Thanks to the COVID19 pandemic, more people than ever before are dealing with being on a tighter budget than they are used to. Whether it’s due to job losses and redundancies as a result of the pandemic, not being eligible for the furlough scheme, or simply having to survive on 80% of their regular income, the past year has been difficult financially for a lot of people, leaving many wondering how to fit their food shopping into a new budget. Thankfully, eating well on a tight budget is not always as difficult as it sounds. If you’re living on a reduced income and have money to spend on food each week, there are plenty of strategies to consider to help you make your money stretch further.
Use Recipe Generators:
If you are strapped for cash and in a situation where you have a while to wait before you are next paid, there are recipe generating tools that you might find useful. Supercook is a fantastic app that you can download to your phone to help you find recipe ideas for the food that you already have at home and make what’s in your cupboards stretch further before you need to head to the supermarket. Along with helping you save money, it’s a great way to get more ideas for meals that you might not have considered otherwise.
Consider Short Dated Food:
Contrary to popular belief, food doesn’t have to be consumed before the sell-by date. In fact, this date is more of a guide for supermarkets when planning displays and does not automatically mean that the food is unsafe to eat afterwards. While fresh meat and other fresh foods do tend to go bad not long after the sell-by date, many long-life foods can be safely consumed for a while afterwards. You can save a lot of money by purchasing food that is coming to the end of its shelf life. Check out lowpricefoods.com who are one of the cheapest online supermarkets. If you’re looking for the cheapest online food shopping for long-life goods, look no further as you can find cheap food online for a little as one pound with several staples to choose from.
Batch cooking not only helps you save time throughout the week but also makes sure that your food isn’t going to go bad before you have the chance to eat it. There’s nothing worse than being on a tight budget and realising that the food you’ve bought is no longer edible. By cooking a large batch of meals at the beginning of the week you can then freeze them ready to heat up and avoid any food going to waste. Plus, this is a great option if you want to have healthy, convenience foods to grab if you are working from home right now and would prefer not to cook if possible.
While you don’t have to completely switch over to a veggie diet, making a few vegetarian meals per week is not only healthier and better for the environment, but it can also be much kinder to your wallet. Vegetables, pulses, beans and grains can be used to make a wide variety of different meal ideas including curries and stews and you might be surprised to find out just how filling a meat-free meal can actually be. By committing to eating at least a couple of vegetarian meals per week you can save a significant amount of money on meat, which is often the most expensive product in a supermarket shop.
Use Budget Supermarkets:
If you’re trying to make your budget stretch in the big-name supermarkets, then you’re probably not going to get very far. Budget supermarkets are booming in popularity right now and for a very good reason. Along with checking out cheap online supermarkets like Low Cost Foods mentioned above, it’s worth shopping around to get fresh and frozen goods from budget supermarkets like Lidl, Aldi, and Heron Foods wherever you can, as you can often enjoy much cheaper deals on products that are not lacking in quality compared to their supermarket counterparts. If you need to shop in a big supermarket like Tesco, look out for their ‘Aldi price match’ deals to ensure that you are getting the product for the best price.
Buy in Bulk:
If you can, buying some essentials in bulk at the beginning of the month is usually a much cheaper alternative compared to buying smaller versions of these products throughout the month. Although it’ll set you back more at the point of purchase, you will save money throughout the month by stocking up. For example, buying a big sack of rice, pasta, or potatoes designed to last you for a few weeks is typically much cheaper than buying a smaller packet each week, and definitely worth doing if you can afford to.
Store Foods for Longer Life:
Making your tighter food budget stretch even further isn’t just about getting the right prices, but also about making sure that the food you purchase lasts long enough for you to get the most from. Along with meal planning and batch cooking to ensure that nothing is going to waste, take extra care when it comes to how and where you choose to store your food. Potatoes, for example, will last much longer if they are stored in a cool, dry, and dark environment. Fresh vegetables like carrots, onions, peppers, and tomatoes can be pre-prepared and frozen to keep for longer, along with dairy products like cheese.
Try Cheaper Cuts of Meat:
If you are a meat-eater, going for cheaper cuts of meat can be one way to cut your grocery food bill while still being able to enjoy your favourite foods and dishes. For example, chicken thighs are often a cheaper alternative to chicken breasts, and bone-on meats tend to be cheaper to purchase than boneless, although you’ll need to put in a bit more preparation time. If you have a slow cooker, there are plenty of fantastic recipes that you can use to cook tougher cuts of meat and make sure that the end result is just as juicy and tender.
Organise Your Cupboards and Fridge:
Leftovers are great but there’s the risk that they’ll end up getting lost at the back of the fridge and going to waste. And an unorganised pantry means that there might be some great food items hiding in there that you forgot you had. Keeping your fridge and cupboards organised will help you stay on top of everything that you’ve got and make it easier for you to plan your meals on a tight budget while avoiding unnecessary purchases of food items that you already have at home. It can take some time but organising your pantry and cupboards into different sections and keeping items in labelled containers can be extremely useful.
Many of us are learning to live on a reduced budget due to the COVID19 pandemic right now. If the current crisis has impacted your finances, learning how to continue eating well on a tighter budget is one way to ensure that you maintain your health and wellbeing during these difficult times.