Cheap and nutritious meals can be knocked up in minutes
It is easy to fritter precious cash, unnoticed, on convenience food. A cappuccino and a sandwich at a chain coffee shop followed by a microwaved meal for dinner can easily leak £8-9 per person per day. That's around £500 a month for two people.
It is possible to eat well and healthily for less than £3 a day - a saving of £400 a month over the above example. Here's how:
(1) Eat at home Not only can you save lots of money, you know exactly what you are eating. Some of the healthiest foods are also the cheapest.
(2) Use basic staples as the heart of your meals Rice and potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates and as cheap as - well, chips. Aside from these two larder stalwarts, your core staples could be: bread, eggs, pasta, tinned beans - not just good old baked beans, but also cannellini beans, kidney beans and so on.
Keep a supply of pasta sauce - better still, passata, adding your own herbs and spices.
Look out meanwhile for meat, and fruit and vegetables, on special offer.
(3) Plan ahead Last-minute preparation and hasty extra trips to the supermarket are the enemy of budget eating.
(4) Take time to choose the cheapest option Locating the most budget-friendly choice can knock pounds off your weekly bill.
(5) Buy food whole Foods that are not chopped up by someone else - whole chicken, pineapple, melon and so on - are cheaper and probably healthier.
(6) Don't ignore frozen vegetables Frozen doesn't have to mean unhealthy. By all means choose fresh in-season vegetables at every opportunity. But out of season, you will probably pay a big premium for food that has travelled across continents. If chopping vegetables is a problem, you are probably already choosing this option.
(7) Not just vegetables - frozen fish too 'Fresh fish' at many supermarkets has often been previously frozen - the store should label it as such. Fish from the freezer aisles can be far cheaper, but still full of goodness. Canned fish such as sardines for their part still contain plenty of goodness and are very inexpensive.
(8) Avoid sugared cereals for breakfast Expensively packaged and advertised processed cereals will drain cash. Try own-brand muesli - or make your own. If cereals are not for you, eggs are very versatile and easy to cook.
(9) Make a sandwich or fill a pitta bread for lunch Try using scraps of meat or fish and salad vegetables for a cheap and filling midday meal. If you are out for the day or at work, you can save several pounds per day compared with cafe lunching.
(10) Cut down on meat Dried beans, peas, lentils etc are healthier and cheaper than meat products. If you cannot bear a totally meat-free meal, then stir fries, soups and stews can make a little meat go a long way.