How to save money on food

( 03 October 2018 )

If you can save just £1 a day on shopping, that tots up to £365 a year. However it's possible to save even more if you can change your shopping habits and follow a few frugal tips...

1. Use what you've got 

Don't rush out to the shops if you're running low. The odds are you could stretch your weekly shop to at least ten days and, with a bit of practice and a top up of essentials, to a fortnight. If you're stuck for ideas of what to cook with a random selection of goods, type a list of them into one of the many recipe finder websites, or have a browse of our own food and drink channel and start creating.

2. Shop smart 

Only buy produce in season – it's cheaper and tastes better. Better still, grow your own or, if that's not possible, seek out produce stands, farm shops and farmers markets which will sell fruit and veg more cheaply than the supermarkets.

8 ways to reduce your supermarket spend. 

3. Bulk buy fresh 

Most people have got to grips with the idea of buying dry or long lasting goods such as toilet paper or toothpaste when they're on offer, but why not apply the philosophy to discounts on fresh items such as seasonal fruit? Bag a bargain batch of fresh strawberries or raspberries and make some jam. It's much healthier than shop-bought stuff and tastes better too.

Make your own strawberry jam. 

4. Compare costs 

Don't assume that bulk buying or own brand is always cheapest. Keep your wits about you and check supermarket shelf tags to compare prices by weight or volume.

5. Store food correctly 

Put celery, carrots and even lettuce in foil before putting them in the fridge. It keeps them fresh and crisp for much longer. Regularly check all 'use by' dates and move older items to the front of the cupboard or fridge. Try to keep fridges, freezers and cupboards tidy, or you may overlook items that are about to go out of date.

How long can you freeze food?

6. Grow your own herbs 

It's not difficult to grow herbs like basil, thyme and sage indoors, even in a tiny room. Supermarkets charge between 70p a packet for cut herbs and up to  £2 for a pot, so growing multiple pots yourself from a £1 pack of seed makes a satisfying saving, and they look pretty in the kitchen too.

How to grow herbs in pots. 

7. Buy a breadmaker

 Most loaves cost well over £1; indeed some nudge £2 if they're speciality loaves baked instore at the supermarket. However a 1.5kg bag of bread flour, which makes around four loaves, costs as little as £1. 

How to choose the best breadmaker.

Once the initial outlay for the breadmaker has been repaid, the savings are obvious, plus, you'll have great tasting, fresh bread as well – it's a win/win situation. 

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8. Freeze leftovers 

Don't throw away leftovers. Use small containers for excess meat and vegetables, freeze them and then use them later to make soups, stews and stir-fries.

Great recipes for using up leftovers. 

9. Save energy 

Turn off the heat on stovetop dishes a minute or two before a dish is done, they will continue to cook simply by using the residual heat on the burner (particularly if it is electric).

Four energy-wasting habits round the home. 

10. Put a lid on it 

Don't forget to put the lids on pots and pans to conserve heat and never, ever let gas flames lick up the side of the pan. It might look pretty, but it is just burning money.

Saga readers say...

'Shopping on-line reduces impulse buying and saves on the fuel you'd use to get there. Midweek delivery can be just over £3 a month, and you can have as many deliveries in a month as you like. With some delivery slots costing £6 each, this is a no-brainer.' Rob via Facebook

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.