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Winter cooking on a budget

Finance & Money

Posted on Thursday, July 30, 2015

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We’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times; life is getting more and more expensive. Sure, you can make certain cutbacks in your budget, but eating baked beans until your next salary increase doesn’t seem like a good plan. Here are a few simple steps you can take before you start dining on the tin specials. 


Shop smartly

As convenient as it might be to stop at a shop on your way home after work, it’s not shopping smartly. Different stores price things differently, shop around and know where what is cheaper.

Always be on the lookout for specials. A great source for these is your community paper – not only will you stay informed of everything happening in your area but they’re also a treasure trove of adverts. You might even find coupons in them.

Coupon shopping might seem like a shopping method out of the 80’s, but trust us there’s money to be saved here. Download store apps. Spar, Checkers and Pick n Pay all have apps with different benefits, such as loyalty benefits, but more importantly they all have specials, some apps you can even tailor to show the specials for your local store.

Speaking of local, go to a food market in your area – not only will you get fresh seasonal products at great prices, but you’ll also support the local farmers etc. Invite a few friends with or take the family and make a day of it.

Plan ahead

Make time to plan the week’s meals ahead of time. In this manner you can incorporate ingredients you already have and draw up a grocery list of the specific things you need. As long as you stick to your plan (and your list), you will be able to monitor your spending and stick to your budget. Also you won’t end up with food spoiling in your fridge (which you won’t be able to claim back on your Budget Insurance Home Contents policy) that seemed like a good idea at the time – this is purely throwing money away. 

Another benefit of planning your meals is that you don’t have to break your head on a daily basis trying to come up with ideas on what to cook. By planning your meals and consequently the trips to the store, you’ll cut out unnecessary shopping trips thus saving on petrol.

Get creative

Experiment with your cooking. Don’t let leftovers go to waste, find ways in which you can work them into a next meal. If you’re reheating pasta, remember to arrange the food on the plate in a donut form so that it’ll reheat evenly.

When you are putting together your week’s meal-plan, try to look for recipes where you only need to buy two or three ingredients extra or look at the current specials to see how you can work them into your menu.

Cook up your kitchen once a month. Clean up your fridge and freezer every so often. This can be an interesting (and money saving) activity, also you’ll keep your fridge clean and in good working condition.

Use everything. If you’re making a chicken dish, cook down the bones, skin etc. in a soup or stock to be used for a later meal. Making your own stocks and more importantly dicing the food yourself can save you a pretty penny. Think about how you’re using ingredients, for instance if you’re cooking a veg soup add say one chicken wing for extra flavour or when cooking with mince use less meat but mix in lentils.

Another way to save on meat is to have a vegetarian night once a week. There are millions of great veggie meals out there, which even the most hard-core carnivore in your house will love. Why not give this winter warmup cauliflower soup a try? It’s a low carb dish that is real simple and quick to make.


1 head of cauliflower

4 cups of vegetable stock

30ml vegetable oil

1 onion

Salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

Cheese and Milk (optional)



Peel and dice the onion. Heat the oil in a pot, add the onions and fry until they are translucent. Cut the cauliflower into florets and add to the onions. Add the veg stock (if you’d like the soup creamier replace 1 cup of veg stock with 1 cup of milk), cook on medium heat until the cauliflower is cooked through and soft. Once the cauliflower is cooked, use either a blender (remember to leave room for the steam to escape as the jug can crack) or a stick blender to puree the soup. If you’re in the mood for an extra treat and grated cheese into the mixture. Season the soup to taste and serve hot.

Befriend the freezer

After you’ve cooked down stock, pop it into the freezer to use on a later date. You can also store seasonal fruit and vegetables in the freezer. Frozen fruit make great additions to smoothies as ice replacements. If you’re a bread-lover but always end up throwing half a loaf away – freeze your bread and eat it at leisure, simply take out a slice when needed and toast it.

Reserve your fresh herbs for longer by putting them in ice trays and covering them with olive oil. Pop the tray into the freezer now you’ll have fresh herbs always at the ready.

Remember, a few small changes to your cooking habits can make a huge difference to both your health and wallet.