Eating well is hard when you’re skint…

14 Jan

I haven’t posted on this blog in a very very long time; but after a long rant on my Facebook today, I feel that I need to write this down.

The point I was making on Facebook is that if I can feed myself for an entire week with just £20, so can anyone. This, in turn, led on to discussions of how poverty is linked with obesity, and other such subjects. But my main point still stands. Fortunately for me, I am blessed with the ability to cook, which many people nowadays aren’t. And this makes me really sad. Because there’s no reason why this should be the case! But unfortunately, it’s today’s culture. There’s no pressure for people to be able to cook anymore. It’s not taught in schools. It’s just not important. Why would you want to go out and buy ingredients to make a lovely dinner when you can buy a frozen pizza for £1? But this sort of mentality helps no one.

So, anyway, before I get too side tracked, here is my list of tips on how to shop smarter, eat smarter, save money and generally be happier 🙂

  1. Do your research! Pick up leaflets the next time you shop and see what’s going to be on offer next week, or look up offers online. Plan your meals around the deals! (This weekend, the ingredients for one of my favourite dinners are all half price! Result.)
  2. MAKE A LIST! So many people don’t do this! Make a list and stick to the list. This is the best way to keep on top of your spending. And it’s true what they say, don’t go food shopping hungry. That multipack bag of crisps that aren’t on the list will look 10 times more appealing.
  3. Don’t try and make complicated meals. The more ingredients your meal needs, obviously the more it’s going to cost. Stay away from dishes that require exotic ingredients that you’ll use once and then leave in the cupboard forever. It’s not worth it!
  4. Invest in a slow cooker. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, but you can pick one up from Tesco for about £12. Have it cook dinner for you whilst you’re at work all day, so it’s all nice and prepared for you when you get home! Plus, slow cooking helps you to utilise cheaper cuts of meat as these are best cooked slow and low and are good in things like stews. Just throw everything in before you leave the house.
  5. Only buy what you need. Where possible, especially with things like veg, try to only buy what you know you’re going to use. If you only need a few carrots, don’t go for a whole 1kg bag if there’s the option to select and bag your own.
  6. Use your freezer! If something is about to go off and can be frozen, freeze it. Scour the reduced section of your supermarket for things you can chuck in the freezer to use at a later date. Most veg can be frozen too if you prep it first; if you’ve got a bunch of carrots that you don’t think you’re going to use for a while, chop them into rounds and bag them up in the freezer. Jamie Oliver showed us all how you can chop up herbs that have gone a bit sad and freeze them in olive oil in ice cube trays. But try and remember to label and date things with a sharpie. No one wants to be playing freezer roulette!
  7. Avoid doubling up. Look in your fridge, freezer and cupboards before you go shopping. If your recipe calls for mayo, make sure you don’t already have some before you go buying some more. At the same time, look to see what you already have before you plan your meals. Chicken in the freezer? Rice in the cupboard? Jerk chicken and spicy rice!
  8.  Downgrade. Don’t be snobby about brands. Sainsbury’s value chopped tomatoes are just as good as a name brand and will save you money. If it’s going into a bolognese, you’ll never know the difference anyway. A lot of products that are supermarkets own brand are made in the same factories as name brand products such as biscuits and condiments, so you’re not missing out on anything.
  9. Buy in bulk. Sometimes this is appropriate and sometimes it’s not. Buying a 3kg bag of pasta is probably a good idea as it’s likely that you’ll use all of it eventually and is cheaper than buying six 500g bags in the long run. On the other hand, multi-buys on things like salad is definitely a bad idea as it’s unlikely you’ll use all of it (unless you’re having a salad party) before it goes bad.
  10. Batch cook. Sometimes it makes sense to make a big batch and freeze portions for quick meals at a later date or pop in the fridge for lunch the next day. I always always ALWAYS cook 1 extra portion of a meal to take to work the next day for lunch so I don’t have to spend any money when lunchtime rolls around.
  11. Scour the internet. There’s so many websites and blogs that will show you how to make cheap meals; you really don’t have to look very hard. Not everyone is gifted with the power to just magically think up meals (I certainly can’t).
  12. Keep a recipe scrap book. This tip is absolute genius. I’ve kept a recipe book for YEARS and it’s like my holy bible. I’ll see a recipe that appeals to me, cut it/print it out and add it to the book, if I make it and I don’t like it I remove it. Pinterest is great for this if you’d prefer a digital version. That way you can find recipes online and add them instantly without having to faff around with printing anything.
  13. Change your supermarket. I’ve always shopped at Lidl and I’ve heard so many people make nasty comments about it, and I’ll never understand why! The only difference is that you don’t get such a wide choice of products. 1 type of chopped tomatoes, 1 type of bagged salad etc etc but this is where they cut their costs. All their fruit and veg is British (where possible) and all their fresh meat has the Red Tractor badge, so I really don’t know what everyone is moaning about! Aldi is also a good option if you have one or the other near you, but if not, is a great place to see which supermarket your shop will be cheapest at. It compares Tesco, Sainsburys, ASDA, Aldi, Waitrose and Ocado, so you can either do a ‘pretend’ virtual shop (which is what I usually do) or just order online from whichever one works out cheapest!

These tips have been said over and over again by multiple people and sources, but these are the ones I live by and I follow them almost like a religion. Good luck!


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