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27 clever tips to save money on food

One of the most immediate ways to save money on your spending is to cut back on your grocery bills. 

This doesn’t mean eating less, it just means eating smarter so that you save money on food

If your family is anything like mine, then they eat a whole lot. 

And it’s not just the kids that I can blame for this. As me and my husband no longer go out to eat as much – because, parenthood – we now look to make nice meals at home. 

We have often fallen into the trap of deciding we don’t “fancy” any of the food we have in the fridge or freezer. Then we either go to the supermarket and spend more money on food to make something extravagant or we end up having a takeaway. 

So while going out for fewer meals at restaurants is saving us money, we have still been guilty of overspending on our weekly grocery budget. 

These brilliant tips can help you to instantly cut back on your weekly spending, putting extra pounds in your pocket. 

Using these could cut a third or more off the average cost of your weekly food shop. 

If you have any genius ways to save money on food of your own, please let me know in the comments!

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Meal planning 

It’s often easier said than done to stick with your weekly meal plan, but by doing this you will waste less food and save more money. 

By meal planning you can avoid expensive top-up shops in between your main weekly shop and keep yourself from succumbing to takeaway temptation. 

I suggest sitting down with your other half and your kids to discuss what everyone would like for food in the next week. 

Have a look at new recipe ideas that have caught your eye. I often bookmark recipes I have noticed online to try on another day. 

Try to make fresh ingredients last for more than one meal. For example, when buying a roasting joint for Sunday lunch think about what you could use that leftover meat and veg for the next day. 

I often use the leftover meat and roast potatoes in a curry. Or I chop up the potatoes and fry them in a pan then serve them as saute potatoes with the cold leftover meat. 

If you’ve bought a whole cauliflower which you won’t eat in full in one meal for your family, plan another meal that uses the other half of the cauliflower so it doesn’t end up in the bin. 

Visit the supermarket once a week

Once you have your meal plan make a really good list and stick with it. 

Only visit your supermarket once a week, so that you avoid expensive top-ups that you don’t really need. 

The more you’re at the supermarket, the more likely you are to buy little extras that you don’t really need such as snacks. 

Restrict your takeaways 

Give yourself a treat once in a while, but stick within your budget. 

We have takeaways roughly once a month, sometimes less. I find it impossible to find a takeaway for less than £20 so this is a big saving for us. 

Stock check 

Always keep an eye on what you already have!

You won’t need to buy more rice if there’s already half a pack in the cupboard. 

Double check your non-perishable items before you go shopping, so that you don’t end up doubling up. 

If your kitchen is anything like mine, then you could use the space anyway!

Buy in bulk 

Larger packages of meat such as mince will generally cost you less overall. 

If you cannot cook it all then freeze it, portion out the meat into freezer bags and freeze for another day. 

It’s the same principle with packets of rice and pasta and flour. The bigger the pack, the less it costs you overall. 

Organise your kitchen so that you can cope with larger bags of rice and pasta. Try decanting them into plastic boxes to make them easier to dispense. 

Bulk cook 

It’s much cheaper to make three meals for your family in one go than it is cook that same meal three separate times. 

Get your large package of mince or other meat, as described above, and make one huge pot. 

To store, try using these fab little foil boxes which help you to portion the food out much easier, and they stack neatly in the freezer. 

Good meals for bulk cooking include: 

  • Pasta sauce (chuck in loads of vegetables for extra goodness)
  • Curry 
  • Bolognaise sauce 
  • Shepherd’s pie 
  • Casseroles 

Look for food on sale  

If you go shopping in happy hour, which is the last couple of hours of store opening time, then you will find lots of deals on meat and other produce. 

Most stores have a section for products they need to sell that day. Sometimes you will need to be eagle-eyed to spot the yellow discount labels. 

If food is going off that day, be sure you will be able to consume it on that day or that it is suitable for home freezing. 

Freeze your bread 

We eat a lot of bread so it doesn’t get a chance to go mouldy in our house!

But if you don’t eat that much, try freezing half of your loaf after getting it home from the supermarket. 

In hot weather especially you will find it goes mouldy way too fast and you end up binning most of the loaf. 

You can toast bread straight from the freezer. 

Eat your leftovers 

When you cook a meal, plan to have the leftovers for lunch the next day. 

My husband will often snag the children’s uneaten fish fingers and put them into sandwiches for lunch the next day. 

Freeze your veg 

If you blanch fresh veg in boiling water for around a minute, then plunge into ice water to cool and pat dry, you can freeze it!

This is perfect for green beans and other veg! Be sure to freeze it in an airtight container. 

You can also freeze your fresh fruit, no need to blanch it! For delicate berries, spread them out on a tray and put that into the freezer first. Once frozen, transfer to a box or container. 

Ways to save money on food shopping

Organise your kitchen 

Make it easy to find things in your kitchen to avoid losing jars and packages at the back of your cupboards. 

