With money tight, we have to look at all aspects of our lives to see where we ca make savings. When it comes to food, of course we can’t just stop eating, but there are ways to make your money go further. If you want to know how to reduce food bills, we have put together nine steps that mean you can still make delicious, nutritious meals for your family, but at lower cost.
Acclaimed children’s food writer Annabel Karmel provides her tips for cutting your costs at the supermarket tills:
How to reduce food bills
1. Stock up on staples
Karmel says a well-stocked store cupboard full of cans and tins means you can still cook up a nutritious but cheap family dinner. She points out that beans and pulses are versatile, affordable and packed with nutrients, and they also count towards your 5-a-day.
“It takes no time at all to create a quick tinned tomato-based sauce for pasta or use a tin of chickpeas to make a veggie curry, mini falafels, burgers, or a quick hummus,” she says.
2. Go down a brand
There are ranks of supermarkets in terms of cost, and stepping down a brand can make a real difference. Shopping at Morrisons rather than Waitrose, for instance, or frequenting Aldi over Tesco will see you spending less than you currently do.
And if you normally buy branded products, try the supermarket equivalent product instead. It doesn’t always work out cheaper, but much of the time it does.
3. Eat veggie when you can
One option when looking for how to reduce food bills is to eat vegetarian meals at least one day a week. It tends to be cheaper, and there are plenty of delicious veggie recipes online. At least one day a week without the expense of meat can really bring the shopping bills down.
4. Shop seasonally
Keep an eye on what’s in season each month and seek out these ingredients, advises Karmel. “It encourages us to shop and support local, plus, in-season fruit and veg is often cheaper,” she says.
5. Use surplus food websites and apps
Try websites like Approved Food, which sell food that’s near or just past its best before date. Approved Food specialises in surplus and short-dated stock, pointing out that more than seven million tonnes of food and drink is thrown away in the UK every year because it’s past its best before date, even though it’s still perfectly good to eat. They can then sell them cheaply to consumers.
Other services include the Olio app, which connects neighbours with each other and with local businesses so they can share surplus food and the Too Good To Go app, which lets you buy and collect food that restaurants, hotels, shops and manufacturers haven’t sold in time at a great price. This way, it gets eaten instead of wasted.
6. Buy wonky
Keep an eye out for wonky or so-called ‘imperfect’ fruit and vegetables which are often sold at a reduced price, advises Karmel. Once it’s cut up and cooked, it makes no difference.
7. Batch cook
“You can cook up a big meal at the beginning of the week and freeze the remainder,” says Karmel. “If you can, double up the ingredients in your family meals and freeze one half for another day, this will save you both money and time.”
8. Look out for yellow stickers
Supermarkets often reduce food late in the day just before it reaches its use by date. Seek out so-called ‘yellow sticker food’ if you can, and freeze it as soon as you get home. You can get really cheap fish and meat this way, which you can defrost when you need it.
9. Use leftovers
Check out recipes for leftovers online. There are more than you think. The less food you waste, the less you have to buy. If you want to know how to reduce food bills, this is a great solution.
“If you’ve got stale bread, for example, turn it into breadcrumbs, put it in a bag and store it in the freezer to be used later. We have to be more like the chefs and use absolutely everything we have,” says Karmel. She adds: “A blender is your best friend when it comes to making the most of your fruit and vegetable leftovers, and smoothies and soups will be your go-to. Savoury muffins and frittatas are also a fantastic base for using up any vegetables you’ve got left at the end of the week and making it go further.”
Have you got any other suggestions for how to reduce food bills? Share them in the Comments below