This article is all about how to save money on food.
As the cost of living continues to rise, many people are looking for ways to save money on everyday expenses, including food. Whether you’re a student on a tight budget, a family looking to cut costs, or simply trying to be more mindful about your spending, there are several effective strategies you can use to reduce your food expenses without sacrificing quality or taste.
Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below and I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post, but these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally used.
1. Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
One of the most effective ways to save money on food is to plan your meals ahead of time. This allows you to create a grocery list based on what you need, which minimises impulse purchases. You can also prepare your meals in advance to avoid buying fast food or going to restaurants, which can be more expensive. A great way to start is by creating a weekly meal plan and sticking to it. This not only helps you save money, but it also saves you time and reduces food waste.
When planning your meals, look for recipes that use ingredients you already have on hand or that are on sale at your local grocery store. You can also use apps like Mealime or Paprika to help you plan your meals, create a grocery list, and even generate recipes based on your dietary preferences.
2. Buy in Bulk
Another way to save money on food is to buy in bulk, especially if you’re purchasing items that you use frequently. When you buy in bulk, you get more for your money, and the cost per unit is usually lower. This is especially true for non-perishable items such as pasta, rice, and canned goods. Just make sure to store your food properly to avoid spoilage.
Here are some of the best stores in the UK to buy in bulk:
- Costco – Costco is a membership-only store that offers bulk discounts on groceries, household items, electronics, and more. They have a wide range of products available, and their prices are often very competitive.
- Makro (now Booker)- Makro is another membership-only store that offers bulk discounts on groceries, household items, and other products. They cater primarily to businesses, but individuals can also shop there with a membership.
- Approved Food – Approved Food is an online store that sells discounted groceries that are close to or past their sell-by date. While they don’t offer traditional bulk discounts, you can often find large quantities of items at a discounted price.
- Amazon Online Groceries – Amazon offers bulk discounts on many products, including groceries, household items, and office supplies. They also offer free shipping on many items if you’re a Prime member.
- Poundland – Poundland offers bulk discounts on a range of household items, snacks, and other products. While their prices aren’t always the lowest, you can often find good deals on items that you use frequently.
These are just a few examples of stores in the UK where you can buy in bulk. It’s worth shopping around to find the best deals and compare prices between different stores.
3. Shop at Discount Stores
There are many discount stores in the UK where you can find great deals on a variety of products. Here are some of the most popular discount stores in the UK:
- Poundland – Poundland offers a range of products for £1, including household items, snacks, toiletries, and more.
- B&M – B&M offers a range of products at discounted prices, including homeware, toys, groceries, and beauty products.
- Home Bargains – Home Bargains offers discounted products across a range of categories, including home and garden, health and beauty, and groceries.
- Wilko – Wilko offers discounted products across a range of categories, including homeware, garden, and DIY.
- The Range – The Range offers discounted products across a range of categories, including home and garden, DIY, and toys.
- TK Maxx – TK Maxx offers discounted products across a range of categories, including clothing, homeware, and beauty products.
- Poundstretcher – Poundstretcher offers discounted products across a range of categories, including food and drink, home and garden, and pet supplies.
In addition to discount stores, consider shopping at ethnic markets or farmers’ markets, where you can often find fresh, locally sourced produce at a lower cost than at a traditional grocery store.
4. Reduce Meat Consumption
Meat is often one of the most expensive items on your grocery list. Reducing your meat consumption, or substituting it with plant-based protein sources such as beans, lentils, and tofu can save you a lot of money. You can also try meatless Mondays or experiment with vegetarian recipes.
In addition to being a cost-effective option, plant-based diets are also associated with a range of health benefits, including lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. If you’re not ready to give up meat entirely, consider incorporating meatless meals into your diet a few times a week.
5. Use Coupons, Loyalty Programs, and Cashback Apps
Coupons and loyalty programs are a great way to save money on food. Many supermarkets offer loyalty programs that allow you to earn points and get discounts on your purchases. You can also find coupons in newspapers, online, or in-store. Just make sure to read the fine print and use them before they expire.
In addition to traditional coupons and loyalty programs, consider using cashback apps to earn cashback on your grocery purchases. These apps allow you to earn cashback on specific items or entire purchases, which can add up over time.
Here are some popular Cashback apps you can use in the UK:
- TopCashback – This app offers cashback and discounts for online shopping and is free to use. They partner with over 4,000 retailers.
- Quidco – Quidco is another popular cashback app that offers cashback and discounts for online shopping. They partner with over 4,500 retailers.
- Swagbucks – This app offers cashback for online shopping, surveys, and other activities. You can redeem your rewards for gift cards or PayPal cash.
