Yes, it’s budget week, so we thought we’d look to the experts of the ICA for guidance on how to cook within a budget – and here, from the fantastic Irish Countrywomen’s Association Cookbook, are their useful tips.
1. Cooking seasonally and buying locally can be a good way to cut down on transportation costs, particularly as the price of fuel continues to rise.
2. Where possible, find a way to re-use rather than discard. Stale bread has many uses, from sweet puddings to savoury casings.
3. Ask your butcher to recommend cheaper cuts of meat and poultry (like pork belly, beef shin or chicken leg). Season these well and cook slowly for delicious results.
4. Talk to your fishmonger and be willing to experiment with fish you haven’t cooked before.
5. Learn to use every bit of the animal or at least as much as is good to use. Buying a whole chicken is cheaper in the long run than buying the premium chicken fillets.
6. Save the cooking water drained from potatoes and vegetables and reuse as a light stock for soups and gravies – the best of nutrients are in there.
7. Make your own stocks from leftover bones and vegetable trimmings.
8. Grow your own fruit and vegetables, or at the very least try growing your own herbs.
9. Buy what you really need, not what you think you’ll need. We waste one third of the food we buy today. Double check ‘use-by’ dates when shopping, but use your instinct – and your senses – with ‘best before’ dates.
10. Use your freezer well and wisely. All sorts of foods can be successfully frozen, from pastry to leftover herbs chopped into ice-cubes. Beware however of forgetting what you have in there. Always label clearly and include the date.
The Irish Countrywomen’s Association Cookbook is now available from Gill & Macmillan Bookshop.