Cooking on a Budget
If you’re looking on ways to reduce the amount you spend on food for your household, you’re in the right place. We’ve come up with a few tips and tricks to keep both you and your family on track and some cash in your pocket…
Planning your meals out for the week or month can help you to stay on budget as well as reducing food waste, which is as good as throwing money down the drain. If you and your family often rely on take-away meals and/ or convenience foods, planning out your meals can really help to reduce the overall amount of money you spend on food. It can also reduce the number of trips to the shops you need to do and ultimately reduce the likelihood of picking up extra buys that you don’t actually need.
Reducing food waste
Try to avoid letting things go to waste or spoil. There is always a solution to using things up. A freezer can be your best friend when it comes to reducing food waste as most leftovers and food items will freeze. Good Housekeeping have a thorough guide to freezing do’s and don’ts which you can find here.
When you are planning out meals, try to think of how you might be able to incorporate leftover ingredients from some meals into other meals. For example, left-over meat from a roast dinner always works well in curries, soups and stews for a weekday meal. Try and set yourself and family a challenge of not allowing any food to waste for a week, or two weeks, or maybe even a month! Once you and your family get into good habits of reducing food waste you’ll start to see an overall difference in money saved.
If you have the money available in your budget to do so, try and double up on ingredients for things that you can batch cook easily like soups, stews, lasagne, spaghetti Bolognese, chilli etc. You will save yourself both time and money and will have things in your freezer you can fall back on when you’re limited on time or can’t be bothered.
Cutting down on expensive food items
Cutting down on luxury and more expensive food items doesn’t have to be difficult or miserable. Try to cut down on meat and opt for more veggie protein options to include in your meals, like beans, lentils, pulses, eggs and tofu. Your health, your family’s health and purse strings will thank you for it, even if it’s replacing just one or two meat-based meals a week. We’re serial snackers in the UK and according to the Office of National Statistics, the average UK household spends around £530 on take-away meals and snack foods eaten outside of the home. Try and find your own staple recipes for snacks that are cheap and/ or can be batch-cooked easily. For example:
- Veggie muffins or mini frittatas
- Wholegrain crisp bread with cottage cheese, cheddar cheese or an alternative to cheese, with cucumber or tomato
- Wholegrain toast with peanut butter and fruit
Often buying in bulk can reduce the amount you spend on your food shops overall. Always look at the price per unit as a way to compare cost. Using independent comparison sites can help but it’s often quicker to check yourself as you’re doing your shopping. Down-grading your label choice will help to reduce overall cost too. For example, opting for own-brand and value brands, especially for things like canned goods and staple food items where you’re not really going to see or taste the difference. Look out for offers, just make sure that you are actually saving money though. Only buy into offers when it’s something that you would usually buy, otherwise you’re still spending extra money. Getting your food shops delivered can also help save some money. If you’ve never ordered your food shopping online before, the main supermarkets often offer discount codes for first time online orders. Shop around!
Look out for Wonky Fruit and Veg boxes at your local supermarket too. These are boxes of fruit and vegetables that do not meet the cosmetic standards of the main supermarkets to reach shelves so would otherwise be going to waste. Money Saving Expert have written a useful article detailing which supermarkets you can pick these up from which you can find here.