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17 Simple Ways to Cut Your Food Costs

15th December 2021

You probably already realise that you spend far more than you need to on food - most of us do. From unhealthy relationships with food that cause us to eat more than our body actually wants “just because” to all the waste from expired ingredients when you choose to have another takeaway, there are plenty of reasons. Here we’ve rounded up 17 money saving ideas that will hopefully cut costs and make you more mindful of what you’re buying and eating.

1. Budget for your weekly food shop

We’re strong believers that budgeting is the best thing you can do this weekend, and this definitely extends to your grocery shopping. Making a list is essential to avoid those impulse purchases and setting a weekly budget stops you from overspending, as do these 5 supermarket shopping tips.

2. Save eating out and takeaways for special occasions

No one likes feeling guilty after the third takeaway of the week, especially not when you can’t really afford it. Try seeing these meals as indulgences and treats, rather than an everyday expense. This way it’ll feel even more special and delicious when you finally have it.

3. Cook from scratch as much as possible

Unsurprisingly, cooking your meals from raw ingredients is cheaper (and far healthier) than relying on premade, processed foods. Take some time to choose at least 3 meals you can cook quickly, easily and on a budget (here’s some inspiration) and you’ll find it isn’t so difficult, even if you live a busy life.

4. Batch cook and freeze

One of the best ways to combat the days where you have no time to cook, or simply don’t want to is to always have home cooked meals in your freezer. Not only will you save a lot of money on takeaways, but batch cooking is both a time and money saver overall, and who doesn’t love a home cooked meal after a long day?

5. Buy versatile ingredients

There are certain ingredients every kitchen should have so you always have options, avoiding the “there’s nothing to eat” dilemma. These essentials include salt, pepper and plenty of other spices and seasonings, hot sauce, dried pasta, eggs, frozen vegetables and more.

Leafy meal

6. See meat as a treat

Whatever your views on meat are, one thing we can agree on is that it can get a little pricey, especially if eaten with every meal. If you’re a meat lover, try changing your meals so the meat is more of a side dish than the main event, opting for more filling veggies and a little meat for taste. Or, try being vegetarian on the weekdays and save the meat as a treat for the weekend.

7. Buy cheaper cuts of meat

Talk to a butcher about how you can get creative with your cuts. Butchers know exactly which of their less popular cuts often have far more flavour than their expensive equivalents. With chicken, thighs are cheaper than breasts and far more versatile. For everything else, you can find out more here.

8. Serve food on smaller plates

A classic tip to eat less is to serve your meals on smaller plates. This tricks the brain into thinking you’ve eaten more than you have, effectively stopping you from eating more than your body needs. It’s even cheaper and healthier if you try to make sure at least 50% of your little plate is fruit or vegetables.

9. Choose fruits and veg in season

Buying fruits and vegetables that are in season here in the UK will be cheaper than imported, out of season produce. Do a bit of research and plan your meals around these ingredients, or, if you have favourites, it may be worth buying them while they are in season and freezing them for later in the year.

10. Avoid fancy desserts

Tempting as they may be, those one-bite-and-they’re-gone puddings can really add up, especially if you have them after most meals. Try to cut down on these as much as possible. If you do have a really sweet tooth, try to stick to fruit where possible, or, to make that a little more appealing, adding supermarkets’ own brand ice cream is a more budget-friendly option.

11. Entertain at home rather than go out

Who needs a night out when you can have a much more fun, budget friendly evening in the comfort of your - or a friend’s - home. Get creative and with the right planning and effort, you can create an evening far more memorable than that same restaurant you stop at before drinks at the pub.

12. Take a packed lunch

Whether it's work, college or a day out with the family, a packed lunch is almost guaranteed to save you money over all those expensive lunch places on the high street. This can be sandwiches, last night’s leftovers or something specially prepared, just as long as you aren’t tempted to pop out and replace it.

Meal prep

13. Regularly check used by dates

No one likes wasting food, it’s bad for both your budget and the environment, so make it a regular habit to check your use by dates and plan out your meals around those that need to be used immediately. Remember, stick to the use by dates which are based on safety, not best before dates as this is to do with quality, and the food may still be fine to use.

14. Buy staples in bulk

You can bulk buy non-perishable staples like grains, pasta, toilet rolls and toothpaste at a discounted price from a wholesaler or somewhere like Costco. This can save you tons of money over time as you’re cutting out distributor costs, and will also save you from traveling to the shops as often.

15. Drink more (tap) water

Water is your best friend - and it’s virtually free-ish. Not only does it keep you fuller for longer (saving you from buying snacks), but staying hydrated is the key to being happier, healthier and having better skin. Swap out the expensive soft drinks for water and you’ll start seeing the savings instantly.

16. Add a little spice

Spicy foods have tons of health benefits, including the ability to slow down your appetite. This isn’t just great for weight loss, but for trimming down your grocery shopping too as you should find you’re snacking less between meals.

17. Always save leftovers

Do you really need that second serving? Or would it be more convenient to save it for tomorrow and skip the cooking? Many families teach kids to always finish what’s on your plate, but as adults, this doesn’t quite work. Often we reach the point where we’re full and satisfied, and still carry on to prevent wastage. Avoid the uncomfortable bloating and save it as leftovers instead.

Eating well on a budget isn’t difficult if you know how. People do it all the time, often just intuitively or out of necessity. Hopefully, with these cost cutting ideas to spark your imagination, you can make your weekly shop more affordable and stay healthy for less.

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