By Jane Berry, blogger at Shoestring Cottage
Most of us are concerned about our own and our family’s health. But when you are on a tight budget, it can be a stretch to fill your shopping trolley with healthy food such as organic bread, avocados and fresh salmon. It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to eat healthily on a budget. There is a huge array of store-cupboard staples that are super healthy, too.
Here are some top tips to feed your family on less.
Meat isn’t the only form of protein
Consider making meals from cheaper alternatives such as tinned fish, eggs, beans and pulses. How about Mediterranean sardine spaghetti, lentil shepherd’s pie or a jacket potato with mixed chilli beans?
Make stock from meat bones for soup making
The great thing about soup is that all it really needs is a decent stock base and some onions. Then you can chuck pretty much anything in for a nutritious and comforting meal.
It is easy to make stock. Save your chicken carcasses in the freezer and when you have two or three you are ready to go. Put them in a large pan with a couple of onions, two or three carrots, some celery and a bay leaf. Cover with water then simmer for three hours.
Eliminate food waste
You can’t afford to waste food when money is tight. Always make a meal plan for the week, remembering to use up items you already have. Shop with a list – and stick to it. Make sure you use up leftovers. These can be frozen as ready-meals. Leftover cooked meat and vegetable scraps can be frozen to throw into soups and casseroles as required. Meat should never be re-frozen.
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Consider canned and frozen
Fresh fruit and vegetables can be expensive. Frozen food has many benefits. It is preserved very quickly after it is picked, meaning it doesn’t lose as many nutrients as a fresh item that has been sitting around for a while. You also waste less with frozen because you cook what you need.
Canned tomatoes, sweetcorn and potatoes are useful in many recipes. Tins of peaches make a lovely dessert with custard. If you buy fruit in syrup, you can drain and rinse to reduce the sugar content.
Batch cooking saves time as well as money. It is easy to whip up a large batch of bolognese sauce, for example. Use old ice-cream and butter containers and freeze in meal-sized portions. A delicious vegetable curry is cheap to make and freezes well. These are great to have after a long day, when you might otherwise go for a less nutritious microwave meal.
Find your local market
Fresh fruit and vegetables can be found at a fraction of supermarket prices at the market. If you wait until the end of the day, traders often reduce items, too.
With careful planning, by keeping a good pantry full of staples and savvy shopping you can eat healthy food on a budget.
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