healthy_eatingWe get a lot of mums asking for ways to save money on their healthy food shopping.
So today we have 10 tips to save your wallet AND your waistline.

Plan ahead – but be flexible

It’s a great idea to try and plan your meals for the week. Though it’s also important not to be too rigid about the specifics.
For instance you might decide that you’d like to have soup one night. Instead of specifically choosing the type, why not head to the fruit market and see what’s on special that week.
Often you can find things like pumpkin, leeks or sweet potato very cheap when they are in season. Then just head home and search our recipes pages for a matching soup or recipe.
Alternatively you might decide on a stir fry for one of your dinners. Instead of committing to one type, why not see if chicken, beef or prawns are on special and then go with those for your protein choice.

Do a kitchen audit before you shop

How many times have you ended up with 8 tins of tomatoes in the cupboard and no tins of chickpeas when you need them? Or 3 packs of chicken breast and no fish or beef?
In most cases, it just clogs up your fridge, freezer or pantry, but in some situations you can end up having to throw things out if they pass their use by date.
Instead of just stocking up on your favourite foods every time you shop, spend 5 minutes doing a quick inventory before you go. From there you can make a quick list to take with you so that you don’t end up spending money on unnecessary items.
Check the freezer for any meat that you could use in next week’s meal plans before you go and buy the same thing again.

Shop around

While it can be a pain to go from shop to shop, you can save a lot of money by looking at where the specials are before you shop.
You could also just compare the fruit and veg at your regular supermarket with the cost in the local fruit market and see if it’s worth a visit.

Shop seasonally

A great way to save money is to buy seasonally. Sure you might love fresh berries in the middle of winter, but when they are out of season they are going to be a lot more expensive (just buy frozen ones!).
Transport costs add to the end cost to you for out of season foods, so stick with what’s on sale as that usually means it is plentiful at the moment.

Don’t over-shop

Another great way to save money is to avoid having too much food in the house. When the fridge is full to the brim it doesn’t leave much wiggle room if something comes up and you end up eating away from home a few nights in a row.
In fact it might mean that a whole load of fresh food can turn bad as you just don’t have time to use it.
Even if you love pineapple, buying 4 because they are on sale might end up meaning some of it gets tossed.
So try to keep your kitchen cupboards and fridge manageable so that you don’t end up wasting anything.

Fall in love with the freezer

The freezer can really be your friend when you are trying to save money. Make double batches of a curry or Bolognese and stash a family sized portion in the freezer to pull out instead of ordering a take away.
Whip up a double batch of Wholegrain Banana Bread and freeze individual slices – they’re perfect for a lunch box or handbag snack if pulled out the night before you want to eat it.
See some chicken breast on sale? Stock up (if you have room). Freeze into portions of the normal amount you’d use in a family meal so that you have it on hand – and remember to take it into account when meal planning for the following week.

Grow your own herbs

We recommend using a lot of fresh herbs in our recipes, and they can quickly add up if you are buying them bunch by bunch as needed.
Spend the time to buy some seeds or seedlings and plant a mini herb garden at home. Even if you just start with parsley and coriander, you could save around $6 per week in no time.
A herb such as mint is another good one as it tends to grow out of control once they get going. Why not take a cutting from a friend’s herb garden and pop some in a pot by the back door?
Kids will love watering them and watching them grow, and hopefully they’ll learn to love the flavour too.
If you have the room, you can also try growing some other veggies such as cherry tomatoes which taste even more amazing than those from the market.

Eat less meat or try alternative cuts

There is really no need for every one of your dinners to contain meat. In fact it’s recommended to include some vegetarian meals in your week.
Why not commit to one or 2 meat-free nights per week, and have some fun with new recipes? Our 28 Day Plan has loads of options, as does our new Spring and Summer Recipe Book.
Another alternative to saving money on meat is to look to alternate cuts of meat that are generally cheaper. Things like shoulder of pork, osso bucco and lamb shanks are all cheaper cuts that benefit from long slow cooking.
Check out our website for some recipes such as the delicious Lamb Shank and Spiced Veggie Soup. Soup also freezes well for using at another meal.

Love your leftovers

Don’t let tasty leftovers languish in the fridge until they get tossed out. Package them up for lunch the next day, or freeze an individual portion for a quick lunch for another day.
There are so many ways to use up leftovers, it’s just a matter of accounting for it in your weekly meal plan.
So if you know you are cooking a roast chicken on Sunday night, account for the fact that you will make something with the leftover chicken for Monday’s dinner. We love making these Rice Paper Rolls that use cooked chicken.
You can also use your leftover chicken to make a delicious chicken stock which you can then use in a soup, noodle stir fry, or risotto.
Use leftover Bolognese to make burritos the next day.
Cooked too much on the BBQ? Use the leftover meat to make San Choy Bau or a Quesadilla.
Use your leftover roast to make this Leftover Roast Chicken Tart.

Bulk up with beans

Another great way to save some cash is to bulk out your meals with healthy beans. Tinned or dried, things like chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils and cannellini beans are very cheap, healthy and filling.
In some recipes you can even use less meat than you normally would and then bulk it out with beans – for instance in this Healthy Shepherd’s Pie we suggest using just 250g of lean minced lamb and a tin of lentils. You don’t miss the meat, you still get the meaty flavour, and you save a packet.
You can also make the beans the star of the show in vegetarian meals such as this Warm Chickpea Salad; a Mexican Stirfry (starring kidney beans); or these deliciously budget friendly Lentil Patties.
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