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Feasting for the family on a tight budget

Finance & Money

Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2019

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Do you want to host a special feast like a braai for family and friends or that chill session at your place without spending a month’s grocery budget in one go? Although the cost of food is constantly on the rise, there are a number of clever ways to pull off a memorable meal or two while saving money in the process. So before you opt out of celebrating altogether because you are worried that you just can’t get your money to stretch that far, here are a few tips to help you keep costs within budget.


1. Make a list


Before you head for the shops, sit down with your menu and work out what you need and what you already have in your kitchen. Often you will find that many of the items you need, you already have. A list will help you stick to what’s important and not get distracted.


2. Host a BYOD (bring your own dish) celebration


Everyone understands how expensive it is to host a big meal and you will probably find that people won’t object to bringing a dish to contribute. Request guests bring a side dish, appetiser or dessert rather than tying them down to specific dishes. That way they can come with something that they enjoy making and want to share with the other guests. Plus, it doesn’t put pressure on them, which could happen if you ask them to bring something, they weren’t familiar with.


3. Keep it simple


There’s no need to create an award-winning menu, the focus should be on relaxing and enjoying time with your loved ones, so stick to simple, cost-effective dishes that will allow you as the host to relax and not spend the whole time slaving in the kitchen. Figure out a few crowd-pleasers and stick to those. Your budget will thank you!


4. Skip the prepackaged greens


Prewashed and bagged salad packs are convenient, but they are more expensive, plus they can spoil far more quickly. A head of lettuce is a better, more affordable and longer-lasting option that gives you plenty of ways to create a beautiful, fresh, crisp salad that can feed your whole family. To ensure it lasts longer, make sure it’s totally dry before storing it in an airtight bag.


5. Opt for retailers’ own brands where possible


It used to be that own-brand products in supermarkets were of poor quality. Not anymore! Now, supermarkets’ own products are better valued for money, and they keep up with the standards of the big names. When doing your weekly or monthly grocery shopping, always compare branded product prices with the shop's own-brand prices. You may be surprised how much you can save.


6. Buy in advance and freeze for later


As the big celebrations draw near, the costs of popular food also rise. So, if you enjoy traditional foods and know what you want to cook, get the ingredients early. Keep an eye out for specials on meat and seafood and buy them when there is a promotion. You can also stock up on vegetables and freeze them until you need them. Take advantage of low prices when you can.


7. Buy seasonal produce


Whether you’re cooking a traditional recipe for Christmas or are lighting a braai, make sure you pick South African seasonal produce rather than out-of-season items. It’s not only cheaper, but also better for the environment. That’s because importing produce increases the carbon footprint. Who said you should eat Brussels sprouts at the dinner table and not salad?



The information contained in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.


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