how to create a food budget in 2024

Healthy eating can get expensive but with the right planning it is achievable. Here, we share some practical tips to stretch your budget.

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If you're already struggling with budgeting for other household bills, the last thing you need is a high food shopping bill. Luckily, making your food budget stretch further is easy.

With a little know-how and planning, you can stretch your weekly food budget to feed the family for less.

 

Our free online financial courses can help you manage your money better.

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how to stretch your food budget

do: 

make meal plans

Planning ahead for the week will give you time to think about your nutritional needs and your food budget. Once you’ve decided on your meal plan, write a shopping list of ingredients. You should also check expiry dates of your store cupboard ingredients so you know which ones to use first. Looking for budget meal plan ideas? Take a look at BeatTheBudget for budget-friendly recipes.

select recipes with common ingredients

TO make the most of your food budget, try to use recipes that have common ingredients that exist in your cupboards. This includes items such as chopped tomatoes, pasta, rice and mixed beans. If a recipe calls for a special ingredient, think about how much that ingredient costs and if you'll use it again before it goes out of date.

plan for leftovers

Cut down on food waste by freezing leftovers, or using them to create another meal with the next day. According to the recycling organisation WRAP UK, the average UK family could save up to £700 a year by tackling food waste. 

swap fresh for frozen

Not only does it last longer, but frozen food often costs less and is just as nutritious. Produce such as fish is frozen straight away to lock in the nutrietns, so buying frozen can actually be healthier than thawed produce sold in fridges.

find the reduced sections

Look out for reduced-price bargains in supermarkets and freeze them straight away to use within the next few weeks. The best times to browse these sections is from 6pm-8pm.

check local food banks

Many places have community fridges that offer free and low-cost food available to everyone. This includes surplus food from supermarkets and items expiring that day - check your local council website for more information.

grow your own

If you're lucky enough to have a garden, growing fruit and vegetables is a great way to reduce your shopping budget.  Even if you only have a patio, many types of fruit, veg and herbs can be grown in containers and pots. The RHS has some fantastic advice if you’re not sure where to start.

Eating on a budget doesn't mean you have to forego healthy, tasty recipes. Find out more here.

don't: 

shop without a list

Having a shopping list means that you will only buy what you need, stick to your budget and save time. Not only will you be tempted to buy impulse items you don’t need, you’ll miss ingredients you need for healthy recipes, meaning you’ll have to make a return trip for the forgotten items.

shop when you're hungry

Avoid shopping when you're hungry as you'll be more tempted by unhealthy treats and impulse purchases. Be wary of multi-buy offers as they may seem like good value for money, but you may end up buying more than you can actually use.   

forget about loyalty cards

Most well-known supermarkets have loyalty cards that you can scan with every shop, adding points to your balance. It's a great idea to build up your balance and redeem this free money during expensive periods such as Christmas.

If you're wondering what loyalty cards are available in the UK and which are best to help your food budget go further, Wise.com has a useful guide.

buy everything from one supermarket

Shop around for the best prices if you have time. Local markets often sell fruit, veg, fish and meat cheaper than supermarkets, as well as many butchers. Farmers' markets are also usually cheaper, especially when you buy produce that's in season.

buy too many fresh ingredients

Only buy enough fresh ingredients to last you a few days to ensure you eat them all before they start going off. This can mean you spend more money on food and waste your budget by creating food waste.

Find out more about how you can cut down on food waste and save money by visiting the Love Food Hate Waste website for recipe ideas and useful tips.

For advice and support on improving your budgeting skills, read our budgeting tips article.

Do you want to improve your diet and nutrition? Join our free online course to boost your activity levels and develop simple exercises you can do at home.

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find out more about caba's financial services

There are everyday and exceptional problems that can affect us all at some point in our lives. We're here for you. We can arrange for you to receive financial support to help you work through any difficulties you may be facing. Don't forget our support is free, impartial and strictly confidential.

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