Use milk powder, avoid tinned meat and tuck in to chicken livers: here's how to get more bang for your food buck

By Almari Wessels
29 December 2016

There is no denying that the festive season is a wonderful time of the year. But it can also be a very expensive one.

With rising food costs, we understand that some South Africans will be forced to tighten their purse strings this December.

So YOU caught up with food expert Irene Labuschagne from the Nutrition Information Centre at the University of Stellenbosch (NICUS) for tips on how to cut costs:

Dairy

Use skim-milk powder instead of fresh milk – it is cheaper plus you can buy it in bulk as you don’t need to refrigerate the powder and it has the same nutritional content to boot. Simply follow the instructions on the package to mix the correct quantity of water with the milk powder.

If kept in an airtight container you can store skim-milk powder for six months whereas fresh milk should be used within three to four days.

However, if you are a stickler for fresh milk you can cheat your taste buds (and save some money) by mixing one litre of fresh milk with 100g of skim-milk powder and one litre of water.

Irene also advises consumers to steer clear from milk blends, they may be cheaper but they are not a good buy.

“They contain creamers and have a lower nutritional value than skim-milk powder. Only buy products that have a real dairy mark,” she explains.

And even though non-dairy creamers whiten tea or coffee they don’t have the same nutritional value as milk and won’t contribute to healthy teeth and bones the way the real McCoy does.

“Everyone requires milk throughout their life so rather save on the kind of milk you buy rather than the amount,” she adds.

Meat

When it comes to meat, you should take the time and compare meat prices at the butcher and supermarkets. Irene suggests choosing meat with fewer bones and fat, hence soup bones are a bad buy and it would be better for your protein fix (and pocket) to buy a packet of dried beans instead.

If you can, you should avoid tinned meat, Bologna and other cold meat and sausages. “Processed meat is unhealthy and usually expensive,” warns Irene.

Chicken

Buying frozen chicken is cheaper than its “farm fresh” counterpart and you should compare the price per kilogram for a whole chicken to chicken portions as there are more bones in a whole chicken, explains Irene. Also, if you are going to put a whole chicken in your trolley, rather opt for a bigger chicken as it usually yields more meat and fewer bones than a smaller chicken proportionally.

And if you really want to cut costs and up the nutritional value of this favoured white meat, you can’t go wrong with chicken livers – it is one of the cheapest and most nutritious forms of meat, states Irene.

Read more: Tips from the frugal queen

Fish

When it comes to fish, the tinned variety reigns supreme when it comes to bang for your buck, however not all forms of canned fish are as cheap as pilchards, so be sure to compare the prices before you buy.

Fresh fish is generally more expensive than fresh fish – unless you are lucky enough to live at the coast. Whole fish is also a better buy than fish without bones and Irene suggests using the head and fins of a whole fish to cook a nutritious soup with.

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