In Australia, it’s estimated that around one-third of the weekly household food budget is spent on convenience foods. This includes takeaways, supermarket ready meals, and foods prepared outside the home.
No doubt there are many reasons for this, such as busier lives, and no time or energy to cook meals from scratch. In many cases, people living alone don’t feel like cooking for one. On the downside however, convenience foods are high in fat and salt, as well as being very expensive.
Over the next couple of days we’ll take a closer look at cooking for one, and the challenges that this often poses.
Maybe you’re unsure of what to buy at the supermarket. Here are a few of the “bare essentials” that every pantry should contain:
- Tea and coffee
- Semi-skimmed milk
- Salt and pepper
- Herbs and spices – coriander, basil, parsley, or curry powder, cumin, and garam masala
- Useful condiments – tomato sauce, mustard, mayonnaise, stock cubes, and soy sauce
- Oil for cooking, and also for dressing salads etc
- Honey, and peanut butter
- High fibre breakfast cereal
- Basmati, or brown rice
- Wholemeal pasta, noodles, and also couscous
- Tinned vegetables – tomatoes, corn, and other varieties – opt for the lower salt version, where available
- Tinned legumes – chickpeas, kidney beans, and bean mixes
- Tinned fish – tuna, salmon, and mackerel
- Dried foods – barley, or lentils
- Dried fruit, and unsalted nut mix
- Wholegrain crackers
- Wholegrain bread
- Spread, such as an olive based version
- Free-range eggs
- Cheddar cheese
- Natural yoghurt
- Fresh vegetables – cherry tomatoes, lettuce, red, or green peppers, potatoes, carrots, and onions
- Fresh fruit – apples, bananas, and oranges
- 100% pure fruit/vegetable juice
The items listed above could be used to make a range of main meals including:
- Stir fries
It can be very tempting to order takeaway, if the cupboards are empty. However, the solution is simple – a little bit of preparation beforehand, maybe a list of meal suggestions for the week ahead, and a ready-to-use stock of long-life and fresh, ingredients in your cupboard.
Why not purchase a cookbook, or recipe magazine, for new ideas and tips? If you find yourself in a cooking rut, this can be a great way of changing your dining habits!
What are your suggestions?