Meal times… For many, it provides us with those special moments where the entire family gathers, takes some time out from the hustle and bustle of life, and spends quality time together.

Now, while we’d all love to be cooking up a storm to rival the likes seen on MasterChef, for many, it’s just not affordable to do so. Just because you’re cooking on a budget though, it doesn’t mean that you can’t cook up meals that’ll have your loved ones drooling.

With a little bit of planning and a few handy tips, your family will be calling you Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver in no time!

Here are 5 really simple tips for anyone cooking meals on a budget.

#1 – Grow your own fruit and veggies

If you’ve got the time and a backyard area that’s going to cut the mustard, growing your own fruit and veggies is a great way to reduce your food bill.

Not to mention, your fruit and veggies are likely to taste a whole lot better and gardening will come with a heap of added benefits such as improving your mental health and increasing your exercise levels.

#2 – Plan meals ahead

Before you go shopping, plan out the meals you intend to cook for the upcoming week so that you avoid buying items on a whim. Check your cupboards for any tins of food you’ve forgotten about and that can be incorporated into your weekly plan.

Think of things such as: will any family members be away for certain meals? Can leftovers be used elsewhere? What items are always bought but rarely used?

Make a shopping list and stick to it!

#3 – Avoid eating out

Whichever way you slice and dice the scenario, buying meals out will cost you more than making them from scratch. Additionally, processed foods and ready-made meals really aren’t great for you health-wise and usually contain ridiculous amounts of salt, saturated fats and other ingredients you’ve probably never heard of in your life (check those labels!)

#4 – Embrace your inner vegetarian

By having just one or two vegetarian meals a week, you can really bring down your shopping bill. Beans, lentils and pulses will keep you full for long enough and are all excellent forms of protein.

“Oh, but they taste horrible!”

If that thought just popped into your mind, chances are, you’re simply not cooking these foods in a friendly manner. Do some research because these ingredients are seriously tasty when cooked wisely.

#5 – Make water your go-to beverage

Wave goodbye to soft drinks, juices, vitamin waters, energy drinks, bottled water and so on, and embrace those extra dollars. If you grab your most recent shopping docket and add up just how much these unnecessary items cost, you’ll be amazed.

Things add up very quickly and at the end of the day, water is the only and best form of hydration you need. And it’s completely free!

Keen to learn more about reducing your food bills and about what we do here?

Call Christine on 1300 363 723 or send an email through to: info@rowvillecommunitykitchen.com.au