Budget cooking; 16 tips for preparing cheap food

Daily groceries are one of the biggest expenses for an average family. Not only because good food costs a lot of money, but also because it is costs that come back every day. Cooking on a limited budget can therefore be quite a challenge.

That is why in this extra extensive article we give all kinds of different tips with which you can save on your weekly shopping and for cooking in general. You can save quite a lot of money while simply enjoying a tasty and nutritious meal every day.

1. Use whatever food you buy

Food waste is a major problem for the environment, but also for the wallet for anyone who is ‘guilty’ of it. Of course, this is often not something people do on purpose, but it is extra painful to have to throw food away if you already have a limited budget. So what ways are there to actually use as much of the food you buy as possible? You can buy a blender and blend your leftovers into delicious soups, sauces, and smoothies. Even a banana that has gone black will still add flavor to a smoothie!

2. Freeze bread

Buy the number of loaves you need once a week and freeze it immediately. Then take only what you need with each meal. Also make sure you do this bread for bread so that after a while not all packages with a few old sandwiches are left in your freezer. But if that does happen (because you may be as disorganized as we are now …) you can often also eat those sandwiches by roasting them, making croutons for the lettuce or baking delicious French toast on Sunday morning.

3. Prepare all ingredients and freeze meals

When you make a tasty soup, you can of course buy exactly the amount of ingredients you need, but if the broccoli for your broccoli soup is on sale, you could as well fill a large pan and freeze part of it. This often takes no more time than usual and saves you time and money next time. Making large quantities and freezing part of it does not work for all types of meals, of course, but is perfect with stews, soups, pasta dishes, oven dishes, etc.

4. Cook with leftovers

If you are not one to accurately weigh each serving, you will likely find that some food is left over from many of the meals you prepare. If you make sure you have a supply of plastic containers with lids, you can keep these leftovers in the fridge for a few days. For example, it can serve as a side dish with the meal of that day the next day, but you can also have a leftover day once a week.

5. Look critically at the expiration date

You really don’t have to throw something away once the expiration date has passed. Especially with ‘dry’ food or food that is in pots or tins, the expiration date is not something to worry about. Rather, see what the food looks like and whether it still smells good. If it has a musty odor, there may be a mold somewhere, or it is simply too old to still taste good.

When dairy such as milk, custard or yogurt is no longer good, you can see (or smell!) It almost immediately. For example, it involves curling, a process that separates solid and liquid, or it smells sour or spoiled. Cheese starts to mold, but that happens faster than you think and you can simply cut out the mold spots if it is a block of cheese. Of course, pay extra attention to meat products because it is better not to take risks with that.

6. Make as much as possible yourself

Ready-made products such as sauces and soups are very convenient to use, because often you only have to heat them in a pan to put them directly on the table. But they are often very expensive and not always healthy because of the large amounts of salt, fat and sugar that they can contain. And that while you often make them yourself as easily as you know how to do it. That is often much healthier and more fun, but if all goes well, it is also tastier because you often use fresh ingredients.

7. Collect as many beneficial and tasty recipes as possible

Putting recipes in a large book may be something you only know from your mother or grandmother, but if you want to cook healthy, varied, tasty and above all inexpensive, such a self-compiled recipe book can come in handy. Of course you can also find the tastiest recipes online nowadays, but even then it can be worthwhile to keep all successful meals and to do them in a place that you can easily look at. Printing it and pasting it in a book is not the most economical option, but you can also create a folder on your computer in which you keep all those tasty and cheap recipes. This way you always have something to fall back on when you have no inspiration and feel the urge to reach for an easier (and therefore often expensive) solution.

8. Actively hunt for bargains and offers

Remove the yes-no sticker from your letterbox and make sure you can check the leaflets from the supermarkets in your area every week . This way you can compile recipes based on the cheapest products you can find. Smart shopping can save many euros in this way, especially if you have a freezer and can freeze all kinds of food. It can also be useful not to use your grocery jar as a daily or weekly budget, but to divide it by month. Check out what you need each month and try to find those products as cheaply as possible. Then spend at least once a week finding the highest discounts and best offers to spend your money most efficiently.

