Can you save money and eat well at the same time? The answer is yes - but research and planning will be necessary if you want to eat nutritious food without breaking the bank. In this guide we’ll explore various strategies you can deploy to eat well and stash away the cash - so you’re hopefully in the black instead of the red at the end of each month.
Read on to learn how to:
- Save money and eat well
- Save money on food recipes
- Plan a food budget
- Cut down on wastage
What should I eat to save money?
Step one is to ditch takeaways. Ordering in just once a week can add up. In fact, Britons spend an average of £451 a year on takeaways - which is an eye-watering amount of cash. Just think how you could put that money to better use.
Apart from cutting down on takeout:
Buy whole foods that haven’t been processed. Instead of opting for shredded cheese, buy a block instead. Rather than buying microwaveable rice, grab some packets of brown or wholegrain rice you can boil. Some extra preparation is required; but, if you want to save money and eat well, it’s worth the sacrifice.
Find other sources of protein. By cutting down your meat consumption you could significantly reduce your shopping bill. Replace burgers, steaks, and chicken fillets with eggs, beans, veggie burgers, and other nutritious sources of protein. You’ll notice the difference when hitting the checkout.
Eat your leftovers the next day. Overcook then store the unused portions in the fridge. If you’re going to work, dole out some of the delicious food you cooked the night before into a tupperware container and take it with you. That way, you won’t be tempted to pay a visit to your local deli and pay through the nose for something you could have made at home.
How to make sure your meals fill you up
To save money and eat well, you’ll need to cut down on your food intake a little. That’s not to say you should starve yourself. But limiting your portions will help bring down the cost of your weekly shopping bill.
If you’re eating less, you’ll need to make the food you make count. Next time you’re out shopping, look for foods loaded with protein which contain plenty of fibre, or are extremely dense.
Here are some examples to help guide you:
- Boiled potatoes are dense, nutritious, and extremely filling (not to mention cheap).
- Oatmeal is packed with fibre and releases energy slowly - keeping you fuller for longer.
- Thick soups are tasty, just as good as a solid meal, and easy to make at home.
- Vegetables contain a mixture of fibre and water, which helps increase a sense of fullness.
- Nuts contain an abundance of protein and help reduce feelings of hunger that might otherwise lead to overeating.
Use the freezer
Frozen food and vegetables are often just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. The difference? They’re available all year round. That means you won’t have to pay more just because the fresh fruits, berries, or vegetables you want are only available for a few months each year.
Frozen vegetables and fruit normally come in large bags - so you get more for your money. You’ll also be able to cut down on food wastage. Whereas carrots, cabbage, courgette, and other items can go off if left in your fridge for too long, frozen vegetables kept in the freezer stay fresh. This really is one of the best ways to save money and eat well.
Save money with good food - plan your meals
It’s tempting to shop without a specific plan. But this can leave you at the mercy of temptation. How many times have you popped to the shops for a few essentials but left armed with bagfuls of extras you hadn’t budgeted for or thought about? Making a list will force you to commit to a plan of action.
Start by devoting a set number of hours each month to planning your weekly shop. Scour your cupboards and freezer to see what you already have to avoid duplication. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to think about which items you need and in what quantity, so that you can avoid wastage.
If you want to save money and eat well, stick to your list and don’t get sucked into BOGOF offers or buying treats and snacks that’ll bump up the cost of your shop. But how can you avoid all that temptation?
Avoid the middle aisles where processed foods and other unhealthy items tend to be located and stick to the perimeter of the store instead - so you can fill your trolley with nutritious vegetables, fruits, and other wholesome foods. That way, you’ll have less room for the bad stuff.
Cook in bulk & stick to cheap recipes
Cooking small meals could be bumping up the cost of your weekly shopping bill. Not using food right away could cause it to spoil - resulting in wastage and forcing you to buy those items a second time, doubling the cost.
There’s another dimension to it too. If you cook up a big stew in the evening, you’ll be able to reuse those portions the next day. This will reduce the temptation to order in a takeaway for lunch or dinner.
To really save money and eat well, choose filling and healthy foods like those mentioned earlier in this guide and freeze your leftovers so you have ready-to-go meals that can be quickly reheated using a pan or microwave.
Stick to cheaper brands if you want to save
It’s tempting to get sucked in by clever branding. Visit your local supermarket and you’ll find dozens of variations of baked beans: curried, with chilli, sausages, sugar, no sugar, and other variations.
All supermarkets offer a basic own-brand range. And these items are significantly cheaper. Granted, the packaging isn’t as exciting, and you might not get the same range of choice. But you will be able to save some cash.
Sticking to the bean theme, Heinz Baked Beans with no added sugar costs £0.70 for a 200g tin. But Tesco sells a 220g own-brand version for just £0.25 - meaning you’ll pay less and get more for your money.
As a side note, it’s important to check the labelling on your food. Saving money is important - but not as important as your family’s health. Before buying an own-brand product, make sure it delivers the same nutritional value as its pricier equivalent.
Find cheap recipes for families online
Sometimes, the challenge is not knowing what to cook. Think about it. If you don’t have a meal plan, how are you going to draw up a shopping list for your next supermarket trip that’ll save you money?
Fortunately, there are plenty of great food sites online that are filled to the brim with cheap recipe ideas for families. And the good news is that these meal ideas are often nutritious, delicious, and easy to prepare.
Here are three sites to get you started, but you can find plenty of others with some clever Googling:
Another way to save money
If you’re budgeting hard but need to take out a small loan, we can help. Salad Money specialises in providing short-term loans to NHS and public sector employees who might struggle to get credit elsewhere.
You can apply online - and no credit check is required because we use Open Banking: a system that allows us to view your bank statements or other financial data to make fairer decisions.
Contact our team to learn more.