Expert advice Nutrition

Plan the right menu within a budget this Diwali! 

Gayatri Chona

MSc Nutrition U.K., Specialises in nutrition for kids, teens, pregnant women & corporate diet plans

5 min read

The festivities are approaching and you may be tempted to overspend and celebrate though UR budget may not approve. Let us help U plan to make this a great festive season without breaking the bank. A bit of pre-planning goes a long way, particularly concerning UR budget. It’s the right thing to do, and you will be taking one step forward in the right direction to conserve UR wealth.

Festivals bring with them excitement – the fun of meeting family and friends as well as the indulgence of food and festivities. But for a lot of us, it can also end up being heavy on our pocket. This need not be the case, U can plan a delicious menu well within UR budget without compromising on taste! Check out these easy tips for a scrumptious budget-friendly menu. Enjoy and celebrate without overspending!

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Stick to tradition. We often get carried away by fancy sweets and unhealthy bakery products like cakes and cookies. Instead, opt for fresh Indian homemade sweets. It could be a moong dal halwa, an anjeer halwa, shrikhand or homemade barfi. Use ingredients that are readily available and found in UR kitchen such as ghee, sugar, oil, dates, kishmish (raisins) and anjeer (dry figs).

Cook with vegetables that are local and seasonal. We all love exotic-looking vegetables like asparagus, avocados or purple cabbage to add that fancy element to our menu. These veggies are expensive and may also have a lot of pesticides and chemicals sprayed to keep them fresh for logistics purposes. Opt for fresh seasonal produce that is native and grown close to your home.

Keep it traditional, local, seasonal, and most importantly keep it simple!The food you serve needn’t be pricey or elaborate.

Make fancy foods with the simplest vegetables and fruits. For example, you can make palak or dhoodhi koftas with a nice rich peanut gravy. This tastes amazing and would grace any festive menu. Try green peas or sweet potato kebab with a mint and coriander chutney. A chana kulcha or chana chaat serves perfectly for guests or family coming over. It’s tasty, nutritious and inexpensive.

Don’t shy away from fried foods. We often feel eating fried foods is unhealthy. Yes, but if it’s freshly prepared at home, made with fresh, clean oil – it is far better than the readily available fried chips or ready to eat foods that are available in grocery stores and shops. Keep the quantities U consume in check. Don’t overdo it. Enjoy that samosa or those homemade chips in moderation.

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Try to use one food in different forms and recipes. This is one thing I love to do and which works very well. This offers a fresh and different feel to the menu. For example, if you’re using a cauliflower (gobi), use the stems to make a puree or white sauce, its healthier than the regular atta or maida sauce. Use the florets to make baked cauliflower, or you could make a nice gobi ki sabzi. Use the leaves to make a salad or a fresh green vegetable dish.

When you use one food and use it in different ways, you’re maximizing the nutrients U get from that food and also reduce wastage. Try it with chicken as well. If UR making chicken biryani or chicken tikkas – don’t throw away the bones; make a flavourful stock and use the same in a curry or broth. Doing this will add protein and more flavour to UR menu.

Roses have been part of Indian tradition and find many uses in our homes. The flower is used for decorating different corners of our homes while its petals garnish many of our mithais. It makes for a lovely rose sherbet or rose syrup which can be added to sweets or milk.

Keep it traditional, local, seasonal, and most importantly keep it simple! The food you serve needn’t be pricey or elaborate. Here are some creative strategies to help you keep to UR budget while you don’t miss out on any of the festivities! Here are some creative strategies to help you keep to UR budget while you don’t miss out on any of the festivities!

Reorganize: It helps to check UR fridge and cabinets before you go on a purchasing spree. You will get a better understanding of what you require and what you don’t. You may be surprised at all the stuff you already have! This easy step can prove to be very economical.

Anticipate what you will need: With the festive season fast approaching, it’s best to start planning UR meals. Anticipate the kinds of foods you will need to purchase and try to fit it in UR food budget. Opt for simple meals during the weeks or days leading up to the festivals. The extra bucks can be used for the special ingredients you plan to get for UR festive menu.

Plan in advance: Go through your pantry to see what you have at home and don’t overbuy ingredients. Since you already know what you’ve planned for UR festive menu – start buying those ingredients and items a little at a time and don’t wait for last minute to buy it all together. If you wait longer, the prices of things will go up, and all of the expenses will come together!

Opt for simple meals and treats: Festival time doesn’t mean you get all fancy! You can make many fun and delicious things that are not expensive. Festivals are all about tradition. Instead of shopping for extravagant and pricey items, choose to simplify the festival treats and focus on UR family’s favorite festival dishes.

Make fair use of sales, discounts and offers: With the festival season come great deals and good offers. Ensure you make the most of these offers and discounts. Think creatively. You may come across some ingredients and grocery on sale. Though these may not necessarily be suitable for UR festival menu, they can be instrumental to whip up other treats and delicacies. Don’t miss out on grabbing these budget-friendly deals!

Cook beforehand when possible: Some foods can be made ahead and stored in airtight containers or the refrigerator. Make-ahead foods save a lot of time and money. When some dishes are made beforehand, you won’t be tempted to rush out at the last minute and buy the overpriced versions from the store.

Follow these practical tips to keep UR family and friends well fed and in a festive spirit. Just plan, organize and pay more attention when you go grocery shopping to avoid any financial challenges during this time of the year.