It is easy to fritter precious cash, un-noticed, on convenience food. A cappuccino and a sandwich at a chain coffee shop followed by a microwaved meal for dinner can easily leak £10-12 per person per day. That's more than £700 a month for two people.
It is possible to eat well and healthily for less than £5 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.
Seven ways to save money at the supermarket
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.
Read our guide to making the most out of cheaper cuts of meat
3. Plan ahead
Last-minute preparation and hasty extra trips to the supermarket are the enemy of budget eating.
10 ways to reduce food waste
4. Take time to choose the cheapest option
Locating the most budget-friendly choice can knock pounds off your weekly bill. Use comparison websites such as mySupermarket to compare the cost of your regular items.
How to reduce your supermarket spend
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.
How to buy the freshest food
If you spot fresh fruit or veg that can be frozen, marked down to a rock bottom price in the supermarket, buy it. Then prepare it if necessary and freeze it.
This works for loads of fruit and veg. With blueberries and raspberries, freeze them spaced out on a tray to start with then put in a bag once frozen; you can remove the skin from pineapple and chop
it ready to add to smoothies; and sweet peppers and chillies can also be chopped and frozen.Don't forget runner and french beans either - just blanch them first and freeze.
How long can you freeze food?
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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, still contain plenty of goodness and are very inexpensive.
Do you have a loyalty card? Find out how to make the most of it.
8. Avoid sugary 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.
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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.
Discover our inspiring ideas for sandwiches and snacks
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.
For more money saving tips and hints, read our handy articles and guides.
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