save money on food
7 ways to
Eating healthy food on a budget can be hard. Follow our tips to save money... and help save the planet, too!
Eating healthy food on a budget can be quite a challenge. Organic fruit and vegetables, free-range eggs and quality cuts of meat aren't always the cheapest choices – but it is possible to eat well without breaking the bank.
Here are a few of things you could try to save money on food bills – and in many cases, you'll be reducing your impact on the environment too!
An alarming amount of edible food is thrown away by UK households each year.
Planning meals carefully can help reduce this waste, helping you to avoid buying too much food. Before you shop, check what you have in the freezer or store cupboard. Could this be made into a meal? Write a shopping list for everything you need, and try to get a full week's shopping done in one go – the less you're in the supermarket, the less you'll be tempted by unnecessary items and impulse buys.
Buy local, buy seasonal
Another great way to cut costs in the kitchen is to choose seasonal, local produce whenever it's available. Food that's been flown into the UK is usually more costly – packaging, refrigeration and transportation are all paid for by the consumer.
Buying from local markets, monthly farmers' markets or direct from farm shops supports the local economy – and the produce you buy will be fresher and tastier too!
Pulses and grains
Pulses and grains are a cheap source of protein and can be used in all sorts of dishes, adding flavour and colour to soups, casseroles and stews.
Lentils aren't just for vegetarians – using red lentils to bulk up meaty meals such as shepherd's pie, spaghetti bolognaise, chilli con carne or chicken curry means you can cut down on more expensive ingredients like lamb or beef mince. Mushrooms and potatoes are two more ingredients that can be added to dishes to make a little meat go a long way.
Vegetarian and vegan meals are tasty, nutritious, and often cheaper. Why not try having a meat-free Monday? Roasted vegetables with couscous, rice-stuffed peppers, butternut squash curry or leek and kale risotto are a few ideas – all quick to make and delicious.
There are many arguments for how a vegetarian or vegan diet can lessen impact on the environment. So reducing the quantity of meat you eat each week can cut your carbon footprint, as well as your food bills.
To avoid wasting fresh produce, check the fridge and fruit bowl regularly and use up anything that's starting to look a bit sad – soups and smoothies are a great way to use up vegetables and fruits.
Bread is one of the most frequently thrown away food items – but it needn't be. Any bread that is about to go stale can be turned into breadcrumbs in a food processor and frozen for future use. Breadcrumbs are useful in stuffings and fishcakes, or mixed with cheese to make a topping for savoury dishes.
Cook once, eat twice (or three or four times!)
Mince and tomato sauce can become spaghetti bolognaise, lasagne, chilli (with beans, sweetcorn and chilli added) or a filling for jacket potatoes. Cooking larger amounts of food in one go saves energy, as reheating food in a microwave or on the hob is quicker than cooking from scratch.
Extra portions can be frozen and used when you're too busy to cook – which may stop you reaching for the take-away menu and save you even more money!
Grow your own
As well as reducing the weekly food bill, growing your own can reduce your impact on the environment. There will be no carbon emissions caused by transporting your produce from plot to plate, and no packaging to end up in landfill after your fruit and veg has been eaten.
Spring is an ideal time of year to start a veggie patch – and even small spaces can accommodate a few pots for produce, or even a .
Bagged salad leaves are healthy, but expensive to buy. For the same price as a bag of salad from the supermarket, you can buy a couple of packets of seed that will provide fresh and tasty leaves for months. Just sow a small quantity of seeds every couple of weeks into a pot of compost – they can even be grown on a windowsill.
Micro-greens or pea shoots can also be grown on a sunny windowsill at any time of year.
If you have enough space in your garden, a small vegetable patch could produce some such as potatoes, broad beans and courgettes. Many of these crops can also be grown in large pots on a patio.
This simple-to-make soup uses cheap, nutritious ingredients.
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 large carrots, diced
150g mixed dried soup vegetables, such as pearl barley, red lentils, green lentils, split peas
2 litres vegetable stock
½ small savoy cabbage, shredded
Fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until softened. Add the potatoes, carrots and stock. Rinse the dried soup vegetables in a sieve under running water, then add to the soup. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 25 minutes, then add the cabbage and cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve with hot crusty bread.
Little Green Space March 2019