Why is it important to save money on food?
Your food shopping is one of the biggest costs you have to budget for. By looking for ways to save money, you may find increased food costs easier to deal with.
Plan your meals in advance
By planning your meals, you can save yourself time and stress as well as money. Cooking ‘from scratch’ tends to be healthier than eating ready-made meals, which are often high in salt and sugar.
One trick that can help you plan your meals in advance is ‘batch cooking’. This is where you cook enough food to cover meals over a number of days, and freeze it for when you need it. This can save you time as well as money.
In order to batch cook your meals, you’ll need:
- At least one staple food (e.g. rice or pasta)
- At least one type of vegetable for nutrition
- A calendar or diary to write down the meals you’ve planned
- A simple recipe to follow
- At least an hour’s free time to cook the food, sort it into batches for each day of the week, and freeze if necessary (Sunday’s traditionally seen as a good day for batch cooking
You don’t need to be an expert chef to plan and batch cook your meals. Commit to learning two or three recipes to get you started. You can find lots of easy-to-follow recipes online. Some examples of meals that work great for batch cooking are:
- Spaghetti Bolognese
- Cottage pie
- Bean and sausage hotpot
If possible, get the whole family involved in meal planning. After you’ve checked what you’ve got in, ask what each person would like to eat over the next few days. Doing this will make everyone feel like they have input. It’s also a great opportunity to teach children how to save money and eat healthier food.
Regularly check what food you have in stock
The best way to save money on food is to base your meals around what you have already. It can help you spend less on food shopping, because you’ll only buy the items you need.
Take note of any tinned foods you have, as well as any dried foods such as rice and pasta. It also helps to know what seasoning and sauces you already have. Keep your cupboards tidy so you can see what you have in stock quicker. Don’t forget to check your freezer as well.
Look at ways to use up fresh food first
If you have fresh food such as fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy, focus on including these in your meals over the next couple of days. Check the ‘use by’ dates on your fresh food and try to use them up in order of which date is sooner.
Don’t be put off if a food item’s ‘best before’ date is today. This date is different to the ‘use by’ date. It only indicates when the food is in its best condition, and is usually fine to eat. Don’t eat items past their ‘use by’ date.