With the cost of living crisis pushing prices up at an alarming rate, many of us are looking for ways to reduce the amount of money we spend on our weekly food shopping. As a busy mother and wife- I would like to share my top tips for reducing the weekly food bill.
- Check food cupboards, fridge, and freezer
- Create a meal plan
- Write a shopping list- and stick to it
- Check dates on food items
- Look for the yellow ticketed food items
- Use leftovers
- Use apps for Free/reduced-priced food
- Find local food pantries
- Cook from scratch
- Get creative with cooking
Check food cupboards, fridge, and freezer
Prior to creating your meal plan- check in the freezer, fridge, and in cupboards; to see what food you still have. This will save you from buying food that you do not need and ultimately stops you from wasting food. Because it is so easy to forget what you have previously bought- and before you know it, food has passed its date and it is only fit for the bin. Not good, when money is so tight!
Create a meal plan
It might seem like a laborious task -but creating a meal plan, will mean that you only buy the food that you need each week. It will reduce the temptation to impulse buy, as well as reduce food waste too.
Write a shopping list- and stick to it
After creating your meal plan- run down it and create a shopping list. This list will be of the ingredients that you don’t already have; because you will have already checked what you have in cupboards etc.
When walking around the shop- ensure you stick to your list and don’t be tempted by those special offers (which aren’t always the bargain they seem to be. We can all be guilty of impulse buying and this can soon add to the total cost of our weekly shopping.
Check dates on food items
Yes, shops should not be selling out-of-date food- however, they don’t always get to clear shelves of these items, as quickly as they should. We may be in a rush to get around the shop, but it really is important to check best-by/ use-by dates; to make sure we aren’t diddling ourselves, and to save on food waste.
Also, it is important to know the difference between best-by and use-by.
Food that has gone past its best-by date can still be ok to eat- and we should trust our own senses of sight and smell, to decide if it is fit for consumption. This will reduce the amount of food that gets chucked away, and will mean that we will not buy more food if it isn’t necessary (saving us money).
Look for yellow ticketed food items
Most of the main supermarkets will put yellow tickets on the items that are soon going to be out of date, reducing the price of these items. This can often be done later in the day- possibly in the early evening. Ask in your chosen supermarket, when they do their yellow ticketing each day so that you can be there to grab the bargains.
Many foods can be put in the freezer to then extend their shelf life. Or they can be ideal for quick last-minute meal options if you aren’t able to stick to your meal plan for any reason.
Use apps for free/reduced-priced food
There are a number of apps that can be used to signpost you to companies that will either give food away or provide reduced-priced food. Click here to see a full list of the companies offering free food. A site called Magic Freebies UK is also a good place to source free food. Or here are two companies that offer reduced-priced food- Approved food, and Cheap Food. There are likely to be other discount stores, which a google search would uncover.
Use leftover food
Often we have leftover food, which we may put in a container in the fridge to have another day. It is so easy to forget about it though, and then we find ourselves binning moldy food. My tip is to include these leftovers when creating your meal plan so that you are less likely to forget about using those leftovers.
Find local food pantries
Another way to save money on your weekly shop is to find out where your local food pantry is. A good site to use, to search, is called “Your Local Pantry”.
Food pantries- a subscription-based service that requires no referral (unlike foodbanks), which allows people to have food at a considerably discounted price. For just a few pounds a week, you can choose groceries worth considerably more (saving yourself lots of money).
Cook from scratch
Not only is homecooked food more healthy, but it really is better value for money. By following some of the previous tips, ingredients can be sourced cheaply or even for free.
For those who are not confident in cooking, there are a wealth of cooking videos online. YouTube is one source of cooking videos that I would highly recommend. Trial and error will soon have you cooking like a pro, and you may even find that you enjoy cooking too.
Sure it can be tempting to live off processed food- because they are more convenient and seem easier to cook. However, they really aren’t a cheaper option.
Try to resist having too many takeaways as well- because these will soon rack up your weekly food spend. Occasional takeaways should be no problem if you follow my money-saving tips. after all, we all need a treat sometimes.
Get creative with cooking
One final tip I have for ensuring that you keep your food shopping costs down as low as possible- is to get creative with your cooking.
Sure there are tried and tested recipes, but none of them are set in stone.
Should you find that you have leftovers to use, and don’t know what to do with them, then see if you can add the,m into some of your favourite dishes. For instance – leftover stilton or brie after Christmas is great for making a posh version of Mac and Cheese. Or perhaps you could consider using up the leftover Cranberry Jelly, by adding it to a Bolognese. Don’t be scared to be a little daring, and try combos you may not have ever considered before. Not only are you stopping yourself from wasting money- but you will also broaden your culinary skills.
There really are savings to be made on the weekly food bill. Being organised is a must- for ensuring that we don’t buy more food than we need. Not only can we reduce the food that we waste, but we can save ourselves a lot of money too. Money that we then have for the other things that are going up in price; such as Utility bills, rent, and other bills. Thankfully there are organisations that can be accessed to obtain reduced prices and in some cases free food. In this cost of living crisis, we really need to utilise all the services that are available.