10 tips to eat well on a tight budget

Food bills often make up for a big chunk of your weekly budget, and it is not easy to keep both your body and your pocket healthy – eating well without spending much is quite a challenge. Thinking of that, we gathered the 10 best money saving tips we found on how to eat well for less.

1. Plan ahead

Plan your meals for the week in advance, making sure to include things you already have on your cupboards and fridge. You can use a spreadsheet or just pen and paper to write down what you’ll be preparing for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for each day of the week.

Eat well on a budget

2. Make a list

Based on your plan, make a list of what you need to buy – and stick to it, don’t be tempted by ‘special offers’. Be as specific as you can in regards to quantities, after a while you’ll know exactly how much of each item you need for the week.

3. Cook from scratch

Wake up the Masterchef in you – search for cheap recipes, Cooking on a Bootstrap have delicious ideas of healthy homemade food for under £10. By cooking from scratch you can also save up to £800 a year, which is how much an average UK family spends on eating out. You also have the advantage to know everything that goes in your food, no hidden ingredients!

4. Don’t waste

Only buy what you know you are going to use. The average UK family wastes up to £700 a year with food that ends up in the bin. Visit Love food hate waste (they have good recipes too) to learn more on how you can avoid wasting food.

5. Be a leftover master

Eat dinner leftovers for lunch, they are a lot better and cheaper than a sandwich and a packet of crisps from the shop. If you are feeling particularly inspired, repurpose your leftovers and turn them into a completely new dish by adding some fresh ingredients. The leftover pasta can become a pasta salad, the leftover chicken can go into a wrap… Just get creative!

6. Shop wise

Find out which shops have the best deals before going shopping, search online for coupons and discounts and don’t be afraid to ask for price matching on the till. Make sure to check the price per unit (£/unit, £/kilo, £/ml) to buy the best value product, and trade known brands for supermarkets’ own brands or less famous brands that are cheaper.

7. Go veggie for a day

Meat-free Mondays (or Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays…) can save you and the environment a lot! But if going without meat for a whole day is too much for you, cut down on your meat consumption and stretch your recipes over the week by adding pulses such as beans and peas. Pulses have low calorie and fat content and are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Add kidney beans to that chilli con carne or chickpeas to that chicken curry and there you go.

8. Reduced to clear

Towards the end of the day, shops then to reduce the price on items that expire on that day. Time your shopping right to catch these discounts. But always keep an eye on the use by date when shopping on the reduced to clear shelf, you don’t want to buy something you won’t be able to use in time.

9. Befriend the freezer

Contrary to what you might think, frozen food is not always bad. Frozen vegetables and fruit often come chopped and ready to use and can make preparing your meals that much easier. Pay attention not to buy those with added salt/fat/sugar and you’ll be fine. The freezer can also come in handy in many an occasion – don’t really fancy leftovers today? Freeze them for next time you feel lazy and don’t want to cook. Got bread and it’s on its use by date? Freeze it in smaller portions and use as you please.

10. Cut the junk food

Besides being full of unhealthy ingredients, crisps, soda, biscuits, cakes and other junk food are also quite expensive. Try to substitute those for healthier options – you can buy big packs of nuts, dried fruit and seeds and make your own trail mix, for example.