New World: How to cook seasonal, budget-friendly meals without the waste this winter

If the weekly supermarket shop has been feeling more like a high-stakes high school calculus quiz lately, we feel you. Maximising savings while cutting back on waste – and still creating delicious and easy meals for ourselves and our whānau? We need guidance, and we need it STAT. 

So Kiwis have continual access to healthy and affordable food even with the pinch of winter approaching, the team at New World have implemented a series of new initiatives to help keep things both economical and eco-friendly during your weekly shop. 

For starters, keep your eyes out for a bright blue ticket. New World supermarkets' new Everyday Low-Price ticket initiative sees blue tickets placed on the best-value items on shelves – we're talking the everyday items we reach for each week like dried pastas, cheese or butter,sugar and flour There are also new seasonal meal plans available on the New World website, designed to use in-season ingredients and cut back on the amount of waste going in the rubbish bin.

So what are some other ways to make the most of your weekly shop? We turned to cooking expert and New World ambassador Sam Low to get the Low-down (sorry) on the best ways to create delicious and affordable food that won’t break the bank this winter. Sure, we can't all be MasterChef New Zealand winners, but Low says there are a heaps of ways we can all easily maximise our shop and cut back on waste – without sacrificing on flavour. 

Shop seasonally

We hear this term bandied around a lot, but what does it actually mean? 

"Eating seasonally speaks to making the most of the fruits and vegetables that are in season for the season – Generally because they taste better and cost less," says Low. He says he prefers to use freshly picked and sun ripened ingredients in his cooking, rather than produce that has to be imported and flown in – at extra cost, of course.  

Some of Low's favourite autumnal fruits in store now include apples, pears, feijoas and limes. He recommends whipping up make a delicious apple pie for dessert, or trying your hand at preserved feijoas – "these are great with icecream and keep for months". And keep your eyes peeled for persimmons and mandarins – they'll be arriving on shelves in April. 

Switch out meat for veggies one meal a week

If you haven't embraced the whole meat-free Monday concept yet, consider this your motivation. 

"Veggies aren't just healthy, they use less energy. Emissions from most plant-based products are 10 to 50 times lower than most animal-based products, so filling up on pulses and veggies is definitely the climate-and wallet-friendly option," says Low. 

Some Sam's favourite and cost effective protein sources that aren't meat include tofu, tempeh, beans, and yoghurt.
Some Sam's favourite and cost effective protein sources that aren't meat include tofu, tempeh, beans, and yoghurt. Photo credit: Supplied

Some of Low's favourite and cost effective protein sources that aren't meat include tofu, tempeh, beans, and yoghurt. 

If you're looking for a little vegetarian meal inspo, check out the New World budget Friendly meal plans – our favourite is the edamame and chickpea salad (hint: this also makes excellent work-lunch leftovers). 

While you're embracing the green life, consider starting a compost for veggie waste in your garden – it produces far less climate-changing methane than when it rots in landfill.

Plan Your Meals

It's not just Santa who should be making a list and checking it twice. Low advises to plan your meals and cook the correct portions of each to cut down on both waste and wasted dollars. We've all had unused eggplant rot in the back of our fridge because we didn't have a meal for it in mind. 

"Take an inventory [before you shop]: take stock of your pantry, refrigerator and freezer before going to the store to prevent overbuying," he says. 

If you're lacking in the organisational skills, opt for the New Word Budget Friendly meal plans instead: you just download the shopping list and recipes to enjoy in season veggies, zero food waste and nutritionally balanced dinners. 

Some of Low's favourites coming up this season? "There are so many exciting options to choose from, just in the autumn meal plans along the Salmon Kedgeree and Teriyaki Tofu recipes really stand out to me, full of flavour and easy to make."

Don't forget the freezer

If you've previously pooh-poohed frozen produce in favour of its pricier fresh counterparts, it's time to rethink that approach. Often frozen vegetables are snap frozen after being picked at the top of the season, when they're in their prime. Frozen vegetables will especially come in handy for shoppers this season, after many crops have been impacted by the recent weather events like floods and cyclones. 

Low also recommends buying extra meat or fish on special when you can, so you can put them into your freezer for the next week, and freezing in-season veggies such as lemons by slicing and bagging – or juicing and freezing as ice cubes. 

You can download the free budget friendly autumn meal plans here.

Article created in partnership with New World.