To help household budgets when money is tight, we asked experts across food, finance and families to share their best tips for putting healthy food on the dinner table for less.
Don’t feel pressured to always buy fresh
Even produce experts like Thanh Truong, aka the Fruit Nerd, rely on a freezer stash of frozen fruit and veg. He says green peas, corn and berries are a great convenient option for families and are often a cheaper choice.
This simply means eating what is being harvested or in abundance right now. “You don’t need to know the seasons, just walk into the supermarket and look for the fruit and veggies that are great quality and are well stocked. They’ll be cheaper and fresher too,” says Thanh.
Meal plan with the catalogue in hand
For the Organised Housewife, Katrina Springer, easing the mental load and financial burden of grocery shopping starts with meal planning. Take a moment to look through the supermarket catalogue to see what is on special for the week, then plan your meals around those sale items. “Meal planning saves me money, time and petrol! When you leave it to chance, you’ll end up buying unnecessary items.”
Shop the “dodgy” bin
“There’s always going to be some produce that looks a bit sad,” says Thanh. If you’re doing a last-minute shop for tonight’s dinner, he suggests shopping discounted produce first. “While not aesthetically perfect, it’s still delicious and often interesting to cook with,” says Thanh. “Use your other senses when reviewing them, not just your eyes but smell and touch.”
Cook once, eat twice
Limit your time in the kitchen and avoid wasting leftovers by cooking once but eating two or even three times. Try roasting some vegetables to have tonight, then using them to top a pizza the next night or mixed with pasta and your favourite sauce the following day.
Diversify your fruit and veg
We humans are creatures of habit, which often means buying the same fruit and veg because we always have, but Thanh suggests that autopilot shopping means we are missing out. Whether apples, mandarins, sweet potatoes or brassicas, rotate the types of produce you eat. Diversifying is not only better for your nutrition but your tastebuds too. It also means you can shop what’s in season without getting bored. If you always opt for gold sweet potato, Thanh suggests trying purple sweet potato, taro or parsnip. If imperial mandarins are a go-to for lunchboxes, try tangold mandarins. As for swapping broccoli? Go for cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or Chinese broccoli.