Firstly, happy new year everyone. I hope 2016 brings you nothing less than joy, peace and prosperity. The holidays are over and if you’re like me you’re probably back at work. The realisation that you may have spent a little too much is starting to kick in right about now. All those parties, dinners and holidays chipped into your budget and now you’re wondering how you’re going to get through January. Well, that makes two of us. In the spirit of solidarity i’ll share some of my cost cutting tricks when it comes to my groceries.
At this point in time i should add that ideally, if we were financially responsible people we wouldn’t blah blah blah, nywe nywe nywe….WHATEVER! The damage has been done now let’s find a solution.
- Packed Lunches : Pack lunch for work/school, this should be obvious. Those “budget meals” you buy at the downstairs cafe add up to way more than you’d expect. I usually cook a two portion meal for dinner, what’s leftover serves as my lunch the next day at work. If i fail to do this, a quick sandwich or salad will do. Here’s a glimpse at what my lunchbox looks like on some days.
- Reduced To Clear Section : Most stores have a reduced to clear section. These are items that are close to their sell by date and they’d like to get rid of at a fraction of the price. I wouldn’t recommend getting dairy products but things like bread, vegetables and some meats are perfectly fine. Shops can’t sell items after their sell by date and thus most of their products in their reduced to clear section are in good condition and can last another 3-5 days in the fridge (In my experience)
- MIY (Make It Yourself) : My friends call me the MIY queen and this is true but honestly, to be blunt, it’s simply because i’m a broke bitch 😦 I have champagne taste with beer pockets so i make a lot of my own things. Great things to make yourself that can save you some money include, Bread, Mayonnaise, Pesto, Sauces, stocks and if you love to snack then do yourself a favour and make your own treats. I love to snack on oat crunchies and scones during tea time.
- No Waste: We waste so much food on a daily basis. I am believer in using everything from bones to vegetable peels. Freeze milk when it’s about to reach it’s use by date and you don’t intend on finishing it before then. Fry vegetable peels until they are crispy for a great garnish and a snack. Use meat bones to make your own stock. These little things go a long way.
- Sacrifice Convenience : We often pay a little extra for convenience but get less. I buy my chicken breasts with the skin and bone on and untrimmed. I trim it myself and use the skin and bones for stock. I pay far less and get more because you’ll find those perfectly trimmed chicken breasts sold are one half of an actual breast. The same goes for fish, learn to scale and fillet your own fish and pay less. Another trick is getting your meat from the butcher as opposed to the pre packaged packs in the supermarket.
- Cheap Cuts: Cheap cuts are often overlooked because they take longer to cook but you’re missing out on a great deal. They make take longer to cook but have the most flavour, can feed the masses and will save you money. Check out my recipe here for braised pork shank. Two pork shanks cost me about R60 and can feed up to 4 people.
- Meatless Mondays: You might want to consider having a day off from meat. Meat is probably the most expensive item on your grocery list and so taking a day or two off it will make sure it goes a long way. Here‘s an easy vegetarian pasta recipe to try. Eggs are another cheap product that can serve as a protein substitute. A simple egg can be transformed into something like a shakshuka which i love to make. (Carnivores calm down! Its just one day)
With these tips you should be in a better position to tackle the financially challenging nightmare that is January (Januworry). We can do this.