With food costs higher than ever before, the cost of your food shop may be more important than whether it’s healthy.
Here are some simple tips to keep costs down whilst eating healthily:
- Managing your budget – knowing your income versus your outgoings means you can plan your weekly food shopping budget and meals (here is a free Budget Planner to help you get started Budget Planner | Free online budget planning tool | MoneyHelper).
- Start writing a list of your favourite meals – you can get your household to do this too (not just for main meals, but include breakfast, side dishes, snacks and desserts). Keep adding to this list over time so that it can be used as inspiration for planning your meals in the future and update it every now and then to avoid boredom, changes in taste and include seasonal foods that aren’t available all year round.
- Try the ‘Store Cupboard Challenge’ – go through your cupboard and plan meals around ingredients you’ve already have.
- Plan meals where the ingredients can be used in more than one meal – this helps to reduce food waste. You can use the Love Food Hate Waste website for inspiration.
- Plan meals that can be bulk cooked.
- Slowly start buying store cupboard items that have a long shelf-life date – such as herbs and spices – which can add more flavour to your meal.
- Grow your own herbs; all you need is a sunny windowsill!
- Plan your meals in advance and make a shopping list using the NHS Easy Meals app.
- Use new-customer grocery delivery offers; although this option can be a bit more costly due to the delivery fees involved, the introductory offer might still work out cheaper. Use this link to browse the offers available.
- Use the free comparison tool Trolley which lets you compare the cost of items at major supermarkets. You can also set alerts for when your favourite items drop in price.
- Sign-up to free loyalty supermarket schemes; shopping earns points which can then be converted into money off of your shopping or rewards with selected partners.
- Try to avoid food shopping when you are hungry as you might be more likely to make impulse purchases.
- Look out for special offers on fruit and vegetables; buying them in season will be cheaper and tastier than out of season.
- Shop tinned or frozen fruit and veg – they can be stored safely for much longer without spoiling than fresh food counterparts.
- Consider swapping from meat to alternative cheaper protein sources, such as beans and pulses. These can be bought cheaply in tins and can be stored for much longer than refrigerated meat counterparts.
- Porridge oats are cheaper than many cereals and can be used to make overnight oats and a range of healthy snacks.
- Shop at the end of the day and look out for ‘yellow sticker’ discounts; these are items that have been reduced to clear as they are close to its before best or use-by date (make sure to use these foods first when cooking).
Meal Prep & Cooking
- Understand the difference between best-before dates and use-by dates; we should pay attention to use-by dates as they tell us at what point food is unsafe to eat. All other dates are simply the supermarket’s guess as to when food will be past its best – this means that they won’t make you ill or that it’ll taste bad.
- Reduce waste; if food is near its use-by date, try to use it up first so that it does not have to be thrown away and wasted. Use the Super Cook website (available in 26 languages) which suggests 100’s of recipes, after adding the items left over in your fridge or cupboard.
- Bulk cooking so you can eat those meals throughout the week – always check how long the meal will stay fresh in the fridge.
- Freeze any leftovers – these meals can be easily defrosted if you have had a busy day.