Easy peasy shortcuts to save money on food!

Runner beans

There's no escaping the need to save money when shopping and cooking! We‘ve put together loads of tips + tricks to help you whilst cooking, eating + shopping on a budget.

Reduce your meat intake

By eating less meat, it not only helps the environment, but it can reduce your food bills too. It’s suuuper important to replace meat with a source of protein + iron, especially for growing toddlers so try these handy tips when cooking:

  • Make minced beef go further in Bolognese, chilli or cottage pie by swapping some or all of the meat for pulses like lentils or kidney beans
  • Switch up chicken for chickpeas or cannellini beans in chicken one pot dishes, soups and curry
  • Have one or two meat free days a week + replace meat with eggs (omelettes + frittatas are quick and easy), pulses (falafel, dhal, veggie curry) or dairy (cottage cheese on baked potatoes, yoghurt or crème fraiche stirred into veggie soup)

Batch cook

Batch cooking + freezing quick and easy staples like pancakes, breakfast muffins and banana bread can save time at breakfast as well as money that might be spent on convenience foods or eating on the go.

Simple bakes like scones and soda bread don’t need many ingredients and are quick to make + easily frozen. They make for great for snacks + brekkies too!

You can always make double portions of one pot dishes and freeze them. Just make sure you label them and add the date so you can use them up within a month. And don’t forget to defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat till piping hot!

Make soup using leftovers

Hearty soup can be a balanced meal that saves money. Use leftover veg and cook them up with some veg stock, lentils or other pulses. Frozen veg are great for bumping up the veggie content of soup too.

Blitz it all together with a stick blender + serve with a dollop of crème fraiche. Add pasta for extra energy and maybe some leftover finely shredded chicken from a roast. If you like, you can also add some grated cheese + serve with your favourite bread for dunking. Plus don’t forget you can batch cook as soup also freezes really well. For toddlers, make sure soup is quite thick, almost puree like, so it’s easier for them to eat. Lumps of veg in thin stock can be quite tricky to swallow so keep it nice and thick!

Plan, plan, plan

Meal planning for the week can help to save time + money, as you avoid impulse purchases and can plan to repurpose leftovers from dinner to make tasty lunches the next day, so nothing goes to waste!

We’ve popped together some ideas to get you started:

  • Leftover frittata or quiche can be cut into fingers or chunks eaten cold with cucumber sticks, wedges of tomato and pitta strips as a perfect picky lunch for little fingers
  • Thick soup can be heated up in the microwave for a quick lunch with grated cheese on top + toast soldiers
  • Chili or Bolognese can make a good topping for a baked potato – just cut a baked potato into chunks and mix through the sauce for your toddler
  • Stir fried or roasted veg can be popped into a wrap or pitta with some hummus and is yummy as an omelette filling too!

Planning ahead also means you can do a quick check to see if you’ve included all the main food groups to balance what the family eats. For more information on this, check out our article on how to create a balanced diet.

Avoid waste

To peel or not to peel? You don’t have to peel all veg, particularly if they’re going to be well cooked or made into a soup. The peel of carrots, parsnips, apples + potatoes can contain lots of nutrients and is perfectly edible, once you’ve given them a good scrub in water.

If veg is past its best, it can still be great in a soup. Similarly, freeze bananas and berries that are getting a little overripe and use them in smoothies.

For more ways to save money, please read how to get your 5 a day on a budget!

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Claire Baseley

Infant nutritionist / Makes Ella's Good