This section is all about frugal recipes and frugal cooking and how to save those pennies whilst still eating a varied and tasty diet.
I bet your thinking I havent got time to worry about what and how I prepare my frugal food; Im just too busy.
What you will find on this page:
But believe me when I say that after the initial planning stage it takes no more time than your usual cooking routine and I would even say that once you get in the swing of things, youll find it a lot less hassle and time consuming than before.
Living on a budget also doesn't mean that you have to forgo healthy food for cheap alternatives. So lets get frugal and save those pennies. It is even possible to find free food by foraging for it, this is something that is becoming more and more popular and is well worth taking a look at for some free and tasty alternatives to the usual sumpermarket fare.
Lets start with the big money eaters of your budget. Takeaways and eating out. Hands up how many of you find yourself ordering a takeaway mid week just because you cant think what to prepare quickly enough to feed the family? One, two three I know the feeling; I use to fall into this trap as well.
It does seem so much easier to pick up the phone and have your food delivered to you with no effort at all.
But when I sat down and worked out that if I ordered a pizza and one other takeaway a week for me and Matt we were spending £18 a week (or £936 a year), if I was ordering for a family I could easily treble that.
Now Im not saying dont have takeaways or go out for a meal. No way, I like them too much myself.
But try to keep takeaways to one every two weeks and going out for meals as an occasional treat.
That way you will enjoy them even more and be frugal with your pennies at the same time. Also, shop around for the cheapest prices. Several of the takeaways near me all serve very similar dishes but the prices can vary quite a bit.
We also never use the big chain names for our pizzas (no names mentioned), but for what is really glorified cheese and tomato on toast the prices are ridiculous.
You're much better off either buying a ready made pizza from your local supermarket, or if yo're lucky enough to have near you, using one of the many independent takeaways that do delicious pizzas for a fraction of the cost.
To prevent falling into the takeaway trap, plan your weeks frugal recipes in advance. Every week I make a list of what Im going to cook each day.
This way I dont waste any time trying to decide what to cook at meal times and I know that I have everything I need (if not i have my handy list of substitute ingredients to hand). Its so easy now and it takes me half the time it used to. Plus my frugal recipes save me so much money that we can splash out on the more expensive bottle of wine every now and again.
This not only helps you come up with ideas but also keeps everyone happy. Its a great way to get everyone involved with the frugal living plan as well.
I always find that I cook just too much for everyone to eat at one sitting. I cant help it; no matter what, there is always a decent sized portion leftover after the meal. Years ago I would have scraped it into the bin, but since living a frugal lifestyle I find leftovers an absolute god send. There are two ways of using leftovers:
Freeze them and make them into another meal another day - This option has really stretched my frugal recipes book as it has forced me into being a little experimental and creative with my menu.
For instance I turned vegetable chilli leftovers into a Risotto by adding rice, extra mushrooms and grated carrot. It was so delicious that it is now on my regular list of meals. This can be done with almost any leftovers.
Refrigerate them and use them as lunches throughout the week This second option is fantastic for saving time and also having far more exciting lunches than a sandwich.
By taking a small portion of the leftovers and heating it up in a microwave at work and adding some fresh salad I have a really tasty lunch everyday. One day it might be lentil casserole, the next cauliflower cheese.
I let you into another secret. Since eating frugal recipes like these I have lost loads of weight. Its true; Ive gone from a size 16 to a 10 without even trying.
The reason I suspect is that I am not only eating better and cheaply but Im also not tempted to go out and buy those calorie packed lunches available in the shops. Snacking has also changed to much healthier options than from the days in the office.
Since we have mentioned freezing food another great frugal recipes tips is to cook several portions of an item and freeze them for use over the coming weeks and months.
This is a great time saving idea too as I find that it takes me just as long to cook one meals worth of food as it does three and then the next time you want to prepare that meal again all you have to do is thaw and heat it up, Wallah, dinners ready.
It is also a real money saver if you come across bargains in the shops of a particular ingredient that you could not normally get through in time. I have seen some great special offers on chicken for instance, you know buy one get one free type offers. Why not take advantage of the offer, cook up all the chicken and freeze some of it to be added to other frugal recipes in the future.
When you are trying to plan your frugal recipes and shopping trips its very important to keep those cupboards organised. The following tips will help stop waste and over stocking:
As you can see planning your menu ahead is a real time and money saver. Over the next few pages we will look at frugal recipes for: