Food prices have gone up considerably this year, so what can you do to keep your food costs down?
Many of the tips below stem from this one. If you plan your meals a week ahead it saves further trips to the shops for bits and pieces, and the less time you spend in shops, the less money you will spend too. If you know what you’re going to cook, you won’t get home and ring the pizza man either.
Make a shopping list
Supermarkets thrive on the spontaneous purchase, so make a shopping list and stick to it as much as possible. You won’t forget things you need, and you won’t come home with unwanted extras either.
The more processed food is, the more profitable it is to the seller. We pay a very high price for convenience, in money and in health too. Eat fresh vegetables, fruit and meat, cook from scratch as often as possible. For the love of God, put down the ‘boil in the bag’ rice.
Seasonal vegetables are often cheaper because they’re likely to be local, although this is much more likely to be true in smaller grocers than in supermarkets. Out of season foods will have been grown indoors, or imported, and thus the cost of providing it to you is greater. Some herbs and spices can be grown in window boxes indoors and provide cheap additions to your meals. It saves on packaging, waste, and money buying re-fill packs. It’s all better for the environment too. See our monthly seasonal eating update for more.
As we’ve mentioned before, in the UK we throw away a third of the food we buy. One of the main reasons is that we just buy too much. Two-for-ones are great, but if you only eat one you’ve not gained anything. If you can’t eat a whole lettuce before it goes off, don’t buy it.
Store food properly
Many things will keep longer in the fridge, others in the dark. Get some tupperware. Freeze stuff until you need it, and check your freezer regularly for forgotten things. You don’t want to find food is going wasted because it hasn’t been stored right. The Love Food Hate Waste site has lots of tips on storage.
Cook the right amount
A lot of foods have recommended amounts on the packaging. Following these will help you maintain a balanced diet, but it will also mean you don’t cook more than you need to. That’s just more wastage, and more expense.
Get creative with leftovers. Use up all the scraps or the things near their best-before date. It could be a weekly tradition, maybe a saturday brunch or something. Call it a smorgasbord if you like. Check out this index of things that need using up for ideas of what to do with them.
Say no to snacks
If you get a coffee on the way into work, and a coke later, and maybe some chocolate or a packet of crisps on the way home, you can spend £60 a month without even realising it. You have two options. Buy multipacks and bring snacks with you, or be healthy and don’t eat between meals. As for coffee, you could take a thermos if you were so inclined. I have a cafetiere in my office, and I’m convinced that my coffee is better than the Starbucks on the corner.
Rather than eating out with friends, have people over more. You can feed four people very well indeed at home for the price of one restaurant meal. Buying your food together means you can get savings in bulk too, if you wanted to take it a step further.