Let’s talk about shopping lists and budgets, without me sounding like a mathematician (because I’m certainly not).
The €1 meals are certainly getting a lot of attention from those reading this column and online.
There are the usual detractors such as the person who proclaimed they would be hungry if they only ate one chicken leg for their main meal (spoiler you won’t), the person who is sure I burned dinner (didn’t) , but also those who don’t include a shopping list/ticket that cost over €1 per person.
This brings me to “prorated” pricing. Most of us don’t go to the stores to buy enough food for one meal. Let’s face it, we’d have a rake of unused ingredients on the side and we all know that unused ingredients are one step away from food waste and wasting money on your grocery budget. We shop several days, even a week in advance.
My trusty 1kg bag of carrots, which currently cost 99c in most supermarkets, is a superb example where a purchased ingredient will be used in 2 dinners plus snacks in this house. When making the shopping list, I will allow carrots to carry over to other meals, which keeps my costs down.
If my meal plan says carrots are an ingredient of 2 main meals this week, I will buy 1 bag of carrots and split the cost across the entire shopping budget (not buy 2 bags). Likewise, the onions, because a bag of onions will serve all week and possibly next week.
When calculating the cost per serving of a meal, I would then allow about 60% of the cost of the bag of carrots to be carried over to another meal. My meal cost (for carrots) is 40c and the carried over value is 60c which is allocated elsewhere.
There are a number of benefits to thinking about your food budget this way.
You value even some of the food you have purchased. For many people, purchased food is paid for and has lost value. However, even if you have already paid for the food you have in your cupboard or in your refrigerator, it still has value, you have used your money to pay for it.
Once you start valuing your food, you are less likely to have food waste. If you end up throwing away food because you didn’t use it in time, it’s your money that goes to the trash, compost or otherwise.
Finally, allocating bulk ingredients to multiple meals is a clear way to reduce your meal costs, making it easier to achieve a lower cost per serving for your meals. There you go, if you’re not already doing this, I highly recommend you start thinking about multi-use ingredients.
We’re in the middle of a heat wave this week, so cook the sausages on the BBQ if you like and use them as a cold pasta dish instead of a hot supper. This week I shopped at SuperValu and the total ingredient cost was €4.76, but as before, I’m not using all the ingredients in full, and the cost per serving is €88 c per serving. This is another meal on the budget.
Garlic Sausage Pasta
Simple and quick Italian cuisine, without sacrificing style or substance!
454 g (1 lb) pork sausages
1 tablespoon oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (or more)
175g chopped broccoli
1 can red kidney beans, drained
Boil your water while you prepare the quick sauce.
Using a sharp knife, skin the sausages and brown them in a little oil in a medium skillet. Use the back of your spoon or cut the sausage meat into pieces. Once golden, add the minced garlic and stir before adding the broccoli. Stir.
Put the pasta in boiling salted water. After five minutes, add a ladle of cooking water to the pan and it will cook the broccoli and add a sauce. Finally add the red beans and simmer.
Drain the pasta and add to the sauce and serve.
An all-time classic – the tangy, bitter nature of raspberries meets soft and cozy chocolate brownie!
Preheat your oven (convection) to 180°C. Line a square baking dish well.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. It should only take 30 seconds x 2 on the high setting. Stir in cocoa powder until blended with melted butter.
In a second large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until creamy and fluffy. While whisking, pour in the butter + cocoa powder mixture. Keep whisking until they are completely blended.
Stop whisking and stir in the flour and baking powder. Once all the flour and baking powder have been combined, pour half of the mixture into the lined baking dish. Prick the mixture with the whole raspberries then pour the rest of the mixture on top.
Bake for 25 minutes. Turn off the oven, take out the brownie and let cool before serving.
Grocery shopping can be a stressful experience, especially if you have to fit it into your busy lifestyle. So it can be useful to know exactly when the supermarket is quietest so you can get in and out with less hassle. We’re more likely to skip the shopping list and impulse buy when we’re stressed.
The Lidl Plus app has a handy feature on the front section they call their “live stream”. This is where you can predict how busy your local store will be provided you have shared your preference details with the app.
You can access this feature for all stores, not just Lidl, by opening Google and searching for a store in a particular location. Not only will you be able to see how busy your local supermarket is at any given time, but you should also be able to predict how crowded it might be if you intend to hit the shops right away.
If you don’t feel like going the tech route to figure out how busy your chosen retailer is, all stores are quieter in the morning and evening, but you might not be able to find exactly what you are. search in the evening if the shelves need to be replenished.
All supermarkets have their back-to-school offers in stock with major brands on sale, such as for food products.
Along the same lines as this column, own brand stationery and uniforms can do just as well as big brands and this is an area where you can save money.
When it comes to lunch boxes, it’s worth investing in a quality lunch box with a good leak-proof seal to prevent spills.
When the boxes are not in use at school, you can use them for food storage. If you have a child starting school this year, don’t buy lunch boxes without making sure they can easily open and close their lunch box and drink bottle.