The spectre of food price inflation has reared its head once again in the last few months, which can be a daunting prospect for those managing already tight budgets. Most of us do not stand completely defenceless however. The kitchen is a place where an awful lot of fat can be trimmed, so to speak. In the process of writing this post I have begun to twig the full scope of this subject and the scale of the adjustments that we have made over time to cut our food budget down to size; this is a list of starting points that each warrant a post in themselves.
Cook from scratch - using quality, nutrient dense raw ingredients. It is much cheaper to invest in some basic ingredients than processed foods. Processed foods may look cheap gram for gram, but they certainly won’t be in terms of nutritional value.
Stock a basic pantry – impulse food purchases often stem from feeling that you have nothing in for dinner, or that you fancy something sweet and toothsome. Making sure that your pantry includes ingredients to rustle up a quick meal or baked goodies will lessen the urge to go shopping. Your pantry will probably change with the seasons, but some basics will always stand you in good stead. Draw up a list of what you have now, what you use regularly and what seem to run out of most frequently; and plan your shopping from that.
Ask ‘Could I live without that?’ - Some people are born gourmets; but novelty doesn’t always come cheap. A food budget is a lot easier to manage if you can be creative with a few versatile staple ingredients and seasonings. Rosewater, whole tamarinds, dried apricots and bottled sour cherries are just some of the things that seemed like a good idea at the time but will never grace our shelves again. That said, a willingness to try new foods is a good thing, meaning that you can capitalise on special offers and gluts. If you are willing to try new flavours and textures you will be able to make the most of the food that comes your way. Now is the time to get over any food prejudices that you may have.