Food is one of life’s essentials, but the cost of a weekly shop can easily add up. There are lots of things you can do to reduce your food bills, like eating seasonal food, organising your fridge or even growing your own. Here are just some of our ideas to help you.
Change with the seasons
Buy produce which is local and in season, as it will cost less than when it’s imported (it’s better for the environment too!) Good to Know has a seasonal food calendar if you’re not sure what to eat, when. There are also seasonal recipe ideas and the recipes are free.
Freshen up your fridge
How you pack your shopping away in the fridge can help your food stay fresher for longer, which means less waste. Keep raw meat, fish and poultry on the bottom shelf where it’s coldest. Store eggs on the middle shelf as they shouldn’t get too cold. The top shelf is the warmest so it’s good for dairy and pre-prepared foods that don't need cooking.
Bin off expensive brands
Supermarket own brands and cheaper alternatives often don’t taste too different to expensive branded products. Try swapping out bread, ketchup, jams, coffee and other favourites to see if you notice a difference. Save the student has a great guide to ‘downshifting’ our brands, even for those of us not studying!
Grow your own
If you have access to a small garden, or even a terrace, you can grow salad leaves, tomatoes, herbs and even potatoes. Seeds and seedlings are cheap to buy and come with full growing instructions. Sunlight, water, some planting trays and soil are usually all you need to get growing. The RHS has a beginners’ guide if you’re just starting out.
Be open to offers
Look out for offers like buy one, get one free. If it’s something you buy regularly and has a long shelf life, it’s worth stocking up. Cut coupons out of newspapers or sign up for offers online which save you money on your first shop. Many supermarkets have loyalty cards too. If you’re shopping there anyway, it’s worth saving the points up for one-off treats.
Plan meals for the week, write a list, and stick to it. If you know what you need, you’re less likely to buy food that you’ll throw away later. Batch cook meals and pop leftovers in the freezer rather than throwing them away. The BBC has free batch cooking recipes and allows you to add the ingredients to a shopping list.
You’ll find lots of free recipes and advice online to stop your bills going back up. The NHS features lots of tips to eat well for less. Renowned food personality Jack Monroe features cheap recipes from her Tin Can Cook book on her website. You can also find more ways to save on moneysavingexpert.com.
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