I love food. It’s genuinely one of the biggest comforts in daily life. But if you’re living on a budget (aren’t we all?) then it can be expensive to eat really well week after week. To save myself starving to death for 3 weeks a month, I do a few different things that help me stretch a small food budget to make sure I not only eat really nice food, but can do so right the way through the month. Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up over the years that hopefully might help someone else do the same.
Have some meat/fish free days
I don’t have to worry about this one really since I’m vegetarian; not by choice either, so for me it’s very easy to not have a steak every night. I’ve tried red meat on and off all my life and I simply don’t like it. I eat a lot of fish, though, but that can also be expensive. By having one or more meat or fish free days a week you can actually save a surprising amount of money. It’s also great if you’re concious of things like the carbon footprint of meat consumption but just can’t bring yourself to go full veggie. I probably have fish free meals five days a week, and this suits me for obvious reasons, but even just one day a week of no meat or fish products can add up to a fair saving when you do your food shopping.
Make things from scratch
One really cheap way to eat really well is to make things from scratch. Dan makes a mean homemade garlic bread and it’s not very heavy on the power usage either as it’s cooked on the hob in about 25 minutes. 1 cup warm water, 2.5 cups flour, 1 tblsp oil, 2 tsp salt, 2 tsp yeast activated in sugar will make enough dough for two nights worth of garlic bread and it’s a really tasty dough as well. Mixing a clove of garlic and a pinch of taragon and parsley in a couple of tablespoons of butter makes enough butter for one bread to be well saturated and super delish. A prime example of how making something from scratch can be cheaper as well as give you enough to work with for 2 nights worth of sides. If you make this, don’t forget to flip it half way through and then add the butter mixture to the top! Soup is also great to use up all that random veg in the fridge that makes lunch for three days or dinner for two nights without a massive amount of effort.
Don’t get sucked in by the offers
It’s so tempting when you see three cheesecakes for the price of two, I get it. But one cheesecake is cheaper than two, and you’re far more likely to eat a whole single one than have to force feed yourself two or three before they go off! This is just actually a really sensible shopping rule in general because it’s pointless spending more money than you otherwise would have if you only bought what you needed. With food though this also means you’ll end up with loads of stuff, no space, and a lot of waste. Stick to what you need and only that.
Do get sucked in by some offers
No one tells you when you’re growing up how expensive cheese is. Whichever one is on offer is the one we buy because realistically, most cheddar is pretty similar, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. Other offers I like to take advantage of are things like fresh bakery discounts, toilet roll, and of course toiletries like shampoo and conditioner. These are all things that you’ll either need all the time or are a little bit of a treat, so saving money with what’s discounted then is a good idea.
Food shopping and cooking are comparitively new to me, but I’ve definitely learnt some important lessons and see the value in things like cooking from scratch, making extra for other days and keeping my list strict and not letting myself get distracted. If you are a meat eater, I really hope you try having a couple of vegetarian days a week and just see how much you can save over the course of a month.