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With Ramazan just around the corner, here are some helpful tips to ensure that the month goes smoothly – and economically!

Prepare food items in advance. Prepare Ramazan staples such as chutneys, parathas, samosas and spring rolls well in advance and freeze them before the month begins. Not only will this result in substantial savings in the long run, but will also save you time when iftar and sehri have to be prepared.

Explore ‘tiffin’ options. Several housewives initiate small home businesses before and during Ramazan and prepare iftar items such as pakoras, samosas, spring rolls and fruit chaat that can be picked up or delivered to your doorstep. Not only are these items usually cheaper, but they are also fresh. If you have time, consider beginning such a business, but if not, take advantage of such businesses in your neighbourhood.

Keep an eye on deals. Buying groceries from wholesale stores is an excellent way to economise. Additionally, several supermarkets sell a lot of groceries such as chick peas, cooking oil, sherbets, milk and sugar at discounts, and offer deals such as ‘buy one get one free’. But do remember to check the expiration date on these products before purchasing them.

Plant your own herbs. If you haven’t already, plant herbs and vegetables that are used regularly during Ramazan (such as mint, coriander and green chillies) in your garden. In addition to being cheaper than those available in the market, they are fresher and therefore taste better. And, of course, they are always within easy reach!

‘One dish’ iftar parties. Throw ‘one dish’ iftar parties. Not only will they lessen the burden on you as far as cooking is concerned, but they will provide variety in your iftar menu!

– Uzma Nawaz

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on July 7, 2013.