With Christmas just around the corner every penny really counts – that’s why we’ve rounded up some simple ways to cook for less.
- Meat can be pricey, so help it go further in stews and casseroles by topping up with pulses and an extra tin of tomatoes.
- Sprouty garlic? Separate the cloves and plant them to create a self-sustaining crop. Keep seedlings inside at this time of year.
- Frozen meat and fish are cheaper than fresh and handy as long as you remember to defrost them in good time. Put them into the fridge the night before you want to use them and cook thoroughly the next day.
- If you over-spice a chili or curry, don’t bin it – just add natural yoghurt or crème fraiche to take the edge off.
- Stop buying jars of pasta sauce, and save by whipping up your own. Use a carton of passata, 1 tsp of fresh or dried basil, ½ tsp of dried chili flakes and 1 tsp sugar. Simmer gently, stirring regularly until the sauce thickens. Not only is it cheaper, but it will also be free from nasty additives.
- Alternatively make a pesto by blitzing a handful of parsley in a food processor with a clove of garlic and a palmful of roasted pine nuts until finely chopped. Drizzle with olive oil and mix through spaghetti.
- Stale bread? Don’t reach for the bin – make croutons by cutting cubes and tossing them with oil and chopped garlic before baking at 180C for 15 minutes. Alternatively crumble slices up into plastic storage bags and freeze them for ready-made breadcrumbs for fishcakes, meatballs, and pasta bake topping.
- Brown bananas can be frozen for adding to smoothies and milkshakes, or defrosting for banana bread or muffins.
- Keep weevils out of your flour by popping in a whole bay leaf or two.
- Use up leftover cheese in a fondue. For two people chop up 150g brie and 150g cheddar or Lancashire cheese and melt in a pan with 150ml white wine. Mix 1 tsp cornflour with 1 tbsp of kirsch or water, to form a loose paste. Add to a pot with a crushed garlic clove, a pinch of nutmeg and a grind of pepper. Leave over a low heat and cut up cubes of bread and vegetable sticks to dip.
There's more money saving advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.