Like many people, I am rather a fan of shopping. Not clothes shopping, but online shopping, for useless, decorative little chotskies that clutter my cupboards and provide a choking hazard to kiddies. In the last few months this has been a problem I have had to address, since kitchen overcrowding cannot be an easily ignored as an empty bank account. So a few weeks ago I set myself the challenge of a kitchen overhaul. (How many little decorate spoons does one woman need anyway?!) Not only did I completely giving up my naughty shopping habit, but I also set myself the challenge of cutting back the cost of my weekly shop by £10 a week, to get back to grips with honest budget cooking.
At the beginning I was dreading it. The thought of waving goodbye to add that extra wedge of goats cheese. Swapping my all my branded goods to everyday basics… (Don’t judge me, we all know heinz ketchup is best) It was not an appealing thought. Don’t get me wrong I was doing nothing as drastic as living below the breadline.* Just making cutbacks where cutbacks were needed. It was like going back to uni again, without the great overdraft and permanent hangover. It made me get back to grips with my kitchen cupboards, try underused ingredients and reassess my daily failsafe dishes. All that… not a scrap of my shop wasted and my purse those few pounds heavier.
This realisation prompted me to wonder how many others find themselves impulse buying in supermarkets, only to wonder where all their hard earned cash had gone? If you are one of the sort who loads their supermarket cart so heavily that a visit to the supermarket makes your credit card groan, then you, my friend might be in need of a cooking overhaul too…
These 10 TIPS were a few of the ways that saved me not only money, but time too.
- Nail down the store cupboard staples: Stock cube, flour, olive oil, balsamic, dried herbs and basic spices should all be on there.
- Try new condiments: Less scary than trying whole new recipes is mixing up the accompaniments.. If there is one condiment you always use, give yourself a break and try a different one. Its how you learn. It is also how I got into chipotle paste, on a break from Tabasco… I’ve never looked back.
- Write a shopping list : It might sound silly but planning your meals avoids time wasted isle searching and unnecessary impulse buying.
- Use markets : Get online and find your nearest one. Nowhere else will you find 4 large avocado for £1
- Get freezing: Do you find that when you buy fresh herbs for a recipes, you are often left with the rest rotting at the bottom of the salad drawer? The simple answer is to chop them up, put them in tupperware and freeze them. That way you always have a handful when you need them. Do the same with you weekly loaf, pop it straight from frozen in your toaster.
- Leftovers : Double up on your cooking. Especially with rice, mash and pasta. Right there you have the backbone for fried rice, kedgeree, potato farls, fish cakes and salads.
- Get resourceful with your ingredients: Who knew that cornflakes make a great alternative to panko breadcrumbs. Perfect for a quick and easy chicken katsu curry.
- Buddy up with the butcher : Off cuts and leftover scraps can be bought for pennies. A little time and some TLC is all you need to get best rich meat ragus.. check out a recipe here
- Go shopping in the evenings : The reduced isle is a goldmine past 6pm. Pork Belly, fish and many and fine chop made it into my basket the last couple of weeks thanks to the magic yellow sticky label.
- Store food properly : Potatoes in the dark, herbs on the windowsill, and cereal in a sealed jar. No sprouting, nothing stale, nothing wasted!
* If you are looking for some inspiring below the breadline recipes, with a side order of politics, check out A Girl Called Jack.