There are lots of money saving tips out there and this isn't meant to be a definitive collection of ideas. Instead, it is a collection of things that I find worthwhile and which I find easy to implement.
I would love to hear your ideas too!
1. Have a few easy, cheap meals in your rotation.
I don't routinely calculate per serve costs for our meals. However, I am aware that a few of our regular meals are very cheap to make. Basic legumes and carbohydrates work particularly well and the following key examples come in at around £1 ($2) per person:
- Jacket potatoes with baked beans and salad
- Chickpea flour pancakes with vegetable-bean fillings (I have a few versions of this dish)
- Italian roast vegetables and beans
- Vegetable soup with homemade stock and lentils
|Chickpea flour pancakes with vegetable-bean fillings|
Estimated saving: If you have at least one cheap meal per week, £3 to £15 ($6 to $30) per person per month.
2. Look out for end-of-day discounts.
Many bakeries and chain stores discount products at the end of the day. In the UK, Boots is particularly generous and often marks sandwiches, salads and other prepared meals down to just 50p ($1.00). This is a whopping discount from the £2 - £3 they cost at full price. Of course, you need to be able to eat the meal quickly but if you want an easy, light dinner they're an incredibly cheap option.
The above salad was a nice example of this (50p!) and also allowed me to try a new product, as this salad has recently been added to the Boots range.
Estimated saving: 50p to £2 per item ($1 to $4).
3. DIY cereal mixes.
There are lots of recipes out there for homemade muesli, but you don't have to go that far to see benefits. I no longer buy sultana bran (raisin bran to Americans) because it is 50% cheaper to buy bran flakes and sultanas/raisins separately and combine them at home. Sticking with 'basic' cereals (weetabix, oats, plain flakes...) and adding your own toppings can allow for creative bowls at a reduced price.
Estimated saving: £1 to £2 per box of cereal.
4. Be friends with carbohydrates.
A serve of our current home brand rice costs just 0.03p (0.06c) and the equivalent pasta is 0.05p (0.10c). If you round out expensive ingredients with these basics, your average meal cost will reduce dramatically.
|Aubergine and pepper spaghetti bolognese|
Estimated saving: £5 to £15 per person per month ($10 to $30).
5. Be judicial with brands.
We all know of examples where Brand A is immeasurably better than Brand B. Sometimes the taste is better, sometimes the product is healthier, and sometimes (as with cleaning or beauty products) the performance is superior. At the same time, there are examples where Brand A is equivalent to Brand B. Find out where you can choose home brand options and not notice a difference.
Possible examples? I always buy home branded tinned tomatoes, plain rice and pasta, soda water, Digestive biscuits and kitchen foil, among other things.
Estimated saving: £5 to £20 each week ($10 to $40).
6. Know where bargains can be found.
I don't think any of us want to visit four different shops each week or spend hours comparing supermarket specials. However, it's likely that there will be periodic specials that particularly benefit you, and certain supermarkets that can offer you a good deal.
We often buy chocolate and Linda McCartney veggie sausages from Lidl, for example, because they are substantially cheaper there. If I see cleaning products, nuts or dairy free ice cream on special, I'll also take advantage of them.
Estimated saving: £2 to £10 each week ($4 to $20).
7. Find a good fresh produce provider (and eat lots of fresh produce).
It's no secret that I love my local fruit and vegetable markets. While organic / small farmer's markets can cost more, I have been fortunate to find local markets that cost (by my estimate) about one-third less than supermarket produce. The fact they are fresh and local gives an enormous added benefit. If you have some near you, utilise them!
Fruit and vegetables are also cheap and vegetables, in particular, can round out more expensive protein-based ingredients.
Estimated saving: £5 to £10 each week ($10 to $20).
8. Avoid individually packaged items.
I buy them sometimes, as I'm sure we all do, but if you can make your own snacks or buy larger packs and divide them up at home, you're likely to save a lot. Most yoghurt brands are 25% cheaper if you buy large tubs instead of small ones, and snack products are often 50% cheaper if you step away from individual portions.
9. Work out what is cheaper to make at home and what isn't.
I know that if I make my own muesli bars, pizza bases or nut milk, I'll make substantial savings over commercial equivalents. On the other hand, if I crush my own tomatoes, it will probably cost more in fresh tomatoes than buying a ready to-go-tin.
|Vegan muffins - cheaper at home|
This tip isn't just about savings in money, but savings in sanity and time too.
10. Grow your own herbs.
This applies regardless of outdoor garden space - it is a rare flat that doesn't have scope for at least one pot plant. Even if you struggle to keep herbs alive, buying potted plants generally costs no more than buying a pack of cut fresh herbs, but will give you substantially more use.
Estimated saving: £2 to £10 per month ($4 to $20 - depending on how many herbs you use).
So tell me - how do you like to save in the kitchen?