Food waste is a global problem, resulting in a substantial share of production spoiling before it can be consumed. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, the same sort of waste often occurs at home, on a smaller scale. If your food spending has grown conspicuous for all the wrong reasons, food waste is a likely contributor, and there may be additional factors skewing your food budget – in the wrong direction.
General economic circumstances and production conditions of course impact the availability, pricing, and demand for foodstuffs. And seasonal fluctuations are also seen in the price of food. But as you grapple with the strain of high food costs, it is important to recognise personal practices have a much greater impact on food spending than the influence of outside forces.
Stretching food resources has been a frugal priority for ages, so plenty of money-saving schemes are available for you to model. Without follow through, however, food bills tally higher and vital financial resources go down the drain. If you are serious about your commitment to affordable food spending, rest assured, it can be achieved without substantial sacrifice. Start with the following cost-effective approaches to food spending, provided by BBC Watchdog.
Plan and Prepare
Meal planning is a money-saving habit most people already practice – to some extent. To make the most of the frugal approach, plan your shopping according to the meals on your advanced menu, buying only what’s needed for each week’s dishes.
What’s in the cupboard? Staying aware of what’s in the house keeps you from overbuying and subsequently wasting food. There is evidence on average British households each discard more than £60 of food every month. With the extra effort of dating stored food and monitoring what’s on-hand it is possible to drastically reduce waste. And since good habits produce results again and again, monthly food savings pay dividends over and over.
Much like bulk savings on other items, there are benefits to cooking in large batches. Not only does the process use less energy than multiple small batches, but reaching a certain scale also reduces the cost of ingredients and enables cooks to take advantage of bulk pricing and discounts on sale items.
Save at the Market
Several simple shopping strategies reduce overall food spending.
In general, consumers pay for processing, so taking-out the middle-man saves substantial sums. For example, buying large cuts of meat is more cost-effective than relying on small, individual pieces, so whole chickens and roasts are among the most affordable meat choices. Whether you portion them ahead and freeze individual meal-sized servings or simply cook large batches and enjoy leftovers, you’ll save money every time.
Packaging adds to the cost of food, so buying root vegetables and other stock in bulk can trim costs, when compared to prepackaged alternatives. Frozen vegetables also provide a worthy, cost-effect alternative to expensive out-of-season produce. Modern production and packaging methods ensure vegetables are frozen quickly upon harvesting, so frozen greens furnish most of the same nutrients as fresh vegetables.
National Health Service (NHS) suggests additional ways to eat healthy without adding extra expense to your household food costs. In addition to cutting waste and cooking from scratch, the group recommends these tips for a more cost-effective kitchen and pantry:
Eat leftovers – Especially for lunch, when you might otherwise be tempted to dine out, eating last night’s leftovers keeps more money in your pocket. Repeated two or three time weekly, you may feel the relief in your food budget.
Buy cheaper brands – Own brands and other lower-priced items are often indistinguishable from their costly counterparts.
Use your freezer – Preserving food before it spoils cuts waste and lowers spending. The NHS identifies bread as one of the most often wasted foods, so stowing portioned parcels in the freezer can help reduce this prominent form of excess spending.
Embrace affordable recipes – Ingredients drive the cost of dishes, so some recipes are more affordable than others. In general, unusual ingredients cost more than staples like beans, lentils, rice, and pasta. Finding the right balance stretches your food budget without sacrificing menu variety.
Turn to a vegetable-based diet – Meat is among the most expensive grocery store items, so reorienting away from meat-heavy menus can provide financial relief.
If your household budget suffers under the weight of high food costs, reducing waste and committing to a few common-sense savings strategies can reduce the pressure. From advanced planning to sensible shopping, changing your approach to food can produce immediate results – without sacrificing first-class fare.