How to Save Money on Food

 In Health, Healthy Lifestyle, Lifestyle, Self Help

Save MoneyFood is one of the biggest expenses for students in the UK, but it doesn’t have to be. With some planning, creativity, and smart choices, you can eat well and save money on your grocery bills. Here are some tips to help you do that.

Plan your meals

Planning your meals for the week can help you avoid impulse buying, food waste, and takeaways. You can use online tools, apps, or cookbooks to find recipes that suit your budget, taste, and dietary needs. Try to choose meals that use similar ingredients, so you can buy in bulk and use up what you have. You can also cook larger portions and freeze the leftovers for another day.

Shop smart

Shopping smart means knowing where, when, and how to buy your food. Here are some strategies to shop smart:

  • Compare prices and offers across different supermarkets and online platforms. You can use apps like Trolley or websites like Approved Foods to find the best deals and discounts.
  • Use cashback apps like Shopmium or CheckoutSmart to get money back on your purchases.
  • Shop at local markets, ethnic shops, or discount stores like Aldi and Lidl, where you can find fresh and cheap produce, meat, and spices.
  • Shop late in the day, when supermarkets reduce the prices of items that are close to their expiry date. You can find yellow stickers on these items and save up to 75% off the original price. You can either eat them on the same day or freeze them for later.
  • Use student discount schemes like TOTUM or UNiDAYS to get discounts on food and drinks at various cafes, restaurants, and shops.
  • Shop with your housemates and split the cost of bulk items, such as rice, pasta, oil, or spices. You can also share the food that you don’t use often, such as jam, milk, or squash.

Cook from scratch

Cooking from scratch is not only cheaper, but also healthier and more satisfying than buying ready-made meals, snacks, or takeaways. You can control what goes into your food and avoid additives, preservatives, and excess salt, sugar, and fat. You can also customize your recipes to your liking and experiment with different flavours and cuisines.

Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated. You can find plenty of easy, quick, and tasty recipes online or in books that use simple and affordable ingredients. You can also use shortcuts, such as canned, frozen, or pre-chopped vegetables, beans, or lentils, to save time and money.

Some of the best foods to cook from scratch are:

  • Soups, stews, and curries, which are filling, nutritious, and easy to make with whatever you have in your fridge or pantry. You can also add rice, noodles, or bread to make them more substantial.
  • Pasta, which is cheap, versatile, and can be paired with various sauces, cheeses, meats, or vegetables. You can also make your own pasta sauce with tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and spices, or use pesto, cream, or cheese for a creamy alternative.
  • Stir-fries, which are quick, colourful, and delicious. You can use any meat, tofu, or eggs as your protein source, and any vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, peppers, or mushrooms, as your veggie source. You can also add noodles, rice, or quinoa as your carb source, and season with soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, or chilli for some extra flavour.
  • Sandwiches, wraps, and salads, which are ideal for lunch or a light dinner. You can use bread, tortillas, or lettuce as your base, and fill them with your favourite ingredients, such as cheese, ham, chicken, tuna, egg, avocado, hummus, or falafel. You can also add some salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumbers, or olives for some freshness and crunch.
  • Omelettes, pancakes, and muffins, which are great for breakfast or a snack. You can make them with eggs, flour, milk, and baking powder, and add some cheese, bacon, mushrooms, or spinach for savoury omelettes, or some bananas, berries, chocolate, or nuts for sweet pancakes or muffins.

Grow your own food

Growing your own food is a fun and rewarding way to save money and eat fresh and organic food. You don’t need a garden or a lot of space to do it. You can grow herbs, salad greens, tomatoes, peppers, or strawberries in pots, containers, or window boxes. You can also grow sprouts, microgreens, or mushrooms indoors, using jars, trays, or kits.

Growing your own food can also help you reduce your environmental impact, as you can avoid packaging, transportation, and pesticides. You can also compost your food scraps and use them as fertilizer for your plants.

Be creative and flexible

Being creative and flexible with your food can help you make the most of what you have and avoid boredom and waste. Here are some ways to be creative and flexible with your food:

  • Use leftovers, scraps, or odd bits of food to make new dishes, such as soups, salads, pies, or casseroles. You can also use them to make stocks, sauces, or dips.
  • Use spices, herbs, sauces, or condiments to add flavour and variety to your meals. You can also mix and match different cuisines, such as Mexican, Indian, or Thai, to create fusion dishes.
  • Use substitutes, alternatives, or swaps for ingredients that you don’t have, can’t afford, or don’t like. For example, you can use yogurt instead of cream, oats instead of flour, or lentils instead of meat. You can also use seasonal, local, or frozen produce instead of imported, exotic, or fresh produce.
  • Use online tools, apps, or books to find recipes based on the ingredients that you have or want to use. You can also ask your friends, family, or housemates for their favourite recipes or tips.

Saving money on food as a student in the UK is possible and enjoyable. By following these tips, you can eat well, save money, and have fun in the kitchen. Bon appetit!

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