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Top tips to cook meals for less

With the cost of food and energy increasing, we have put together a series of top tips and resources to help in reducing the costs without sparing on a tasty and nutritious meal.

Top tips to cook meals for less

Shop smarter, not harder

In response to the rising cost of food various supermarkets have expanded their affordable food ranges, one example is the Marks & Spencer ‘Remarksable’ range. Their webpage contains a host of recipe inspirations, there is a family-friendly meal to cater to everyone’s taste.

For even more inspiration M&S release a bi-monthly Food magazine find the September/October edition here, including information on seasonal fruit and vegetables, their new veggie range, reducing food waste, meat-free Mondays and much more – a truly sustainable selection of treats.

Another is Asda’s new ‘Just Essentials’ range, with 250 items in the range and 160 priced under £1. Also, if you have a Blue Light Card you can get an extra 10% off the total cost of your shopping.

A Christmas feast for £25 or under

If you’re thinking about how you can make your Christmas dinner more affordable, Tesco is promoting some of its products that will allow you to make a great Christmas dinner for less, the products in this link amount to a total of £25.

Slow cookers are a great way to save cash

When we think of a slow cooker our minds normally cast to meals like sausage casseroles and stews, if these don’t sound that exciting explore the huge variety of meals that can be made in a slow cooker at a fraction of the cost compared to using a conventional full-sized oven.

This BBC article contains 60-second slow cooker tips – from cakes to biscuits and even roast chicken, the sheer variety of possibilities is endless. The cost and energy savings are also quite significant, cooking for eight hours will cost 40p in electricity per hour in a slow cooker compared to 80p per hour in an oven.

Another good money-saving cooking tip is to invest in a steaming basket or a three-tiered steaming saucepan. In doing this you only need to heat the water for the vegetables in the bottom saucepan and can use the steam to cook the two pans of vegetables above, reducing the amount of energy required.

But what if you don’t already have a slow cooker?

There are a variety of guides out there highlighting the best options for slow cookers, such as this BBC goodfood article. Argos also have a helpful guide that can help find the most appropriate appliance for your home. Their cheapest compact slow cooker is priced at £15, but they also sell larger 3.5 litre sized one for £22.

It understandably could seem counterintuitive to buy a slow cooker to save money, but if you consider it in terms of energy savings, running a slow cooker per hour is about half the price of an oven so there are certainly cost savings to be made.

Meals for £1 a head

The BBC Food page also has compiled a variety of meals costing £1 per portion. As well as a webpage of inspiration

TV Chef Jamie Oliver has also provided a host of £1 per portion recipes, his webpage lists these here. There is also a Channel 4 TV show where Jamie Oliver demonstrates the ease of cooking these budget-friendly meals.

Some great tips from Jamie Oliver include meal planning, batch cooking and freezing to make the most of the food you buy and reduce waste. Another great tip is making sure you know the difference between best-before dates and use-by dates, the latter means that the food must be consumed before this date however, with best-before dates this simply means that the product has passed it’s ‘best’ but is still safe to eat.

These tips just begin to scratch the surface there are many more that can be found online, feel free to share them with colleagues and let us know what tips you use to save money and reduce your energy use whilst cooking.