Over the last few months, I have realised how much we spend a week on food and let me tell you, it isn’t pretty. I have also noticed there is often food wasted when I don’t meal plan properly. Here are 90 ways you can save money and reduce food waste with simple changes to your food shop.
Day-to-day things to do to save money and reduce food waste
Check the junk mail for vouchers or offers. We get lots for Farmfoods in ours and even once had a £5 off Morrisons voucher. Definitely, worth the seconds it takes to check! Don’t buy random vinegar you don’t need though just because you have a voucher!
Put any vouchers you get sent from loyalty cards or find in magazines or online straight into your purse so you have them when you go shopping.
Make a note of any vouchers you have so that when you meal plan you can shop at the right shops for the best savings.
Regularly check your banking app if they offer cashback deals and cashback sites such as Top Cashback and Quidco to see if buying certain items or shopping in certain stores could save you money.
Limit yourself to only buying snacks once a week, or less if you can, and make them last! Reduce food waste and lose weight at the same time!
Things to do whilst meal planning
Look at what you have that needs using up or what is in season and what the best before is on it and be sure to incorporate it into your meal plan in time.
Think carefully about how many portions each meal makes and consider if the leftovers will make another meal or go in the freezer.
Take into account and mark on your meal plan which meals you need to take out to work with you.
Make a list of meals that use the things you already have in and put them into your meal plan first. This helps reduce food waste. Do you have chickpeas in the cupboard? Find a way to use them here.
Plan a freezer meal day where you eat things you have frozen as leftovers. It doesn’t matter if everyone is eating different meals just take that into account for other meals.
Plan at least one new recipe using something you have in the cupboard. It may soon become a family favourite. Simply google for ideas with that ingredient.
If you know you are eating out one day be sure to mark this on your meal plan so food does not get wasted.
Add a few vegetarian or vegetable-based meals into the plan, this saves money as in general meat is more expensive. There are some lovely vegetarian recipes here.
If you have a busy day at work planned then ensure that the meal is already prepared in the slow cooker so that you don’t end up wasting food and ordering a takeaway!
Be honest with yourself. If you always throw salad leaves away then should you really be buying them? Do not put meals in your meal plan for your or the family that they never eat. Choose alternatives.
Make a list of things you are not sure how to cook in the cupboard or that have sat there for months and find a recipe to use them. If you have quinoa in the cupboard then try this for example.
Plan meals with fakeaways instead of takeaways. Organise a lovely low-key night in with friends perhaps and make tasty food.
Writing the shopping list
Check off everything on your list that is already in the cupboards so you do not buy anything unnecessary.
Only write items on your shopping list which are on your meal plan. Do not write things on just because you have run out of them.
Never think you do not need a shopping list, you do!
Split the list into different stores trying online ones where you can, if you are buying a lot of meat then perhaps you could save money buying from Musclefood for example.
Add the amounts of each item you need to the shopping list so you are not tempted to buy extra “just in case”.
Look down your shopping list and see which items you could get in a budget shop such as Farmfoods. I discovered they had our favourite Vimto squash for £1, it is £1.75 in Morrisons!
If you can alternate shops so one week go to a freezer shop and another a shop for store cupboard items. If you have time to do both every week then go for it but I am sure many of you don’t have that much spare time.
Preparing for the food shop
Instead of shopping weekly shop when you have to. If this actually works out after 8 days then that is great.
Try and do big shops rather than lots of little shops. We all know that popping to the shops for one thing always ends up with a bag full!
Do you actually need anything on this “quick trip to the shops”? If you have run out of bread then what else do you have in? Instead of a salad and cheese sandwich, why not have cheese pasta salad?
Could you walk to the shops if you do not need much? Not only does it save money on fuel and potentially car parking but also you will buy less if you have to carry it!
If you can go to the shops at the times they do reductions then do this. In our local Morrisons, the best time is around 7 pm. If you can buy reduced items you will be using then it is money saved.
