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Don't let dinner times eat into your budget... How to feed your family for less than [euro]50 a week.

Byline: SIOBHAN O'CONNOR

BUDGETING is boring but with the kids going back to school being broke is par for the course and it's time to cut your cloth.

Feeding your family for less takes work but if you plan ahead, cook from scratch and use your freezer managing to feed a family of four for [euro]50 a week is achievable.

Check out our practical tips on how to reduce your food bill 1. Calculate your budget and stick to it Set aside a budget for each element of your meals for the week.

Typically meat and fish are the most expensive items on your list.

Reduce your intake or bulk up your plates with vegetables.

Opt for cheaper protein sources such as lentils in order to cut your meat budget.

2. Cook from scratch Sounds like hard work but it's so rewarding when you can produce a meal you made yourself and it's far cheaper than ready meals.

Avoid buying jars and opt for a can of tomatoes with dry herbs as a tasty pasta sauce.

A can of good quality nonbranded plum tomatoes will set you back less than 50c, wholegrain pasta should cost no more than [euro]1. Avoid buying branded produce and see your food bill slashed.

You can use up pretty add any veg to add to your sauce, chop up mushrooms, courgettes or veg you can find on special.

Bob's your uncle you and your family meal for less than [euro]3.

3. Create an old school shopping list To avoid impulse buying take a list of what's in your store cupboards and if you're really organised set up a spreadsheet so you can tick off what you need.

Write down what you require before you leave for the shops and only buy the bargains if they are close to what's on your list.

Do not deviate from your list. 4. Invest in containers and a sharpie pen to label Remember the tupperware parties in the 80s? Well, they're making a comeback.

Fridge containers keep perishable foods fresher for longer. Remove veg from plastic and keep them in labelled containers. 5. Nutritious soup If you've picked up vegetables in the bargain aisle chances are by the end of the week you'll have bits and piece left over.

Use a tablespoon of cheap vegetable oil in a pot throw the chopped mix veg in, add water and a stock cube, bring to the boil simmer and blend.

You have a nutritious meal for the family by simply cleaning out your fridge.

A handy tip if you are conscious of protein intake, just add lentils to your blended soup, you now have a complete meal.

Or you then have the option to freeze the soup in batches.

6. Cupboard staples You can never have enough cans of tomatoes, they are cheap as chips and you can whip up a soup or a pasta for under [euro]1. Non-branded chickpeas will typically cost far less than branded ones.

Full of protein a can of these bad boys will cost less than 50c.

Dried herbs, brown rice and wholegrain pasta are must-haves in the your cupboard and it means you'll always have the makings of a cheap meal.

Opt for pudding rice as opposed to arborio rice for tasty risottos. 7. Batch cook and use your freezer It's really tempting to eat processed junk food if you haven't stocked your freezer with nutritious fare. Spend some time at the weekend cooking up lasagnes, spag bol or shepherd's pie which freeze easily.

Mince meat is a cheap option and you can bulk up your batch cooking with vegetables.

A whole chicken can be bought for less than a fiver and there's ample left over to make a curry or quesadillas so you'll get three midweek meals for under a tenner.

Making stock from the bones too is a great way to use the whole bird!

Freshly frozen veg are full of nutrients - the humble pea is extremely underrated. 8. Eat off smaller plates It's an Irish thing, "Eat the whole plate or no dessert", but quite often our portions are far too big.

Eating off smaller plates means more food to freeze and your brain tells your body you are fuller quicker.

9. Dried fruit Fresh fruit is scrumptious but unless you buy it on special it's expensive.

If your budget is stretching opt for large bags of dried apricots, figs, prunes, dates and sultanas.

Kids and toddlers love them and they don't go off ! 10. Bargain hunt Every supermarket, even the pricey ones have bargain bins and often the sell by dates aren't exact.

Due to food regulations stores must display a certain date on produce but you can always eat fruit or veg that's one day out.

news@irishmirror.ie

[euro]1 cost of own-brand whole grain pasta - can of plum tomatoes is just 50c

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break bread Planning a meal can save families cash
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Aug 30, 2017
Words:829
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