HOW TO EAT ADDITIVE FREE FOOD ON A BUDGET (& A BUSY SCHEDULE)

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Any parent will agree that time and money are big factors when determining the food your family eats each day.  With personal chefs, endless time and limitless funds, we’d all find it easy to make the choice to eat healthy, additive free foods, yet this is not the reality for most!  So here are twelve super easy time and money saving tips to help make additive free foods fit within any budget and create calm happy households no matter how busy the schedule!

12 TIME & MONEY SAVING TIPS FOR EATING ADDITIVE FREE FOOD

1. PLAN AHEAD

Learn to create menu plans.  You can plan according to ingredients or cost, choosing recipes that match your current vege garden crop or the latest ingredient on special at your local markets, or meals that fit your current budget.  Make it a habit to only shop with your menu plan shopping list – it will save you money as you only purchase what you need and can help stop those trips to the shop for one item that ends up in a dozen. :-) Click here for tips on how to design additive free menu plans for your family.   Click here for a free menu plan template ready to print and fill out.

2. HAVE A COOK UP DAY

Pick a day to cook up several meals at a time and freeze them… that way you always have something in the freezer for those busy nights when you need a last minute meal or to stock the kids lunchboxes for the week.  Make it a regular weekly activity and suddenly you don’t have to cook every night during your busy week.  Get creative and make your cook up day a social gathering with friends to make jam, or a great family get-together to learn your grandparents family recipes.  Perhaps you can make it a family routine and start teaching your kids the joys of cooking.  Do several ‘similar’ meals at the same time.  For example, cook several different curries at the same time, or cook spaghetti bolognese, lasagna and baked macaroni at same time.

3. BUY COMMON/FREQUENTLY USED INGREDIENTS IN BULK

Join a co-op or find wholefood/bulk buying stores to stock up on flour, nuts, seeds, and any other foods you use on a regular basis.  You can extend this idea and join a co-op to buy all your fresh foods in bulk and split them with a group of likeminded families.

4. COOK DOUBLE THE RECIPE AMOUNT

Whether making a meal for dinner or whipping up a batch of muffins, it takes no effort at all and very little time to cook double the amount.  Freeze your creations and save them for a busy night or use for lunches.  After a few weeks of doing this, you’ll have a freezer stocked full of meals ready when you need them.

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5. GET THE KIDS INVOLVED

Many hands make light work! Get them cooking with you to save time, educate them and empower them.  The more they’re involved in the process, the more likely they are to eat it!  From peeling potatoes to setting the table, there’s a task for any age, and the earlier you start this, the sooner you’ll have great helpers in the kitchen saving you time and effort every mealtime.

6. GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR CURRENT KITCHEN STOCK

If you’re anything like me, your pantry, fridge and freezer are full of foods that, with a little imagination and creativity, could create a quick easy meal at no expense.  I think it stems back to our days of living in remote areas with minimal access to food stores and being on constant cyclone alert!  There is always a tin or packet of something in the pantry or a stray piece of pumpkin in the fridge asking to be used yet often left for another day as I feel like something different and head to the shops for more ingredients…

Because I didn’t always have access to shops, I adapted and quickly developed a rule to concoct, at least once a fortnight, something out of leftovers, the last veges in the fridge, or the ingredients stashed in the pantry for way too long…  For example, if you’ve got a few stray veges but not enough to feed everyone a serve, turn them into a quick soup with a tin of beans, a tin of tomatoes, a bit of stock or leftover meat bones, some herbs and a sprinkle of pasta.  Quick, easy and didn’t cost a cent, in fact it may have saved you money as you would have ended up throwing out the remnants of veges if they weren’t used up. Give it a try and please share your concoctions on Facebook by clicking here – I love being inspired by the creativity of others!

7. MAKE SOME BASICS YOURSELF

Try not to rely on expensive processed or packaged ‘quick’ options.  Instead, make your own sauces, stocks, cakes or biscuits (with the bulk ingredients purchased and frozen/stored!).  Trust me – there’s nothing better than your own home baked bread… it’s not as hard as it sounds!  Click here to find out just how easy it is to make your own gluten free bread at home.  If you are dealing with a busy family schedule, pick the top three things your family use the most and cook up a double batch to freeze and store.  Do this every few weeks, and you will have a good stock of the basics in no time! For some easy basics recipes such as sauces, stocks, marinades, dips and jams, click here.

