I do love a bargain when I am shopping, in fact I hate to pay full price for my food shop so you will always find me with a fistful of vouchers if I'm in store or trawling the cashback and voucher sites if I'm doing an online shop. I think it is half the fun to see how much you can save, I'll share with you my top three tips to make your money go as far as possible -
- Shop around, see what special offers are on and don't be afraid to split your weekly shop between 2, 3 or even 4 shops and make sure one of those is somewhere like Aldi or Lidl. Those Germans have very high standards and the food is fabulous and cheap.
- Buy value brand and frozen products. For a long time I was a snob and only bought the premium brands and then I discovered that for certain products like rice, tinned pulses, tinned tomatoes, vegetables and pasta there really is little difference except price.
- Don't feel you have to eat meat with every meal. You can make some substantial dinners that are vegetarian and I promise you won't feel cheated, take a look at my Indian feast -
Last weekend I was challenged by CBias to create a meal for my family (that is five people) for under £10. Immediately I thought veggie and Indian as these are things I know I can save money on whilst no-one would have any idea it wasn't an expensive take-away.
I had headed off to Tesco to buy the ingredients I needed but I also made sure I used what I had at home, it is important to have a well stocked store cupboard when you are cooking curry as the spices can be used time and time again. I have also recently discovered some fabulous frozen items at Sainsburys. They do a 1kg bag of chopped spinach in handy little portions. The bag is £1.50 or you can mix and match (I got sliced mixed peppers too) for 2 bags for £2.50. The amount of spinach I used in the curry cost about 13p. I also recently bought some frozen ready crushed garlic and ginger portions, 2 packs for £2.50. These are not necessarily cheaper than the fresh but they make life much easier and my hands stay fresh smelling!
For our Indian feast, this is what I chose to cook -
When I worked out how much it had cost me to produce this meal for the five of us it worked out to be £9.88, less than £2.00 a portion and I even managed to freeze some of the dahl too.
I got all the ingredients out ready to cook and you'll see that there is a mix of branded and value ingredients there. Some of the things like the Knorr stockpots I was lucky to have in the cupboard but often I'll just buy shop brand own stock cubes as they are far cheaper and once you add spices to an Indian meal you do not need premium items.
I enjoy cooking curry and once you have mastered the basics it is really easy I find. Keeping it simplistic all you have to do is - finely chop your onions, add those and the garlic (& ginger if you are using it) to a pan and lightly fry. Once the onions start to become transient add in your dry spices and cook for another 2-3 minutes, this is when the flavours really start to release. Then it is time for either the stock or passata, whatever you are using as a base for your curry and the main veggie ingredients and cook for however long it takes for the veggies to become tender.
As well as cooking from scratch I have no objection to using some shop bought items, especially when they are on special price. We enjoyed Pataks Poppadoms for half price (just £1.00 for 10) and Tesco own light naan breads, which were surprisingly good and only 80p for 5.
We all enjoyed our Indian feast the other night. I need to get brave and try to make my own naan bread next time.
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