With a bit of planning, research and forethought, it’s always possible to shave some pennies and pounds here and there. These 12 tips from Anders Nilsson, of myvouchercodes.co.uk, cut the mustard when it comes to reducing mealtime costs.
Create a weekly meal plan for the week
On a Sunday evening, set out your meal plan for the week, you can write this up and stick it on your fridge, or print off a meal planner template which details what you and the family are going to eat that week, covering breakfast, lunch and dinner. You’ll be more likely to stick to a plan and won’t risk running to the shops.
Go with a shopping list
Scan the cupboards before you head out, and if you’ve got your meal plan set out for the week then you already know what ingredients and products you’re going to need. This will stop you from adding unnecessary items into the basket, and double-buying items you already have at home.
Buy frozen rather than fresh
While you might like fresh onions, peppers and vegetables, it can work out cheaper to buy frozen. And you can use what you need and leave the rest for a later date, so there’s less risk of food ending up in the bin.
Buy in-season produce
Fruit and vegetables are cheaper when in season, so take advantage of this.
Pick a store’s own brand or head to discount stores
Don’t be a brand snob – instead, go for a store’s own products. These are often a fraction of the price and taste just as good as the well-known brands. If you’re set on sticking to a brand, head to a discount retailer, where you can pick up branded produce for a cheaper price.
Know the difference between ‘best-before’ and ‘use-by’ dates
Best-before dates are about quality. If a product is slightly over its best-before date but looks and smells OK, it may be fine to eat, despite not being as fresh as it once was. But use-by dates are about food safety. Foods can be eaten until the use-by date but not after. After the use-by date, the food could be contaminated, even if it looks OK.
Learn portion control
Avoid piling plates too high, which can lead to more food going in the bin. Start out small and get through what’s on your plate first, you can always go back for seconds if you’re still hungry.
Cook in batches
Batch cook meals such as cottage pie, chilli and lasagne and freeze what you don’t eat for another time. Or make two meals from similar ingredients so you don’t get bored of eating the same meal over a couple of days – for example, by adding kidney beans and chilli powder to leftover bolognese to turn it into a chilli.
Use up leftovers
When you’re using vegetables for a meal, blend any leftovers which are still usable and turn them into a soup. You can pop any spare in the freezer and have your own instant homemade soup to hand.
Grow your own
From growing fresh herbs on your windowsill to fruit and vegetables in your garden, growing your own can not only save money but give you access to the freshest of ingredients.