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Six ways to make cooking from scratch more cost-effective

One of the greatest barriers to healthy eating is the misconception that it is too expensive.

Soup is a great way to use up leftover vegetables
Soup is a great way to use up leftover vegetables

In fact, a recent survey of 3100 people found that 1 in 3 people believe healthy food is unaffordable. However, whilst the food industry is driving us to believe that pre-packed, ready-made convenience food is the cheapest and easiest way to eat; the truth is that cooking from scratch really can be accessible to all budgets and schedules. All it requires is a little more planning.

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Here are some top tips to make it both hassle free and affordable.

Savvy shopping - before you embark on the supermarket run, start by checking your fridge, freezer and the contents of your store cupboard (right to the very back!). From this you can plan meals around what you already have, rather than devising a menu that requires an entirely new set of ingredients. Write a list, and stick to it. This will make it easier not to succumb to BOGOF offers and other clever incentives the supermarkets use to influence your buying choices.

Store Cupboard Staples - a well stocked store-cupboard means that you can always make something out of (what seems like) nothing. Tinned tomatoes, tinned beans and pulses, canned fish, quinoa, brown rice and a good array of spices are all staples that combined with just one or two fresh ingredients will make a quick and delicious meal.

Freezer favourites - the freezer is really underutilized in most kitchens, and used cleverly can make eating healthily on a budget much easier. When you get home with your shopping, freeze any meat and fish that you're not intending to eat in the next day or two, to avoid wastage. You can also freeze half your loaf of bread, and then just take it out as and when you need it! Frozen fruit and vegetables are also a great addition to the freezer; especially if you have a busy schedule and only eat at home sporadically, meaning that you end up throwing away a lot of fresh produce.  You can also batch cook meals and freeze them - great to have and reheat when you get home late and/or tired.

Sunday session - spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon prepping your lunches for the week. Soup is something you can batch cook very cheaply and is a great way to use up any leftover vegetables. You can also prepare all the different components for salads - boil some eggs, chop up veggies, cook up some quinoa, make hummus, and then these are all ready to compile-and-go each morning. It will save you a small fortune in coffee shop lunches!

Remain realistic- it's very easy when you do the food shop at the beginning of the week (especially after a particularly indulgent weekend!) to get over enthusiastic with the fruit and veggies, and then find you are throwing them all out at the weekend. Think ahead and be realistic about the number of meals you will actually be eating at home- and then shop accordingly.

Hunger haze- never, ever go food shopping hungry! You won't be able to focus on anything but what you fancy right at that moment, and this will strongly influence your purchases. And we all know that we don't make the healthiest choices when we needto eat!

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