Budget Friendly Seasonal Foods to Enjoy this January
January is not a month noted for an abundance of seasonal food.
But if you are feeling the effects of an over-indulgent Christmas and want a return to healthier eating, the good news is that there is still plenty of options available. Buying food in season isn’t just an opportunity to enjoy food at its freshest, it’s also a good way to save money. Just what you need if your wallet’s a bit thin after the expense of Christmas. Here are some foods that are widely available in January and can form the basis of a healthy, comforting Winter meal.
Most vegetables in season for January are root veg. That’s fine as you can do a lot with these. Carrots, parsnips, turnips, potatoes and beetroot can all be oven-roasted, steamed, boiled or can be added to curries, casseroles and soups.
Speaking of soups, don’t forget our friend, the humble leek. This milder, larger cousin of the onion is an ideal base for that classic winter favourite, leek and potato soup. Just what you need on a chilly January day.
Not all winter vegetables are root veg, though. Hardy brassicas like cabbage, kale and broccoli are fresh and plentiful at this time of year. The humble sprout isn’t just for Christmas either. Fry them up with a little bacon or chorizo for a satisfying January side dish.
As with vegetables, it’s only the hardiest fruit that’s in season in January. True, you can buy all manner of exotic fruits year round in supermarkets but they will have been flown in from some far-flung corner of the world and will quite likely be expensive. Apples, pears and early rhubarb can be stewed or made into pies, crumbles and tarts. Pour over some hot custard for a delicious winter dessert that will blow away the January blues.
While not native to our country, clementines and satsumas are worth a mention as they are cheap and plentiful at this time of year. We need vitamin C to help fend off colds and flu so put these in your kids’ lunchboxes and snack on them yourself to keep your immune system topped up.
Nuts are a great source of protein, magnesium and other essential nutrients. Those who are calorie-conscious tend to avoid them as they are purported to be high in fat. True, in most cases, but eaten in small amounts, they can add a ‘moreish’ quality to side dishes and salads. Try a handful of cashew nuts in a stir-fry, walnuts in a salad or chopped almonds over a dessert dish.
Note: Peanuts are not actually nuts. They come from the bean, or legume family.
There’s nothing quite like fresh fish, and buying seasonal means you get them at their freshest and at a budget-friendly price. If you are lucky enough to live near the coast, check out your local harbour-side fish shops for locally caught produce and special offers. Oily fish like mackerel and salmon are in season at this time of year. Both of these are rich in Omega 3 fats (‘good’ fats!). If you like something lighter, sea bass is a tasty white fish which is freely available at this time of year.
Shellfish are also popular around now. Mussels, clams, whelks and cockles can be enjoyed steamed or in a sauce of your choice. Or how about a delicious, warming bowl of clam chowder?
I’m sure you’ve had your fill of turkey and ham by now so why not start the new year off by trying something different? Game meats like venison, pheasant, partridge and poultry such as duck and goose are now in season. Venison is very similar to steak and surprisingly low in fat. Duck is delicious pan-fried with a selection of seasonal veg or you could try oven-roasted goose. (Make sure it’s well cooked so it’s not tough.)
By choosing seasonal foods, you can enjoy the freshest items each month has to offer while saving pennies on your family budget. Happy New Year.
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