It is possible to eat healthily on a low budget, so don’t panic. I usually spend £40 or less per week for the two of us, so around £20 per person. That includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
It can be done! Read on to find out how I use planning and organisation to spend as little as possible.
1. Cook from Scratch
This doesn’t have to mean boiling up bones for twelve hours to make stock – err, hello massive electricity bill – but it does mean waving goodbye to ready made pasta sauces, “healthy” ready meals and pre-prepared fruit and veg.
It takes very little time to make your own pasta sauce from a couple of tins of tomatoes, and it will save you around half of what it costs to buy ready made.
With jars, ready meals and prepared veg, you are paying for their prep-time. So cut out the middle man and save yourself a pretty penny.
Also, everyone knows processed foods often have extra salt among other things added to preserve them, so if you cook from scratch you’ll know exactly what is in your food. Win win.
2. Eat Less Meat
Meat is expensive bitches! Cut down on meat and poultry and you’ll save shitloads.
Seriously, you don’t need meat with EVERY meal. Unless you’re a body builder, there is no need to eat the equivalent of three chickens a day!
I limit myself to red meat once a week or less, and even then I buy as little as possible and bulk it out with red lentils to make it go further. I usually have chicken two or three times a week which I buy frozen – a kilo of frozen chicken usually costs the same as 500g fresh!
3. Make Use of the Things in Your Store Cupboard
There is no point in buying more than you need. Check what you have in your store cupboard before you make your meal plan and shopping list. You might find pasta, tins of chopped tomatoes and dried herbs – that will make you a great pasta and sauce dish and won’t cost you anything as you already have everything you need. Sorted.
4. Make a Meal Plan
I do my shopping once a week so I plan my meals for seven days. And that’s ALL meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
This will stop you from needing to pop into the corner shop to pick up lunch because you had bugger all in. Not only will this save you cash over a month, avoiding the temptation of crisps and chocolate will always be good for your waistline.
5. Eat Leftovers
I always plan for my leftovers in my meal plan. Veggie lasagne for tea on Wednesday means there’s enough for both of our lunches on Thursday. Definitely more exciting than a slightly stale marmite sandwich.
6. Write a List
This will help you to just buy what you need and save you money in the long run. And woe betide anyone accompanying me shopping who tries to deviate from the list – NO DEVIATIONS!
7. Research Prices
Once I’ve written my meal plan and list, I go online and find the cheapest available product in my local store and write down the price on my shopping list. This ensures I get the best price and am not suckered into “deals”. I always compare prices by 100g/100ml, but I try not to over buy especially perishables.
If the shop doesn’t have a website with prices – Aldi for example – I’ll check the prices on one of the big supermarket’s website, then when I’m shopping I’ll pick the items that are the same price or cheaper (and in Aldi, it’s usually cheaper).
I realise not everyone is as anal as me when it comes to writing lists and a lot of people probably can’t be arsed with checking prices etc. If that is you, I guess the minimum you should do is plan your meals and write a list as this will stop you buying all the shit you don’t need.
If you have any tips for saving money on your food shop please share in the comments below, I’d love to cut my budget even further if I can!