Wanting to enjoy homecooked meals more often but struggling to find the time, budget or inspiration? Check out our top tips below on how to make this an easier process...
Preparation is key
Having a meal plan and the right ingredients to hand means you’re more likely to stay on track with healthy eating and won’t be as tempted to opt for food out of convenience
- Try planning your meals a week or even a few days in advance by writing them out on a memo board/notebook and base your food shop around these ingredients
- Take stock of what ingredients you have in the fridge, freezer & cupboards and make a list of what you need to keep your shop focussed, saving time & money
- Aim for one or two weekly shops to avoid food wastage by visiting every couple of days
- Stuck in a rut? Create a recipe folder of your favourite tried & tested dishes and add new ones (form our fakeaway & recipe section, for example) for some go-to inspiration when needed
- Organize your cupboards & freezer regularly so your staple ingredients are quick to hand to save time rummaging
- Divide jobs between family members. This is a great way to get kids involved in handling food, learning cooking and planning skills
- Clean as you go…wiping down surfaces & washing pots as you prepare your food means less mess to clear at the end
Finding daily cooking laborious? Putting a few hours aside to prepare several meals in one session can save time spent slaving at the stove...
- Prepare a few extra portions of the meal you’re cooking and freeze or store in the fridge to be eaten within the week. You can mix it up on the day by adding different vegetables or salad, or swapping the carbohydrate between potatoes/rice/pastas/bread/grains.
- Invest in some Tupperware and freezer bags to make storage more convenient
- Chop up some additional vegetables while you’re at the chopping board and store in freezer bags or in the fridge for the next dish. This works well with fresh herbs such as mint & coriander too.
Keeping costs down
On a budget? Healthy, balanced and varied meals are still achievable with these money-saving tips
- Cook from scratch using staple ingredients where possible. Chopped tomatoes, low-fat natural yoghurt and mixed herbs & spices form a tasty basis to meals and avoid relying on pre-prepared jarred sauces which can be expensive and high in calories and salt.
- Make meals go further by adding extra vegetables, beans and pulses. Frozen/tinned vegetables also count towards your 5-a-day and are full of fibre, vitamins and minerals; and beans/pulses are great sources of protein and fibre, which can be a cheap alternative or addition to meat-based dishes as well as forming a more sustainable diet
- Check out unit pricing (price per volume shown on shelf tag) when choosing groceries as buying loose items is often cheaper than buying pre-packed, and can provide longer expiry dates too
- Compromise on brands – with premium products you’re often paying for the shiny packaging. Trial cheaper or supermarket-own brands on some staples such as cereal, bread, yoghurts and snacks and judge the taste difference for yourself. This often results in healthier choices, too.
- Buy non-perishables in bulk such as tinned fish, vegetables, nuts, and grains such as rice, cereal and pasta. Decant into smaller tubs for convenient storage, or split across Tupperware for snack prep.
- Make the most of deals, offers and promotions on non-perishable foods. Equally try and avoid temptation with offers on high sugar/calorie foods such as cakes, chocolate bars and high-sugar drinks - if these are not something you’d usually buy, they’re only presenting an extra cost and extra calories.
- Avoid food waste by sticking to your shopping list & ensuring the correct storage of foods to get the best out of your groceries
- Buy seasonal – if buying fresh fruit and veg, go for what’s in season as this makes a big difference to the food bill. Berries, melon, nectarines and salads are at their best in summer; whereas pears, oranges, apples and cruciferous vegetables come into season during the autumn/winter months.
- Ditch the costly takeaways and give our Fakeaway recipes a go instead! This will save you calories, fat, salt and sugar as well as cash.