Five ways to save money in the kitchen
If you're often shocked at the amount your weekly food shop comes to, you're not alone. But there are some ways you can save without compromising on quality.
Read on for our savvy tips on saving in the kitchen, and watch those pennies stack up before splurging them on some family fun!
1. Eat seasonally
Buying fruit and vegetables that are in season means you not only get the tastiest, freshest produce, but - as it's more widely available and often home-grown rather than flown in from abroad at great expense - it's also much cheaper.
Download these lists of what's in season in autumn and winter and spring and summer and keep them in your bag to reference when doing the weekly shop. Tasking one of the children with helping you seek out all the best in-season finds makes it fun for the little ones, too.
2. Shop smart
It's worth remembering the supermarket doesn't have to be your only food-shopping destination. Local markets are particularly great for cheap fruit and vegetables, especially if you want something perfectly ripe and ready to eat, while ethnic food stores are brilliant places to buy staples such as rice, oils and spices in bulk for a fraction of the price you'd pay in a supermarket.
3. Make friends with your freezer
Save time and money by cooking up a huge dish, then freezing it in portions to reheat later. It means you can bulk-buy ingredients, and there's less waste.
A good tip if you're bagging up smaller portions for the kids is to create your own vacuum seal by sucking the air out of freezer bags with a straw first. This should keep the contents fresher (and free of freezer burn) for longer. And you'll never struggle to get the kids help you suck out the air!
There are also a lot of surprising ingredients that are freezer-friendly - spare herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano freeze well when mixed with olive oil and poured into ice cube trays (the oil reduces bruising and freezer burn). And egg yolks mixed with a teaspoon of sugar will help to make sure the proteins remain runny after defrosting. Even vegetable scraps can be useful - pop them into a bag in the freezer and when you've got enough, boil them up to make a healthy broth.
4. Look at your leftovers
Think twice before you throw anything away. Leftover cooked pasta can be used in packed lunch salads, or reheated if it doesn't have a sauce. Uneaten noodles can be added to vegetable soups to give them more bite, and leftover cooked meat works well in salads, sandwiches, fajitas and a hash. If you have leftover rice, make sure you cool it quickly and store it in the fridge to avoid the risk of food poisoning.
Even things you'd assumed were only fit for the bin can still be used in creative ways. Stale bread, for example, is great for more than feeding the birds! Blitz it into breadcrumbs and get the kids involved in helping you use it to coat fish. Or cube and flash-fry it to make croutons to scatter over soup.
Overripe bananas are perfect for a banana loaf or in smoothies. You can even scrape any leftover bacon fat from your pan and store it in the fridge to use instead of oil or butter when frying vegetables. It's free, and it's delicious!
5. Streamline your cleaning cupboard
Don't clutter up your cupboards by shelling out for dozens of different cleaning sprays and creams. Instead, buy one bottle of Flash Lemon All Purpose spray, which will do several jobs at once, a bottle of white wine vinegar to leave windows and mirrors clean and streak-free, and some reusable and washable microfiber cloths that will clean anything from cookers and sinks to worktops using just water.
A good-quality washing up liquid such as Fairy Platinum is a must too - it only requires a tiny amount to do a whole sink full of dishes, so it's great value for money.
How do you save money in the kitchen and around the house? Share your savvy secrets in the comments below...