Everyday Meals

Best healthy ingredient to bulk out meals ‘Full of flavour!’

Bakery owner warns of food shortages

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Looking to reduce the cost of your weekly shopping bill? Express.co.uk spoke to Lorna Cooper, founder of Feed Your Family for about £20 a week, an online community to help households save money and cook more, about the best ingredients to bulk out family meals. 

When it comes to food shopping, Lorna recommends “writing a meal plan and shopping list before you go shopping and stick to it”. 

She explained: “Have a price index of the products you buy each week and put it on your shopping list so you can track how much things cost in different shops. 

“Bulk buy when things are on offer (but only the things you were going to buy anyway). 

“Share bargains with friends or relatives if it is too expensive or too much for you to use up. 

“Take turns to buy a sack of potatoes and share it out. 

“Check the top and bottom shelves of the supermarket for the budget ranges, and always check the price per kg!” 

As for whether there are certain items Lorna avoids buying, she revealed: “I don’t buy things that someone has already chopped up or peeled or cooked – you will pay a premium for them. 

“I make my own sauces and pastry.” 

And what about the must-haves she puts in her shopping trolley? “I buy budget pasta and rice and chopped tomatoes,” she said. 

Lorna also discussed buying reduced-food or yellow sticker items: “Yellow sticker shopping is fine if you can use the item instead of something you were already going to buy. So if you were going to buy chicken for a chow mein but you find pork reduced then you can sub that in easily. 

“But yellow sticker shopping can be very hit and miss so you cannot rely on being able to get things reduced – it is a bonus if you do.” 

As for how you go about bulking out meals, without it costing a lot, Lorna shared: “I grate veg like mushrooms, carrots and swede into mince dishes. Add potatoes to curries and shred meat rather than dice it as it looks like more. 

“I slice up sausages for pasta bakes and stews. 

“I use beans, chickpeas, barley, lentils and porridge oats to bulk out lots of dishes. Porridge oats are great for thickening stews and soups and adding a creamy texture. 

“They also work fab in mince dishes as they soak up the flavour and swell up,” she added. 

If you’re looking to save money, Lorna suggested: “Cook as much as you can from scratch. Reduce the amount of meat you buy. 

“Eat fruit and veg that is in season or buy frozen, and don’t waste any food, reuse your leftovers for another meal.”

She also advised, “saving vegetable peelings and using them to make stock”. 

Lorna initially set up Feed Your Family, after injuring her back. 

“I had to stop working so money was tight at home and I had four kids to feed,” she added. 

“I had managed to get my spend down from £100 to £20 and was telling my friends and one of them said you should share these tips as lots of people could benefit.” 

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