Nutritious Cooking on a Budget

Eating healthily does not need to break the bank. It is possible to do, even on the smallest of budgets. However, it does take a little forethought, a bit of shopping around and a small amount of time invested in cooking. So many of us now lead such hectic lifestyles, juggling careers, family life and socialising, that necessary tasks such as shopping for food each month are often done via the internet, or in one of the major supermarkets, which conveniently offer everything we need under one roof. Unfortunately though we will not always get the best deals on offer if we always shop in the same store.

When looking for fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables you often get the best offers from local markets, and I would always advice people on a tight budget to find a market local to them. It could be a weekend market close to home, or a daily market on the way to work. Either way, it’s always good to find out when the market closes, because at the end of the day, you can often get some amazing bargains.

One Saturday afternoon walking passed a market close to a friend’s house, I spent the total of £3, and walked away with a carrier bag full of peppers, one full of aubergines and two bags filled with courgettes. Of course, there were far too many vegetables for my family and I to enjoy fresh, but Sunday morning was spent cooking a very large batch of Ratatouille that could then be refrigerated or frozen, and used in so many different ways.

Ratatouille is packed with Vitamin C and the anti-oxidant Lycopene, and it is also an incredibly versatile and nutritious dish. It makes a delicious and colourful accompaniment to fish, meat or chicken, and it can also be served topped with cheese, as a dish on its own with wholegrain rice or jacket potato.

For children the dish can also be puréed to make the vegetables a little more hidden, so that it can then be used as a delicious sauce for wholemeal pasta or even put on a pizza base to create your own nutritious pizza. At home we also use it on top of some leftover mashed potato, then top it with cheese and sometimes ham or tuna to make lovely pizza potato.

Be adventurous, be inspirational and be healthy.

Check out my basic recipe for Ratatouille for 4. Remember you can always multiply the amounts to make a bigger batch!

  • 1 Red onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 pepper finely diced (red, yellow or orange)
  • 1 courgette finely diced
  • 1 small aubergine finely diced
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1-2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of oregano
  • black pepper to season

In a saucepan gently heat the oil and then add onion and garlic, lightly sauté for 3-4 minutes until softened.

Add chopped pepper, courgette and aubergine and stir well to coat with oil, sauté for a further 5 minutes.

Add tomato puree and tomatoes, season with black pepper and oregano and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes.

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