5 sure fire ways to save money on your food bills
Each month, the average family throws away £50 of good food that was bought but not eaten.
TV Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis says “Throwing food away is the purest waste of money possible. I’ve been banging on about how to beat it for years, and it’s wonderful to see the Love Food Hate Waste campaign."
Saving money does not mean cutting down on the indulgence and fun, if anything, planning well, will leave us with a warm glow of self-congratulation. So what’s the secret?
Love Food Hate Waste has come up with five easy ways to get started...
1. Get familiar with your fridge and friendly with your freezer
Start saving money right now by making a date with your fridge! Just by opening the fridge door and checking the ‘use by’ dates on what’s inside, you can begin saving your pennies and pounds. How often do you find that the ‘use by’ date on a packet of ham or bag of sausages has been and gone and you end up throwing it away? Meat, fish and ready meals are often the most expensive things we buy, so it helps to get into the habit of regularly checking the dates on perishable items in your fridge. Move them into the freezer if you don’t think you’ll have time to eat them or cook them for tonight’s supper. Dairy products are often forgotten at the back of the fridge. Grate odd bits of cheddar and mix with breadcrumbs for a savoury topping or stir into mashed potatoes. Use up your yoghurts in fruit smoothies or as delicious toppings on breakfast cereals. The kids will love them.
When you get home with your shopping, it is a good idea to transfer as much as you can straight into the freezer. If you have large packets of chicken pieces or fish, divide them up and freeze individual portions.
Understanding food dates and what the ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ labels really mean is key to making the most of your fridge and freezer. Check out the facts about food dates and visit our fridge & freezer sections to learn more about getting your money’s worth.
2. Storecupboard Savvy
Try and keep your storecupboard and freezer well-stocked with a variety of canned, dried and frozen goods that you know your family love to eat. Tinned beans, frozen vegetables, meat and fish and dried fruit, nuts, pasta & noodles, rice & grains, are all essentials with a long shelf life - meaning you will always have the ingredients standing by to pull together a delicious meal or to jazz up your leftovers. The trick is to replace items once you have used them up. It helps to keep a note stuck on the inside of the cupboard door - scribble down items as soon as you have finished them and check it when you write your shopping list.
Use your storecupboard to create meals from leftovers. Any spare fresh tomatoes could be added to some canned ones to make a great topping for pizza. Rice would turn leftover chicken and wrinkly peppers into a delicious summer salad. Add a tin of lentils to your minced meat to make it stretch further.
3. Carb Control
Day after day we serve up basic staples - bread, rice, potatoes and pasta – at meal after meal, but large amounts of these carbohydrates end up going straight in the bin. Are you getting your portions right? Use our portion calculator to check and find a handy way to measure just the right amount. For instance, a mug full of rice will serve 4 adults.
If you enjoy hot buttered toast, keep a ready sliced loaf in the freezer which can go straight into the toaster when you want a piece. Large whole loaves of bread can be cut in half and one frozen for later in the week. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to save money just by being more careful with your carbs.
4. Lovely leftovers
It’s amazing how many meals you can get from one chicken! If you enjoy a roast on Sunday, the remains of the joint would make a great curry or a delicious risotto later in the week and you’ll always find enough for a sandwich. If you have time, the carcass can also be boiled up for stock and soups.
If you have some dinner left in the pan, bag it and pop it in the freezer as a ‘ready meal’ for one. Even the smallest amount could be pureed up for the baby or served as a kid’s portion for lunch the next day. Crusts and stale bread can be blitzed in the food processor to make breadcrumbs which can be stored in the freezer. The same can be done with cake or biscuits and used as a topping for crumbles and puddings. The last dregs of wine or beer can be frozen in ice cube trays and popped out into stews and casseroles when cooking. Cut the bruises off old apples and toss into the pan with your sausages. Don’t throw out those black bananas - mash them up and add cream for a super-quick pudding the children will love.
Being crafty with your food is the clever way to save those pennies – and it really just means thinking before you throw. With a little bit of thought, you can create some delicious surprises from your leftovers - they don’t have to mean second best.
There are loads of ideas in our recipe section if you need a bit of inspiration.
5. It pays to plan!
Planning your meals is one of the most effective ways you can cut wastage and food bills. Start by checking your fridge, freezer and store cupboard, and before you go shopping, write a list, so you don’t shop for things you already have. Get the kids to help and to suggest what meals they’d like to have that week. Then you can work out a weekly meal plan.
Follow our five tips for saving money on your food bill and there’ll be more on your table and more in your pocket.