By choosing the right recipes and planning ahead, you can cut back on how much you’re spending while still enjoying delicious and healthy homemade dishes. While browsing recipes can be fun, meal planning can be incredibly satisfying too; discover ways to use up leftovers, plan your shopping, or buy in bulk and generate savings.
Choose inexpensive ingredients
Basing your meals around in-season fruits and vegetables is a great place to start. Fresh produce like carrots, sweet potatoes and cabbage are inexpensive and packed with essential nutrients. Alternatively buy tinned or frozen vegetables; while frozen are sometimes thought to be inferior to their fresh counterparts, they’re actually just as good! Generally frozen in their prime, and thus retaining their nutritional profile, they’re also a much cheaper, more convenient, time-saving option.
The key is combining fresh produce with tinned and frozen additions to boost the nutritional value of a dish, while also making it go further. Try adding a handful of frozen spinach and some tinned lentils or beans to a chilli or bolognese, to increase the serving sizes and satisfy hungry appetites. Dried ingredients like beans, peas and lentils are also a more economical option; often requiring soaking, just include this extra step in your meal planning to ensure they’re ready for when you need them.
Meat can be expensive so try choosing cheaper cuts, or cutting down on portion sizes. Viewing it as an addition to your dishes rather than the main ingredient will also help to save money. It’s easy to make chicken or pork go further by grinding larger pieces into mince in your Thermomix® and combining it with breadcrumbs, herbs and spices to form meatballs. You can then serve them over spaghetti or rice, and bulk the meal out with steamed vegetables to ensure everyone has enough. Enjoying a weekly or monthly ‘meat-free’ day is also a good way of saving money. Try searching vegetarian or vegan for some meat-free inspiration.
When watching your pennies, it’s also possible to substitute expensive ingredients in recipes, especially if you know you’re unlikely to finish the packet or jar. For example, if your risotto recipe requires 60 g wine, there’s no need to open a bottle. By adding 40 g water and 20 g vinegar, you’ll get the right acidity needed to flavour the dish. Or, avoid investing in expensive saffron for a recipe where it’s not the star ingredient; in most cases turmeric will be a good substitute. Be creative where you can, and you may discover your tomato sauce is just as delicious with parsley as it is with basil!
Make your own staples
Bulk-buy a few staple ingredients and transform them with your Thermomix® to stretch your budget even further. Icing sugar made at home from ordinary granulated sugar is less expensive than shop-bought, and you'll save space by storing just one ingredient. Buy spices whole and grind them yourself; whole spices keep fresh for longer while the taste of freshly ground is far superior. You can also make your own Greek yoghurt by draining plain yoghurt through a cheesecloth, or try making your own yoghurt from scratch, saving even more. Homemade bread and pastry is cheaper than shop-bought and tastes infinitely better; plus you get the benefit of a home filled with the smell of freshly baked breads and pastries!
Waste not, want not
Red pepper looking a little worse for wear? Carrots and parsnips past their best? Rather than throwing them away, add to a soup for extra flavour or prepare a speedy vegetable purée to accompany your evening meal. If your Gruyère has become too strong to serve after dinner, cut it into small pieces and freeze it. Then, when you need grated cheese, grate the frozen chunks in your Thermomix®. In addition, never throw away stale bread! Instead, grind into breadcrumbs in seconds with Thermomix®.
For more ways to use up your leftovers, check out the No Waste collection on Cookidoo®. From cooked rice to leftover Christmas cheese, take ingredients that you may otherwise throw away and re-purpose them into delicious, economical dishes.
Batch cook and freeze portions
As well as being a fantastic way of saving money, batch cooking enables you to enjoy homemade ‘fast food’ when you’re pushed for time. Take advantage of promotions on ingredients, buy larger quantities, and prepare extra portions that can be frozen for a later date. Stews frozen in individual portions make a handy packed lunch that can be reheated at work, minimising expensive cafeteria or shop-bought lunches. There’s also no need to buy ready-made biscuits and cookies; pastry and biscuit dough is made in an instant in Thermomix® and freezes beautifully, ready to bake when you fancy a treat.
Use My Week
Our weekly meal planner can help you get organised and save money. Search for recipes on Cookidoo® that use ingredients you already have, build your menus around them, then you only need to shop for the missing essentials. With a clear plan in mind it’s easier to resist temptation at the supermarket, and avoid impulse purchases of ingredients that may go to waste.
Here are a few delicious, budget-friendly recipe suggestions. Bookmark them, or better yet, start planning your meals around them. Next time you want to cook, simply look in My Recipes or My Week to find them.