Preparation is the key to saving whilst shopping, but there are plenty of other ways in which you can save even more money and still eat very well. Here are 10 ideas for saving money whilst still staying satisfied at the table.
Put back the pre-packaged salad mix
Pre-packed salads may be convenient, but unless you’re eating the contents within a couple of days, the chances of it lasting are slim. And the bagged salads are usually expensive too. Buying whole heads of lettuce, and combining with loose spinach or rocket makes for a cheaper, longer-lasting salad mix.
Grow your own greens
If you have a little bit of space around your house, then why not grow your own greens? Lettuce and other leafy greens are fast growing and can usually be harvested within 6–8 weeks of planting. And for the cost of a bag of salad greens you could buy a packet of seeds that will yield enough salad greens to last you for weeks.
Buying in bulk
Look out for stores that offer bulk-buying options. Buying in bulk will usually mean you pay less, and many stores will still give you the choice to buy smaller quantities, especially if it’s a ‘bring your own container’ type of store.
But don’t just buy in bulk for the sake of it. Choose staples that have a long shelf life as well as other items that you use regularly. Dry beans and legumes are a great way to have ample supplies at hand that won’t spoil – and soaking some beans overnight every now and then will save you a bundle of money over their canned counterparts –and it’s healthy too! It also pays to compare prices of things such as nuts and grains, as sometimes it’s still just as cost-effective to buy in small batches.
Items to look out for when buying in bulk include olive oil, nuts, beans, pasta and rice.
It certainly doesn’t hurt to stock up on a few extra canned items if you spot them on special. Canned beans, tomatoes, and other vegetables are a handy way to always ensure you have food in the pantry. Make sure you check the ingredients for high sodium and preservatives though, as canned goods, at times, can be a source of some weird additives.
Pick up some potatoes
Pontiac potatoes are a good source of fibre, potassium and vitamin C, and they’re not expensive either – especially if you buy them unwashed. Potatoes always make for a good cheap meal, and you can bake them, stuff them, mash them, slice and roast, or fry them.
Check out the chicken
Boneless chicken breasts are the nicest part of the chicken, but they are also the most expensive. It often works out just as cheap, sometimes cheaper, to buy the whole chicken. That way, not only do you get the breast, but you get the drumsticks and dark meat for sandwiches the next day, or you could put the leftovers in with some of your leafy greens to make a nice chicken salad. You can even use the bones for a good old chicken broth.
Herbs make happy meals
Fresh herbs can be pricy; especially when you buy them in small bunches. There are a couple of ways around this. For around the same price as a small bunch of herbs, you can buy fresh herb pots that can sit on your windowsill or in your kitchen for a couple of weeks at a time (sometimes longer) before wilting. Or you can head to your local farmers market and buy some herb seedlings or seeds and plant them in your yard or on your balcony. They don’t take much space and, in many instances, they last for 2–3 harvests, giving you great bang for your buck and nice fresh flavours for your food.
Sniff out the fish counter
Eating seafood twice a week can help reduce your risk of heart disease as well as ward off a whole host of other nasties, but it doesn’t come cheap. Keep an eye on the fish counter at your local supermarket, or swing by the fresh fish guy at the market, and watch out for specials. Frozen fish is also a good option because it’s less expensive and you can use it whenever you want to.
Canned fish also provides a good source of omega-3 fats and is quite often a much cheaper option for people looking to have seafood in their diet. Keep an eye on the labels, though, and try to make sure it’s canned wild fish rather than farmed.
Frozen vegetables are cool
Frozen vegetables are always handy to have in the freezer – and not just because they’re a good fall back for when you run out of fresh vegetables. They’re quite often just as nutritious as fresh vegetables (some would argue more) because they’re picked at the peak of ripeness and snap frozen for freshness.
It’s always a good idea to keep frozen vegetables handy for dinners, especially when yourfridge is looking a little bare. And another point: most frozen vegetables don’t have added sodium such as canned vegetables often do, and they’re relatively inexpensive, especially when compared with their ‘fresh’ counterparts out of season.
Look for cheap choice meats
It always pays to check the specials section of the meat department, because you can save on choice cuts that may need to be eaten within a couple of days. But that doesn’t matter so much when you have that miracle of modern technology called a freezer in your kitchen. Just pop them in and defrost to use when you’re ready. Meat frozen prior to its best before date usually has a freezer-life of between 1–6 months.
Do you have any tips for how our members can eat well and still save money? Why not share them?
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