Is the dizzying increase in food prices giving you anxiety every time they tot up your total at the till?

Knowing these seven things will help you keep costs under control when you’re doing your supermarket shop
1) KNOW WHEN YOUR FAVE FRUIT AND VEG ARE IN SEASON

Fresh fruits and vegetables are at their most delicious when they’re in season. Happily, this is when they’re cheapest too.

Don’t pay over the odds for out of season produce. Use the list below to predict when some your favourites will be readily available in store and plan to make the most of them. Your taste buds will thank you.

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What’s in season?

Apricots: November and December
Artichokes: October to November
Asparagus (green): September to May
Avocados: March to November
Berries: December to March
Bok choy: August to March
Chillies: January to April
Citrus fruits: May to September
Fennel: May to June
Figs: October to April
Granadillas: January to May
Parsnips: May to September
Plums and peaches: November to March
Pomegranates: February to May
Tropical fruits (litchi, mango, watermelon): December to March/April
Low-carb pizza omelette. Image: Sean Calitz

2) EGGS AREN’T JUST FOR BREAKFAST
Eggs are a excellent source of protein that won’t break the bank so don’t relegate them to the breakfast table.

Don’t feel like scrambled eggs on toast will cut it for supper? Use one of these simple recipes to turn them into a more substantial meal:

• Crustless cheddar, ham & mushroom quiche
• Low-carb pizza omelette
• Dukkah-crusted eggs, roasted tomatoes & lentils
• Mexican eggs with a spicy bean mash and tortillas
3) LENTILS AND BEANS CAN MAKE MEAT DISHES GO FURTHER
Low cost pulses —  lentils, beans and split peas —  pack a big punch nutrition-wise. Many have a fairly neutral flavour, which means you can sneak them into just about any soup, stew or casserole and, as they’re so filling, you’ll need to include less pricey meat or poultry as a result.

If you’ve always steered clear of pulses because they tend to give you gas, try soaking and rinsing dry pulses before cooking them, and rinsing canned varieties well before use.  This may put a stop to your digestive woes and, as an added bonus, will speed up the cooking time of dried types.
4) BUYING IN BULK ISN’T ALWAYS A CHEAPER OPTION

Buying an ingredient in bulk can save you money, but it’s no saving at all if you end up throwing most of it away.

Before popping a bulk buy in your trolley, check the sell-by dates and consider whether all that food can realistically be eaten before it goes off, or whether some of it can be frozen.

Ask yourself the same questions when contemplating taking advantage of ‘buy two and save’ specials or similar deals.

Sometimes buying two packs to get a special offer can work out more expensive than just buying a bigger pack of the same ingredient.

That said, don’t automatically assume a bigger packet means better value. Compare products, check the weight and do your sums.

Roasted peppers stuffed with savoury rice – yum! Image: iStock

5) RICE ISN’T JUST A SIDE DISH
Stop thinking of rice as something to serve other things on. This pocket-friendly staple can easily hold its own as a star ingredient — think a spicy biryani, Chinese fried rice, paella or a creamy risotto.

Yes, the specialised short-grain rice needed to make a risotto or paella is pricier than the regular rice, but remember you’ll be using smaller amounts of more expensive ingredients like meat and cheese to make your meal.

Rice can also be used to make a flavourful stuffing for baked peppers, aubergines and baby marrows.

Try this easy recipe for stuffed peppers: Stuff 4-6 halved peppers with a mixture of 1 fried onion, 1 clove of garlic and 1 seeded, chopped chilli. Add cubed feta cheese, cooked rice, seasoning and small cocktail tomatoes. Bake at 180°C for 30-45 minutes till peppers are soft and lightly charred.

6) YOUR TIPPLE WILL COST MORE COME APRIL
Finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2017 budget increases the so-called ‘sin taxes’, so from April 1 you’ll see the price of alcohol go up.

Here’s how it’ll affect you at the till:

• Beer will cost 11 cents more per 340 ml can;
• Sparkling wine will cost 93c more per litre;
• Wine will cost 30 cents more per litre; and
• Spirits will cost R4.43 more per bottle.

7) SUGAR DRINKS WILL SOON BE MORE EXPENSIVE

Sweet sips including cold drinks and 100% fruit juices will be subject to a ‘sugar tax’, which according to the finance minister, “will be implemented later this year once details are finalised and the legislation is passed”.

The tax will be calculated at a cost of 2.1 cents per gram of sugar content in excess of 4 grams per 100ml.story

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Is the dizzying increase in food prices giving you anxiety every time they tot up your total at the till? Knowing these seven things will help you keep costs under control when you're doing your supermarket shop 1) KNOW WHEN YOUR FAVE FRUIT AND VEG ARE IN SEASON Fresh fruits and...