Check prices online at different shops for different items, particularly branded or expensive items.
Do you need to go out at all? If you, like me, are often tempted to add extras in the food shop you see “on offer” then ordering online could save you a fortune.
Today I couldn’t get the delivery slot I needed (lack of planning!) so went to the shop instead. I had £59 in shopping in my online basket, I spend £93 at the supermarket!
Take a photo of inside your fridge and freezer to remind you how much space is in them and what you already have. This helps to reduce food waste and avoid spending money on foods you already have.
Eat before you go food shopping. You will always buy more if you are hungry!
Plan to go to the shops alone. It is great to go as a family but do you spend more? If the kids add crisps you don’t need or pester for a brand with a cartoon character on then leave them at home if you can!
Think about snacks at home and then only buy what you need and avoid going down the crisps and chocolate aisles!
Quick buys for long-term savings
Bulk buy staples like rice and pasta you know you will use to save money and reduce packaging waste too.
Buy large packs of spices and herbs. The amount you can save is huge!
Check Amazon subscribe and save to see if you can get a discount on items you buy regularly.
Consider buying seeds to grow your own vegetables.
A reusable lunch box so you can make your own lunches cheaply and never buy a prepacked sandwich again.
Strong reusable bags may seem costly initially but if they last then it is worth it in the long run.
My healthy lunch essentials
My favourite healthy lunch buys to help you stay healthy and eat plenty of vegetables with a few cheap and easy purchases.
If just buying a lunchbox or suitable tub means you have great lunches all week then it surely has to be worth it. Check out my 4-week meal plan of healthy lunches done for you!
A thermos flask or an insulated cup. The amount people spend on coffee when out and about is crazy. If you buy a cup for less than a tenner it will save you hundreds to make your own coffee daily!
A reusable water bottle. There are some lovely designs out there and you really do not need to buy drinks like bottled water or fizzy drinks when you are out if you have a nice bottle with your favourite juice or squash in.
Food wraps are a great way of saving money and helping the environment. Beeswax wraps can be reused and last a year, think of all the food bags and cling film you could go through in that time! There are vegan alternatives too if you do not want to use beeswax. Make your own with these easy instructions if you prefer.
Apps to try to help reduce waste
Olio is great in some areas for giving away food you would otherwise waste and getting other people’s food for free that they didn’t want to waste. Unfortunately, it isn’t very busy in our area but check yours out.
Too good to go is a great app where you can get items from local shops, hotels and restaurants for really basic cheap prices. The downside is the description is usually quite minimal so be sure to have freezer space for it.
Things not to buy to save money and reduce waste
Don’t buy things for Christmas, Easter or birthdays in advance if you will be tempted to eat them. Why buy it twice just because you had no restraint? This will help you lose weight too!
Don’t get buy one get one free offer just because they are on offer, if you won’t use it or don’t need it then don’t buy it.
Do not buy prepared vegetables if you have time to prepare them yourself.
Do not buy anything that is not on your list. It is not a bargain if you do not need it!
Consider using vegetable peelings etc to make your own stock and never need to buy stock again.
Simple swaps to make in the shops
Only buy reduced or on-offer products that will store well or freeze or were already on your list!
Try frozen or canned vegetables instead of always going for fresh. For some items, it can reduce waste as you just use what you need. Usually, they are just as healthy and if they are going into a casserole, for example, you are unlikely to taste the difference.
Look around the shelves near the item you usually buy. Cheaper brands are usually lower down the shelves and more expensive brands are higher up.
Try the world foods section for bargains on staples such as pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes etc.
Don’t be afraid to check out the frozen meats, they can save money and be just as good.
Try the downshift challenge. If you usually buy a branded product try swapping for supermarket own, if you already buy supermarket own try swapping to the value range. If you like it as much then this is saved money every week!
Swap meats for cheaper cuts where you can. Chicken breasts are much more expensive than chicken thighs.
See if loose is cheaper than prepacked. It often is but uses the scales to check for yourself.
