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Saturday, 13 August 2011

Suggestions for Reducing Your Food Budget

By making a few minor adjustments you can reduce the amount of money you spend on food.

Food is expensive. It is also a necessary item, taking up much of our weekly budget. The ideal situation is to prepare and cook exactly the right amount for each meal. That seldom happens.

As human beings we over estimate, misjudge and make errors. Sometimes we cook enough food to feed an army, rather than the small group gathered in our household. Sometimes we weaken while shopping, confusing wants with needs, filling our fridge until it over flows.

This article is written from personal experience. I’m sure wiser people have researched the amount of food wasted in an average household. In fact, I’m sure I’ve read about it in the past. Food wastage can be high. But, there is a solution. Reduce food wastage in your home and you reduce the amount of money you spend.

Plan ahead: We often shop without prior thought to our weekly needs. We buy a bit of this and a bit of that, hoping we’ll have the necessary ingredients to throw together tasty meals. How often have you found a foreign object lurking at the back of your fridge, only to discover it was that avocado you knew you liked the look of, then promptly forgot it. You save a lot of wastage if you identify what you need before you start.

Buy less: Okay, this may sound obvious. But the nurturing side of us says have family, must feed. This is especially true if teenagers occupy your home. You’re a caring food provider and would hate to see anyone go hungry. You also need to be prepared in case visitors stop by. And, you mustn’t forget to predict how much food your family will need during a national disaster. Fine, think about those things. Then, consider how much food your family really needs for the week. Buy only that amount.

Use left over food to create new dishes: Some of the tastiest dishes are created by using left over meat and vegetables. Throw in an egg or two, a favourite sauce or a can of beans and you can come up with a dish to ward off most hunger pangs. If using left over food is a new concept for you, do an online search and you’ll find plenty to tempt your taste buds.

Use your freezer: If you find you have bought too much or cooked too much, save it for another time. Freezers were invented to store excess food and eliminate waste. Keep a supply of food wrap and plastic containers of all sizes, label and date the contents and save your food for another time. Just remember to get used to utilizing what is stored there when creating new meals.

Enhance meat dishes with cheaper ingredients: There are many ways to do this. Throw a can of beans into a meat dish. Use less meat and more vegetables in a stir fry. Enclose the meat inside a layer of pastry to make filling pies. Once you start experimenting, your imagination will come up with many more ideas.

Use the contents of your cupboard before buying more: Check out what you have stashed away on a regular basis. Use the food you have before buying more. Don’t make the mistake of buying cans or packets on special when you already have several of them in your cupboard already.

Retrain your family: Tight times call for tight measures. If you genuinely want to reduce your food bill, you may have to retrain your family. Get them used to eating differently. They may complain at first, but after awhile they’ll be more appreciative of the food placed in front of them.

If you are genuine in your desire to reduce your food budget, you need to make changes to the way you do things. Let these ideas be a starting point. Continue to explore and come up with ideas of your own.

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