With the average household throwing away £50 of food per month, it’s time to fill our bellies, not our bins.
Here are some tips for making your food budget stretch further:
During harvest season I bought a large box of apples from a local orchard for the princely sum of £5. The apples are freshly picked so they’ll keep well and they are a fraction of the cost of out-of-season supermarket apples flown from the other side of the world.
Store food properly
Put your salad in a container of water in the fridge. Store herbs like flowers, in a glass of water. Keep bananas away from other foods. If you store your food properly, you’ll extend the shelf life.
Make friends with your freezer. I’m learning all the time about foods that can be successfully frozen. I recently found out that grated cheese, cooked pasta and baked beans all freeze well.
Stretch your erm, meat
If you’re meat eaters you can stretch your budget by adding lentils, barley or even oats to mince-based dishes such as shepherds pie or chili. Or why not join in with Meat Free Monday and enjoy at least one vegetarian meal a week?
If you eat a good breakfast, you’ll keep your blood sugar levels up which will stop you binging on sugar and coffee at 11am. A smoothie is a great way to use up soft fruits. Add a handful of oats and you’ll keep going until lunchtime without a visit to the vending machine or bakery
Pack a lunch
Buying a sandwich, crisps, chocolate bar and can of drink at lunchtime can cost over £20 per week. Make extra evening meals and portion them up for lunch the next day or make a packed lunch yourself to take into work.
Sign up for a box
Vegetable and fruit box delivery schemes allow you to buy seasonal, local food delivered to your home. By avoiding the shops you won’t fall for the impulse buys that often get thrown away.
Buy what you need
By using a local green grocer, buying loose in the supermarket or supporting your local farmers market you can buy exactly what you need. You don’t need to buy a bag of bananas if you only want three…
The butcher and baker
Just like the farmers market, you can buy what you need from a butcher and baker. Three sausage and two bread rolls? No problem! Use a deli counter too to purchase cheese, coleslaw and other deli delights.
Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk is a great way to reduce food costs, but only if you shop wisely. Companies like Suma are a food co-operatives. The minimum order is around £250 but you can team with a few families to share the costs and the food. Buy big bags of rice, pasta, flour and other staple foods.
Instead of buying ready meals, why not have a go at batch cooking? Get some foil containers (like the ones you get in a takeaway) and make meals that freeze well such as stews, chili, curry and pasta sauce. Next time you’re in a hurry you’ll have a convenient meal at a tiny price.
Turn it into soup
Soup is my number one ‘go to’ for foods that need using up – the ends of a leek, soft carrots, peaky potatoes – throw them all in, add some seasoning and a dash of love and you’ve got a meal for pennies.
What about you – how do you stretch the food budget?