Food spending can be your largest monthly bill after your rent or mortgage, so it makes sense to take control of your budget – and have fun into the bargain!
Since food spending is likely to be the second largest monthly bill, after rent or mortgage, and is not a fixed outgoing like so many other bills, it is an area where potentially significant spending cuts can be made, without reducing taste or nutritional value. In fact with some planning and trying new things – you may find you get more for your money – and have fun trying new things.
Over the next few weeks I will be posting some ideas for eating well on less and recommending tasty frugal recipes and tips for shopping. I will be doing some price comparisons among supermarkets, green grocers and market stalls to see where the lowest cost produce can be found. Remember an individual will spend a minimum of £1500 a year on food, and it could be considerably more. For a family the total can range from £3000 – £10000 a year. If you don’t know how much you spend, and are struggling with your bills, it is time to get control of your food costs. Here are a few general tips
1. Consider cooking more meat free meals. Lentils and pulses are so much cheaper than meat and can be cooked in many delicious ways. They also have a long shelf life so there is unlikely to be any waste.
2. Always plan your weekly meals in advance and work out the cost beforehand by using your local supermarkets online website. If the cost blows your budget, revise your menu plan. By doing this regularly you will start to know what each meal costs.
3. If you are subject to temptation when you are going shopping, buying online may be a better option – especially if you consider the petrol cost of going to the supermarket.
4. If you can plan to go to the supermarket towards the end of the day, you may be able to take advantage of reductions of fresh produce – such as bread, meat and fish that are close to their ‘display until’ date. If you have room in your freezer these can be a good purchase if you are confident you can fit them into your menu plan. They are only a bargain, however if you are sure you can use them.
5. Don’t assume your supermarket is cheapest, especially for fruit and vegetables and eggs. Check out your local green grocer, market stall or farmers market. It may take a bit more time, but you might find it fun as you can chat to the stall holders, get suggestions for cooking, find out where the food is grown and you may find you discover a feel good factor knowing your money is going back into the local economy, rather than to one of the big supermarkets.
6. Be savvy in the supermarket. Check which is the best value for money. Large packs can be comparatively more expensive than smaller packs – work it out or take a small calculator with you. Ask your self if an offer is really worth it. Consider buying an ‘own brand’ or even a ‘value’ brand on a few essentials.
7. If you regularly buy fruit yogurts, consider buying basic plain yogurt and adding the fruit yourself. This can be cheaper, and nutritionally far better.
8. Know your prices. It may seem tedious but if you know the prices of things, you will spot when they have changed and be better equipped to make good buying decisions and control your budget. You will also know a real bargain when you see one.
9. Cook more things from scratch. I have recently learned to bake bread, make pizza bases, mincemeat, lemon curd and hummus. Some things are surprisingly easy to make and often taste much better than shop bought.
10. Have fun doing it! Knowing you have got a bargain and saved money – and are eating well too can give you a better buzz than any retail therapy. Enjoy cooking, shopping and saving money.
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