Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need. — Julia Child
Cooking can be viewed as an art or science or a perfect blend of both. In simple terms, cooking is basically using heat to prepare food for consumption. It was believed that over 250,000 years ago, primitive humans began cooking by tossing a raw piece of something into the fire.
Over the years, the art of cooking has involved finding new and better ways to prepare a meal other than direct fire. The use of grills, microwave, boilers, toasters, blenders, juicers etc have been invented to make the art of cooking easier and more conducive. Processes like refrigeration, freezing, heating, and canning had improved, making preservation of foods a lot easier, faster and conducive. The history of cooking is very broad and new kitchen developments are still being made. There is still a lot to be discovered and improved on as time goes on.
Learning to cook isn’t difficult, and it’s also a way to relax and enjoy yourself. So why not turn your kitchen into your own cooking workshop and start cooking some of your favourite meals.
It is normal to want a super healthy and delicious meal that doesn’t cost a fortune to make and with the current economic situation in Nigeria, eating healthy might seem expensive. Well, you should know that with a good plan, you can enjoy healthy meals at all times. There are various ways you can cook on a budget in Nigeria while saving money and eating healthily. This will be discussed as you read along.
A recipe has no soul. You as the cook must bring soul to the recipe. — Thomas Keller
Start Planning Your Meals To Save Money
You make life easier for yourself when there is a shopping list of all you need to make those healthy recipes before going to the grocery store. Planning your meals ahead of time will help in achieving your health goals and it also allows for more efficient use of time and other resources available to you.
Avoid the stress of having to think of what to eat every day by just taking out time to plan your meals. Use your creativity, think of different ideas and recipes you can make up for the week.
Let us take a look at some of the benefits of making a meal plan:
- Planning your meals prevents you from overeating. You will be able to portion your meal for the day which in return will also help to keep your weight under control.
- It will prevent you from just eating anything especially when you are hungry.
- Once you have planned and cooked your meal for the week, it will save you the stress and time of having to start cooking every day.
- Planning prevents wastage because whatever you bought at the grocery store is actually what you need to cook your meal or that recipe
- Planning your meal saves you money by cooking your own meals instead of buying already cooked food outside.
- With meal planning, you are buying what you need which in turn saves you money by preventing impulse buying.
- A meal plan brings out your inner creativity by making you try new recipes instead of just eating the same meal over and over again. You can decide to do more vegetables this week and more protein the next week or a combination of both.
- With a meal plan, you will be encouraged to do more research. To know more about what you are eating and how it can help you stay healthy.
Learning the basics of cooking is a good way to start cooking your own meals at home to save money.
If you are running out of ideas of what to cook, there many Nigerian food bloggers that have videos on several Budget-Friendly Nigerian Foods That Will Save You Money.
You can contact cooking tutors on Superprof to learn how to cook.
Making Cheap Healthy Meals At Home
More and more people are learning every day how to eat better for less. Eating healthy meals can be done by everyone regardless of their financial class. All you need to do is plan your meals by looking for cheaper healthier alternatives to meet your desired meal or recipe. Many cheap and healthy Nigerian recipes can be easy on your wallet and waistline.
Here are a few tips that can help you save some money while eating healthily:
- Write down your health goals, what kind of food you will need to achieve them and plan and prep your meals accordingly.
- Do your research on healthier cheap alternatives to the ingredients you will need to plan your meals
- Learn to start cooking your meals at home. It is much cheaper than eating out. By cooking yourself, you know exactly what is in your food.
- Plan your meals around the ingredients you have at home. Ensure you know what you have and what you don't.
- While cooking, ensure you use ingredients in order of perishability. Use food items and ingredients that tend to spoil fast while prepping your meals.
- Buy more and store up foods that are in season because their prices are usually low. For example, buy more corn and planting to preserve when they are in season.
- Vegetables like Ugwu, watermelon, bitter leaf are very healthy and cheap in Nigeria. Buy more vegetables to pair with your protein and carbohydrates.
- If you are making dinner for some gues you invited over, make enough to keep some for your next day lunch or dinner. That way you save yourself time and money on what to eat the next day.
- While going grocery shopping, look for foods made in Nigeria. They are way cheaper than the imported ones.
- Stock up on sales ingredients. If for example, you use Tumeric spice a lot, buy two or three instead when you see it on sales.
- Grow your own product. You can start by growing your own fruits, tomatoes, beans at home.
- Always buy in bulk if possible. Buying in bulk saves you a whole lot of money.
- Instead of going to the supermarkets to buy some food items, why not go to markets like Mile 12 and Oyingbo in Lagos for example to buy your food and fruits. Buying in the market is way cheaper than buying in supermarkets.
Last tip to save money: invest in good utensils like a blender, cooker, slow cooker, juicer, microwave, grater, etc. to make salads, soups, peel and cut vegetables, warm your packed foods in the fridge and so on.
Learn To Cook In Batches And Preserve The Rest
The fridge and freezer are your best friends when trying to cook healthy budget-friendly meals. Batch cooking is a great way of ensuring a healthier and cheaper way of eating. It involves preparing a quantity that will last for a period of time. It means your healthy meals will be available after a long day at work, rather than branching to fast food restaurant to pick up something to eat.
Cooking in large quantities is a very good strategy to save money and freeze whatever you don’t eat. It’s cheaper to spend ₦2,000 on ingredients to make a dish that will last you three or four days than to spend ₦1,200 just to make enough for one day. Planning also goes a long way in batch cooking. You need to know what you want to cook, the desired quantity and how long you want it to last while making that shopping list for it.
Here are a few tips to note about a batch cooking plan to avoid waste and save money for yourself:
- Always know what fruits and vegetables are in season before you start planning.
- Make a shopping list before you go grocery shopping and stick to it
- Freeze up whatever ingredients that were leftover or not used at all
- Know for how long you want to eat the particular meal you are preparing
- Ensure you have constant light to freeze and preserve the food to avoid wastage
- Always know what you have left or available before making a shopping list.
- Ensure it is a meal or recipe you enjoy eating before making and storing it in large quantities.
When you cook your meals yourself and buy less cooked meals outside, you’re fighting against this waste and becoming more eco-responsible and economical.
Selecting The Right Ingredients When Shopping
The key to saving money and avoiding wastage is selecting the right ingredient.
Choosing the right ingredient means you already know what you plan to cook and what exactly you need to achieve that. Do not buy ingredients for the sake of having them around the house. Ensure you need it and it is an ingredient that is used often while cooking. Always stick to your shopping list and do not get carried by other food items.
It is also important to note that going to food markets tp shop for raw foodstuffs is cheaper than getting it at the supermarket. For example, 1kg of flour can cost like ₦6,00 in the market and cost like ₦1,000 in the supermarket (that's saving a whooping ₦400). You save money by shopping for some food items or buying them in bulk by going to the market.
Properly researching before trying a new meal or recipe will save you the cost of buying and choosing the wrong ingredient. The right ingredient can only be selected when you know the kind of meal you are prepping for.
Here are some tips on picking the best ingredients and also saving cost:
- Go to the food market to buy your food items especially when buying in bulk
- Shop local - choose Nigerian made or grown products instead of the imported ones
- Always shop in season. Food is cheaper when they are in the season than when they are not
- Do proper research on your meals before writing your shopping list and going to the market
Learn how to cook with a Superprof tutor. You can learn how to make vegetarian food, different Nigerian food, French, Chinese or whatever you want.
Find out more on cooking by reading the below: