Christmas is a killer for our bank accounts and our waistlines but let's be honest, we need a good month or so to recover from all the festivities. If like us, the 'new year, new me' mission didn't start off so well, follow our easy step-by-step guide to eat well on a budget!
1. Meal plan and prep
Our first tip is to stop going to the supermarket daily and plan your meals on a weekly basis! For delicious recipes visit bbcgoodfood.com and start enjoying tasty healthy meals.
By setting out a weekly plan for each meal and deciding what ingredients you will need, will save you a lot of time and money. A weekly shop will save on food waste and you can make the most of leftovers by reusing certain ingredients or taking them for lunch the next day. Prep your lunches the night before so they are ready to go in the morning. This stops you nipping out to the local shop or Pret on your lunch break and spending pointless money.
Get to grips with food labels to reduce wastage. Some foods can be frozen to extend their life and there's a difference between 'sell by date' and 'use by date'. Use your common sense and decide whether you need to chuck out that bag of unopened lettuce that is only one day out of date or whether it will be fine for one more day.
2. Ditch the pre-packed ingredients
Most people are drawn to the pre-packed fruit and vegetables because they are often displayed better and more aesthetically pleasing. We suggest you ditch the packaging and start purchasing loose fruit and veg where possible.
Loose fruit and veg are often cheaper because you don't have to pay for the plastic packaging that inevitably ends up in the bin - ditching the pre-packaged items saves you money and also helps to save the planet!
Another tip to consider is: try cooking more meals from scratch. Tinned and microwaveable alternatives might seem like a quick fix after a long day at work, but these ingredients and meals can be expensive and often have preservatives in them. Nothing beats a home cooked meal with fresh ingredients!
3. Make time for family meals
With a busy family life and work schedule, it's easy to get into a routine where every household member has different meals at different times of the day. Instead of cooking separate meals for each individual, try setting aside a family meal time and plan a meal you will all enjoy. Family meal times will save you money and give you a chance to spend quality time together.
4. Buy the cheaper options
Investing a bit more money in quality meat and fish is advisable. However, you can save money by buying supermarket own brand options instead of the expensive 'finest' alternatives. Try not to be fooled by marketing ploys; buying branded foods such as baked beans, cereal and sauces can often cost you twice the price of supermarket own brands. Supermarkets such as Aldi have risen in popularity due to their low prices and own branded foods, that are proving just as good, if not better than the well known brands.
5. Utilise your freezer
Frozen meals can have a bad rep - but not all frozen foods have to be processed pizzas and chicken nuggets!
Try bulk cooking your favourite meals and separating them into smaller portion sizes to freeze for another day- all you need to do is defrost them the night before and then heat them thoroughly.
Storing other items in your freezer such as bread and fruit can also be a money saver. You can use them as and when you need without worrying about their use by dates. Adding frozen fruit to your breakfast or juices saves you spending a fortune on fresh fruit that can quickly turn.