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8. GROW YOUR OWN

Whilst it can be quite time consuming and initial outlay can be a little expensive, in the long run, the benefits are huge!  You can grow the things you most prefer to eat and plan meals according to those recipes.  Make sure you get the kids involved (it’s a fact that they will want to eat more things if they help grow and cook them) and get very clever with storing and preserving your harvests.  Start by growing some of the more expensive food items that make a big difference to just about any dish, such as garlic and herbs – both super easy to grow, yet expensive to buy.  Gradually work your way up to the basics that you always eat, such as tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and capsicum – all easy to grow and so much tastier!

9.  FIND YOUR LOCAL FARMERS MARKET OR BUY DIRECTLY FROM YOUR LOCAL FARMER  aff4

Buying without packaging and direct from the farmers will always save you money and heading to the market is a great way to learn what’s in season.  If you’re fortunate enough to live in regional or rural areas, make friends with your local farmers and reap the benefits of buying direct from the source and cutting out the middle man expenses (a big shout out to my fabulous local organic farmer Nathan from Bonah meats!)

10. EAT SEASONALLY AND EAT MORE FRESH FRUIT AND VEG

Fruit and veg in season is cheaper than those that aren’t (and can help increase your chances of buying local).  Plus, eating fruit and veg for snacks instead of processed foods, will not only guarantee you’re eating additive free, but will also help decrease your shopping bill.  Eating in season also means you have less chance of GMO or pesticides entering your system through foods that just aren’t supposed to grow all year round.  If you can, go the whole hog and avoid all pesticides and nasties by embracing the joys of organic fruit and veg, which are again, cheaper when bought in season and in bulk or at markets.

11. BUY FROZEN ORGANICS AND SUPERMARKET BRANDS

Whilst it’s important to support local manufacturers and farmers, buying supermarket brand organics can sometimes be a cheaper option – especially if not buying in bulk.   Buying organic frozen veges and fruits (such as berries) can sometimes be a cheaper option than buying fresh, and if you pay attention to labels, you can still support Australian produce.

12. BABY STEPS

The best way to save time and money is to ease your way into eating additive free foods by starting with regular/everyday items.  When you start by replacing the ‘most used’ foods to additive free versions, you will be making a massive difference straight away without changing the cost.   Take small steps and next try growing a small herb garden.  Herbs are always super expensive – you notice this most once you start growing your own!  Plus, fresh herbs straight from the garden perk up just about any meal :-)

Another strategy when going additive free in small steps is to group your foods into categories and make the change over several weeks by replacing one category at a time.  For example, start buying more fruit and veg (organic whenever possible), then after a few weeks add to your shopping list additive free dairy, and gradually work your way up to buying additive free or organic meat, and miscellaneous pantry items at your own pace.

You can also ease your way into the ‘level’ of additive free you want to achieve.  For example, start with just eliminating colouring and preservatives, move onto less process, more fresh, then go fully organic if you desire.  Click here for more of an explanation on these different levels. To help with going organic, check out EWG’s 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Food – they have great lists – the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen, great for a starting point to know what food to purchase as organic first.

 

Some of these tips rely on you having a few pieces of equipment, but none are essential.  The most beneficial is a good freezer and safe storage containers, as most bulk buying options and time saving tips involve storing food well in the freezer.  Other useful kitchen items include jars with lids – for storing and preserving fruits, vegetables, sauces and jams; and food dehydrators – which are great for making dried meat, dried fruits as snacks and dried herbs.

Ultimately, clean eating is not so hard or time consuming if you follow these simple tips, and going additive free is affordable for any budget.  Go back to basics and enjoy the natural flavour of real foods, because in the long run, it saves you a lot more than just time and money – it helps build happy healthy beings!

What tip is your favourite?  Have you made the change to an additive free lifestyle affordable?  I’d love to hear your time and money saving tips, so head to my Facebook page by clicking here or comment below to share!

Happy saving!

Loren x