It’s no secret that the growing cost of living crisis has impacted our food, energy, and general living costs.
So if there was ever a time to look for new ways to save money around the home, in this case the kitchen, where a lot of your energy bill is spent on, powering up appliances.
Edward Hayden, from Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny, who regularly features on Virgin Media’s Ireland AM, believes the first step towards saving money in the kitchen is clamping down on food waste – regardless of the level of culinary proficiency you have.
“There are so many different ways that we can be using leftovers,” says the 40-year-old, who owns The Edward Hayden School of Cookery’ in his native town, developed his love for food and hospitality whilst working at a local pub, doing everything from washing dishes and potatoes, to cleaning toilets.
Here are his top money-saving tips…
Try advanced menu planning
Doing your food shop without a well thought out shopping list can often lead to overspending or buying a lot of random food items that eventually go to waste.
“If you can remember, Shirley Valentine [from the 1989 film] had the same dinner every Tuesday and Wednesday. I suppose there is a bit of wisdom to that, in terms of when it comes to doing your own shopping,” says Hayden, a brand ambassador for domestic appliance manufacturer Hoover.
“If you have a couple of recipes as your go-to, then your shopping list is similar, and you know what exactly you are looking for. It’s very difficult to not be enticed once you get to the supermarket. Menu planning and shopping go hand-in-hand.
“It doesn’t have to be too prescribed either, for example, maybe you do a bit of chicken on Monday, then Wednesday you do a bit of pork, or you have a meat-free day, and then some of the basic vegetables around that.”
Have a fridge day
Sometimes there are foods and ingredients we already have at home that we can make a meal from. And it doesn’t always have to be a conventional meal.
“I think a fridge day can be quite sexy in the world of food,” says Hayden, also a lecturer at South East Technological University . “A fridge day is when you look in your fridge, freezer and store cupboards and see what you have, then try and devise a dish from that.
“I might have a bag of prawns in my freezer, and then a bag of pasta and a tin of tomatoes in my store cupboard, if you have those three core ingredients already at home, you are good to go.
“You might also have some peppers, mushrooms, and onions you can sauté and then add in your prawns, tin of tomatoes and maybe a little bit of water or crème fresh, then add in the cooked pasta. Things like that can be quite exciting.”
You could even turn it into a game of ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ if you are living with housemates, Hayden suggests. “I love the commonality of food. The sharing of food, the coming together around food – its really special being a part of that.”
Use your leftovers
“I like leftovers. Not everyone does,” Hayden says.
“So maybe after making a Sunday roast, on Monday – depending on how much you’ve got left – you could make a lovely chicken and pesto risotto or chicken noodle broth.
“Or even mix some of that chicken with yoghurt, mango chutney, and a bit of curry powder to make a coronation chicken, that you can shred and put on a piece of bread or in a wrap. There’s so much you can do.”
Choose recipes with some ingredient crossover
Meal prepping is usually a way people try to save money when it comes to the kitchen, but then there’s a risk of people risk getting “menu fatigue eating the same foods over and over again,” Hayden says.
“It can get boring. Find the commonality of ingredients in your kitchen so you can cook different meals using the same things. For example, when you buy a multipack of three peppers, you can use peppers for a chicken curry, then some pork chops.”
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