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Choose the cheaper fruits. I love raspberries but could eat a £1.50 punnet in the morning easily. The same price could buy you a bag of apples!
Buy fruits and vegetables in season. It is always more expensive to buy things which are in low supply as they are not in season.
Don’t be afraid to make swaps. If you see that green beans are on offer this week and everyone in the family would enjoy them as much as broccoli then swap. You need to stick to your meal plan on the whole but reasonable swaps to save money are ideal.
Use the counters to buy the amount you need, especially something like cheese which is so easy to nibble if there is some left over.
Get a basket or trolley suitable for your size shop. Don’t be tempted to just get the biggest as you will soon fill it with unnecessary items!
Don’t be tempted by bigger packets. If it is something you will use and can freeze or store then this is fine. Otherwise don’t be tempted to buy extra for just another 20p or whatever as if it is wasted it is like throwing that 20p away!
Compare the price per kg of different brands or pack sizes. The family value packs are not always the best value!
By raw and unprepared where possible. It is always cheaper than buying ready-prepared and something like broccoli is hardly hard to prepare, is it?
Be sure to buy food such as bananas that are not yet ripe if you do not need them straight away and let them ripen at home.
Things to consider when you pay for your shopping
Only take cash and pay in cash. If you see how much it actually costs each time you are more likely to spend less. It also stops you from going over the budget you set yourself.
Use the store loyalty card and if you can save the vouchers for Christmas it makes all the difference. We get treats for Christmas with my reward vouchers!
Always check your receipt before you leave the shop, any errors can easily be sorted then and you will never accidentally pay more than you should.
If you have forgotten bags or don’t have enough then do you even need more? Some items can be loose in your car perhaps?
How to cook to reduce waste and ultimately save money
Weigh out the rice/pasta you need and only cook that amount.
Use up oddments of pasta in a meal, it doesn’t matter if they are all different shapes!
Keep an eye on the dates on your products and know the difference. If it says best before or display until, you can safely eat it after this date, the quality is all that will change. Never eat food after its use-by date unless you have frozen it before the date.
Make soup for an easy meal and use up any soft vegetables. This can reduce food waste as you still use what you would have wasted.
Make extra portions to freeze for easy meals that are cheaper than shop-bought ready meals.
Use the slow cooker for easy meals which involve minimal effort and also low energy costs to cook.
Reduce the amount of meat in a dish and replace it with lentils or other pulses to reduce cost and keep a similar taste.
Add cheap carbs like pasta to a meal to bulk it out. If a salad is not filling enough for you add some cooked pasta for a few pennies.
Cook one meal for everyone so it costs less and you can use larger cheaper packs of ingredients.
Only serve everyone the amount they will eat. Anything else should be saved for another day or frozen.
Ways to reduce waste when putting away the shopping
Take everything out of the fridge before you put your shopping away so the new things go to the back. This helps ensure things that need use at the front and reduces food waste by food getting buried at the back!
Check what needs using or repackaging to ensure it lasts as long as possible. Adding a sheet of kitchen roll to a salad bag helps it last longer.
Store potatoes and onions in dark bags to make them last longer.
Remove everything you can from the packaging so it does not sweat and lasts as long as possible.
Put anything you will not use today or tomorrow into the freezer where possible to ensure it lasts.
Freeze anything you can in portions to ensure you do not waste things when defrosting them.
Label anything you freeze so you don’t end up chucking something out because you can’t remember what it is or when you put it in there!
Chop up anything that is close to needing to be used and freeze ready to easily put into a dish another day. A great example of this is carrots.
How do you reduce food waste? Do you do anything differently? I believe you can do anything on a budget, including taking great photos for your blog! Nothing needs to cost the earth!
Other articles you may find helpful
A recipe for onion gravy that freezes well
How to reduce food waste in 15 easy steps
Food storage tips to reduce waste
How long can you safely store food for?
Thanks for useful advices! Especially about kashback apps.