- CheckoutSmart – This app offers cashback for grocery purchases. You can earn cashback by scanning receipts from participating stores.
- Airtime Rewards – This app offers cashback for mobile phone purchases. You can link your debit or credit card to the app and earn cashback when you make purchases at participating retailers.
- Honey – you probably know about Honey, as it is commonly advertised everywhere. Not only does it find active discount codes to apply at checkout when you shop online, but it also offers cashback options.
6. Avoid Processed and Pre-Packaged Foods
People should avoid processed and pre-packaged foods if they want to save money because these types of foods are often more expensive than whole, unprocessed foods.
Here are some reasons why processed and pre-packaged foods can be more expensive:
- Packaging costs: Processed and pre-packaged foods require more packaging, which can increase the cost of the food.
- Marketing costs: Processed and pre-packaged foods often have higher marketing costs than whole foods, which can also drive up the price.
- Convenience factor: Many people are willing to pay more for the convenience of pre-packaged and processed foods, which makes them a profitable business for companies.
- Shorter shelf life: Processed and pre-packaged foods often have a shorter shelf life than whole foods, which means they may need to be replaced more frequently, resulting in higher costs.
On the other hand, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains are often more affordable than processed and pre-packaged foods. They are also healthier, more nutritious, and can be used in multiple meals, making them a cost-effective option.
By preparing meals at home using whole foods, people can save money while also improving their overall health and well-being. Additionally, buying in bulk, choosing seasonal produce, and utilising store sales can also help reduce the cost of whole foods.
7. Shop seasonally and locally
Another effective way to save money on food is to shop seasonally and locally. Seasonal produce is often cheaper because it’s in abundance, and local produce is cheaper because it doesn’t have to travel far to reach you. By shopping for fruits and vegetables that are in season, you can save money and also support local farmers.
8. Make use of leftovers
Don’t let your leftovers go to waste. Instead, use them to make new meals.
For example, you can use leftover chicken to make a salad, sandwich, or stir-fry. You can also use leftover vegetables to make a soup or omelette. By using leftovers, you not only save money but also reduce food waste.
9. Buy store-brand products
Store-brand products are often just as good as their name-brand counterparts, but they’re usually cheaper. You can save money by opting for store-brand products whenever possible. Just make sure to read the labels and compare prices to ensure that you’re getting the best deal.
10. Freeze food
If you have food that you won’t be able to eat before it goes bad, freeze it. Freezing food can help you avoid wasting food and save you money in the process. You can freeze fruits, vegetables, meat, and even bread. Just make sure to label and date your frozen items so that you know what you have and when you froze it.
11. Cook in bulk
Cooking in bulk can save you both time and money. By preparing large quantities of food at once, you can use the leftovers for future meals or freeze them for later use. This can also help you avoid buying fast food or going out to restaurants, which can be more expensive.
To cook in bulk, you can use a slow cooker, pressure cooker, or oven to prepare large quantities of soups, stews, or casseroles. You can also cook large batches of grains, beans, or pasta, which can be used in a variety of dishes.
12. Shop with cash
One way to avoid overspending on food is to shop with cash. When you shop with cash, you can physically see how much money you’re spending, which can help you stay within your budget. It’s easy to overspend when you use credit cards, so try leaving your cards at home and only bring the amount of cash that you’ve budgeted for groceries.
If you don’t want to be faffing about with cash and have your pockets filled with a bunch of coins at the end of the month, you can open a separate bank account with its own debit card that you only use for groceries. Every time you go grocery shopping, you only transfer the budgeted amount, so you can’t be tempted to overspend.
13. Compare prices
Comparing prices is an essential part of saving money on food. Before you buy anything, make sure to compare prices at different stores or online. You can also use price comparison apps to find the best deals. Keep in mind that the cheapest option is not always the best quality, so make sure to read reviews and compare the value of each item.
There are several great comparison price apps available in the UK that can help you find the best deals and save money. Here are some of the best:
- PriceSpy – PriceSpy is a popular app that allows you to compare prices for a wide range of products from over 3,000 retailers. You can also set price alerts and view product reviews.
- Idealo – Idealo is another popular app that allows you to compare prices for a range of products, including electronics, fashion, and household items. You can also set price alerts and view product reviews.
- MySupermarkets – MySupermarkets is an app that allows you to compare prices for groceries across multiple retailers, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda. You can also create shopping lists and view product reviews.
- Kelkoo – Kelkoo is an app that allows you to compare prices for a range of products, including electronics, fashion, and home and garden items. You can also set price alerts and view product reviews.
- PriceRunner – PriceRunner is an app that allows you to compare prices for a range of products, including electronics, fashion, and home and garden items. You can also set price alerts and view product reviews.
