One of the easiest ways to blow the monthly budget is with the food shop. We looked at simple ways to make your food budget go further.
It’s not hard to reduce how much you spend on food, and save waste at the same time. All it takes is some planning and these ten tips.
Use what you already have
How many times have you come back from the shops only to find that you’ve bought something you’d forgotten you already had? Avoid spending money unnecessarily by checking your cupboards before you go, and writing a list of what you need so you avoid duplicating items.
Stop throwing food away
UK households throw out between £250 and £400 worth of food every year. That’s 6.7 million tonnes of food going to waste. There are lots of ways you can help to reduce waste and save money including:
- checking expiry dates and knowing the difference between “use by” and “best before”
- using food that’s going to go off before newer food
- freezing leftovers
- only buying what you need
When you’ve got food that’s looking a little less than perfect, for example, broccoli, you could use it to make soups that you can then freeze.
Use the freezer more
If you find yourself with food that’s approaching the “use by” date and you don’t think you’ll be able to use it, you can make food last longer by freezing it instead of throwing it away. You’ll extend its life by at least three months and you can freeze almost anything including milk, hard cheese, rice, and eggs. Make sure to wrap them well, or use an airtight container.
If you’re a toast lover then a great tip to make bread last longer is to freeze it as soon as you buy it. Just pop frozen slices in the toaster when you want them and toast as normal. The loaf of bread will last in the freezer for up to six months.
Keep your fridge organised
An unorganised fridge can easily lead to food being hidden at the back of the shelves and forgotten about. Keep your fridge tidy and make sure older food is near the front where it can be seen and not forgotten. This way you’ll be able to see at a glance what needs using up. You can buy containers for the fridge to help keep different groups of food together.
Read on for some more tips about how to organise your fridge.
Learn some cheap and easy recipes
Cooking meals from scratch usually works out cheaper than buying pre-prepared meals. So, get the cookbooks out or use the internet for inspiration. Don’t let complicated ingredient lists put you off trying a recipe - you can always leave the odd thing out or try substitutes. Part of the fun of cooking is experimenting. As well as saving you money, home cooked food always tastes nicer and you know exactly what’s in it too.
Stock up on the basics
If you’re going to be cooking more, then it pays to keep some essentials in stock. This way you avoid having to go out to the shops, putting temptation in your way. Store cupboard basics include rice, pasta and lentils, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, stock, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs and spices.
If you tend to buy brand names, try buying stores' own brands when it comes to basics. You probably won’t notice the difference once they’ve been cooked into a recipe.
Put less on your plate
If you find yourself scraping leftovers off your plate into the bin then start to put less on your plate. As well as cutting down on waste it will help if you’re trying to lose a few pounds. We often eat the last few mouthfuls of food even when we’re no longer hungry. Freeze any extras in the pan, or save it for lunch the next day.
Start batch cooking
If you’re cooking a meal for two, then why not double the ingredients and make a meal for four? You’ll use the same amount of gas or electricity, but will end up with portions that you can use in the week or put in the freezer ready for last minute emergencies. Taking homemade food into work is a great way to cut down on the money you spend on takeout lunches.
Be wary of offers
Offers like “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” are designed to part us with our money, so only take advantage of these offers if they’re for items you would buy anyway. Non-perishable items like tinned food, or food that can be frozen are good examples of things to stock up on when there’s an offer on.
Look out for discounted food
Supermarkets always end up discounting food that they don’t think will sell, or food that’s close to its expiry date. It’s worth checking for reduced price stickers, but only buy what you need and will use. This is a great way to buy bread as loaves often get discounted. As mentioned above you can then put the bread in the freezer to make it last up to six months.
Here are some more ways to save on your food shop.
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