Meal planning is one of the best ways to help you stick to your food budget. A few key strategies (for example, planning meals based on the ingredients you already have in your kitchen, buying seasonal produce and making freezer-friendly meals in bulk) can reduce your weekly spend, as well as limit your food waste.
During their local growing season, fresh fruit and vegetables are often cheaper, tastier and more nutritious, so when planning meals be sure to select recipes that feature what’s in season. But don’t neglect the frozen food aisle! Most frozen fruit and veg are snap frozen not long after harvesting, so they’re just as good for you as fresh produce.
Meat and seafood are often the most expensive items on your weekly shopping list, so be sure to check what’s on sale at your local supermarket before you start meal planning. You can also stretch your meat-based meals by bulking them up with legumes, grains or extra veg. For example, for your next stir-fry, cut the amount of meat in half and replace it with mushrooms or tofu. Or consider including a few meat-free meals to your weekly plan (it’ll be great for your health as well as your wallet).
Whenever possible, avoid paying for packaging. Convenience comes at a cost, so skip the individual portions and the pretty packaging (for example, a block of cheese is often cheaper than pre-sliced or shredded cheese). And don’t be shy about giving non-branded products a go. Multiple consumer reports have showing that non-branded products often taste just a good as their branded equivalent (and cost considerably less).
Making your own pantry and fridge staples can save quite a bit of money both in the short- and long-term. It’s easy to create so many basics in your Thermomix® – flours, baking powder, icing sugar, spice blends, stock pastes, nut milks, condiments – and it makes stretching your budget a cinch. Once the basics are sorted, move on to making your own homemade staples like bread, muesli, yoghurt and more.
Waste not, want not
When the broccoli is looking a little worse for wear and the carrots are no longer crisp, don’t just throw them out – use them in soups, a vegetable mash or a green smoothie. Stale bread siting on the bench? Mill it into breadcrumbs and store it in the freezer. Bumper crop of basil in your garden? Turn it into pesto, or chop them up and freeze them into ice cubes to store in the freezer. Reducing your food waste is not only good for the planet, but also your budget.
Get freezer friendly
Take advantage of buying in bulk and sale items, then set aside some time to make, portion out and freeze meals and baked goods. Soups, stews, lasagnes, breads and biscuits can all be frozen in individual portions, making it quick, easy and inexpensive to get meals on the table. Dough and pastry are a breeze in your Thermomix® and freeze beautifully for baking, meaning you won’t need to buy ready-made pastry or dough again.
Make the most of the weekly planner
Our weekly meal planner is an easy way to help you get organised. Search for recipes on Cookidoo® that use ingredients that you already have in your kitchen, build your menus around them, then shop just for the missing essentials. With a clear plan in mind, you won’t be as tempted by impulse purchases that might go to waste.
Here are a few delicious, budget-friendly recipes to get you started. Make sure to bookmark them, so when you are ready to cook all you need to do is look in My Recipes or My Week to find them.