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You food magazine editor Eleanor Maidment (pictured) has come up with creative and economical tricks to make it easier to cook at the table.

You food magazine editor Eleanor Maidment (pictured) has come up with creative and economical tricks to make it easier to cook at the table.

Rithe low food prices—along with all of our other bills—was hard to digest. Experts warned last week that the cost of food on the table would rise by more than £500 a year for the typical family.

However, with smart food substitution and creative food preparation, you can still cut costs and eat well. You just need to know where to start. And once you adapt to new cooking methods and shopping habits, you will see that many of them are long-term positive changes.

Here, You magazine editor Eleanor Maidment, whose weekly The Canny Cook column is full of brilliant money-saving ideas, lists her favorite tips to help you cut your bills.

1. EAT MEAT, BUT LESS

Fresh poultry and meat can increase supermarket bills, but instead of buying low-quality options or cutting them out entirely, try eating a little less.

For burgers or meatballs, halve the amount of minced meat and add the same amount of cooked quinoa. Or add lentils in bolognese for a slightly lighter, but no less delicious result.

Alternatively, try serving one chicken thigh per person and top it with white beans or whole grains, or choose one quality 250g steak to share between two people and be sure to serve plenty of roasted vegetables.

When cooking strongly flavored cured meats such as chorizo ​​or pancetta, use only a small amount to season the food. Many supermarkets sell finely diced chorizo ​​in small packages that are always handy to have in the fridge.

2. BE LESS BRAND LOYAL

The big brands seem to pay extra for eye-level shelf space, so it’s best to be smart and weigh your options.

In almost all cases, supermarket own brands are sold at much lower prices, and in many taste tests, consumers cannot tell the difference.

I have often been told from reliable sources that products including soy sauce, yogurt and biscuits are often made by the same big supermarket brands, so the products are very similar.

Current exchanges that I’m very impressed with are Lidl Baked Beans, Sainsbury’s Tomato Ketchup and Aldi Dishwashing Liquid.

For burgers or meatballs, halve the amount of minced meat and add the same amount of cooked quinoa.  Or add lentils in bolognese for a slightly lighter, but no less delicious result.

For burgers or meatballs, halve the amount of minced meat and add the same amount of cooked quinoa. Or add lentils in bolognese for a slightly lighter, but no less delicious result.

3. GO TO THE FREEZER AISLE

Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually much cheaper than fresh ones and may even contain more nutrients. It is often harvested at its peak and quickly frozen to preserve its beneficial properties, instead of hanging around in transport or on a supermarket shelf and then in your refrigerator before being eaten. Once harvested, green peas lose half of their vitamin C in 48 hours.

4. DO NOT SPEND, DO NOT WANT

One of the simplest and most joyful no-waste tips I’ve come up with is to use strawberry tops to infuse water. Add them (including the leaves) to a large pitcher of water with a handful of mint and a few slices of cucumber, then let sit for a few hours before adding ice to serve. This is a great summer drink.

Other uses for what we consider to be waste products are adding tomato stalks to the pot when making a sauce, as they have an intense tomato flavor, or making pesto from dried lettuce or carrot tops.

GO TO FREEZER: Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually much cheaper than fresh ones and may even contain more nutrients.

GO TO FREEZER: Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually much cheaper than fresh ones and may even contain more nutrients.

5. MAKE SMART EXCHANGE

If pasta appears as much on your weekly menu as it does on mine, consider swapping out Parmigiano Reggiano (the official name for what we commonly call Parmesan) with Grana Padano.

They can usually be found nearby in the supermarket because they are Italian hard cheeses in a similar style.

While Parmigiano Reggiano is aged, nutty, and considered the king of cheeses, Grana Padano is softer, less crumbly, and much cheaper. Both are perfect for rubbing pasta and, especially during cooking, you’ll have a hard time telling the difference.

6. STAY NUTRITIONAL

The NHS recommends that adults eat two servings of fish per week, including one fatty fish. It is a good source of protein and vitamins, and oily fish also contains omega-3s, which are said to support heart health.

But these benefits don’t just apply to fresh fish. Smoked mackerel or trout are great options that add a savory flavor to dishes. Canned tuna and sardines are also common items in the closet.

Learning new kitchen skills can help keep costs down.  Buying a whole chicken and cutting it up is by far the most economical way to eat chicken, and you can use the carcass as a spare.

Learning new kitchen skills can help keep costs down. Buying a whole chicken and cutting it up is by far the most economical way to eat chicken, and you can use the carcass as a spare.

7. EAT LIKE ITALIANS

Many of the greatest Italian dishes come from the humblest of roots, because this is a country where the enjoyment of food historically did not require much wealth.

This is the easiest of the pastas I cook all the time at the moment: spaghetti allo, olio and pepperoncino, a joyful dish that requires little more than garlic, olive oil and chili flakes from the cupboard.

Other summer favorites like panzanella (a Tuscan salad of tomatoes, onions and stale bread) and risi e bisi (Venetian rice and peas) showcase Italian ingenuity in creating cherished recipes from very little.

8. IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS

Learning new kitchen skills can help keep costs down. Buying a whole chicken and cutting it up is by far the most economical way to eat chicken, and you can use the carcass as a spare.

In fact, good knife skills (and a good chef’s knife) generally mean you can rely less on pre-cut fruits and vegetables.

Baking bread and cakes from scratch is also often cheaper than making ready-made ones. And mastering the art of canning and pickling fruits and vegetables is a great way to use leftover fresh produce to enjoy in the coming months.

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