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Save money on your food

Jack Monroe's tips on eating for less

Jack Monroe teaches one of our families how to make big cuts to their monthly food bill.

Planning and preparation

Make a shopping list knowing exactly what ingredients you’ll need for the whole week.
  • Decide on your meals before you shop
    Then you can make a shopping list knowing exactly what ingredients you’ll need for the whole week.

  • Keep track of what you already have
    Make a note of what's already in your fridge and cupboards before buying more. List use-by dates on the fridge so that you know when you need to use items by. On average we throw away £60 of food every month – most that could have been eaten.

  • Cook in batches
    You will use less energy reheating something than starting again from scratch, so cook enough for multiple meals and save it in the fridge for later in the week. Store suitable meals in the freezer where they should stay good for months. It's often cheaper to buy food in larger quantities too.

  • Understand portion sizes
    It is easy to make too much pasta or rice, so work out how much you will need and only cook the required amount. Instead of throwing the leftovers away, reheat for the next day’s lunch. Make sure to put rice straight into the fridge, if kept at room temperature it can cause food poisoning.

  • Improvise!
    You don’t have to stick prescriptively to recipes. You may have a recipe listing one type of green vegetable that's expensive in your local shop. Instead, you might be able to use a cheaper alternative such as broccoli or spinach.

  • Cook sauces from scratch
    You can save lots of money by cooking sauces using the basic ingredients rather than paying a premium for ready-made versions.

  • Use your freezer
    Rather than leave your bread, milk and leftover food to go bad, stick it in the freezer and then you can use it when required. Frozen bread is great for toast.

Shopping

Save money on your meat

  • Buy large pieces of meat, such as a whole chicken.
    Cook, and then freeze it in batches. Use the batches for different meals over the week/month. It’s much more cost effective than buying the cuts seperately.

  • Buy cheaper cuts
    Instead of buying chicken breast, consider getting chicken legs. The same goes for pork... Consider cheap cuts such as gammon knuckles. They’re essentially bacon joints and can be used in pasta, casseroles or as a roasting joint.

Be frugal with your fruit & vegetables

  • Buy your roots loose
    Carrots, parsnips, potatoes and onions are cheaper when bought loose, and you only buy what you actually need, rather than expensive pre-packed bags. And, you're less likely to waste. The same goes for fruits such as apples and oranges.

  • Buy greens frozen
    It’s a lot cheaper to buy broccoli and spinach in frozen form. It’s a healthy option too - frozen veg is often packed within a couple of hours of being picked, locking all the nutrients in. The same goes for berries.

More tips and tricks

  • Downshift brands
    Buy cheaper brands than you normally do. Try them out and see how much you save. They may be just as enjoyable.

  • Don’t shop when hungry
    You’ll be more susceptible to buying things you don’t need, as foods will seem more appetising.

  • Multipacks aren’t necessarily the best value
    Look at price per kilo or unit to ensure you are getting the best deal.

  • Beware of end of aisles promotions in supermarkets
    The items at the ends of aisles aren’t necessarily the best deals, they’re just the ones supermarkets want us to see. Also, you can't compare them to with similar (maybe cheaper) alternatives. Search for products on the main shelves instead.