Challenging time

It’s certainly a challenging time ahead for all of us, money becomes tighter and food becomes sparse on the shelves and the future is still unknown for what we can expect. However, we can take control in our kitchen and help prevent wasting money and food; here are some useful top tips of how to be savvier in the kitchen.

Firstly, let me start by saying I am no Gordon Ramsey but as a working mum and wife I know how hard it can be to juggle life in general and please everyone’s taste buds. Over the years I have tried and tested many recipes, ideas, tools and inventions to get the most out of meal times and the most out of my money which all seems to end up on food!

During these unknown times the first tip I would recommend is to have an honest conversation with your children.

Honesty is the best policy

You may find you can’t get the same items on your usual shopping list, or that you need to experiment with new recipes or brands. Explain this to your children, you do not need to give them the last details of how you fought over the last chicken in the supermarket. But they need to be aware that you can’t meet their every demand and that they need to play a part in helping through this crisis by being more open minded. Tell them its okay not to like something but to try, that its okay to be annoyed they can’t have their usual snacks, make it into a game if needed, and that they need to be a hero just like our key workers and do their best.

Portion control

How many of us make pasta for the whole of the UK or overfill our own plates and waste food. If you can learn good portion control you can cut down, save money and help your waistline too. There are many articles out there that will tell you the same, but the general rule is to use your own hand size to help gauge your average portion sizes. See the picture that will help explain and give it a go?

Another useful tool I stumbled across a few years ago is a spaghetti measurer which you can find in various places and even here on Amazon.  Having this useful measure has made sure I don’t waste any spaghetti (and with how hard it can be to find now, none will go to waste.) For my children (9&7) I class one portion for the two of them and I always get the right amount every time. It’s a perfect tool to have in the kitchen and I would highly recommend.

There are many tools out there that are suitable for each individual, but I have found these two to be the most realistic to use with our busy family schedules, but most importantly find what works best for you.

Plan in advance

Do you often find yourself throwing away food that hasn’t been touched since your last food shop? Or quickly trying to freeze some meat that was supposed to be used that day? Before your weekly shop plan your meals for the week, note down what you need, look through the cupboards and shop for your needs. You will save money and prevent food waste from being a recurrence in the home. You may find in doing this you have more nutritious foods and don’t have the daily conversation of ‘what do you want for tea?’ Which usually resorts to you buying a takeaway which in turn costs you at least twice as much than buying the ingredients and you have to wait twice as long for it to be ready. Especially with the pandemic its important to be organised and think ahead.

Food storage


A simple but key tip, how you store your food will determine if you get the most out of it, if you often find food going out of date in your cupboards or you are having to throw away gone off milk you may need to be a little more organised. In our home it’s normal that we line the meat up in our fridge in order of expiry date. That way we know what needs using first and our money and food literally doesn’t go in the bin. Be sure to rotate your cans you have in the cupboards, it may seem a chore at the time but sometimes the same one can be left at the back and in no time its expiry on date has gone by and you wonder how you have something in your cupboard from 2014! Another simple tip is to use cling film or foil to wrap up food to keep it fresher and if you want to be more Eco-friendly you can use re-usable lids.

Just type in ‘Stretch re-usable lids’ online and there will be various sites selling them, I’ve found my food has stayed much fresher since investing in a set and I’ve cut down on waste. It is really important to do so with onions as bacteria contaminates peeled onions so they must be stored in something airtight if you don’t use the whole thing. Airtight containers are fantastic at doing their job making sure our leftover food from tins etc. don’t go to waste and can be used another day. If you follow our food portion control tips you may find you need to invest in some airtight containers.

You can find these everywhere these days and you can even use leftover takeaway boxes once they’ve been washed out. Resealable bags are also fantastic kitchen tools which do the same as containers, they can help with giving more space if you’ve only something small to store such as grated cheese.

Finally, my last top tip is to use up food and get inventive

Often food is thrown that could have been used for something else. There are some albeit strange recipes out there but experiment with your leftovers. Often if we are making mash, our potato skins go straight onto an oven tray, dribbled with oil and salt and roasted to make potato skins, they are delicious and are an extra side dish or make a great snack later on. The BBC have a recipe that you can try out or make your own, you can’t really go wrong with these family favourites!

Now this next recipe to use up food isn’t for everyone, we tried it in my house and my husband point blank refused to try but the kids gave it a whirl. Banana skin pulled pork, yep you read that right, not the banana, not the fluffy bit in the inside of the skin but the skin itself. Its an excellent choice if you’re vegan or wanting to try something new. It didn’t taste of banana like I expected, and it was edible, but I can’t say if I’m sold on it, but everyone has different taste buds, it’s a banana skin at the end of the day. Here’s an easy recipe that I followed but I mixed mine with pasta instead of putting in a burger. You can also have a go at making your own bread rolls using mayonnaise or making a pizza base with natural yoghurt (That’s a family favourite for us, at Christmas we had turkey and cranberry pizzas and pork, stuffing and apple sauce pizza’s). Recipes for the bases and bread rolls can be found here

Do you have pets in your family home? Often my dogs will love eating the leftover cuts from carrots or broccoli stems. I would much rather they have them as a tasty treat then see them thrown away. If you’re unsure what your pets can or can’t have make sure you check first as some things like potatoes or apple pips can be harmful to them. You can find a list for dogs here and one for cats here.

Your food options don’t have to be limited and you can experiment with what’s in your cupboards to suit you. The main thing to take away from this list of top tips is that you have control over your own food consumption and waste, it can take time and forward planning for some activities but the savings balance this out. I’m not saying we are all going to be banana skin loving foodies, but we can make a conscious effort to do more.