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NOW CLOSED: Tell Sainsbury's your top tips for cooking on a budget - you could win £200 of Sainsbury's vouchers

(144 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 18-Jan-11 11:31:34

Mumsnet have been asked by Sainsbury's to find out your top tips on cooking for your family on a budget. They have put together a basics range to help families who are looking to cut back on costs without compromising on quality and taste.

Sainsbury's want to know what are your tips for cooking good food for your family and watching the pennies.

Please post your tips below. Everyone who posts a tip on this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one lucky winner will receive £200 of Sainsbury's vouchers.

Many thanks and good luck!

crapbarry Tue 18-Jan-11 11:35:11

meal plan before going shopping! This has saved me loads of time and money

I've loved the feed your family for a fiver recipe cards from sainsburys too - the sticky gammon with sweet potato mash hs become a family staple

TheProvincialLady Tue 18-Jan-11 11:40:04

Yes, meal planning and shopping list writing are vital. And lentils - either cook dishes centred around them, or add them to bulk up meals with a more expensive protein such as meat. They are filling and good for you, and cheap.

BluddyMoFo Tue 18-Jan-11 11:40:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JarethTheGoblinKing Tue 18-Jan-11 11:41:35

Pad meals like chilli/bolognaise/soup out with lentils or beans. It's all protein and loads cheaper.

Partyof52010 Tue 18-Jan-11 11:42:51

As above, meal plan! Make a list and stick to it, and never shop when you're hungry.

When making something like stew or spag bol, bump up the sauce with lots of veg. That way, you use less meat which I find can be costly.

When cooking a roast, plan what other meals you can get out of it so the leftovers don't go to waste. e.g leftover chicken can also be used to make risotto, and the carcass can be used for making soup. Leftover roast beef or lamb makes a really yummy cottage/ shepards pie.

trice Tue 18-Jan-11 11:43:33

Use a shopping list and menu plan. Cook Meals that produce leftovers which can make another meal. Freeze things that will go out of date before you get a chance to eat them. Frozen bananas and apples and oranges make lovely puddings when cooked. Use frozen vegetables.

Partyof52010 Tue 18-Jan-11 11:45:11

Also (can I have another go?) keep frozen veg in, fresh stuff can go over quickly and it ends up being wasted.
Freeze any leftover portions e.g lasagne so that you have something quick and easy in the freezer...might just stop you from ordering a takeaway!

PrettyCandles Tue 18-Jan-11 11:48:00

That's more like it! grin

My tip is to save all leftovers, and if crusts aren't eaten then leave them out to dry (so they can be kept without going mouldy).

Once or twice a week, all savoury scraPs go into a souP or stew, and all sweet scraps go into a breadpudding with the stale crusts. You get some fabulous combinations and flavours this way, which might not have occurred to you to trybefore. And because there are lots of small things, no one addition makes the dish unpalatable by overwhelming.

Starbear Tue 18-Jan-11 11:54:18

I've got into the habit of making a large pot of soup on Monday and live on that during the week for lunch at work & evenings. Lentils, Minestrone with kidney beans and Butternut squash with green beans & chickpeas. Last 2 can have any old veg thrown in to stop waste and bulk up.
Use stock cubes instead of fresh made stock saves time and aggro.
When making casseroles,spag bol and shepherds pies. Make enough to eat one now Freeze two meals. I also use Large Margarine tubs for the freezer.
Eat the good stuff and drop the crisp, chocolates, fizz drinks saves a fortune. Keep one vice biscuits smile and only eat home made cakes by the time you've made it 4 weeks have gone by ha!ha!

Lizzylou Tue 18-Jan-11 11:54:38

Red lentils are a god send to bulk up meals, I agree, use up left over veg by making soups, freeze herbs to add to dishes to make them more tempting and tasty.
Less meat and more vegetables, certainly makes things far cheaper.

ANTagony Tue 18-Jan-11 11:55:28

Buy and cook in bulk. Its generally much cheaper to buy big packs, multi packs, value packs.

Use the BOGOF offers but make sure you cook it all up and freeze what you don't use fresh. Make sure you freeze in appropriate portion sizes - i.e. don't freeze a pack of 12 sausages if you use/ typically cook in quantities of 6.

Bulk up meals with vegetables like cottage pie use half mince and half grated/ chopped veg.

Make base sauces that are multifunctional like a meat/ veg bolognese that you can portion freeze and then add to pasta, make up as a lasagne, top with mash for a cottage pie, layer up with potatos and top with a bit of cheese for a potato bake.

Buy big bags of potatos and always cook up double (or more) so you've got ready food in the freezer for days when its all a bit mad. Ideal for mash, parboil potatos for roasts, parboil for wedges (oven wedges), herby potatos like Parisienne.

Lots of big soups using up all left overs.

Freeze 1/2 bread loaf if you're not going to use the whole loaf - if you slice it first you can toast straight from the freezer.

If bread dries out then bag it and use it as breadcrumbs/ freeze for later use.

Biggest thing is don't throw anything away. Plan how you are going to use all your ingredients when your fridge/ cupboards are full.

