In the Palaeolithic period, around 1.8 million years ago Man had already learned to cook meat on open fire.
The first humans in history did, in fact, do many of the same food preparations as we do today: cleaning food in water, taking out the core of fruit, opening of a shell or grinding food with a sharp tool.
Culinary art has basically existed since the beginning of time and has progressed ever since thanks to advances in agriculture and industrialisation.
In recent times, we have been increasingly moving away from mass-production to more organic food.
So now more than ever you can eat well for less money. But to make this change to eating better, we must relearn our eating habits.
Learning to cook isn’t difficult, and it’s also a way to relax, enjoy yourself, and to eat healthily on a budget.
Turn your kitchen into your own cooking workshop!
Save Money by Planning Healthy Meals in Advance
Are you in charge of the food shopping and feeding your family? Or are you single and don’t know how to fill your fridge?
It’s tiring thinking of what to eat every day right? Avoid this dilemma by planning your meals in advance.
Use your creativity, think of different ideas and recipes you can make up for the week. You don’t need to cook like a Michelin star chef, just think of what you actually want to eat that week.
Learning some basics of good cooking has many advantages: it will let you progress more quickly and give you the confidence to experiment with different ingredients, concoct recipes and entertain friends!
If you’re out of inspiration, there are plenty of online planners that help you plan your meals according to what’s in season.
Making Inexpensive Meals by Yourself
Eating habits are changing; today more and more people are looking to eat better for less.
Eating good food is not just a joy reserved for the rich. If your budget is tight there are ways to eat well without breaking the bank.
Here how to optimise your shopping list and keep to a budget:
- Don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry otherwise you’ll end up buying things you don’t need.
- Focus on fruits and vegetables (organic if you can), potatoes eggs and grains.
- Limit consumption of meat and fish: they’re more expensive and contain too many animal fats. You can get your protein from different sources like pulses and vegetables.
- Learn to cook with natural ingredients like beans, lentils and chickpeas. They’re cheap and are really good for your health!
- Avoid sweet treats, not only are they not great for your health, they’re expensive! You can make them yourself for much cheaper: combine flour, eggs, butter, baking powder and sugar and you’ve made a delicious cake.
- Make sandwiches at home: you can make several sandwiches from a single baguette or loaf of bread and a packet of ham for less than the price of one sandwich from the bakery.
- By rice, pasta, beans, lentils etc, fresh or dry. They’ll be cheaper and contain less fat and salt than ready-made dishes or canned goods.
Learning to cook also means learning how to garden. If you have an outdoor area - even a very small terrace - make yourself a mini vegetable garden.
Get into Permaculture, a farming method invented in Australia in the 1970s. Your own vegetables will grow while you learn how to cook them. This will also greatly reduce your food expenses.
Last tip to save money: invest in good utensils (blender, cooker, grater, etc.) to make salads, soups, peel and cut vegetables.
No more vacuum packed salads, grated carrots in plastic packets with chemical tasting mayonnaise or ravioli in cans!
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Cook in Batches and Save the Leftovers for Later
When trying to cook good, nutritious food on a budget the freezer is your best friend.
Remember that most traditional dishes we know today were invented by the poor and so by definition, they’re cheap and easy to prepare.
One strategy to save money is to cook in large quantities and freeze whatever you don’t eat.
It’s cheaper to spend £20 on ingredients to make a dish that will last you three or four days than to spend £10 just to make enough for one day
If you’ve ever gone through the sale rail looking for a way to fill your wardrobe you’ve already got the skills for filling your freezer. Saving money by cooking also means knowing how to manage your food stocks!
This is the bane of even the best restaurant chefs: a poorly managed reserve leads to wastage and lost money, but by cleverly combining products, it is possible to prepare healthy, tasty and balanced dishes without wastage.
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There are simple steps to avoid wasting ingredient and save money yourself:
- Think of making a shopping list before going to the supermarket so you only get what you need
- Use up all your ingredients, makeup dishes with what’s left in the cupboard
- Cook batches of sauces like bolognese, carbonara etc. Making it at home and having it on hand ready to go is cheaper than buying it ready made from the supermarket.
- Freeze what’s not used
Learning to cook is an act against wastage in itself.
In 2016, France passed a law that meant supermarkets can no longer throw away leftover food, they must either give it to charity to distribute to people in need or find a way to transform it into animal feed.
This represents a change in thinking; it is no longer acceptable to throw away food. And when you’re on a budget throwing food away is like throwing money away!
Packaging is another big problem, everything we buy in the supermarket is wrapped in plastic, which serves no purpose and is then just thrown away.
By cooking your own food at home and buying less, you’re fighting against this waste, becoming more eco-responsible and economical!
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Picking the Right Ingredients When Grocery Shopping
Cooking to save wastage is also about choosing the right ingredients. The key is finding the right quality/price balance.
The more choice of products we have the easier it is to spend a lot of money!
Here are some tips on picking the best ingredients:
- Shop in season, strawberries in December will cost more because they’ve been imported. Wait until July when they’re in season and you can get them from your local market.
- Shop local: not only will you be supporting small businesses you cut out mass-produced ingredients.
- Find organic market stalls near you
- If you do shop at the supermarket, go for own brand items, usually, these are made in the same factories as the more expensive brands
Learn how to cook with a Superprof tutor. You can learn how to make vegetarian food, French, Chinese, whatever you want!
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