If you're already struggling with other household bills, the last thing you need is to have to spend even more money on keeping yourself fed. But, thankfully, not spending a fortune on food doesn't mean you have to compromise your health.
Here are some practical ideas for how to eat well for less:
- Before you go shopping, write down all the meals you want to cook in the coming week and make a list of the ingredients you'll need. Then when you're shopping, just buy what's on the list – and nothing else.
- Remember to buy canned and frozen fruit and veg as they are usually cheaper than fresh (but just as nutritious).
- Don't buy lots of fresh fruit and vegetables at the same time because you may not be able to eat them all before they start going off. Just buy enough for the next day or two, even if it means buying one or two of every fruit and vegetable you need.
- If you have a freezer, look out for reduced-price bargains that have to be eaten the same day and freeze them as soon as you get home. You can also save on cooking fuel by making enough for two or three portions each time you make a meal, and freezing what you don't eat.
- Shop around for the best prices if you have time. Local markets often sell fruit, veg, fish and meat cheaper than supermarkets. Farmers' markets are also usually cheaper too, especially when you buy produce that's in season.
- If there are no local markets where you live and your only option is a supermarket, try the store's own-brand foods. These are usually cheaper and are just as nutritious as well-known brands.
- Take a packed lunch that you've made yourself to work. This alone could save you a small fortune compared to buying lunch every day.
- Cut down on food waste by keeping leftovers in the fridge and making a meal of them the next day (according to the recycling organisation WRAP UK, the average UK family could save up to £680 a year by tackling food waste).
- Save on buying expensive cuts of meat by looking for cheaper – but healthy – sources of protein such as tinned fish (sardines and pilchards, for instance), turkey or beef mince, stewing steak, beans, chickpeas and lentils.
- Try growing your own fruit and veg if you're lucky enough to have a garden. Even if you only have a patio, many types of fruit and veg can be grown in containers and pots.
- Don't go shopping when you're hungry, as you may well end up buying more than you need. Also be wary of buy-one-get-one-free offers, because although they may seem like good value for money, you may end up buying more than you can actually use.
Find out more about how you can cut down on food waste – and save money while you're at it – by visiting the Love Food Hate Waste website.
© CABA 2013