How to save money on food

By Charlotte Yau
1

Food is a necessity to keep us alive, sure, but all those Friday night takeaways are far from essential.

Find out how to save money on food in the supermarket, at the office and at home with our handy guide. Eating healthy on a budget has never been easier.

Cutting down on takeaways and fast food is just one way to save money on food - there are loads of other ways you can stash away extra cash by spending less on everything you eat and drink. That goes for food shopping, your daily coffee and your weekly pint or glass of wine at the pub.

Here are our top tips for spending less money on food:

In the supermarket

Make a weekly shopping list and meal plan

Adding to your shopping list throughout the week will mean that what ends up on it are items you actually need. Take your list and stick to it! Making a meal plan before you go can also help. It means that you’ll buy everything you need in one go, rather than needing to return later in the week. Having a meal plan also means that everything you’ve bought will be used and you won’t end up with out-of-date items that you have to throw away.

Buy the basics from cheaper supermarkets

It can be tempting to always go for big-name brands, but you may be surprised to see that store-brand essentials such as bread, milk, canned goods and toiletries work just as well. Next time you’re putting your shopping list together, try getting supermarket-brand varieties and you might find yourself saving a pretty penny in the long-run.

Shop online, not in store

If you are the type of person to be drawn in by deals and don’t shop in the reduced aisle, try online shopping. It can keep you more focused on what you actually need and prevent you from veering off into unnecessary sales!

Respect coupons

Coupons aren’t just for little old ladies and they’re nothing to be sneered at. Collect them, check their use-by date and use them! The savings will add up to a ‘free’ takeaway treat before you know it.

At the office

Take your lunch with you

Packed lunches aren’t just for school days. Saving £5 a day on lunch at the office or university is a whopping £100 a month. That’s £1,200 a year! Packed lunches don’t have to be soggy sandwiches, either. Make chicken fajita wraps or a feta cheese and butternut squash salad; something tasty and healthy that you’ll actually look forward to eating.

Pay as you feel

If you really don’t want to take your own lunch, Pay As You Feel cafés are growing in popularity right across the country. You’re served fresh, delicious meals and you pay what you think the meal was worth. Pay As You Feel supermarkets are also popping up in some major cities, so stroll around, see what you fancy, then at the end decide for yourself what you want to pay.

Wake up and smell the coffee (at home!)

A morning coffee, three times a week at £3 a pop isn’t much, right? Wrong! That’s over £400 per year on something you could make at home for a fraction of the price. £400 is pretty much a holiday! Instead, invest in a sturdy, long-lasting flask, or some disposable coffee cups and take your drink with you from home.

Beware special offers and fancy branding

Don’t be tricked by ‘special’ deals and offers

‘Buy two get one free’ sounds like a great deal, right? Well, not if you only wanted or needed to buy one in the first place! If it’s something quickly perishable, like cheese, you might not eat it and then the extra money you spent on buying more of it is wasted. Think about how much food you really need and how long each product will last to avoid throwing out what you thought was a wise purchase.

Don’t be fooled by brand names

Often, you’ll find a product that comes at a few different brand levels. So, for baked beans, this might be the ‘value’ or ‘basic’ tin, in plain looking packaging and font. Then you might have the supermarket-own tin; slightly fancier, and slightly higher in price. Then you’ll have the well-known brand name in attractive, colourful packaging.

Each will be slightly higher in price, yet it could be that the taste of what is inside is just the same! The best way to find out is to test it out. Buy one of each and try them. Even if you prefer the middle-priced item to the basic one, you’re still going to be saving money by not buying the big name brand every time. Apply the same principle to other items, like tissues and bleach, to start saving money all around your home.

How to eat healthy on a budget

If you’re looking for how to save money on healthy food, you won’t be disappointed by your options.

Go for frozen

Don’t worry about frozen fruit and vegetables not being as healthy as their fresh counterparts. They’re picked when they’re most fresh and the nutrients are sealed in by the freezing process. Frozen fruit and veg are often way cheaper and even easier to cook, as they come pre-chopped. Watch out for added extras like salt, sugar and fat, though.

Try Meat Free Monday

Meat is way more expensive than veg, so by committing to Meat Free Monday (we won’t explain this to you, don’t worry), you’re saving money on the regular and being healthy too. Instead of a chicken curry, make a sweet potato one instead!

Portion sensibly

Eat what's on your plate!’ gets drilled into us so much as kids, it becomes a habit by the time we reach adulthood. However, the more you pile on, the more you’re likely to eat. Serve yourself a quarter less than usual, especially with unhealthy, sugary foods. You might not notice the difference, but your body definitely will.

And a final word on takeaways

If you absolutely must have the odd takeaway, how about collecting it rather than opting for delivery? This is not only a good opportunity to go for a walk or cycle, but you also won’t be spending more than necessary trying to reach the minimum delivery amount. Also, think about if there is something you can prep at home; if you’re ordering an Indian, how about cooking the rice and naan bread in your own kitchen?

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