4 food storage hacks to make your budget go further

27 April 2016 - 02:00 By Hilary Biller
Image: iStock

Freezing and mincing are just two ways to ensure a budget-friendly menu

1) Freeze your vegetables

South Africa  is experiencing a devastating drought and the price of fresh produce has  rocketed. Ready prepared frozen vegetables offer excellent value because there’s no wastage. What you don’t use can be returned to the freezer for the next meal.

If you end up with bags of small amounts of different frozen vegetables, add them to  soups, stews or stir fries. Frozen vegetables are excellent for bulking up  meals.

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2) Make magic with  mince

Mince — beef, chicken, lamb,  pork, fish or soya — can easily be turned into a multitude of different meals. Cook it up in bulk by frying with onions, garlic, tomatoes, spices and herbs  and  freeze in quantities suitable for the family. Alternatively, shape seasoned raw mince into meatballs and burgers and store in the freezer.

Use leftover cooked mince as a filling for pies, wraps, pancakes and sandwiches. The versatility of mince means it can be bulked up with vegetables, beans, pulses, rice and other ingredients.

3) Use your freezer

The freezer can be your best investment in terms of saving money on groceries.  Fresh fruit and vegetables can be frozen when in season and are plentiful and affordable. Most fruit, apart from citrus, freezes well when packed into containers with layers of sugar in between. This is excellent for making jams, chutneys, fruit crumbles and cakes. Or defrost the fruit and serve it warm with custard or cream.

To freeze fresh vegetables, they must be peeled and blanched beforehand. Carrots, corn, beans, peas, cauliflower, baby marrows and cauliflower freeze  well. Potatoes do not. 

Buying meat and chicken in bulk often offers better value but check the price per kg before you buy. Daily essentials like bread, milk and cheese (grated is best) freeze  well and save on trips to the supermarket. Defrost  milk overnight in the sink.

When cooking rice, double or treble the amount and pack into the freezer in quantities suitable for the family.

4) Put pulses on your list

Pulses and  dried beans are  affordable and versatile. Rich in protein, they make great meal options. They are also a good way of extending meals and their neutral flavour means they work well with meat, fish, chicken and vegetables. Lentils take the same amount of time as rice to cook and don’t need to be soaked overnight. Other pulses must be soaked overnight. To speed up the cooking process,  prepare them in a pressure cooker. This  will reduce the cooking time by one third.

5) Invest in a wonderbag

Save time and money by using an insulated slow-cooking bag, known as a  Wonderbag, to cook porridge, rice, stews, soups and selected puddings. It’s simple to use: Bring  food to a rapid boil on the stove,  place it in the Wonderbag and leave it for a couple of hours to do its magic.

To make oat porridge, bring it to the boil before you go to bed and place it in the bag overnight. You will have steaming hot porridge to look forward to  in the morning.

For more information, visit www.faithful-to-nature.co.za

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