How to save money on food

Food can be a big drain on your income, especially if you’re supporting a family. Did you know, though, that the average British family throws away almost £60 of food each month? Learn how to become a more efficient shopper and reduce your grocery bill.

How to save money on your weekly shop 

Plan ahead. Mindlessly throwing items in your shopping trolley is a surefire way of running up your grocery bill. To stop buying items you don’t need, make a shopping list based on a weekly plan. Bring the list with you and be sure you stick to it.

Don’t shop hungry. Have a snack before you go shopping to help avoid impulse buys. Remember, stick to what your shopping list is telling you, not your stomach. 

Eat more veg. Meat and fish are usually the most expensive ingredients on a shopping list. And if you eat a lot of them, it adds up. Try adding more veg to your meat dishes to see how much further you can make that pound of mince stretch. Or go veggie for a couple of meals each week to keep your grocery costs down.

Go for frozen. Did you know that frozen fruit and veg usually contain just as many nutrients as their fresh counterparts? They’re often cheaper than buying fresh, plus they keep for longer too. Stock up and you’ll always have some to hand when you need them.

Look out for vouchers and sales. Before you shop, try to find out what’s on sale. Newspapers are full of vouchers and sales advertisements, or you can check online for more information. It’s also a good idea to stock up on items you use frequently when they’re on sale. But only buy sale products you were going to pick up anyway.

Tip: Did you know frozen fruit and veg contain as many nutrients as fresh? They’re often cheaper too. 

Consider the brand. Try buying store brands instead of the more expensive name brands. All food manufacturers follow the same standards to make their products safe to consume, so there’s no danger in going with the cheaper option. And in a lot of cases, there’s very little difference in taste or quality, so at least give them a try.

Cut back on treats. If you regularly stock up on crisps, chocolate, fizzy drinks or biscuits, try cutting back. Some food packaging uses a colour-code that makes it easier to choose foods with less sugar, salt and fat. Look for more greens and ambers, and fewer reds. And think about cheaper – and healthier – alternatives you could buy instead, like fruit with yoghurt or sparkling water and juice.

How to cut down on food waste

Keep an eye on dates. Try not to waste food by letting the expiration date pass. Keep in mind, though, that when sell by dates have passed it doesn’t always mean you need to chuck the food away. Learning the difference between ‘sell by’ and ‘use by’ could save you a lot of waste.

Measure portions or freeze leftovers. It’s not just food spoilage that means we waste it. We often throw staples like rice and pasta in the bin because we cook too much. You can reduce waste by cooking only the amount of food you need. Try to measure portions where you can. Alternatively, why not cook a double portion and freeze your leftovers for another day?  

Sauces and dips. If you have leftovers that are approaching their expiration date, why not make them into sauces or dips? Beans, pulses, and slightly over-ripe avocados, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are all great ingredients. Check online for recipes.

Tip: Learn the difference between ‘sell by’ and ‘use by’ and you could save yourself a lot of waste.

Need some tips for healthy cooking on a budget? Check out Change4Life