I use these amazing boxes for the top shelves of my cupboards. It means I can pull everything out of the cupboard quickly without having to climb to the top of a ladder to see. 

With your fridge, have a system for organising things so that different types of items are kept on different shelves and take stock regularly. 

When things are getting close to being out of date, think of a way you can use them up, even if it means freezing what you cook to avoid wasting items. 

Try these great value recipes 

Find recipes that use fewer ingredients and that work with what you already have in bulk in your store cupboard. 

  • Spaghetti with vegetable pasta sauce 
  • Jacket potatoes with chilli or cheese 
  • Ratatouille 
  • Casserole made using cheap cuts of pork or beef

Buy a whole chicken 

A whole chicken works out as better value for money than buying breasts and thighs separately. 

You could butcher the chicken raw, or cook it whole and then use the meat for two or three different dishes depending on how many are in your family!

I often make a large chicken stretch over three days. I’ll make a roast dinner, then a chicken curry and then chicken sandwiches for lunch. 

Ditch brands 

I’ve been so guilty of assuming a branded product must be better than a supermarket-own product. 

They can be more than half the price and yet do exactly the same job, or taste the same. 

Next time you’re shopping try swapping your branded goods, from flour to eggs and painkillers to tinned foods, and see if you can really tell the difference. 

Also think twice about buying supermarket’s own “elite”, higher end products which can be way more expensive. The packaging may look nicer but really you won’t tell the difference once it’s cooked. 

Cook for the whole family 

Try to cook just the one dinner for your entire family. This can be tricky with fussy eaters, so find creative ways to hide the veg, such as blending sauces so the veggies are hidden. 

If the grown-ups in your family want something with spice, but the kids aren’t keen, cook a mild version first and then remove a portion for the kids, then add spice to the pot for the adults. 

Eat less meat

Bulk out your meals with lots of veg, beans, pulses or rice and pasta. 

Either put less meat in your cooking, making your packages of meat stretch for more meals, or have at least one meat-free day a week!

Meat-free Monday is a growing trend and there are tons of ideas for what you can do on these days. It’s good for your diet too to make an effort to eat more vegetables. 

Choose cheaper cuts 

Opt for cheaper cuts of meat to save cash. Choose lamb shoulder instead of chops and pick beef silver side joints instead of fillet.

If you cook these cuts in a slow cooker you can make them tender and delicious.

Don’t buy pre-prepared veg 

Veg that’s been cut for you might save you time, but you pay the price for that. Choose raw vegetables and do the peeling and chopping yourself.

Eat before you shop

Never shop hungry!

You will be tempted to buy way more, and I always end up buying more snacks and unhealthy foods when I have an empty stomach.

Take advantage of store cards and points 

Always sign up for free store cards. When you get your vouchers or collect your points, remember to cash them in.

We often save our Sainsbury’s points up and use them on the Christmas shop at the end of the year. It means that shop, which is always the biggest of the year, is normally free or just a few pounds.

Pick your supermarket carefully 

Opt to shop at budget supermarkets such as Aldi, Lidl and Asda. You will see a big difference to your weekly grocery bill when compared to Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

If you have the time, you could shop around and buy fresh produce from your preferred supermarket then household cleaning and non-perishable foods from cheaper supermarkets.

Replace fresh with frozen 

Buy frozen veg and fish fillets so that your produce is less likely to go off before you get a chance to cook it.

It also often works out cheaper to buy these items compared to fresh.

Make sauces with tinned tomatoes 

Jarred pasta and curry sauces can cost up to £3 or more a go. 

A tin of tomatoes costs as little as 35p. You can add spices and herbs from your store cupboard to flavour the tomatoes up and transform them into a stew, curry sauce, pasta sauce or ragu. 

Avoid corner shops and petrol stations

While shopping local at corner shops does support small businesses, you may also find they’re a lot more expensive.

Petrol station shops owned by large supermarkets also tend to be quite a bit more expensive than the larger branches, so avoid buying any of your food from these.

Choose dried beans and pulses 

Canned beans and pulses are more convenient but they are also more expensive to buy than bags of the dried products.

The dried beans may take a little longer to prepare as you will need to soak them before cooking, but if you plan ahead the saving will be worth it.

Use a slow cooker 

We have this slow cooker. I love it and it’s so easy to use!

Your slow cooker can make cheaper cuts of meat more succulent and tender, plus slow cooking sauces makes the flavours really amazing!

Thanks to the large capacity of slow cookers, you can also use them to bulk cook so that you can freeze the extras for another day.

Grow your own herbs 

Instead of buying bags of fresh herbs every time you need them, try growing your own in your garden!

You can actually use leaves from a bags of herbs to grow new herb plants. There are lots of tips for growing herbs from cuttings on the RHS website.

Final thoughts on saving money on your food shopping

So there you have it! With a little more forward planning and creativity you can save a ton of cash on your grocery shopping.

Remember to treat yourself occasionally too, so that you don’t fall off the wagon.

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