9. Buy food from the cheapest supermarket

It seems tempting to only do your shopping at well-known discounters such as Aldi and LIDL, but you are not automatically cheaper. Other supermarkets often have cheaper alternatives on the shelf for certain products, with or without a discount. So don’t be too scared to do your shopping in multiple supermarkets to be able to combine the best offers and get what you need most cheaply at home. Although this takes more time, it also saves considerably on the wallet.

10. Go to the market for fruit and vegetables (and bread)

“Your guilder is worth a dollar on the market”. This winged statement has fallen into obscurity with the introduction of the euro, but fortunately the principle behind it still applies. Even nowadays you can still buy fresh fruit and vegetables the best and cheapest on the market. Also consider going to the market at the end of the day, because then you can often take bags full of fresh products with you from the greengrocer on the market for next to nothing. And while you are on the market, take a look at the baker’s stall because he also prefers to take as little of his loaves and buns home as possible.

11. Put your principles on the back burner for a moment

Organic vegetables , eggs and meat products are always more expensive than the so-called ‘conventional’ (non-organic) varieties. When you are really tight for a month, it is always an option to ignore your principles about the environment and / or animal welfare for a while and still deliberately opt for the kilo bangers. Whether you take this tip to heart is of course very personal, but it can make a significant difference in the expenses.

12. Eat less meat

Even if you don’t opt ​​for organic, meat is still one of the more expensive components of an average meal. You can therefore consciously choose to eat meat less often and replace it with other ingredients. There are now all kinds of tasty meat substitutes available that are cheaper and contain just as many healthy nutrients as meat. If you are not a vegetarian, it can mean a considerable switch, but you really don’t have to go hungry. And if you choose the right meals, you don’t even have to miss the meat (for example, fry an egg with a stew instead of frying bacon and / or serving a smoked sausage).

13. Use food that you already have at home

The cheapest way to put a meal on the table is to largely use ingredients that you already have at home. Of course you have already paid for it, but it still feels very good to prepare a nice meal without having to go to the supermarket. When you are a little creative, you can often still do a lot with the food you already have at home. That is another good reason to keep a small stock of long-life products when they are on sale. That way you almost always have something to fall back on.

14. Know what you still have in stock (and what not)

If you also buy a new pack of rice while you still have three opened packages in your pantry, you will understand why it is good to have an overview of what you still have at home. That is why it can be very useful to take a (partially transparent) storage container for food such as pasta and rice so that you can see at a glance how much is left.

15. Weigh all ingredients exactly

A kitchen scale is not expensive and allows you to weigh all the ingredients you use very precisely. After all, it is difficult to know exactly how much to cook with dry rice or pasta without weighing the portions. Then you quickly throw too much into the pan and since that is food that you cannot really freeze, it means a waste of food and money.

For foods such as rice, pasta and quinoa you can count on a portion of around 75 grams for women and children and around 100 grams for adult men. Of course you can adjust those amounts up and down for your own family, depending on individual appetites and needs. Either way, it always feels nice not to have to throw anything away. That is good for the environment and of course also for your wallet.

16. Keep it simple

The fewer ingredients a recipe contains, the cheaper the meal is usually to prepare. Consider, for example, a tasty soup, a stew or simply a traditional Dutch meal of potatoes, vegetables and a piece of meat (substitute). But pasta with a homemade pasta sauce is also very easy and inexpensive to make. The trick is to keep eating varied. Not only so that you get the right nutrients and vitamins, but also so that you don’t get tired of your weekly menu. Change of diet just means eating.

Conclusion

Tasty and varied food does not have to be expensive at all when you buy smartly and use all the food that you get at home. Do you have any nice and useful tips yourself to save as much money as possible on the daily meal? Then you would be doing us and the other visitors to our site a great favor by sharing your own cooking tips below!

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