I don't live near a supermarket so have to be very organised in my shopping hence my love of the freezer.

melodyangel Tue 18-Jan-11 11:57:39

get an allotment!

nymphadora Tue 18-Jan-11 12:00:28

Two tips which don't go together blush

Buying a whole chicken and getting dh to hack it up. Cheaper than portions & use the bones for stock which you then freeze.

Eat veggie meals

minipen Tue 18-Jan-11 12:00:48

cook 2 lots, for example make lasagne whilst doing spag bol, add kidney beans/any other sort to bulk it out, that way one pack of mince does 2 meals.

Don't buy grated cheese, it is fresher & cheaper to grate it yourself.

DurhamDurham Tue 18-Jan-11 12:01:12

Plan for the whole week, all meals not just evening meal.

Make sure you buy enough milk and bread to last the week. Popping into the shop for milk sometimes cost me £30 becasue of all the other stuff I throw in the basket.

Buy the largest box/packet/bottle you can as it usually works out cheaper in the long run.

Use own brand products where possibe. Tinned tomatoes, foil, rice, cereal are all fine.

If there's any leftovers after dinner put them in a dish in the freezer. Cheaper and better than ready meals for when the children are starving when they get home from school.

Make huge pans of soup and freeze some in one portion containers. Costs v little per bowl.
Cut out coupons from magazines and use them, I sometimes hand over 4 or 5 at a time.

Be creative, you don't have to stick to a recipe. I'm always substituting ingredients for what I have in the cupboard.

SexyDomesticatedDab Tue 18-Jan-11 12:01:18

Buy the basics frozen fish - pollock which is both sustainable, cheap and can be cooked direct from frozen.

The reduced section with the yellow labels and a freezer helps too wink.

4andnotout Tue 18-Jan-11 12:04:53

I go shopping late on Sunday afternoons on weekday evenings so we can get the pick of the reduced items, i usually pick anything that can be frozen or will be eaten within the next day.

Bogof's are good for the staples of our diet, I've stocked up on cheap bread, milk and pasta sauces this week. I also stockpile crisps and snacks for the packed lunches.

We use a lot of value range foods, beans, sauces etc.

We also have a spare chest freezer which we keep stocked with bread, milk, and quick and easy meals I'd pizza.

moonbells Tue 18-Jan-11 12:05:34

I find, as a working mum, that preparation is everything, and it saves cash too.

The worst waste is forgotten veg that go furry in the bottom of the fridge, so I find that I need to prepare them as soon as I get them home, or at least that evening when DS is in bed!

Things like carrots get put into ziplock bags, some peeled, cut up and frozen, some left for immediate use. Leeks can, with a bit of fiddling, provide a lot more than just the white bit. I cut the white parts into rings, then work my way through the green parts, cutting away the ragged parts and shredding the rest after washing. These go in the freezer, and can be used in handfuls in stir-fries or soups and it's useful to have when time is short on a weekday evening. I have seen folk chop just the white off and throw half the leek in the bin (not even the compost!)

We use stems from broccoli in slow-cooker meals, choose reduced sausages if we see them and then turn them into slow-cooker casseroles.

Baking potatoes are a bit of a hmm; you get four huuuge ones for the same amount you get a bagful of smaller ones of the same variety. Smaller ones also bake faster in the oven, so costing less to cook! And take even less time if you stick skewers through their centres first.

ChestnutSoup Tue 18-Jan-11 12:08:12

Buy big packs of meat and fish, then split them into appropriate portions and freeze (well labelled, of course!).

Own brand and economy labels are fine for many things, but not for meat when it's better to buy better quality and use less (the flavour is better so you can get away with it).

Have at least one veggie meal a week.

Use smoked fish - often overlooked, but cheap, nutritious and tastes amazing in many recipes.

Base one meal a week around eggs - frittata etc.

notnowbernard Tue 18-Jan-11 12:08:52

Avoid brands (Supermarket own usually do the job just as well)

Make a list and DO NOT DEVIATE (this is where on-line shopping is good, I find - you just type in what you want and don't get tempted)

CupcakesHay Tue 18-Jan-11 12:12:20

Be creative - use less meat and more veggies and beans to make dinners go further but cost less.

Consider if you can use leftovders for another meal - e.g. leftovers for a lunch or to make another whole dinner.

wonderstuff Tue 18-Jan-11 12:14:12

I used to buy ready meals for days when I knew I was working late, now I make dh batch cook on the weekend and so I have a few meals in the freezer I can pop in the fridge the night before and reheat at dinner time.
Planning is key.
Buy cheaper cuts of meat
Eat vegetarian

MerylStrop Tue 18-Jan-11 12:17:28

er, don't shop at Sainsbury's for starters.
(not going to win any vouchers am I?)
Shop local, in season, meal plan round that.

IrritaGirl Tue 18-Jan-11 12:17:44

Plan meals and make a list.
Shop online so you can see what you're spending and aren't tempted to add last minute offers/purchases.

Make your own bread! Once you've made the dough, which doesn't take long, the rest is really just waiting so you can get on with other things.

I agree with ChestnutSoup - basing one meal around eggs is good.

Buy loose fruit/veg where possible.
Take advantage of offers if some of it can be frozen. We often buy a few packs of mince when they're on offer since we know it will always get used.

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