Top tips for eating well on a budget
Think you can’t eat healthily on a budget? Think again! We’ve listed the top tips for how you can make the most of your money and eat well on a budget.
Eat out lessIt makes sense that if you want to save money, you should try to prepare your own meals and cut down on the number of times you visit restaurants and cafes. Going out for lunch or ordering a takeaway is always very tempting, but you could try packing your lunch the night before to save time in the morning if you’re heading out somewhere, or it’ll be there ready for you when you’re hungry for lunch later in the day.
Check your cupboardsBefore you go out, check what you already have in your cupboards, so you can make a list of only the things that you need. Checking your cupboards and fridge regularly is also good for keeping an eye on expiry dates, so you can make sure you don’t waste any ingredients.
Take a shopping listMake sure that when you go shopping, you’re not hungry because it can make you more tempted to spend more on food. By having a list you’re able to see exactly what you need – just make sure you stick to it.
Make new meals using your leftoversHave some leftover meat or vegetables? All leftovers can be turned into something new, you can find inspiration online on websites like Love Food Hate Waste or BBC Good Food for some tasty ideas.
Choose cheaper brandsHave an open mind and try buying a cheaper brand of product than you’d normally buy. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a premium or value brand, so give it a try and see if you can spot the difference.
Buy cheaper cuts of meatSometimes cheaper cuts of meat take longer to cook, but if you’re prepared to spend a little more time cooking you can rustle up a delicious meal. If you’re looking for inspiration of recipes you can check out cheap cut recipes on the BBC Good Food website.
Eat more vegMeat and fish can be expensive, you could try using smaller amounts and making dishes more filling with extra vegetables. Why not also try experimenting with vegetarian dishes, you could make vegetable soups, casseroles, fajitas or look online for more ideas.
Try eating a smaller portionIf you put your dinner on a smaller plate, it can help to make your brain trick you into feeling fuller, and your leftovers can be used for lunch the next day. Make sure you don’t under-eat though, as getting enough nutritious food is essential for our bodies.
Find cheap recipes onlineIt can be easy to get stuck in a food rut when you’re cooking on a budget. You might find yourself always buying the same foods, so if you’re in need of new meals, have a look online. Some good places to start are cheap eat recipes, budget recipes, recipes for under £1 per head, or how to eat healthily on £1 a day.
Freeze perishable foodsFoods like bread, berries, onions, peppers and spinach can all be frozen to help save waste and your money.
Sign up for supermarket points cardsSupermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury's give you points for doing your shopping with them which can then be turned into money off vouchers, it’s free to sign up so it’s worth getting the cards so you can start collecting and start saving.
Cook once, eat multiple timesIf you cook a larger portion of a meal, you’ll have extra which you can freeze into a portion size so you have a home cooked meal ready to eat at your convenience. Or use the extra portions later in the week or for lunch, that way when you don’t feel like cooking you’ll have something ready and be less tempted to buy something else.
Add pulses to your dishesPulses include lentils, beans and peas and they can be one of the cheapest things to buy at the supermarket. By adding pulses to your dishes, it will help to make your meals go further and they count as one of your five a day. You can use them to add to lasagne, chilli con carne, soups and burgers.
Buy frozen or tinned foodSome people might feel wary about buying frozen and tinned food, but it not only lasts longer, it can often cost less too. You can add tinned and frozen vegetables to a variety of dishes, just make sure you check the salt and sugar content. Tinned and frozen vegetables and fruit can often be more nutritious because they are frozen and tinned at their peak which helps to seal in those nutrients.
Make smarter choicesUse little tricks to save you money when buying food. If you choose to buy chicken, buying a whole one can help to save you money, as you’ll have breast, thighs, drumsticks and wings and you can use the bones to make a stock. If buying cheese, you should go for a whole block instead of one which is already grated or go to the counter and just buy exactly what you need. When buying fresh fruits and vegetables it’s often cheaper to pick them yourselves rather than buying them pre-packed. The best way to check if something is cheaper is to look at the price per weight, £/ kg, because sometimes you’ll find that something prepackaged is cheaper or a more expensive brand can be cheaper if it’s on offer, so it’s worth looking around.
Check prices onlineCompare prices of food online so you know where to get the best deal.
Keep a tally of your price as you’re shoppingIn most supermarkets you can scan as you shop if you want to make sure you’re keeping to your budget, or shopping online will add up your total as you add things into your basket.
Shop at the end of the dayIf you’re looking for bargains, a lot of supermarket reduce their fresh produce at the end of the day, just keep an eye on the expiry date and make sure you use it.
Cook the same meal for the whole familyCooking different foods for different members of the family can add up, try and encourage your family to eat the same meals and try new recipes and it can help you to save money.
Cook from scratchCooking from scratch is the cheapest way of cooking, and has the added benefit of knowing exactly what has gone into your food, plus you can control things like salt, spicing and fat.
Ensuring that you eat a healthy and balanced diet is good for you and you should always try to eat a wide variety of foods to get enough essential vitamins and minerals. We’ve listed some ideas for ways to help you eat well and develop a nutritious diet for yourself.