If you’ve got a family to feed, you’ll be familiar with how much the cost can mount up. When you were expecting, you no doubt envisaged long and loving meals enjoyed around the kitchen table, cooked to perfection with healthy ingredients.
But once the reality of parenthood hits you, you’ll be lucky if you can find time to shove a pan of potatoes in to boil. Of course, all this can mean lots of eating out and expensive ready meals – but it doesn’t have to. Check out our guide to some affordable – and easy – family meal ideas.
One of the best ways to cut down on expense is to start cutting meat out of some of your meals. It’s expensive – particularly if you want to choose ethical meat – and anyway it’s not healthy to have it for every meal. Your family might baulk at the idea of meat-free meals, but there are plenty of tricks you can employ that will make your food so delicious they won’t even notice. Try substituting lentils for lamb or beef mince in a moussaka or lasagna recipe. The texture is surprisingly similar for a fraction of the price. Or, instead of meat-filled burgers, why not try a veggie version made from fresh vegetables and pulses? They can be grilled just like real burgers and enjoyed with classic accompaniments like cheese and burger buns.
Another way to enjoy affordable family meals is to cut down on waste and cook food that can be used for multiple meals. For example, why not treat the family to a roast on Sunday then cook up the leftovers into a tasty and economical curry the following day? You can even save the bones of the roast for stock that can be frozen and used as a base for delicious soups and sauces – not bad for one chicken or joint of beef!
Got kids who love pizza? Eating out or ordering takeaway can get expensive, and even the frozen pizzas you buy from the supermarket aren’t very good value for money. Instead, why not have a go at making your own? It couldn’t be easier to make a basic dough, and it’s fun for the kids too. It’s also a great way to get them thinking about what’s in the food they eat, as they can put together their own topping combinations.
For the dough all you need is flour and water, then stock up on classics like tomato puree, grated cheese, mushrooms and more for a fantastic DIY pizza night. This also works for other kids’ favourites too – why not try your hand at making burritos, tacos or burgers from scratch? Or, for those days when a takeaway realty is the only answer, make sure you use a company that offers plenty of vouchers and deals so you can save on your order. Hungry House voucher codes are great for this, and offer regular opportunities to get delicious family takeaways at a bargain price.
Finally, you can bring the cost of family meals down by being flexible on your ingredients. For example, you don’t need to buy expensive Arborio rice to make a risotto – just use normal rice and up the cooking time.
Similarly, any green, leafy veg can be substituted for what’s cheap or in season – so more affordable cabbage can be substituted for the trendier kale. You can also find many completely free ingredients by learning how to forage – although it can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. To be sure you’re on the right track, check out foraging courses in your local area. You’ll soon be chomping all the free food you can get your hands on!