Prepare and be wise – sometimes cheap and cheerful are key

After what can only be described as a turbulent year (and a key reason for me being blog-absent), I am now in the non-enviable position of no job and the prospect of being in one of the hardest job markets this country has seen.

Being made redundant is one way hasn’t hit my husband and me financially as we save, save and have saved a bit more.

But within a day of being told the news, I was in practical food saving mode; what was in our cupboards, what could I rustle up with what we have and what could we live on without going shopping all the time.

The fact is in some aspects you are limited on what you can buy infrequently and in others discovering what we have in abundance. Thank the food gods for a large freezer and tins!

Unfortunately fresh fruit and vegetables are a constant need and we need to buy regularly.

But we have for some time been an avid fan of the don’t throw cry: a concept where nothing is binned, everything used and nothing to waste. And the freezer is a great source of freezing and defrosting healthy, if not random meals in a lunchbox discovery we call ‘mystery night’. I encourage you to discover such a pleasure.

We very rarely eat pre-packaged ready meals – having had a few in the past, preparing something from scratch might seem like time wasted and an epic task for some, but it makes all the difference in taste, quality and satisfaction in my mind. And if researched and studied it can be cheaper.

I actually find ready meals and pre-packed dinner a lazy excuse and a concept I refuse to let unemployment lead me down. Prepare and cook where possible.

Tins of kidney beans, corn, tomatoes, packets of different pasta, pesto, minced beef and chicken pieces are just a few of the essential ‘must-haves’ and provide a variety of what I can throw together into a meal.

And I don’t believe the cheaper versions of food items necessarily mean you compromise on quality and taste. Why spend £1.00 on a packet of spaghetti when the 39p version is just the same when cooked and combined with ingredients.

It can take some adjusting, but keeping food simple and inexpensive can still ensure you have a good, sustainable and whole meal with what you have lurking in the cupboards.

Watch this space for any other key food saving and cost saving essential ideas.

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