1. Proper planning prevents pointless purchases
Planning your meals and shopping only for the ingredients you need prevents you from wasting food. For the same reason, don’t shop on an empty stomach - it’s much more likely to result in you buying food you don’t need to satisfy your cravings. Not only will your budget be healthier, but your body will too. You could also consider bulk buying certain things that keep well (e.g. rice) which can often save you money in the long run.
2. Tap into your inner chef
Enjoying more home-cooked meals and making coffee at home and putting it into a flask for work will save you a fortune in store-bought coffee, lunches and dinners out. When you do eat out, consider eating out less often but when you do, enjoying spending money on a nice restaurant.
3. Pile on the veggies
Meat and fish tend to be the most expensive ingredients in meals. To save money, consider going meat free for some meals or days of the week. In its place, try adding pulses and/or grains which bulk out a meal and, in the case of pulses, count to one of your five a day!
4. Buying meat needn't be an expensive feat
For those days that you do want meat, try cheaper cuts which are just as (if not more) flavourful and nutritious. It’s worth checking out your local butchers and how their prices compare to local supermarkets. Lastly, buying a whole chicken and using it all up (including the carcass for stock) is cheaper than buying individual cuts. You can freeze portions (including stock) to use whenever you need it.
5. Shop later for better bargains
It’s worth learning when your local markets have discounts towards the end of the day on fresh produce - often you can find a good deal on produce you can enjoy for dinner or lunch the next day. You could also join a consumer forum for news on deals on brands you like - this means you can bulk buy when there are savings to be made.
6. Broaden your horizons
Not only do Mexican and Indian foods taste amazing, they can be relatively cheap to prepare as they often rely on grains and pulses but don’t skimp on flavour due to the fragrant and flavourful spices used.
7. Know when to splurge and when to save
The Environmental Working Group’s "clean fifteen" and "dirty dozen" lists show which foods have high levels of pesticides to help you decide on which foods to purchase organically and which you can get away with buying normally. Although it’s based on U.S. farms, it’s a good set of guiding principles that can inform your decision on what to buy organic or not.
8. Keep your experiments inexpensive
It’s great to try out new foods to see if you can broaden your culinary prowess. However, limit your experiment to 1-2 items a week, so it’s less likely that your new foods will go off before you’ve had a chance to try them .
9. Reason with the seasons
Eating foods that are in season is far cheaper than consuming foods that are scarce and have to be flown in from abroad (not to mention better for the environment). Check out the Eat The Seasons website for an overview of eating seasonally and what’s growing in plentiful amounts and so will be cheaper and more flavourful.
Bulk buying and cooking are key to eating well on a budget. This is where your freezer becomes your best friend. If you aren't eating everything, freeze the rest for another day, and consider buying pre-chopped veggies which are cheap, convenient and frozen at their peak to seal in their nutrients, making them better for both your body and budget.