Red Meat or Poultry
The nice thing with meat is that you can freeze it. By buying fresh meat in bulk you will save money, never mind all the time taken to source your meat for dinner. The best way is to go to your local butcher or supermarket and look for what’s on special. Try and buy large pieces and get the butcher to portion the meat into your desired cuts for you to freeze at home; they usually do this for free. Not only will you will save money by buying in bulk, but you can also plan your week’s meals according to the cuts you have. Remember to always request the bones as they are great for home made stocks or adding flavour to soups or stews.
Many people think that frozen vegetables have inferior nutritional value compared to their fresh counterparts. However, when vegetables are flash frozen, nutrients are locked in. The problem is the cooking process people choose; boiling frozen vegetables results in rapid nutrient loss, while steaming or flash frying in a little olive oil is a lot healthier. Stock up on both the small and larger cuts of vegetables, they make a great accompaniment to almost any meal and you save on the loss of fresh vegetables that don’t make it to your plate.
Oils are expensive no matter where you get them. But if you buy large quantities you can save money. What you need is basic cooking oils and one or two good oils for dressings. Canola or palm oil are very good for your standard cooking, whereas a blended olive oil is a good sautéing choice. It is healthy and has a higher flash point than extra virgin olive oil so it is ideal for cooking. A good avocado or cold-pressed olive oil is great for salads or oil based sauces, don’t cook with these oils as they break down in the heat. Buy some nice glass bottles and decant the oils into them, you will only need to buy oils once a month if that.
Dried Vegetables and Pulses
These are cheap and always great to have in the kitchen. The nice thing is that a little dried vegetables go a long way. With winter approaching lentils, split peas, barley and beans are the best base for hearty stews and soups. These ingredients are also high in protein and are often suitable meat replacements in dishes. However, try to soak them the night before you cook them, as this will save you time and those precious units of electricity.
I’m a firm believer in tinned foods. There are so many options, you often get great deals when buying in bulk and they can often be a meal in themselves. Choose a couple different kinds of tinned vegetables e.g. chickpeas, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes as these are all great in salads, sauces and curries. Also try some tinned fruits and jams e.g. figs, melon and berries. They are cheaper than the fresh alternatives and are just as good, especially as an extra on a cheese board, a topping on a pizza or burger and of course desserts. You will lose nutrients in tinned meat and fish but they are tasty and a quick fix especially when you are in a hurry.
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