Easy Ways to Save More Money on Food
Food is one of the simple pleasures in life, but it can be expensive, especially if you’re feeding a family.
Switzerland was the most expensive country in Europe for food and non-alcoholic drinks, with prices 73% higher than the average price in the 28 EU countries in 2017, according to Eurostat.¹
If you’re already frugal when it comes to food, is it possible to stretch your food budget further?
Here are some suggestions for saving even more money on food.
Delay Your Weekly Food Shop by One Day
Try to delay your weekly food shop by just one day. On this day, use the food you already have in your fridge, freezer and store cupboards to make meals.
You may have to get creative, combining foods and flavours that you haven’t tried before. Look online for inspiration.
If you have just frozen white fish, peas and rice, search for a recipe that uses all three of these ingredients, as well as herbs, spices, cooking oil and other ingredients from your store cupboard. It’s fine to leave out a few ingredients you don’t have or to use alternatives.
With these ingredients, choose from:
· Spicy fish curry with rice
· Kedgeree (include eggs if you have them, if not miss them out)
· Creamy fish risotto with peas
· Pan-fried fish with lemon and butter sauce, served with rice and peas.
Or, why not make a ‘leftovers pizza’ on the last day before your delayed food shop? Traditionally, Italians topped their pizzas with any food they needed to use up!
Make a pizza base, spread over tomato puree or passata, and top it with anything you have left in your fridge or cupboard. This could be mushrooms, peppers, ham, any type of cheese or even that tin of anchovies hiding at the back of the cupboard!
These random pizzas often taste nicer than well-planned ones and your children can help you make it, too!
Shop at Discount Supermarkets
These days, the quality of the food at discount supermarkets is as good as or better than in the more expensive supermarkets. Discount supermarkets have a good selection of fresh meat, poultry, fruit and vegetables at low prices, making it easy to shop for healthy food that you can use to make a variety of meals.
You may not find all your favourite brands at discount supermarkets, but you’ll find many good substitutes that cost a lot less then the brands you buy elsewhere.
If you haven’t yet discovered the benefits of shopping at a discount supermarket, do your weekly grocery shopping at one, compare the quality to your regular supermarket, and see how much you save.
Replace Ready Meals with Home-Cooked Meals
Ready meals are usually more expensive than meals cooked from scratch using fresh or frozen ingredients.
Try to cut down on the number of ready meals you eat by planning to cook meals from scratch.
Decide which meals you’ll cook during the week. Write a list of all the ingredients you’ll need and take it shopping with you.
Stick to quick and easy recipes if you’re short of time. If you really don’t have any time to cook in the evenings, spend a few hours cooking several dishes at the weekend and freeze each one in individual portion sizes.
Then, you’ll have your own freshly cooked ‘ready meals’ to heat up and serve as soon as you arrive home from work!
Keep Processed Food and Snacks to a Minimum
Not only are processed foods and snacks unhealthy, they’re often expensive. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep them to a minimum.
If you have children, buy a certain number of snacks each week for lunch boxes and eating at home and let your children know that you won’t be buying any more snacks until the next weekly shop. They’ll learn to pace themselves!
Instead of chocolate, sweets and crisps, buy healthier, easy-to-eat snacks such as grapes, blueberries, carrot sticks, celery and unsalted nuts.
Don’t Throw Leftovers Away
After each meal, keep leftovers in the fridge or freezer. Think of creative ways to use them.
So, if you have quite a lot of chicken left over after you’ve enjoyed your Sunday roast, use it to:
· Make chicken mayonnaise sandwiches for lunch boxes
· Whip up a lemon chicken stir fry with vegetables and noodles
· Make a chicken and leek pie and serve it with mashed potatoes and vegetables.
If, like me, you tend to cook too much pasta, don’t throw the extra away. Keep it in the fridge.
When you’re preparing another pasta dish in the next few days, add a little water, butter and herbs to the leftover pasta and warm it up in the microwave. That way, food isn’t wasted, and another meal goes further too!
Make Each Meal Go Further
Make each meal go further by adding or serving it with:
All these ingredients ‘bulk up’ a meal, so that the more expensive ingredients, such as meat or fish, go further.
The bonus is that all these foods are inexpensive! Buy them in large packs or in bulk for added value.
Shop Near the End of the Day for Clearance Items
Often, supermarkets will heavily discount fresh items that are almost out of date towards the end of the day. This is usually after 5 pm in Switzerland, according to the website, Expatica.² Find out exactly when your local supermarket reduces the price of fresh food, and, if you can, go shopping at that time.
Look for discounted items that you’ll be able to freeze, such as bread. But don’t be tempted to buy anything you won’t use in time. It’ll just go to waste.
Also, beware of going to the supermarket too often to check out the clearance products. Once you’re in the supermarket, you may be tempted to spend money on things you don’t really need. Supermarkets are very good at enticing you to buy extra items, displaying loss leaders at ends of aisles or next to the checkout!
It is possible to stretch your food budget further, even if you’re already frugal. Try some of these ways of gaining more value from the money you spend on food.