I’m all about saving money where I can, and food is a great place to start trimming the fat – so to speak. But spending less money doesn’t always equal a worse quality, in-fact sometimes spending less, but being smart about it can give you a better quality and more bang for your buck. Okay, so you may have to give up on some extra luxurious treats and save them for a special occasion, but there will be no shortage of delicious produce, especially as we are coming into spring and with it brings an abundance of delicious seasonal fruits and veggies that are bursting with vibrancy, wholesome nutrients and just begging to be chopped, sliced and diced into all your favourite lighter dishes and if you purchase seasonal and local you can save any additional costs that are attributed to airmiles or commercially added. These are the simple strategies that I use to help save money on my food bill every day – but still feed my family with a feast good enough for royalty, and I hope this helps, so you can add some into your everyday too.
1. Bulk or Bargain Buy
If you live in a large household or lean towards more of a plant-based diet you can benefit from buying longer-shelf-life-produce such as grains, pulses, nuts and seeds in bulk. They have longevity on their side as long as they are stored correctly, and you can get a bargain discount for buying in bulk. Make sure to only purchase the products that you frequently consume and not just because they have a special deal on. You can also bulk (or regular) buy bargained or reduced items – yellow stickered products are like a treasure trove of delights – and always my number one stop in any supermarket – just make sure to prep or cook them as soon as you get home and then store or freeze ASAP to preserve their life and always label what it is – so it doesn’t get forgotten and thrown during a Spring fridge + freezer clean.
2. Zero-Waste Your Portions
On the other side of the coin – if you live in a smaller household or on your own, or even if there is a love/hate split in a larger family, buy specific ingredients from zero-waste stores so that you are only buying the exact quantity you need. It may seem like a great idea purchasing a big pack of apples because its 2 for 1, but if they are just going to be thrown away, it’s worth shedding a little extra spend on a smaller quantity to save wasted pennies further down the line.
3. Subscribe to a Veg Box
This is something that I have been doing for years; recommend to anyone who will listen. By subscribing to a fruit and vegetable box, not only are you helping local farmers and businesses, you are getting the produce at their optimum prime, packed full of delicious flavours and nutrients, getting introduced to a wider variety of seasonal produce you may never have tried before so can produce exciting meals, but you are also in the long run saving some ££. Now before you scream at me ‘these boxes are more expensive than the superstore’ hang on a second – yes, they have a larger price tag at a glance, but when you break it down and plan around utilising every delightful morsel and stop adding additional spends onto the shopping list, because everything you need is right there – your overall spend will drop significantly. You have to change your mindset around a veg box being a side addition to your shopping list – it becomes your shopping list – all wrapped up in a neat little box and delivered to your door (saving you money on fuel, parking and any sneaky last-minute till purchases too).
4. Don’t Get Hung Up on Labels
Switch to own-branded products from superstores or try a cheaper brand. Most household-name-brand products are often the same or of a lower quality than the lesser known or own branded products. There have been constant blind-taste-tested studies and reports on this and even stores like Aldi or Lidl package branded products in their own packaging with a cheaper label so it’s time to stop the snobbery about food-labels and just focus on purchasing food that tastes great no matter what it says on the tin. Try and swap a few different items each shop and see what you like. If you honestly prefer the more expensive brand and can’t bear the swap – that’s absolutely fine, but don’t give up at the first hurdle, keep trying with different products and swap where you like; be open-minded. The more products you can swap to other brands means you can afford to keep the big-named brand items you refuse to swap without costing anything extra. It’s all a big branding balancing act.
5. Get More Involved
Nut-butters, plant-based cheese, granola, jams + preserves and the list can go on and on. Condiments and sauces, soups and stews… things that you are used to buying pre-made can be subbed for your own recipes. Not only does this mean you can control exactly what goes into them and tailor towards yours and your family’s preferences, but you can also cut the costs. Sure, some things may seem a little expensive to start with – as you purchase the necessary products to start, but once you have settled in and adopted this routine the costs can be almost slashed in half. And make sure to wield that knife and sharpen up those skills, learning how to prepare fruits and vegetables properly means less waste and therefore more meals and less need to shop more frequently. Also, by learning how to utilise leftovers and peelings and skins into creating even more delicious products you would have purchased, it’s like a roundabout of all good things and ticking off savings left, right and centre. Especially if you start to grow your own herbs, fruits and veggies too from the offcuts. There’s a whole word of savings out there just waiting to let you in. You just have to take the first step.