If budget cooking is important to you, you might be tempted to turn your nose up at wholefoods. This might be because you’ve confused the word a little. This is understandable. ‘Wholefoods’ is after all also the name of a pretty pricey (but very nice!) grocery store in the US. But actually wholefoods are just foods that have had very little done to them (processing) between the time they were grown (not made) and the time that you eat them. So budget cooking actually involves lots of wholefoods because you are buying ingredients and processing them yourself!
Save money by buying raw ingredients
Budget cooking with wholefoods is not only good for your wallet, it is also healthier. For one thing, you’ll be buying less highly processed and packaged foods. You are unlikely to add the sheer amount of salt and sugar that industrial processors add when you cook at home. You’ll also be able to avoid additives, preservatives and sneaky ingredients that are put in to make food more palatable that it would otherwise be. Budget cooking with wholefoods is also better for the environment. Food processing and packaging are significant contributors to carbon emissions within the food supply chain. Cutting out highly processed and packaged foods from our diets may have as great an impact on the carbon emissions than cutting down on animal products!
Getting started with budget cooking
- Empower yourself by learning to cook. So many healthy, sustainable practices start by knowing your way around the kitchen!
- Buy ingredients for meals and put them together at home. i.e. buy oil and vinegar to make salad dressing. For instance, mixing olive oil and vinegar together to make salad dressing is cheaper and healthy than a bottle of supermarket salad dressing.
- Make use of dried beans and chickpeas. To save on time, soak them overnight, then cook a big batch and freeze it in small portions that you can thaw in the microwave as you need them. Some people say you should soak lentils this way too. I never do, they turn our fine without it and are cheaper form of protein.
- Know how to use your leftovers smartly to cut down on cost! (Hint: the link takes you to my winning formula for making delicious meals from random leftovers).
- Use your freezer to store meals that you have cooked in big batches.
- Vegetarian eating and budget cooking go hand in hand. It doesn’t mean you necessarily need to give up meat entirely, just learn to make vegetables delicious and satisfying on their own.
- Be smart about your shopping. Avoid supermarkets. Instead use coops, greengrocers and farmers markets.
To help get you started with your budget cooking, I’ll send you my booklet Feed a Whole Family with One Chicken Breast with 6 great recipes that save your wallet and the planet at the same time!