12 Tips For Cheaper, Healthier Eating
It’s no secret that the cost of living crisis is no laughing matter. With the average food bill up by nearly £500 a year and energy prices skyrocketing by the minute, there can’t be many people out there who aren’t looking to save themselves a bit of cash at the till.
Finding new ways to eat well for less is more important than ever, especially if your goal is to drop pounds on the scale. So we’ve put together 12 solid saving tips that can help you to stay on your journey to weight loss (and spoiler alert, most of these contain a form of organisation).
1. Set yourself a budget
First step to saving yourself some cash is working out how much you ideally want to spend on groceries per week. Take a look at your monthly incomings and outgoings and see how much you can realistically spend (this can easily be switched around at a later date if you find you’re scrimping a little too much). If you’re going pound for pound, the majority of supermarkets provide a ‘scan as you shop’ service which allows you to see the total as you’re doing your shop.
2. Create a weekly menu
When it comes to saving money at the till, planning your meals is worth its weigh in gold. It helps you to save money, time and not to mention, the protection it gives you from desperately fumbling for the takeaway app when the cupboards are bare.
Spend a few hours a week drawing up a weekly meal plan and from this you can make a shopping list with ingredients that you really need. Most people are happy to rotate their breakfasts, lunches and dinners so have a think of your regulars and use them as a base.
3. Batch cooking
One way to ensure you always have food to hand is batch cooking. Dedicate a few hours one day a week to batch cooking a load of your favourite meals – soups, stews, salads, burritos, cottage pie – the list is endless. Then it’s just a case of bunging it in the microwave and waiting for the ping.
4. Freeze leftovers
This goes hand in hand with point 3. Once you’ve made all your portions for the week, you could even use them the week after by freezing them once they’ve cooled. Portion them in single sizes and enjoy them at a later date for that ultimate smug feeling.
5. Cook the same for the whole family
It’s no secret that some families have some seriously fussy eaters, but here’s the trick… coordinate your meals. What do we mean by this? Well, take the meals you have planned for the family and build on it. For instance, if everyone is having burgers and chips for tea, then small changes like less chips, less cheese and a ton of salad will bump up the health factor while keeping the labour low and costs at a minimum.
6. Cook from scratch
This one’s a winner. And why? Because you’ll always get insight into EXACTLY what is in your food. No hidden additives, sweeteners, salts or anything else that may be lurking. This is a sure-fire way to keep your meals as fresh as possible, not to mention the budgeting benefits!
If you struggle to find the time to cook from scratch, then keep the batch cooking wisdom in mind and spend a Sunday filling the freezer with lunches and dinners.
7. Check your cupboards first
If tins and packets were your best mate during the days of isolation, then chances are you’ve got some ingredients to use up which can easily be adapted into your weekly meal plan. Make sure to have a good scan at the food hidden at the back of the cupboard before they expire!
8. Always take a shopping list
Once you’ve got your list, stick to it. Supermarkets are meticulously designed to sidetrack you into making unintended purchases. It’s very easy to pick up random chocolate bars (we see you at the tills) but these are enough to scupper your week’s progress.
However, this can work in your favour too. Keep an eye out for special deals and discounts on non-perishable foods, such as canned fruit and veg, frozen produce and carbohydrates such as dried lentils, pulses, pasta and rice. These items take a long time to pass their use by date so are a good household staple for the cupboard or freezer. Any money off these is a bonus!
You could also consider whether an online shop and delivery brings you into the path of less temptation. These days supermarkets often have discounts and freebies available for free delivery slots, especially if you’re willing to have a slightly less popular delivery time.
9. Don’t shop when hungry
It may be more convenient to pop to the shops once your shift has finished but this can be a recipe for disaster. This casual nip can cause you to overspend and overindulge in empty calorie purchases, such as chocolate, crisps or sweets. Try having a snack before heading into the shop, such as a piece of fruit, yogurt or mini pack of nuts.
10. Look for deals on fruit and veg
Many big name supermarkets pick a select number of fruits and veggies to be on offer each week. Some fresh fruit and vegetables can be reasonably priced, especially if they are in season. Scout lower down on the shelves for the cheaper variations, and dig through to find the best sell-by dates.
11. Choose cheaper brands
Most supermarkets offer home brands for nearly all products. Own brand foods are often looked upon as a cop out, but actually lots of generic brands follow the same guidance regulations as national brands, but cost less. Not only do they save you cash, but they can actually taste better than bigger brands.
12. And if all else fails you can always read up on how to start foraging and get yourself down the local woods for some nettles and mushrooms.