In my house, I tend to be known as the one who’s always a little bit too organised and who makes too many lists for their own good. However, when it comes to food shopping, my housemates are always really surprised at how well my planning pays off. So, upon their request, here are some top tips that I try to stick to when doing a food shop:
Make a list
Personally, my favourite item on this list. Not only does this satisfy my love for organisation, but it means that when you’re shopping, you only buy what you need and don’t tend to forget those all-important ingredients that you just mustn’t leave the shop without!
Eat more veggie food
Now, I am by no means a vegetarian, but having looked at previous food bills it appears that meat tends to be the most expensive food item that I buy. As a result, lately I have been cooking more vegetarian meals to cut down on costs. Honestly, I have been pleasantly surprised. Not only has my food bill decreased, but I’ve become a lot more experimental when cooking and I have had my eyes opened to a realm of culinary possibilities that I had never considered before.
Buy less expensive cuts of meat
Although I love a bit of veggie food, I am still partial to a bit of chicken or a slice of bacon. In the interest of saving where meat is concerned, I try to buy the less expensive cuts of meat as opposed to the more popular, ‘easier’ cuts. For example, instead of buying a pack of 2 chicken breasts that will last you two meals, why not consider buying a pack of 10 boneless chicken thighs. They cost roughly the same amount and can be cooked in exactly the same way, yet the thighs will last you 5 times as long as the two chicken breasts would have!
Make your meals in bulk
In the efforts of saving time and money, a great thing to do is to make a double portion of whatever meal you’re making and then freezing or refrigerating the portion that you don’t eat at the time. This way, you don’t have to buy as many different ingredients for a different meal for every day of the week. Additionally, when you’re super busy (for me it’s a Wednesday night post-cheer and pre-Lloyd’s) you’ve got a delicious meal already made that you just need to reheat!
Buy long-life products in bulk
Everybody has their own kitchen staples that they would feel a bit lost without. For me, those ingredients are pasta, frozen sweetcorn and ketchup (don’t worry, I don’t eat them together). In the effort of saving money, I tend to buy the largest packet/ bottle of these ingredients as they have really long use by dates. As I use them all the time, it tends to be cheaper in the long run. An added perk is that you use less packaging too!
Buy own brand alternatives
More often than not, when we shop, we are attracted to the brands that we know and love. Most probably, these are the branded items that your parents would buy at home. However, the price tag doesn’t look quite so appealing when paired with your student loan. In the effort of saving a few pennies, I like to swap from the branded to the supermarket own item. Normally, I find that not only is it cheaper, but it tastes just the same too!
Check your fridge before you shop
Before I shop, I generally check the fridge to see if I have anything that’s going to go off in the next week. If I do, then I make an effort to incorporate that ingredient into one of my meals for the week. This way, I save money by using all the food I’ve bought before buying new items and I create less food waste.
Don’t shop on an empty stomach
Now, this is a rule of mine that I break… A lot… But, in theory, if you’re not hungry when you food shop, you don’t buy food items to snack on that you’re craving at the time. Personally, I can never resist a packet of chocolate biscuits, but I commend anybody with a stronger will than my own who is able to stop themselves from buying food that they don’t need.