Hi there. My experiences of eating and buying food on a budget are perhaps a bit different to others involved in the project. For me, it very much depends on physical limitations, i.e. when or how long I can cook for, what or when I can buy food and what I feel well enough to eat.
I try to keep a variety of basic ingredients in at all times and a choice of convenience items in for when I'm feeling unwell. Otherwise, I end up reaching for junk or scraps. I'd like to think I support my son to take care of himself too, so he doesn't go hungry, although I've noticed he still needs prompting to eat at all unless I instruct him to.
Unfortunately, I'm definitely not a keen or expert chef at the best of times.
Beans on toast is perfectly fine in my book! Although we have been known to resort to ready meals whenever there's been a family crisis going on. Not ideal but when you're not well anything goes. Even cornflakes.
In the past I would find it soul destroying to have made a home cooked meal with fresh ingredients then to have the children refuse to eat it.
Because of this I used to dish up oven chips and nuggets most nights, to satisfy my children's hunger when they were young. Not exactly nutritious but at least it was all eaten without tears. I don't know how I would cope nowadays since the oven has become so expensive to use and food prices have rocketed.
More recently we were lucky enough to be able to afford to buy a multi cooking pot. This really helps with making mealtimes easy and saves on cost. I saw it as worthwhile investment. In the long term I believe it will save us more money than using the oven and cooker top.
In addition, one pot recipes work best for me. There are a few different versions I make from time to time. They include a variation of simple cheap ingredients and the leftovers can be easily frozen or reheated. My favourite at the moment, is a Russian dish, with seasoned rice, chicken and carrot I saw on the internet. Not mega expensive easy and comforting to eat.
I'm probably being too hard on myself when I say this but I hate when food goes to waste. I've even been known to return food items with faulty packaging i.e. jars or tins I can't open. I often need to throw out random items of food that are past their sell by dates, which really frustrates me. Unfortunately, trying to feed my son and I meals we will both actually eat when I'm tired or unwell doesn't always line up with what we have available in the kitchen and this is a big problem for us. I'm lucky to get extra money to help me with this, however, it still makes accessing fresh groceries difficult to do. There's no homegrown food going on around here unfortunately.
Having to think a week ahead to what we can have to eat each night, on top of everything else going on, is a real juggling act for me. Worse still if there's no practical help limited finances and not a lot of imagination or ideas available to a person to conjure up magnificent meals in the first place. It's a fact that my own upbringing influenced my lack of ability when it comes to having creative culinary skills. At least for now I can look out for new and easy recipes to cook since buying this cooking pot and there's always the novelty of the airfryer to fall back on.
I know lots of people are switching to cheaper food brands these days. We find this hit and miss. There's only myself and my son here. Unfortunately he's a bit fussy with food and can sniff a cheaper cereal out in his sleep so not much scope for me switching lunch box treats for cheaper alternatives. It's still a work in progress getting him trained in the art of eating things he isn't used to.
Although if I'm honest its easier and cheaper to play it safe, sticking to the same meals on and off.
I used to believe I ate healthy and nutritious enough until a few years ago, when blood tests for an infection revealed my immune system was deficient in several areas. That was a shock. I looked into things and I supplement my diet now, with vitamin tablets to safeguard my immune system health. I eat probiotics occasionally fruit and veg all the time. We eat mainly fish, chicken, eggs, cheese and rice. No allergies. I try to be a good role model to my family, but I really need to lay off the chocolate left over from Christmas if I'm honest!