While all of the gadgets you have at home or in your handbag may have promised to save you time, but just seem to give you more things to do, it is time to put some of those gadgets to work so that you can get more done, in the same amount of time. As a busy mum your priority is to look after your family, and a big part of that is making sure they eat right. However, when time isn’t on your side it is easy to slip into unhealthy meal options. Instead, think about the gadgets you have available to you in your home, and let these healthy, money saving ideas inspire you in the kitchen.
1 – Slow cooker – The slow cooker is an ideal piece of kitchen hardware for the busy mum on a budget because you can literally set it in the morning and forget about it all day, until dinner time when a delicious feast is ready. Plus, when tough cuts of meat or those beans your kids won’t normally touch have been cooking at a low temperature all day they will be tender and flavor infused you’ll be able to get your kids to eat all of their veggies. Not only are you saving by buying more affordable ingredients, but a slow cooker also uses less energy that the oven or stove. You can also avoid expensive take away meals because if you know you’re going to have a long day and will be too tired to cook, you can prepare dinner at breakfast time and sit down to an already prepared meal in the evening. All you have to do to start using your slow cooker is to chop up the veggies and throw them in with the other of the ingredients the rest will be done with time.
2 – Bread machine – This is a terminally under used kitchen appliance and once often cursed for its bench-taking abilities however homemade bread is cheaper than buying loaves at the supermarket, plus there are fewer preservatives making it better for you. You can also use your bread maker for making pizza dough and even desserts which can also be very expensive if bought, but great value, and time saving if you let your bread maker do all the hard work. While the lack of preservatives is better for you and your family, you may find that the bread goes off a lot quicker than the store bought kind. To avoid this, slice up the bread which doesn’t look like it’s going to be eaten in time, and store it in the freezer.
3 – Coffee maker/Espresso Maker – While you are cooking for your family you also need to be looking after yourself, and just because your food purchases are all budgeted for, doesn’t mean you should miss out on a caffeine hit to keep you going. To fit a much needed coffee into your budget every day, make use of your coffee machine or plunger and use a thermos or travel mug to get you out of the door on time and you could save hundreds of dollars a month.
4 – Grill pans – There are a number of different types of grill pans, for example the electric George Forman style, or the type you use on your stove top. Regardless of which version you have, when you get out your grill plate you will be able to add flavour and appeal to meat, fish and even vegetables, with just a little seasoning. Plus, on a grill pan your food doesn’t cook in its own fats so your grilled meals will be much healthier and with a George Forman style grill, your meal cooks on both sides at once, making meals speedy and healthy.
5 – Steamer – Another healthy way to cook is to steam your meals as you don’t need to add any fat or oil. You may be used to steaming just your vegetables, but if you have a steamer basket don’t stop there. You can steam meat and fish and you will find that the meat will remain moist, and your vegetables will look vibrant – and so much more enticing to family members averse to vegetables.
6 – Ice cream maker – Every mum wants to treat her family once in a while, but it doesn’t have to be expensive if you have an ice cream maker. You can make healthy fruit based ice creams and even sorbets, smoothies and yogurts and you’ll know exactly what is going into the treats you are serving your family, so you can avoid all of those artificial colors, preservatives and sweeteners. Plus, collecting the ingredients and making your own ice creams and cold treats will cost you a fraction of the price you would pay for the manufactured version.
7 – Shop online – If you haven’t tried shopping online for your groceries now could be the time to start because many supermarkets are working hard to entice their shoppers online, but offering discounts and specials for online purchases only. You can sign up for email newsletters from your favorite supermarkets so you know where the savings are, plus when you order online you groceries will be delivered to your door, saving you time too.
8 – Plan your shopping list – Having a shopping list when you go to the supermarket will help you avoid making impulse purchases, or forgetting important ingredients, however, you can further organise your shopping list by carefully checking it against the contents of your pantry and fridge, and then planning your menu for the week. When you have your meals planned for the week, you also avoid those short but time consuming mid-week trips to the supermarket, where you buy what you need for the meal, but that’s when those impulse purchases sneak in. While it can be beneficial to take advantage of specials you see on staples you use all the time make sure you compare items across the range. The store-brand items will often be much cheaper than those with a fancy label, and the cheaper items will also usually be on the very high or the very low shelves.
9 – Avoid waste – Before you go stocking up on items on special, make sure that you will be able to use them before their Best Before date. If you do have items with a short shelf life, make sure you store them at the front of the pantry so that they are used in time and don’t go to waste. Also make sure to do the same thing with left overs, as putting them in the front of the fridge will ensure they’re eaten in the next few days. When you buy fruit and vegetables make sure they are fresh and of good quality by checking their firmness and skins. If you have some vegetables at home which have been forgotten for a while, they can still be put to good use in the slow cooker, a soup or a stew, and use older fruit to make a pie, smoothie or ice cream.
10 – Avoid the supermarket – Not only will the foods you find at your local farmer’s market be cheaper because there is no middle man at the supermarket, they will also be fresher as you are getting them straight from the farmer, not from the truck which visited the farmer a week ago. This will also force you to use fruits and vegetables which are in season, which are healthier as they are not modified, nor have they traveled from a different part of the country with a different climate. You may also be able to pick up affordable treats like meat and cheeses with room in your budget to spare.
If you liked the tips in this article you can find more money saving articles like 19 Energy Saving Tips and 10 Tips To Cut Your Utilities.
About The Author of Busy Moms Tips For Cooking Great Food At Low Cost
Alban is a contributing author at Home Loan Finder, a home loan comparison site.
Photo credit: Tabbymom Jen / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND , Sandy Austin / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND\ , Marisa | Food in Jars / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND , jules:stonesoup / Foter / CC BY , Rachel Ford James / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA