can create tasty, healthy dishes for a fraction of the price. This also applies to making your lunches for the office: bringing a homemade option will save you money and help you avoid the takeway options. Head to healthwellbeing.com for recipe ideas.
4. Shop seasonal
It’s worth rethinking how and where you buy food to help you save a penny or two. Shopping seasonally is not only better for the environment, but for your wallet, too! Seasonal produce is often cheaper, and you can even buy more of it to freeze and eat throughout the year. Don’t be afraid of purchasing frozen fruits and vegetables, either. The nutritional value will be very similar to fresh produce, but check that there’s no added salt or sugar.
5. Buy in bulk
Consider visiting shops that allow you to buy in bulk. Many world food stores cater to this, so you can stock up on ingredients such as rice, lentils, coconut milk, and spices at a better price. If you visit the farmer’s market, try to go towards the end of the day. Producers will likely be eager to get rid of stock that they don’t want to take back with them, so you could bag yourself a deal or two, plus you’ll be supporting local traders.
6. Aisle it up
When walking the aisles, it’s also worth keeping in mind that the more expensive items will be at eye-level, so scan top-to-bottom to see if you can find the same item at a better price. Also consider more budget-friendly brands, as these are often the same nutritionally – just try to avoid those with excess sugar, salt and additives.
7. If in doubt, stick it in a stew!
A rich, saucy casserole or stew is the perfect dish to use up any veg left in the fridge at the end of the week. Wilted greens, celery ends, that half a pepper leftover from your stir-fry – they can all be tossed into a heavy bottomed pan along with any beans you have in the pantry, a can or two of chopped tomatoes and some stock. If you have any bags of grains or pulses containing not-quite-enough for a meal, these can also be added for a bit of bulk. Voila!
8. Supercharge your smoothie
Add superfoods to your smoothie. If you want to pack your morning smoothie with another element of goodness, then there are plenty of superfoods on the market you can add to your breakfast.
9. Save your herbs
If you’ve found your herbs wilting at the pack of your fridge, there’s no need to toss them in the bin. Those that are on the way out can be added to good quality olive oil and left to infuse. Those looking a little healthier? Let them dry out or get them minced and frozen to use later. They will last ages!
10. Fill up on protein
Adding healthy protein such as pulses, eggs, lean meat and fish or legumes to your meals is a great way to avoid filling up on fat or carbs. What’s more, protein is one of the key building blocks for a healthy body, involved in strengthening bones and muscle repair. It also helps to reduce food cravings and curb your appetite so it’s the perfect fuel.
11. Get creative with cauliflower
We’re used to removing these from the stem and throwing them straight into the compost in favour of using the head but actually, cauliflower leaves are an incredibly versatile veg in their own right. When roasted, they crisp up nicely and, with a dash of your favourite spices, work great as your side of greens with dinner. They can also be steamed or chopped and tossed into a stir-fry with some garlic.
12. Bulk out your meat dishes
Add cauliflower to mashed potato; slice vegetables and include them in mac ‘n’ cheese; bulk out mincemeat with chopped carrots in dishes such as chilli con carne and homemade burgers; mix veg into tomatobased pasta sauces and include things like tomato, spinach and avocado in toasted sandwiches.
13. Freeze your bread
In supermarkets, browse the reduced-to-clear shelves to find items like a fresh loaf of bread for half-price; it’s ideal for slicing and keeping in the freezer until you need it. Bread freezes really well (the UK throws away 24 million slices a day!), as does milk and even butter. This is a really simple way to prolong the life of your food.
14. Reuse your coffee
Who else kick starts their day (or tries to) with a steaming, fresh coffee? It’s one of those meditative practices that can make all the difference to your outlook, but the waste from all of those coffee grounds does add up. Instead of throwing them away, store them in a container or resealable bag in your fridge then, at the end of the week, put them to good use by whipping up a batch of decadent espresso brownies or coffee ground biscotti.
15. Look for local boxes
It could be worth looking round your local area for veg or meat boxes. Farm shops often do weekly boxes and these can work out cheaper than if you were to buy them at the supermarket. Why not try Oddbox, London’s first and only food-waste-fighting fruit and veg box? It rescues fresh, seasonal surplus produce at risk of becoming food waste. Boxes start at £9.45. Find out more at oddbox.co.uk.