Don’t let your bank balance dictate how you eat. Plan and you will be able to max out your food budget
Have you ever noticed that how we eat is dictated by how our bank balance is doing in the current period of time? It might be cliched, but we do eat best as soon as we get our salary or when we’re flush with money. Towards the end of the month – and especially if we are sticking to a budget – we will start eating in a way that is more conscious of our budget. But that does not mean we have to eat badly or unhealthily.
If we stagger our food budget – and, yes, it is important to have one – throughout the month, we can eat better and certainly more healthily.
Here are tips to max out your food budget and eat well…
Plan For A Week
Make a plan for meals over a week. Work out what you want to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for at least five days of the seven. Factor in that you will lapse and order in or eat out a few times (see below). Make a list of what ingredients you will need and in what quantity. Then buy only what you will need. Which leads us to…
Check What You Already Have
It’s important to avoid food waste and, consequently, wasting money by making sure you use up every last thing in your refrigerator and pantry before it spoils or expires.
Before you go shopping, take careful stock of what produce and products you already have, and let that influence your shopping list and your meal plan for the next week.
Keep in mind that pulses, lentils, grains and beans are healthy, cheap and can be used in so many ways.
Use Up Ingredients In The Right Order
Once you get your fresh produce in, you might have to rework your meal plan for the week to ensure that you first use the veggies and fruits that are likely to get spoiled earliest. This will keep you from having to discard wilted and rotting veggies, which is totally a waste of food and money.
Use Up EVERYTHING
It’s important to put the foods and produce that must be used quickly right when you can see them. And the great thing is: if you type two of these ingredients into a search box along with ‘recipe’, you will get a whole lot of ideas of what to make.
Be Innovative With Leftovers
As Indians, we are not brought up to think much of leftovers. In the days of our grandparents, food was cooked and consumed the same day, especially because preservation was a problem before refrigerators became common – and there is certainly a valid argument for eating fresh food in terms of health and nutrition. However, it is not financially viable to discard leftovers.
You have three options: give them to someone else who will eat them before they get old; repurpose them in a new way so you can eat them the next day; or freeze them.
Max Out Your Freezer
If you plan well, you can work your freezer in such a way that you prevent food waste and eat healthily. When you cook, immediately set aside the portions to freeze, allow them to cool completely, label with the name of the dish and the date, and freeze.
Incidentally, home-cooked food – frozen and thawed properly – is almost always healthier than any food you order in and eat out impulsively. It will also work out better in terms of your food budget.
Choose The Right Cooking Method
Remember that quick cooking works well for your budget because you’re using less gas, and it’s usually healthier, because it preserves nutrients.
Have A Budget For Eating Out And Ordering In
Don’t undo all your good work with staying within your food budget by blowing too much money on food deliveries and dining out. Decide at the beginning of the month what your spend will be, and challenge yourself to stick to the amount. It might be fun.
Also Read: Eat Your Bread And Keep It Too