Being “kitchen savvy” means knowing what foods to buy, when to buy them, how to store them, and how to prepare them.
In this issue, we offer some suggestions to help save money and eat better.
Meal planning can not only save money, but you’ll be putting more thought into your cooking and be more likely to try new things. And meal planning makes it much easier to meet personal goals like eating better and losing weight. Of course, this being the digital age, there are some great apps out there to help, too, including Plan to Eat, Ziplist and Cook Smarts.
Buy local, seasonal and frozen produce
The most delicious fruits and vegetables are always the ones grown closest to home. Why not take the family to pick apples in the fall or berries in the summer? You can make fruits spreads, sauces, purées and treats that can be frozen and used later. If you’re shopping at the grocery store, produce is always cheapest and tastiest when it’s in season. Looking for organic produce? Farmers’ markets are a great source, because the food hasn’t been shipped across the country – and that’s good for the environment, too. Finally, frozen fruits and vegetables are often just as nutritious as the fresh kind – and nothing could be simpler than throwing a few together in a blender with some yogurt for a smoothie!
Prioritize organic foods by value
It makes sense to decrease the potentially harmful chemicals going into the environment and into our bodies, but studies are still out on the benefits of many organic foods. Certain fruits and vegetables, however, have clearly been proven to retain more pesticides, so if you’re buying organic, here are some guidelines. Apples and potatoes are at the top of the list because they retain a lot of pesticides, and because North Americans eat a lot of them. Thank goodness the organic versions are not much more expensive at all! Porous vegetables like celery and delicate ones like greens are problematic, as are fruits with thin membranes or skins like berries, peaches and pears.
Shop at ethnic food stores
Ethnic food stores are a fantastic resource. Not only will you save money on staples and bulk items, like rice, spices, oils, vinegars, sauces, and even some produce, meats and seafood, you’ll discover all kinds of wonderful ingredients and flavours that are sure to brighten up your meals. Why order in or go out when you can treat yourself to something special at home?
Buy in bulk
Bulk buying is a great way to save a lot in one shot, and to stock up on items you’re sure to need all the time. But remember to only buy what you’re going to actually use – there’s no advantage in letting products expire in the pantry. If you don’t have a lot of people to buy for, why not share bulk purchasing with friends or between families?
The decision whether or not to invest in a deep freezer may require some pondering, because it’s a big purchase – but if you know you’ll use it, you can save a fortune over time. Buy perishables in large quantities when they’re fresh and the prices are good. Prepare meals ahead of time and freeze them – then just pop them in the microwave and have a home-made dinner in minutes – without all the preservatives in commercial varieties. And healthier, too!
Grow it yourself
The best way to ensure the freshest, healthiest, cheapest fruits and vegetables is to grow them yourself. It’s a big time investment, of course, and gardening isn’t everybody’s cup of herbal tea – but it can be a great de-stressor, it’s a fun activity for the kids … and the whole family will enjoy the delicious home-grown flavours. Don’t have a lot of space? You can still grow some fabulous fresh herbs in a window-sill or on a balcony.
Why not try some of these suggestions? Your taste buds – and your wallet – will thank you!
P.S. If you happen to need the services of a Realtor, or have any concerns about the value of your real estate holdings, please feel free to contact us.