Just by choosing to eat some cheap ingredients, it doesn’t mean that we have to eat tasteless and horribly boring food. Cheap ingredients mixed with slightly more expensive ones can make us some fantastically wonderful meal options if they are combined in the right proportions.
As a family, we tend to eat much of the same things quite often, with the differences being how it is cooked and what accompanies the meal. Eating good food on a budget can be done if we shop around.
The cheapest ingredients we tend to think of are things like:
Food can become tiresome to make when we’re short of ingredients, but more experienced cooks (and mums) tend to know that tasty food doesn’t stop with the actual ingredients.
So, what can we do to make it better?
Using what’s left from a Sunday roast to make food for other days is the easiest way to spin out expensive meat enough to last for a few days. Leftovers need to be put in the fridge as soon as possible after they are cooked to keep them at a safe temperature.
Buy cheaper cuts of good quality meat and cook it slowly. Cuts such as pork belly and stewing steak will give great food for everyone when they are slow cooked. Be warned that the taste and smell as your food cooks may well convert you forever.
- Make your own burgers and mince with steak bought from a good butcher.
- Mix oatmeal and vegetables with your meat to make it last longer. It’s not just meatloaf that you can add things to.
Eat local, eat seasonal. If it’s in season, there will be more of it, and it will taste better. Strawberries in January look fabulous, but the ones I buy tend to taste like raw neeps.
If you can get hold of an abundance of in season fruit and veg, make jams, chutneys and sauces for the rest of the year.
At the bottom of our street, wild blackberries grow in bushes. There used to be a few women who went and picked them every year, although I see them less and less. A good tip is to pick from above waist height, as anything lower could well have been sprinkled on by the local dogs.
As a family we find this hard to do. We all like rice, but quinoa, bulgar wheat, cous cous and others don’t seem to go down well here. I would wish that my family would eat more of them, but they rarely do. I’ve given up with this family of foods as it wastes money buying it not to be eaten, but it is a very real and cheap addition to food.
I love fresh bread and so do the family. I bought a cheap breadmaker that was a disaster, but it made me realise that bread is really achievable. I splashed out on a Panasonic a few years ago and have never looked back. Pizza bases, softies for sandwiches, full loaves and more get made in mine. Over the years, we’ve saved a fortune in buying bread.