If you’re on a budget, trawling the supermarket aisles for inspiration on that night’s dinner can be a challenge, particularly if you’ve made the rookie error of being hungry before you head off to the supermarket. Sometimes it’s also easy to slip into old habits, and just pick something you always have – it is the easiest option after all. But here are some of my tips on making sure you always stay inspired when it comes to what you eat, and ultimately when you eat it!
Absorb as much food related content (not actual food) as possible! Look to the TV and YouTube to help!
The people you watch on TV or YouTube are full of inspiration – and countless ideas! Watch as much stuff as you can, when you see something you like the sound of, write it down in your phone notes page! My favourite TV programmes for inspiration come in the shape of the BBC’s Eat Well for Less, featuring Gregg Wallace and Chris Bavin as well as MasterChef. Surprisingly I also LOVE the Australian MasterChef which sometimes makes an appearance on UK TV – full of a touch more drama than the UK one! I think even if you’re watching something that you know full well you’re not going to cook – it’s still great to pick up enthusiasm for being in the kitchen, mixing flavours, experimenting and coming out with an amazing product! On the YouTube front – Nadia and Kaye are a fab watch. They’ve released a book – Disaster Chef, essentially for all cooks who are just completely lost in the kitchen. The book also has some great ideas for people who just fancy trying out new, simple recipes! They also do lots of cooking ‘lives’ with super easy to do meals – one of my favourite of their recipes has to be their garlic prawns! Tasty also have some great ideas to try out! In my next #FoodieFriday post I’ll be talking about some of the inspiration behind the cookbook and how I put it together.
Make a shopping list!
This seems like an obvious one but it’s easy to think lists are totally restrictive. If you don’t want to put every single ingredient down – what about making a list of the days you want meals for then as you’re walking around the supermarket you know for sure you have the meals to cover the period of time you want!
Try other kinds of lists!
Have a store, whether it’s in a physical list or not make a list of the core ingredients you love – then build meals around them. So for example the core ingredients I’d go for are prawns, chicken and vegetables like mushrooms. You can then make a list of carbohydrates such as pasta, rice and all kinds of chips. Then pick out different ones and see which of them go together – try out new combinations! Don’t be put off if they don’t work – just try others next time! Remember a balanced meal should contain each of the 7 food groups; water, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fibre, (My Very Fat Cat Plays With Frogs).
Fresh is best!
In every sense fresh is best, and whatever you do, avoid already prepared fruit and vegetables! You’ll pay way more for these than you have to. If you have no idea where to begin with preparing them then type in “preparing (insert food item) tutorial” into YouTube and you should find you can sort it out!
Your freezer is your friend!
Fresh is most certainly best, but if you’re just cooking for yourself, there’s one slight exception to the rule. You can use your freezer to expand the range of food you have, decrease your food waste and above all save money! Have a go at preparing some of your meals in advance and freezing them. If you’re a fan of Bolognese for example, then use sandwich bags and put some sauce ingredients prechopped up into the bag and freeze. If you freeze tomatoes, you’ll find that when you cook them you’ll end up with more water but that’s no issue if you’re preparing a sauce. Heat the sauce a bit more to remove any excess liquid.
Remember my second cookbook – Cooking Goes Green: Second Helpings is available to download from the Amazon Kindle store for £1.99.