How to save money on food bill (& energy)
NewMamma21 · 12/03/2022 04:31
Sparked by reading a few other threads I’m wondering how you save money on the food shop / cheap meal ideas & how you save money cooking?
Things like egg & chips (what else would you put with this?), beans on toast, padding meals out with lentils.
Another thread also got me thinking about the energy used to make meals. We love a hot baked roll in this house (the kind you buy pre packaged part baked) but that means turning the oven on just to cook 2 small rolls to go with soup.
I have no idea if it’s more economical to steam veg in the microwave, bake in the oven or steam/boil on the gas hob.
What are you doing to save money cooking?
Nnique · 13/03/2022 13:07
Don’t throw out leftovers. I had leftover potatoes and cabbage so bubble and squeak with a fried egg for dinner the next day.
Absolutely! Again this has always been my mindset. Everything is kept, even if it’s only a handful of rice (which is perfectly fine to eat if you understand how to safely cool and store it), and I actually use it too - I plan specifically to use any little bits for lunch or dinner sometime in the next day or two, so my fridge isn’t cluttered with lots of tubs of XYZ that languish at the back until they rot and are thrown out anyway.
Two days ago we had a salad niçoise for lunch. I boiled twice as many potatoes as we needed, because they needed using and that way I’ve got extra ready and I’ve saved using the hob again a day or two later. We’ll have the leftover potatoes today in a frittata style omelette.
I saved a small portion of rice the other day. It’s in the freezer and I will pop it into a simple soup which I’m going to make with the bones from a batch meal of chicken thighs that I’m going to make today. We’ll have that for lunch tomorrow.
Yoghurt/sour cream/creme fraiche last much longer than their date, especially if they’ve not yet been opened. I keep them for weeks and weeks and plan my meals to use them up. Eggs last for months past the date.
Nnique · 13/03/2022 13:12
Also a very important money saving tip:
When you cook meat it re-sets the use by date. You do not have to cook and eat it before or on the date!
(Dates are only a guideline anyway - although I am far more careful with fish and seafood...but for those who prefer to stick to them this is good to know)
So for example if your chicken says 21/12 you can cook it up on that day and then as long as it’s been cooled and stored correctly it’s good for another 3 or 4 days after that.
Nnique · 13/03/2022 13:35
Another that will save a fair bit if you like your fresh herbs and like to have a good variety available:
Your hardier herbs - Rosemary and thyme, for example, freeze very well. I freeze them as is, in the bags I buy them in. Sage also freezes well. Tarragon is best chopped up, added to butter and frozen that way. I freeze fresh chillies and ginger too. Ginger is easier to grate when frozen. I buy fresh parsley OR coriander, not both in the same week, as that way there’s no wastage. I tend to buy those potted and they usually last at least a couple of weeks if not longer. Frozen coriander at all isn’t worth it imo but frozen basil is pretty good for pasta sauces, ratatouille, minestrone, etc.
ButtockUp · 13/03/2022 13:57
I'll often by gammon joints as they're usually quite cheap but often on offer .
I'll cook one of those up and have , say, ham egg and chips on the day I cook it then the rest of the joint gets sliced up , thinly, and gets used in sandwiches / wraps or salads during the rest of the week.
I'll buy big roasting joints of pork or beef , when on offer , and cut them into small joints and freeze them.
I always buy few more of any items that we normally use when they're on offer or BOGOF.
I always eye up what's been yellow stickered and buy what can be frozen for another day.
Nnique · 13/03/2022 14:07
Liver is cheap and really good for you (as long as you don’t have it too often).
If it’s cooked well it can be quite tasty, too, if a bit of an acquired taste. Slice thinly whilst partly frozen, soak in a small amount of milk, drain and coat in egg and well seasoned flour. Fry until golden and crispy. Serve with lots of fried onion as well as potatoes or rice. Bernaise sauce is a lovely addition.
Nnique · 13/03/2022 14:18
That’s another thing that’s good about ALDI/LIDL It cuts out so much extra spending on crap you don’t need (as long as you can safely navigate the aisles of doom ) simply by virtue of there not being so much choice! Of course that can make it more difficult in some respects and you have to be quite good at cooking from scratch/making substitutions/going with the flow, but I actually prefer shopping there now - I can get in and out quickly and easily. We do one big shop per month. We get the bulk of our veg delivered separately and get our meat and eggs elsewhere too (except for chicken wings, sausages and bacon which we do buy at Aldi), and then I do one or two very small grocery shops in between for things we actually need like bread if we’ve run out, milk (because our fridge is small so I can’t fit a month’s worth in it) and fresh herbs. I’m pretty strict with planning and lists and have got much better at not being seduced by extras we don’t actually need.
Nnique · 13/03/2022 14:23
The recipe I’ve posted above is the only way I find it palatable, to be fair. Other than pâté...Even my DH who has always absolutely hated it was pleasantly surprised when I tried it out recently for the first time since my youth and agreed to it being put on the menu every few weeks or so.
It was one of the first things I learnt to cook as an older child - my mum managed to make it very tasty (better than mine) and we all ate it very happily, quite regularly.
ComtesseDeSpair · 13/03/2022 14:25
If it tastes disgusting, you’re cooking it wrong! Lambs, calves or venison liver, soaked overnight in a water-milk mixture and then lightly pan fried is really delicate and doesn’t have the classic leathery bitter livery taste that ill-prepared and overcooked pork liver does.
