Food! You need it to live, you have to buy it. But is it really possible to live on £80 a month per person? Here are some really quick, direct changes you can make to save a shed load of money:
#1 You no longer go to restaurants or order take-away.
Cancel you’re reservations, delete your take away apps, throw out your take away menus. If you are really committed to paying off your debt as quickly as possible, this should be easy. If you’ve never really cooked much before, you may find it harder. But being able to cook for yourself is one of the most liberating and enjoyable experiences you could have. And as you’re learning, you can use little cheats like pre-made sauces, spice mixes or parts of meals – it is still way cheaper than paying to rent a tiny table, and have someone wash your plate for you. If you have a family take away night, turn it into a family cooking night and teach the kids how to cook too.
#2 Cook from scratch
You have many hours each week which probably get filled up with TV or computer games, and you can take a few of these hours to learn a few basic recipes. Even if you don’t want to tackle longer or more complex recipes straight away, there are loads of really cheap, really easy meals you can make:
- Jacket potato with baked beans – costs about 60p (1 can beans, 1 large potato)
- Eggs on toast – costs about 85p (3 eggs, 2/3 slices of toast)
- Pasta with tomato and vegetable sauce – about £1 per portion
- Bangers and mash with peas – about £1 per portion
- Cheese sandwiches – about 80p (2 large cheese sandwiches with lettuce)
- 3 bean chilli – about £1.10 per portion, or less if you batch cook.
- Vegetable soup with bread – 80p per portion or less.
Hopefully you get the idea. These are just rough estimates of the price – they will vary widely depending on what ingredients you buy, and on how many portions you make when you make it. Batch cooking always works out cheaper, if you can freeze portions to use later, and it’s less work.
#3 Buy in bulk, when it’s on sale.
If a food you eat regularly, that keeps for a long time goes on sale, buy a huge amount of it. This goes for things you can freeze too. Buy enough to last until you think it will go on sale again. You can get a 5kg bag of rice for 2 or 3 pounds, and it will last for ages.
#4 Use what you’ve got
At any given time, we probably have enough food in the house to last for 3 weeks. I am in a constant state of trying to use everything up, and I think this helps to save money too. If you wanted to get technical, you could view the food stored in your house as a non-liquid asset, and by using it up, you are improving your financial position by reducing risk. This helps especially if you are saving money in the short term, to pay off debts really quickly.
#5 Write a list and set a budget
I have found this has really helped to curb my spending at the supermarket, because it means I don’t buy expensive, impulse things. My usual weekly shopping list looks a bit like this (I shop at Aldi):
- Onions, 1kg,
- Tomatoes, 2/3 packs,
- Apples, 1 bag,
- Oranges, 1 bag
- Red pepper,
- Baking poatoes (4)
- Hummus, (2 packs)
- Carrots, 500g or 1kg
- 6 eggs (I get free range organic ones, fancy!)
- 2 cans chickpeas, 2 cans other beans,
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes,
- bag of wholemeal pasta or rice,
- Medium cheddar, 350g
And this shop usually costs between £14 and £17, depending on what’s on sale. It might be less, because I might have batch cooked something that lasted a long time, or it might be more if I run out of olive oil or spices.
I hope these tips are somewhat helpful – I wouldn’t recommend trying to put them all into practice at once, that might be a bit overwhelming. Maybe start with keeping to shopping lists and using up things at home, and then move onto batch cooking and bulk buying – whatever works for you.
Do you have any good tips for saving money on food? Please leave me a comment below!
For a US perspective instead, try this article. I will add examples for other countries here as I find them. But please use your initiative – you know your local area 🙂