How much do you spend a week on food?
Along with utilities, food can take up a large proportion of a household budget, so it’s a good place to look at saving money. Whether it’s just you or there are many mouths to feed, there are ways to make your money go further.
There are loads of ideas out there to help you use leftovers and cut down on waste, as well as recipes and resources to help you plan your shopping and save money while still being healthy. Smart shopping, meal planning, and budgeting on brands can all help you to reduce what you spend. Here are some of our favourite tips
- Plan your meals for the week, and write a list of what you’ll need for the meals. Check to see if you’ve got any of the ingredients in the cupboards or freezer, and then write a shopping list.
- Go shopping with a shopping list. Stick to the shopping list! This sounds obvious but how many times have you gone ‘off-list’ and found yourself buying buy-one-get-one-free biscuits or mushrooms just because they are on offer? If you know you need a particular item, like ‘new potatoes’ you can shop around for offers before you go shopping, so you can buy them on offer somewhere
- Try dropping down a brand – if you always buy the ‘best’ brand, have you tried supermarket own brand? Or supermarket value brand? For example, posh chopped tomatoes are almost £1 a can in supermarkets – own brand standard chopped tomatoes are about 55p a can, and value range chopped tomatoes are often only about 35p a can. Some of this is about taste – you might think there’s no difference between posh tinned tomatoes and value own-brand, but you might not like own-brand baked beans. Give the cheaper versions a try and see what you think.
- Think carefully with offers – sometimes you can end up buying things you don’t need, or worse – don’t use. Throwing food away is like throwing money away really. If you know you will need tinned tomatoes and there is a great deal on, then fine, but if it’s anything with a short life (like fresh foods) think before you buy it – if you end up throwing it out then it’s not been such a bargain.
- Meals like chilli con carne and spaghetti bolognese can be cheaply bulked out by adding grated vegetables such as carrots, or things like beans or lentils to the sauce. It’s also a great way of sneaking in some of your 5 a day!
- Try bulk buying with a friend and splitting the costs of delivery
- Buy fruit and vegetables when they are in season – or try buying them from the markets. When fruit and veg gets flown or shipped in over long distances it really adds to the cost. (Plus it’s not very environmentally friendly). Local and in-season produce is often cheaper.
- Do you check out the reduced section? Towards the end of the day there can be some great reductions. Try and find out the schedule at your nearest or favourite supermarket – for example it could be 25% reductions at 4pm and then 50% reductions at 6pm. If you know you will use things, you can even freeze them if you won’t use them straight away.
- Make sure you know what is in your fridge and freezer – that way you won’t forget to use something up and you wont end up buying double. If you know what is in your freezer you could incorporate that into a weeks meal plan and you don’t have to root around in the cold to see if you’ve run out of frozen sweetcorn.
As you can see there are tonnes of tips out there, these are just a few of our favourites. There are some great blogs and websites where you can find cheap recipes and food ideas, slow cooker recipes, and more great ideas.
If you have any tips, we’d love to hear them! You can pop them in the comments or email / tweet us.