WeBuiltCisCityOnSexistRoles · 13/03/2022 14:40
This isn't a cooking tip as such, but an old fridge/freezer will use more electricity than a newer one so depending on age of appliances/tariffs (and of course if people can afford the cost of a new one!) that may help. Also make sure the coils at the back of the appliance are kept clean.
The trouble with batch cooking/three meals at once is that this is really hard for big families. We have catering size saucepans etc as I try and do this, but I can't lift them myself and also we have to have the largest size slow cooker etc. If we are serving rice or pasta with something, I will add it to the slow cooker (making sure there is enough sauce) to cook it, rather than boil it on the hob. If I freeze meals, I use a zip lock bag as it takes less space than Pyrex or Tupperware boxes.
If you are eligible for a Costco membership you can save a lot, especially if you buy the special deals. Again though, you have to have the money to buy it all at once when it's on offer and space to store things like this, not easy in small house with big family! We have things like bed frames instead of divan bases so we can store toilet roll/tins/rice. (I'm not an annoying panic buyer but I do like to prep. I don't think some of the people who sneer at preppers have a clue how some people live, insecure zero hour contracts (especially when self isolation was mandatory, or people were more ill with covid) means that you could have a week with no wages at no notice, so if you have a bed frame full of enough tins, and frozen stuff to feed everyone for a week, it's a huge bonus.
Nnique · 13/03/2022 14:47
I am very much a prepper. It’s sensible, avoids panic, and takes pressure off infrastructure/logistical network during periods of uncertainty rather than adding to it unnecessarily. The bigger your family the more sensible it is (I’ve a small family unit but I am one of many siblings so I understand both positions). You’ll get absolutely no grief from me!
nannybeach · 13/03/2022 14:48
Winter,slo cooker used a lot. It tenderises cheap cuts of meat. Microwave. Batch cook,eat one meal freeze 3. I used to use a pressure cooker all the time,my last one didn't work on induction, haven't replaced it, have a really small kitchen now,and the induction ones are a lot more expensive
Ragruggers · 13/03/2022 14:54
I use the Remoska all the time I have 2 sizes one was bought at a jumble sale !they are brilliant very cheap to run and cook amazing food which is very tasty.I use a pressure cooker and make a large amount of soup weekly.Gas hob which is very quick.I still use my 1970’s cook book The Paupers Cookbook by Jocasta Innes.The potato,bacon and onion hotpot is a favourite.Cooked in the Remoska takes about an hour.Children love and if you can buy bacon pieces even better..So many people are so frugal I try and teach the younger ones in the family all students how to cut costs.We are going to need this now to eat well and save money.
WeBuiltCisCityOnSexistRoles · 13/03/2022 14:56
[quote Nnique]@WeBuiltCisCityOnSexistRoles is cooking double rather than triple/quadruple more feasible? That at least will cut initial cooking energy down by half and might be easier for you...[/quote]
Yes, I do with things like spag bol as then we can make (for example) lasagne for the left overs which may do for another two meals with garlic bread etc. I have hollow legged teens and young adults too! Making own bread is cheaper too - I am buying flour and yeast to hedge against the coming price hikes (but I'm not emptying the shelves just buying two when I would buy one etc... I like baking too but fuck me, the cost of butter etc at the moment!
Mamiamamia · 13/03/2022 15:04
Here are the things that we do to cut our food and energy costs:
Only using appliances to cook dinner (cereal for breakfast, sandwiches and fruit for lunch)
Making DH a packed lunch each day (otherwise he will easily spend £8 a day buying lunch!!!)
Using a slower cooker 4-5 times a week (costs about 1/3 of the price of using the oven)
Boiling the kettle once in the morning and filling up a big flask with boiling water to use throughout the day for tea/coffee rather than repeatedly boiling the kettle all day.
Washing on cold setting and hanging all washing outdoors to dry.
I have stopped using the dishwasher, we still pop all the dirty dishes in the dishwasher so they are out the way during the day, I then hand wash them and pop them back in the dishwasher to drain at the end of the day.
I got a ‘baby dam’ to put in our bath so that when the little one has his bath we are only using half as much water as if we filled the whole bath.
We put the thermostat to 18 in the morning, then once the house is up to temp, we turn the heating off for the rest of the day (the children and I are all home all day). We don’t put the heating on again until 7pm, again only to 18, then off for the night once the house is up to temp.
No lights on before 6pm (We are lucky to live in a house which gets lots of natural light during the day, we could not have done this in our last house which was very dark due to it’s position).
We have changed all our lights to energy efficient LED’s, have all appliance on smart plugs so that nothing is in ‘standby’ when not in use, and have insulated the hot water tank with a thick ‘jacket’ and added thick lagging to all the hot water pipes which has made an enormous difference to our bills.
Added an insulated backing to our curtains.
We eat meat 2-3 days a week, eat vegetarian the rest of the week to keep food costs down.
We have added a ‘bladder’ to the chimney to insulate it from drafts.
Additional to this, I am trying to be wary of our car use due to the increase in fuel costs. We need to shop twice a week due to not being able to fit a whole week of food in our little fridge to feed our family for the week - I am trying to make sure I combine the grocery shopping with other trips such as taking the kids to the farm/swimming, or doing a dump run etc instead of doing multiple trips for a single purpose. We have also stared walking to things like the kids clubs and music lessons (a 20 min walk each way) instead of taking the car.
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