After Christmas we’re all a little low on cash and might need some help in saving money for the next celebration, so I’d thought it’d be a good idea to share a few of my tips and tricks that have helped me eat well with limited money. I’ve personally eaten on a budget for most of my life as I’ve lived as a student with limited student loans and soon I’ll be moving to London to rent a flat, so eating on a budget is pretty important to me and I hope this guide will be helpful to you!
Budgeting is vital in keeping the food shopping cost low, however tiring it may be. The best way to keep costs down is to find out how much money you have per week or month, with that you’ll be able to figure out all the other costs. Find out your earnings and deduct automatic costs, such as bills, rent, luxury costs (Netflix, Spotify, phone credit), from those earnings, then divide that total into weeks to make it easier for weekly food shopping. Once you’ve done that you’ll need to plan meals for the week, which is included in the next section. Then figure out what ingredients you’ll need to buy and their costs, write them down and go shopping! It’s important to stick to the list as adding things while you’re shopping will result in unaccounted for costs.
Most cheap foods available in grocery shops tend to be either frozen or in tins because this is the best way to keep food fresh and edible while having a long shelf date. They’re all safe to eat and taste the same as fresh foods, but are a lot cheaper. Some examples of good tinned foods are any types of beans (so kidney, baked, mixed), vegetables (tomatoes, sweetcorn, mushrooms), and fruit (peaches, pineapple, pears). Big packets of carbohydrates (rice, pasta, lentils, noodles) are also a great choice as they come in large quantities with small prices and are usually the most filling part of meals. You can also buy a lot of good, healthy frozen foods (mixed vegetables, potatoes) which are great for bulking out meals. Although not essential, cupboard foods are perfect for making your own food (things like flour, sugar, cornflour) and also adding more flavour to meals (salt, pepper, paprika, turmeric), however, if you don’t already have these in your cupboards they can be added expense when on a tight budget, so they’re not crucial.
After getting some of the basic foods, here are some tasty and nutritious meals and recipes to make from them. First off we have the classic beans on toast made with only 2 ingredients, this dish can be made as a meal or snack and is cheaply adjustable to your taste. The bread can either be shop-bought or homemade as both cost round-about the same price overall. An easy home-made bread recipe usually only takes around 4 ingredients (flour, oil, yeast, water) and can last just as long as shop-bought. A great recipe for lunch and dinners is lentil and rice stew, this meal uses two of the cheapest foods on the market and only needs tinned tomatoes and spices to complete it. This dish can easily be made in bulk batches so you can freeze them to reheat for future meals. Pasta dishes are one of the cheapest meals to make as they tend to only need a sauce and some vegetables, so tinned tomatoes for a tomato sauce or jarred pesto are great options for pasta meals. Finally, if you’ve got any leftover beans and vegetables from previously made meals you can make a super tasty chilli, just add all the leftovers in a pan and cook rice or jacket potato and it’s done!
For planning meals it’s best to write a list of the foods and ingredients you have for the week and what meals you can make out of them. From there, cooking meals becomes easier as you have a plan for each meal for each day which you can stick to. I personally like to see which food I’ll have as leftovers and incorporate them into the next day’s meal, which relieves the stress of cooking from scratch and saves money on the food shop. Planning especially helps if you’re feeding more than one person as you can multiply each meal by however many people there are to include that in the weekly plan.
Thanks for reading! Do you have any tips and tricks for eating on a budget?