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#1 Wed 21 Aug 13 5:19pm

Merlin

Member
Occupation Editorial assistant/general online chap
From London
Member since Wed 24 Oct 12

Shop smart

Give us your very best tips for saving money when buying food – where to scrimp, where to splash out, what to keep stocked…

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#2 Wed 21 Aug 13 10:35pm

mummza

Forum super champ
Occupation avoiding housework
From The land of song.
Member since Tue 04 Oct 05

Re: Shop smart

I like to keep things like tinned tomatoes well stocked, I always but tinned whole tomatoes and if I want them chopped for a recipe, I chop them quickly myself.
Tinned tomatoes are a very versitile ingredient , they can be used to enhance the flavour of dishes or simply to make a quick pasta sauce in a hurry .

In my store cupboard I always have a selection of flour but I try not to buy too much at one time as flour does go off ! I think one of the  esential flours to have in the cupboard is gram flour ( chickpea flour or besan as it also gets called ) form this you can quickly make onion bajee , pokora's or just onion rings to accompany a dish.

Lentils are also another verstile ingredient the split  lentils can be added to sops to thicken them or made into dahl or added to a curry to add texture . They can also be cooked and made into veggie burgers.

I also have a selection of sugars in the store cupboard , I try to buy fair sugars I always keep in golden caster sugar , soft brown sugar and dark brown sugar as well as demerara  these get used in baking or adding to other recips.

Things like dried herbs and spices do not always keep well so instead of rushing out and filling a spice rack with things you dont need , plant a few fresh herbs in the garen or on pots on the windowsill and use those the flavour is much better and buy ground pices in smaller quantities as they are needed , apart from the  few well used ones that get used often in your recipes.

If you hav a chilli plant then as the chillis grow in abundance ones that dont get used ca be dried and kept in a screw topped jar of frozen to be used as needed .

Buy one get one free offers are ofetn an enticement to get you to buy more in the supermarket, buy the offer only if its something you will use soon but dont buy to leave things lingering in the back of the cupboard.
I sometimes buy an offer and take the free one to the food bank if its suitable to be stored by them .

A good tip to save mney on your food shopping is never to shop for food when you are hungry !
If you shop when your hungry you tend to get a bit led astray and buy more than you need in the supermarket .. if your not hungry you tend to be more rational about what you buy .

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#3 Thu 22 Aug 13 12:21pm

The White Rabbit

Forum super champ
From Sydney, Australia
Member since Tue 22 Jun 04

Re: Shop smart

Passata is my tinned tomato. I love the smoothness and if you have a little left over in the jar you heat it with a pinch of dried oregano for a quick pasta sauce.

I buy quality ingredients but keep it reasonable. I shop in bulk for things we use a lot off like passata and rice. And I keep an eye out for sales on products I regularly buy.

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#4 Tue 27 Aug 13 12:10pm

Merlin

Member
Occupation Editorial assistant/general online chap
From London
Member since Wed 24 Oct 12

Re: Shop smart

Thanks both! White Rabbit - do you use passata as a total substitute for tinned tomatoes? Does it make for a similarly thick sauce?

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#5 Tue 27 Aug 13 1:16pm

oliviascotland

Forum champ
From Scotland
Member since Wed 06 Apr 05

Re: Shop smart

I like to make sure that I always have some tinned tomatoes and passata in my store cupboard, as they're both great for jazzing up a meal or making some soup quickly. I also like to keep rice flour, tapioca starch and ground almonds for baking.  I tend to buy rice in bulk, too.

I try to make sure that I plan a menu for each week, and write down what I have to buy, what is in the freezer and what is in the store cupboard, and then I attempt to stick to my list. 

I buy my beef and lamb directly from a local farmer, and buy the whole animal each time.  This works out much cheaper than buying from the butcher or the supermarket, and one gets all the odd bits for stocks and soups as well as having a well-stocked freezer.

I also find that it is better to buy loose vegetables rather than the prepacked bags, as that way I can buy just what's needed for a meal rather than end up throwing stuff away that's gone off.

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#6 Tue 27 Aug 13 4:41pm

mummza

Forum super champ
Occupation avoiding housework
From The land of song.
Member since Tue 04 Oct 05

Re: Shop smart

withe the prepacked bags of vegetables , if I buy them ,I usually look first at those misshapen smart price/basics etc bags as they are often good vegetables but just odd shapes and sizes.
But I prefer to buy loose vegetables and fruit so that I can chose exactly ehat I like.

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#7 Tue 27 Aug 13 4:43pm

Merlin

Member
Occupation Editorial assistant/general online chap
From London
Member since Wed 24 Oct 12

Re: Shop smart

I've tried meal plans for the week myself, but have struggled to accommodate for how free time in the working week can fluctuate. Have you found a way of dealing with this?

Brilliant stuff, thanks everyone. Keep them coming!

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#8 Tue 27 Aug 13 4:55pm

mummza

Forum super champ
Occupation avoiding housework
From The land of song.
Member since Tue 04 Oct 05

Re: Shop smart

Im useless at meal plans and tend to open the fridge and cook what is there  oops
Im not much better at planning shoping either as I tend to buy what I like the look of when I wander round the shops.

Meat I mstly buy from the butchers who will also give me things like bone free so that I can make stock.
The butcher will also give me fat trimmings so if I am making something like pork pies from shoulder of pork the the can be added to keep the flavour and moisture to the pie.

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#9 Wed 28 Aug 13 5:15am

The White Rabbit

Forum super champ
From Sydney, Australia
Member since Tue 22 Jun 04

Re: Shop smart

Merlin wrote:

Thanks both! White Rabbit - do you use passata as a total substitute for tinned tomatoes? Does it make for a similarly thick sauce?

pretty much, in Bolognese especially as most recipes add water or stock so I just don't or just leave lid off for longer. Most of my use is in pasta sauces or stews. I really like how well it works in short cook pasta sauces.

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#10 Wed 28 Aug 13 5:18am

The White Rabbit

Forum super champ
From Sydney, Australia
Member since Tue 22 Jun 04

Re: Shop smart

Merlin wrote:

I've tried meal plans for the week myself, but have struggled to accommodate for how free time in the working week can fluctuate. Have you found a way of dealing with this?

Brilliant stuff, thanks everyone. Keep them coming!

I shop and cook for versatility over actual planning. Keeping he freezer stocked with portions of Bolognese or curries helps on those nights that you're short on time. We make the laksa paste from 15MM and freeze it. Also means the ginger and herbs don't go off in the fridge.

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