When Ben and I started our family we didn’t have a lot of money, so we had to find ways to eat well but cheaply, here are our top tips…
Vegetables are your friend
Vegetables are incredibly cheap (oh and they’re pretty good for you in general too!). Find yourselves a good local fruit and veg market and you’ll be able to pick up a big bag of fresh vegetables for just a few quid. There’s a lot you can do with a mix of veggies:
- Stir fries
- Tons of pasta dishes
Also try and reduce the meat serving in favour of more vegetables – your pocket and your waist will thank you for it. Here are a couple of cheap vegetable dishes that we like:
A meal in itself, this classic dish from Nice, Farcis niçois (stuffed vegetables)
* Note – this dish is not vegetarian as the vegetables are stuffed with meat
As an accompaniment to fish or meat there is our Tian provençal (Vegetable gratiné). Alternatively you could add rice or pasta layers to the vegetables and you have a complete meal.
For those who don’t like veggies try and find different ways to prepare them. For example, instead of just serving up green beans boiled in water, try our Green beans with soy sauce.
Buy a joint of meat
Many people are afraid of buying a joint of meat as it is pricey. BUT if you plan it well this can be a cheap and easy way to eat meat:
- Day 1 – roast meat (Ben’s roast pork with white wine is a firm favourite, although the wine does make it more expensive)
- Day 2 – leftover meat served cold with jacket potatoes and vegetables/baked beans
- Day 3 – leftover meat with vegetables in a curry
- Day 4 (if there’s still some left) – leftover meat with vegetables in a stir-fry
It does get a bit repetitive but it is a very economic way to eat meat.
Go for cheaper meats
There is meat, and then there is meat. The price range is enormous, so learn which meats are good for your budget:
- Use mince, including turkey mince, to make burgers, bolognaise, hachis parmentier (French shepherds’ pie), chilli con carne and more.
- Pork cuts tend to be the cheapest so you will see a lot on this blog. My favourite pork recipes are roast pork in white wine (see above), pulled pork in the slow cooker and gammon with cider and mustard.
- Chicken – drumsticks and thighs being the cheapest. I especially like cheeky chicken coq au vin and chicken strips with sage.
- Braising steak/stewing steak. This is a great one for the slow cooker (see below), our Beef & guinness pie and paleron aux carottes (beef stew) go down well every time in our house.
Cook the same meal for all the family
In France families eat the same food, at the same time. Whilst in the UK most children eat “tea” around 5pm, and parents eat a different “dinner” at around 8pm.
Whether you eat at the same time or not, eating the same meal is a massive time-saver as well as being good for the pennies. Just reheat for those eating later.
If you’ve got fussy eaters, keep offering a variety of meals and your kids will end up eating the strange adult food! I’ve been astounded watching the children I childmind go from refusing most things, to eating pretty much everything. Just persevere if you can bear it.
Buy in bulk
How many times do you see “buy 3 for £10” or “buy one, second one half price”? There are deals like this all the time. Use your freezer wisely and grab these cheap deals. If you buy pieces of meat (drumsticks, chops etc) take them out of the big pack, wrap them individually in clingfilm, and freeze these smaller amounts to save freezer space.
Get a slow cooker
We bought our Cookworks slow cooker from Argos for just £19.99, which I actually bought with nectar points 🙂 Why is a slow cooker good for saving you money?
- They cost little to run, especially compared with the cost of having your oven on for an hour or more to cook a casserole or stew
- You can use old vegetables as they will cook longer and more slowly so don’t need to be as tender
- They are perfect for cheap cuts of meat for the same reason – you can make a mean boeuf bourguignon in them!
Et voilà! Those are our top tips for feeding your family cheaply. How do you eat thriftily? What are your top tips? Do share in the comments below!
I am linking up to Tasty Tuesdays with Honest Mum, click on the image below to discover some other great food blog posts: