When it comes to the weekly grocery trip, we're all feeling the pinch right now. And while being savvy at the shelves is a great way to ease the pressure on our wallets, there's plenty we can do to save money at home too. We asked budget-friendly cooking expert Becky Excell for her top tips for making your groceries go further.
Foods can be frozen up to and on the day of their use by date, which avoids them ending up in the bin. You can also freeze more than you think, including milk, flour, and even eggs if you crack them into an ice cube tray. Things like frozen veg and fish are often cheaper than buying fresh as well. And fun fact: the more you have in your freezer, the more energy efficient it is. So, by stocking up you're saving money on your electricity bill too.
Regularly check that your fridge and freezer are defrosted and set at the right temperature as it means they keep food fresh for longer. Cook anything that's about to go out of date as this makes it last a couple more days and ideally keep meat and fish towards the bottom of the fridge where it's colder. A good hack for stuff like salad, spinach and beans sprouts is to put a sheet of kitchen paper in the bag once it's opened. It stops the food from going soggy.
Planning what you're going to eat each week in advance is a great money saver. Firstly, because it means you only buy what you need and, secondly, because it helps you avoid doing expensive top-up shops or grabbing a last-minute takeaway. Having a plan also means you're more likely to cook meals from scratch, which is always cheaper than buying ready-made. But remember, it's not the end of the world if you don’t stick to it – food is about fun too!
If you have plenty of certain ingredients, try making double the amount when you cook. You can then portion it out and freeze what's left to create your own homemade ready meals. You don’t even have to have the same meal. Leftover carbs like rice, potatoes and pasta can be chucked in curries or soups while something like a tomato sauce can be made into lots of different things. Either way, you're reducing waste and giving yourself some quick, budget-friendly meal options to turn to when time is tight. Just be sure to date and label everything so you know what you're getting when you pull it out of the freezer!
Fresh foods like red meat, chicken and cheese are in loads of meals but also tend to be expensive. But you can make them go further by bulking them out with cheaper cupboard staples or serving them in some other way. Try making Bolognese with half mince and half lentils, for example, or grating cheese for sandwiches rather than slicing it. Likewise, cutting up chicken breasts into small pieces rather than serving them whole often means you can use two or three between four people rather than have one each.
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