Tuesday, 22 October 2013 22:33

Great ideas and ingredients for grocery shopping on a budget

If you cook a lot, or like me, host weekly dinner clubs, you may well become an expert on grocery shopping on a budget. Apart from the obvious options such as using coupons, looking for special offers, avoiding one-stop shopping and look around for best deals in several shops instead, I believe ingredients and ideas on what to do with them are the other main key when grocery shopping on a budget.

Before you go grocery shopping on a budget

Try to think outside of the box – with most of your favorite low budget ingredients you’ll be able to make a soup, a spread, a baked dish and a salad – all with the same ingredient. Some things seem unusual until you try them and discover ‘it works’. For example: you can use melons, tomatoes, cucumbers in cold soups, puree leftover vegetables into a dip to be served on bread or with vegetable sticks, make wonderful savory pies out of most any vegetable…

What to buy when you go grocery shopping on a budget

There are some things you should always grab when you see them on offer, whether you have plans to use them soon or not  (based on your personal preference of course) as they’ll help you create fun recipes with your other low-budget ingredients.

1) dried fruit – it’ll come in handy make many recipes a lot more exciting at not much extra cost. Dried fruit can be used to make a salad more exciting, you can add it to your baking,  blend it into a syrup, use it in a fruit punch, or of course use it in main dishes with rice or meat, make a chutney or spread.

2) fresh ginger – you need very little, it freezes well whole and adds an amazing Asian touch to almost any dish.

3) rice noodles – can be served in a salad or warm in Asian dishes and soups. They can be made into a wonderful salad or soup by adding pretty much any vegetable you like/want to use up.

4) Seeds and nuts – will add that extra something to many salads and even hot dishes

Before you go grocery shopping on a budget

be sure you know about storing the things you buy, their shelf life, if you can freeze them. This will make bargain hunting more effective and avoid things going bad, thus defeating the purpose of the exercise. Have a look here for help with storing food and for details on keeping food in fridge and freezer.

Once you’ve been grocery shopping on a budget

most likely you’ll have everyone’s favorite low budget ingredient – pasta at home. Have a list of recipes handy to keep its use exciting – in soups, salads, casseroles, as side dish and even as dessert. Find some super easy to follow pasta recipes here.

Great pasta dish ingredients to pick up when you go grocery shopping on a budget 

Some ingredients which are great in pasta recipes and have a long shelf life that you may want to buy up when you go grocery shopping on a budget: canned tuna, peas (canned or frozen), nuts, mushrooms (canned or frozen) or really any kind of fresh or frozen vegetable. And the obvious (Italian) choices like olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, capers.

For a quick sauce always have canned tomatoes and a selection of (dried) herbs and spices at home. Grated cheese also freezes really well.

Some things you may want to do once you’ve been grocery shopping on a budget are:

    • Preserve fresh herbs as a pesto – covered in oil in a small jar, kept in the fridge
    • Pickle things in jars with salt & vinegar
    • Preserve fruit in jams, compotes or purée them and freeze them for later use in/as desserts
    • Make sweet & sour chutneys
    • Steam vegetables, purée them and keep in freezer for later use in soups

And if you’ve gone overboard on an ingredient while grocery shopping on a budget, The Thrifty Cookbook: 476 Ways to eat well with leftovers by Kate Colquhoun  might be able to help

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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