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Eating better on a budget

Keep cooking costs down without compromising on welfare

With household costs continuing to rise, we are all looking for ways to make our money go further. But eating on a budget doesn’t have to mean compromising our personal ethics.

As a nation of animal lovers, many of us are concerned about the welfare of the farm animals that produce our meat, fish, eggs and dairy. And while in the past we might, without a second thought, have traded up from low-welfare, factory-farmed products like eggs from caged hens, or imported meat from animals raised in poor conditions, those extra pennies might now be giving us reason to think twice. It’s no secret that higher welfare products tend to be more expensive because, of course, providing animals with a spacious and comfortable environment, quality food and care costs money.

So what can we do when budgets are tight but our moral compass tells us not to engage with cruelty and exploitation? If switching to a plant-based diet is not on the cards for you, you can instead shop and cook smarter when it comes to meat, fish, eggs and dairy.

What does this mean?

Eat less and better meat, fish, eggs and dairy

Protein is a vital part of a healthy and balanced diet, but there are many places to get protein from, not just meat and fish. Get creative - remember that as well as pre-made products like veggie sausages; eggs, cheese, nuts and beans are also great sources of protein, so you don’t need to rely on meat or expensive alternatives all the time.

Looking for more interesting ways to use eggs? Here are some of our favourite recipes:

Using meat sparingly and choosing higher welfare options when you do (like RSPCA Assured, Organic or free range) is a great way to save money while not compromising your ethics.

Buy in bulk and batch cook to get the most out of your ingredients

We all know to look for special offers when shopping, but did you know that bigger packs are almost always cheaper per kilogram than smaller packs? When shopping online or in-store, the price per kilogram is usually on the label, so be sure to keep an eye out for this.

If you have the space to store it, try to pick up larger pack sizes of store-cupboard items like rice, pasta and dried beans. Even bigger packs of fresh vegetables and meat are usually cheaper than smaller ones so are worth picking up if they can be portioned and frozen.

You can also reduce food waste, save time and energy by batch cooking and freezing the leftovers for future use - no one wants to eat lasagne for 5 days in a row!

Plan out your meals and snacks before you go shopping
Knowing what you plan to cook will avoid unnecessary food waste and help you make the most of your fresh ingredients. Mix fresh ingredients (which are usually more expensive) with store-cupboard staples & frozen ingredients like tinned beans and tomatoes or frozen vegetables.

You can also bulk out meat dishes with pulses, nuts and extra veggies to make your meat go further. This could include adding more vegetables to lasagna and bolognese, adding extra beans to chillis or chickpeas and potatoes to curries. By planning ahead, you can get multiple meals out of any meat you buy, too. For example, a whole RSPCA Assured chicken is cheaper per kilogram than individual portions like breasts or thighs. If you use everything, you can make a huge saving and it will provide several days' worth of meals.

About the author

Xenia Kingsley

Xenia is RSPCA Assured's marketing manager. She is passionate about farm animal welfare and often writes often with the help of her dog Kipper. 

Xenia is passionate about food and Kipper is passionate about walks and tennis balls.

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