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Cost-Effective Meal Planning For The Win

You have to do the groceries, so you may as well shop smart. Here are some ideas to make your meals go the distance.  

Make Meat Matter Less 

It’s easy to eat an entire piece of meat when it’s the main protein of your meal. So to make the meat go further, slice it up and add it to your dish as an additional element. This way you can enjoy it for a few meals and be pushed to make veggies and starches special.  

Fill Up On Simple Staples 

Bulk up your dish, and eliminate waste, by using up all your veggies. Things like peppers, broccoli, brinjals, baby marrows, corn and butternut will make the meal go further as well as add tons of flavour. Other pantry staples like tinned beans, pasta, lentils, pap, potatoes and rice are also easy to add.  

Go Big With A Batch Cook 

Start cooking double (or triple) the quantities of your meals – the same effort and time, but a lot more of an outcome! Dishes like stew, lasagna and stir-fry freeze well for a few months and are filling in their own right.   

Plan Of Action 

Pick a day to plan your meals for the week or month, depending on how often you shop. It sounds like a daunting task, but it will be worth it. Draw up a skeleton of what you’d like to cook and the non-perishable items needed for each meal.  

Keep an eye on grocery catalogues for monthly deals. Make sure to sign up for loyalty cards to save with any in-store deals. These points do add up and can contribute towards a free ingredient, discounted clothing or well-deserved luxuries.  

The Spice Is Right 

Spices and herbs are an inexpensive way to add flavour to almost any meal. Get more use out of your herb and spice drawer with these easy combinations for a flash of flavour.  



¼ cup roasted and chopped hazelnuts 
2 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
3 tbsp shelled and chopped pistachios
1 tbsp fennel seeds 
1 tbsp cumin seeds 
1 tsp coriander seeds 
½ tsp cayenne pepper salt 



2 tbsp dried basil 
1 tbsp dried oregano 
1 tbsp dried rosemary 
1 tbsp dried thyme 
2 tsp garlic powder 



1 Tbsp dried thyme 
1 Tbsp whole cumin seeds 
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 Tbsp ground toasted white sesame seeds
3 Tbsp ground sumac
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp dried marjoram or oregano  



1 tbsp dried basil 
½ tsp salt 
1 ½  tbsp dried oregano 
1 tsp garlic powder 
2 tsp onion powder 
3 tsp dried dill 
1 ½ tsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp dried parsley 
2 tsp dried thyme 
¼ tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp dried marjoram or oregano  

Top Tip: 
Roasting or toasting nuts and sesame seeds deepens the flavour of the seasoning. For each mix, blend the ingredients in a food processor or grind together using a mortar and pestle.  



Rock Your Stock 

Cooking up your own stock is an easy and cost-effective way to use up veggies, bones and seasonings you already have on hand. The next time you roast a chicken for dinner, set aside the leftover carcass.  

Add it to a large pot along with two sticks of chopped celery, one chopped red onion, two chopped carrots, a generous crack of salt and pepper and a handful of coriander and parsley with their stems. Fill the pot with water to cover the chicken, bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.   

Cover and simmer for 5-6 hours. Allow your stock to cool, then strain using a sieve. Freeze the stock by filling an ice tray with the liquid. When you next need stock, pop one cube out. No mess or fuss! 

Words by Sjaan Van Der Ploeg
Photography: Getty Images, Shutterstock


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