Lee Williams, a culinary expert, recommends buying different cuts of meats, batch cooking meals, and adding different seasonings to create many meals from one base.
Other smart hacks include ditching fresh veg for frozen, bulking meals out with vegetables, and making delicious spicy soups out of leftovers.
His advice comes after a study of 2,000 adults found nearly half (46%) admit to eating the same meals day in and day out, with 59% saying they are bored of money-saving dinners.
Due to feeling the pinch financially, 46% are compromising on the produce they purchase, missing out on flavoursome dishes they wish they were serving up.
And one in six (16%) struggle to cater for picky eaters in the household.
Lee Williams, head of culinary innovation from Schwartz, which commissioned the study, said: “It is clear that people are stuck in a rut in the kitchen.
“With the cost-of-living crisis a worry for everyone, it can sometimes be tricky to find meals that fit within your weekly budget, but don’t compromise on taste or flavour.
“Small changes to your cooking style and habits can go a long way – bulking out meals with vegetables is a great way to make your food go that little bit further, and trying out different seasonings and flavourings can also be an easy way to vary what you’re eating throughout the week.”
The study also found a quarter only cook and prepare half the meals that they eat at home.
And a third struggle to think of new recipe ideas, while 26% don’t know how to make their meals more exciting.
On average, households are consuming three identical meals a week – with the top reasons being it’s simpler, eating what they know they like, and being able to rustle them up without thinking.
Meals that contain meat of some kind was deemed the most popular to cook (63%) – but three in five (61%) prefer to cook the simpler dishes, like beans on toast, omelette, or pasta with sauce.
It also found 63% have to prepare more than one dish at mealtimes to suit different tastes within their household.
And more than half (54%) said their food shopping list generally consists of the same ingredients week in, week out.
But half of those polled wish they could “work smarter” in the kitchen, such as being able to budget but also cook different meals each week.
Of those who took part in the survey, carried out via OnePoll, 36% said the flavour of their food is really important to them – but one in five struggle to know what herbs and spices to include in their recipes to make them more interesting.
Lee Williams added: “Making everyday meals more exciting could be as simple as spicing them up with kitchen staples, such as Cajun spice and smokey chipotle chilli.
“A lot of people are too scared to venture out their comfort zone when it comes to food, but it really is just trial and error.
“It’s a good idea to plan your meals each week and then shop for all the ingredients you may need, including seasonings, herbs, and spices which can transform a dish.
“A little goes a long way, so it’ll be a while before you run out of these – so it’s a great investment in the long run, and can make all the difference to your meals.”
CULINARY EXPERT'S TOP 10 HACKS:
- Planning is key – Write down the meals you love cooking and eating, and make sure you plan your shop accordingly, so you have all the ingredients you need. This will also help avoid the temptation of last-minute takeaways.
- Batch cooking – It’s often more cost effective to bulk-buy meat and vegetables, and you can then cook it all up in a big batch to freeze for another day too.
- When one dish becomes two – This is key for making food stretch further, for example a pack of mince which can eventually become many dishes. Cook up your meat, then split it and add different seasonings or herbs to create different meals, such as spaghetti bolognaise, chili con carne, or cottage pie.
- Buying different cuts of meat – Buying whole cuts can often be more cost effective than buying individual pre-prepared pieces for the majority of meats.
- Bulk it up with veggies – Add more of your five a day to make meals go further. This also includes produce such as lentils, which can be a really smart way to bulk out dishes, without changing the flavour too much for fussy eaters.
- The many wonders of one-pot wonders – One-pot wonders are a beneficial way to not only save time, but also saving on the washing up afterwards too. This also includes using slow cookers and air fryers, both of which are easy and energy efficient to use at home.
- Buying frozen – Sourcing frozen alternatives such as meat and vegetables is often cheaper, and also helps you reduce on food waste, as you often only cook as much as you need.
- Turn it into a soup – Perfect for the colder season, turning scraps into soup is a brilliant way to make your food stretch further with just a few added ingredients.
- Don't shy away from flavour – Experiment with different herbs, spices and seasonings by trying a new one each month. A little really does go along way, so a jar will last a while.
- Love your leftovers – Cut down on food waste and plate up those leftovers for the next day. Food often tastes better the day after it’s cooked, and it means you can skip buying lunch too.