10 tips for eating well on a tiny budget
10 tips for eating well on a tiny budget
By Limahl Asmall
This article first appeared on House Beautiful website
Did you know that households in the UK spend an average of £57 a week on food and drink? This number increases to £75 when you factor in dining out, as revealed in a recent report by the Office for National Statistics.
Instead of sacrificing the quality of food, we've listed 10 tips that will help save you money on your wining and dining.
1. Consider where to shop
If you don't live near a supermarket you're probably making frequent trips to the local corner shop. Making one weekly trip to a large supermarket will reduce the cost of your weekly food shop and increase the variety of your ingredients.
If you live in the city, consider heading to your local fruit and veg market as produce is often fresher and cheaper than at supermarkets.
2. When to shop
Always check the reduced shelves. Meats with a day left of on their 'use by date' are perfect when eaten straight away or, if you prefer to buy in bulk, freezing for up to 3 months.
3. Check the price
Make sure you check the price 'per kg' and choose the cheaper option. This is particularly effective when comparing packaged or loose fruits and vegetables. As if saving money wasn't enough of a draw, loose is better for the planet as less packaging means less waste.
Pre-trimmed vegetables or ready-grated cheese are certainly more expensive. Remember, it takes seconds to trim your vegetables but it takes hours to earn a living.
4. Buy own-brand
You can eat and drink premium without the price tag. Blind taste tests have shown that cheaper supermarket branded food often trumps household names. Often, the only difference between basic and premium is in the packaging and marketing budget. This doesn't just apply to food: supermarkets also do their own version of wines and spirits.
5. Buy in bulk
If your weekly budget can stretch to it, buy bigger packs of long-life ingredients like rice, canned food, frozen produce and toilet paper. This often reduces the per-portion price. If you live in shared accommodation, consider banding together to bulk-buy household items – it'll benefit you all.
6. Buy in season
This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but when fruit and vegetables hit peak production, their price is often slashed. Consider when and what you're shopping for to make every penny work as hard as it can.
7. Cook once, eat twice
Cooking extra for the next day (or to freeze for later) will not only save you money but also time. Taking a packed lunch to work can save as much as £1000 each year!
8. Buy big flavours
Identify the flavours you like and add them to your meals regularly. This way, expensive meat doesn't have to be at the centre of a meal; less is more. Some cheap ingredients that are big on flavour include: eggs, stock, olive oil, sesame oil, bacon, tinned sardines, soy sauce, lemon, lime, chilli flakes, coconut milk, garam masala, Chinese five spice, coriander and ginger.
9. Make meat go further
Before you buy the popular cuts, remember that there are equally (if not more) delicious cuts that are cheaper. Chicken thighs are more succulent than breast, can contain bones which is great for homemade stock and soups, and can have beautiful skin that you can grill until crisp.
Beef shin and brisket are brilliant when slow cooked in soups and stews, and consider picking up cooking bacon (500g for 60p, Tesco) – these are part rashers of all shapes and sizes.
10. Love your freezer
We've already mentioned making extra and freezing your meals for another day, but here are some additional tips to make you love your freezer:
- Buy plastic takeaway containers with lids and freezer proof sandwich bags with ties.
- Label your frozen produce: it'll help you keep on top of everything!
- Cool cooked food before freezing and aim to get food into the freezer within two hours of cooking.
- As a general rule, freeze items for up to three months and use the oldest items first.
- Defrost food in the fridge by taking it out the night before. As a general rule, be sure to use defrosted food within 24 hours.
- Always ensure frozen food is piping hot before eating and once defrosted, never re-freeze.