As January rolls around, it’s not only our clothes that seem a bit tighter, but our budgets too. Don’t let the holiday spending and Christmas gift-buying get in the way of your weekly food shopping – plan your meals cleverly and you’ll be saving as you cook.
I like big batches
‘Batch cooking’ is a term you need to become familiar with. This means cooking big batches of food that you can keep in the fridge or freezer and simply portion out as you’re putting together your meal. Think starches such as rice, barley, couscous or pasta; steamed or roasted vegetables; and proteins such as stewed meat, cooked beans or grilled chicken.
Have a variety of food prepped, so that each meal can easily be assembled to ensure a balanced meal. Having one or two sources of carbohydrates, a few veg options and two meats on hand is best. After the cooking has been done, either divide the batches into individual portions that can be frozen or stored in the fridge, or store each food item in a big bowl for easy dishing up when mealtimes roll around.
Keep it interesting
No one wants to be eating the same meal for lunch and dinner the whole week long. Aim to mix up your food pairings and add in other flavours as you feel like it. Maybe have some leafy greens on the side, or top your meat with a minty yoghurt sauce. Don’t be afraid to complement the preprepared food with other ingredients you already have in your pantry.
Having dinner already cooked by the time you come home is great, but opening up a container of meat that has gone bad is never a fun experience. Label each container with the date when the food was cooked, so you can keep track of what to eat before it goes off. As a rule of thumb, starches can be kept up to one week in the fridge, cooked veg for up to five days and meat for no longer than three days.