14. Buy generic brands
Buying generic or store brands is another way to save money on food. These brands often have the same quality as name-brand products, but they are cheaper. When buying generic brands, make sure to read the labels and compare the ingredients to ensure that they are the same quality as the name-brand products.
15. Avoid shopping when hungry
Shopping when you’re hungry can lead to impulse purchases and overspending. Make sure to eat before you go grocery shopping to avoid buying unnecessary items. You can also make a grocery list and stick to it to avoid temptation.
16. Shop at farmer’s markets
Shopping at farmer’s markets is another way to save money on food while supporting local farmers. Farmer’s markets offer fresh produce and other food items at affordable prices. You can also find unique and seasonal items that you wouldn’t find at a regular supermarket.
17. Incorporate cheaper ingredients
Incorporating cheaper ingredients into your meals is another way to save money on food. Here are some examples of excellent cheap ingredients to use in your recipes:
- Rice – Rice is a versatile and affordable ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to casseroles.
- Beans and lentils – Beans and lentils are an excellent source of protein and can be used in a variety of recipes, including soups, stews, and salads.
- Potatoes – Potatoes are an affordable and filling ingredient that can be used in a bunch of different ways, from mashed potatoes to roasted potatoes.
- Eggs – Eggs are a versatile and affordable ingredient that can be used in so many different dishes, including omelettes, frittatas, and quiches.
- Frozen vegetables – Frozen vegetables are a great option for those on a budget as they are often less expensive than fresh vegetables and are just as nutritious.
- Canned tomatoes – Canned tomatoes are a pantry staple that can be used in a variety of pasta sauces, soups and stews.
- Whole grains – Whole grains, such as oats, quinoa, and barley, are affordable and nutritious ingredients that can be used in every meal, from breakfast porridge to salads and soups.
18. Cook in batches
Cooking in batches is another way to save money on food. When you cook in batches, you can make multiple meals at once and save time and money. You can also freeze leftovers and use them later for quick and easy meals.
19. Minimise food waste
One of the easiest ways to save money on food is to reduce food waste. Food waste not only wastes money but also contributes to environmental problems. According to a report by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), households are responsible for the largest proportion of food waste in the UK, accounting for around 70% of total food waste. The report estimates that UK households waste around 4.5 million tonnes of food each year, with an estimated value of £14 billion.
This means that by reducing food waste, you can save a significant amount of money as well as consume your groceries more ethically.
To minimise food waste, you can start by planning your meals in advance and only buying what you need. You can also freeze leftovers for later use, use vegetable scraps to make broth or compost, and use wilted vegetables in soups or stews. Additionally, be sure to store your food properly to extend its shelf life and avoid throwing away spoiled food.
20. Shop seasonally
Another way to save money on food is to shop seasonally. Seasonal produce is often cheaper and tastes better since it is fresher and has not been transported long distances. It is also more environmentally friendly since it does not require as much energy to produce and transport.
To shop seasonally, you can look for local farmer’s markets or community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs that provide fresh produce directly from local farms. You can also check the labels of the produce you buy in supermarkets to ensure that they are grown locally or in season.
Shopping seasonally will therefore allow you to support local farmers and reduce your carbon footprint.
21. Pack your own lunch
Bringing your own lunch to work or school can save you a lot of money. Eating out has become quite expensive, even if you resort to getting some fast food. By packing your own lunch, you can control the quality and ingredients of your food and save money at the same time.
To pack your own lunch, you can prepare your meals in advance or use leftovers from dinner. You can also prepare sandwiches, salads, or wraps with fresh ingredients, which can be a healthier and cheaper alternative to fast food.
There are plenty of Youtube channels where you can find tasty and cheap recipes for your take out lunches: go nuts!
22. Incorporate cheap staples
Incorporating cheap staples into your diet can save you money while providing you with essential nutrients. Cheap staples such as rice, pasta, beans, and lentils are affordable and can be used in a variety of dishes. They are also rich in fibre, protein, and other essential nutrients.
To incorporate cheap staples into your diet, you can use them as a base for your meals or mix them with vegetables, spices, and other ingredients to create flavorful and nutritious dishes. For example, you can use rice as a base for stir-fry dishes or mix beans with vegetables to create a hearty soup.
Saving money on food doesn’t have to be difficult. By implementing some of these tips, you can reduce your food expenses without sacrificing quality, health, and taste. With a little bit of effort and discipline, you can enjoy delicious and nutritious meals while keeping more money in your pocket.
Related articles on saving money:
- 5 Money Saving Strategies for 2023
- 7 Effective Ways to Stop Impulse Buying
- 15 sustainable Products That Will Help You Save Money