Kathrine Lynch, founder of meal planning service The Daily Menu, shares a range of household tips and recipes to reduce your grocery bill and food waste.
One of her biggest tips is to buy in bulk and cook in batches so you can freeze half for later.
Her meals have impacted her at about $2.60 a plate — to which she contributes frozen veggies, buys meat at bargain prices, and buys staples at constant prices like rice and pasta.
“You have to prioritize if you want to save money or take your money or food a little further,” Lynch tells Kathryn Ryan.
“I always tell people, before you even set foot in the grocery store, look at what you already have at home because you’d be surprised what you can actually make with just a handful of ingredients.”
Another tip from Lynch is not to go to the grocery store without a grocery list.
“So you arrange a few meals around these [ingredients in your kitchen already] and then really plan what you’re going to buy. …stick to this list and stick to your budget.
“And then shop by specialty as much as you can, especially when it comes to buying meat, because when I do the recipes for dinner, it’s always the most expensive ingredient, so that’s where you can buy your meat in bulk.
“Then look at what veggies and fruits there are, if there’s not a lot… there is [about] Look for alternatives, e.g. B. for school lunch boxes or for your dinners. And for your dinners, your frozen veggies, as you say, they’re always very inexpensive and they’re a great way to add extra nutrients to your meals.
There’s nothing wrong with buying the pre-prepared healthy meal bases or sauces at the grocery store if it ends up saving you money, she says.
“If someone gets to me and they’ve never cooked before, which is quite often, I’ll make a wok for them; Use a wok sauce, use chicken breasts, use some rice or some 2 minute noodles which are usually a really good price and of course your frozen veggies.
“This is a really easy way for people to thrive in the kitchen and build their confidence to try cooking.”
You can reduce spices or herbs that you’ll only use once by looking at recipes, sharing the ingredients, and making your own spice bases, Lynch says.
“For example I buy chicken broth powder, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, that’s basically the base for all my chicken recipes and from there I try to add different flavors.
“So if it’s an Indian dish, I might buy tomatoes that already have Indian spices added to them… so you’re actually looking at how you can overlap, how you can make the generic spices, and then just add a few little things to change the flavors .”
Your key to successful batch cooking is being mindful of the demands of the schedule, but also not being too far ahead.
“There’s nothing worse than stocking your freezer with all those meals with the right intention to get through them, but if you don’t eat them over the next month or so, you’re adding more and more things to the freezer that you’re going through.” don’t really work your way through.
“If you end up not dating it and not sure if it’s safe to eat and you end up throwing it away, you’ve just wasted your time and money.”
Although her meals are designed to be frozen, she advises that frozen vegetables in meals don’t need to be pre-cooked and refrozen.
“So spaghetti bolognese, you just make the ground beef and pasta and then freeze it and then you can just cook some fresh veggies with it or have a side salad.
“Because sometimes [frozen vegetables] Don’t always heat so well, they may contain a little water which will make your food a little runny. So it’s best to look for ways you can make it so that when the food is reheated it tastes just as good as if it were freshly cooked.”
That’s why she’s eschewed potatoes in her recipes, opting for kuma puree in Country Chicken Casserole and smoked fish pie.
“I found this to be particularly good with the casserole which has quite a bit of veggies in it so it can get a bit watery again when reheating, you just mix the kumara into the sauce and it just thickens it up and honestly it tastes just like you would.” cook it on the same days.”
Freezing vegetables is also a great way to preserve seasonal vegetables that you buy on sale but don’t use often, says Lynch.
“I buy whole celery, slice it up, and then freeze it in a snap-lock bag or container, and if it’s winter, [for] Soups and casseroles, just grab a handful or whatever you need and just pop it in and it’s just like using it fresh.
“The same goes for using peppers in the summer, so once they’re in the delicacy, slice them up and you can just freeze them in an oven tray to allow them to flow freely, then place in a snap-seal bag or pouch give containers and again you can take a handful and put them in your casseroles or on top of a pizza.”
Lentils and chickpeas can go a long way in helping to bulk up a meal, especially if you’re cutting back on meat, she says.
“What I do is I mix the can of lentils with some beef broth and then put that in a cottage pie or spaghetti bolognese.
“It increases the protein, makes them a bit more filling and also adds a lot of flavor.”