Whether its a double dip, triple dip or sherbert dip recession that we’re in, the realities for us normal people on the ground are the same. Things are pretty bad and millions of people are cutting back, including me! But shopping and cooking thriftily are great skills to have no matter what the circumstances –  Here are some tips!

  • Have a plan – Get into the habit of spending fifteen minutes once a week planning out your meals for the next week, and checking your cupboards before you go shopping. I tend to eat the same kind of veggie meals every night, so I just plan to buy the same supplies every week, as well as having some no cook meals like soup on hand too. Before you go, check your cupboards and make a list of what you need – If you head to the supermarket with the intention to ‘buy some food’, you’ll probably come out with all manner of random shit things!
  • Trade down – There are lots of products you can buy the supermarket value version of without ever noticing the difference. They taste exactly the same. In my experience, these include flour, yeast, sugar, pasta, tea bags, all condiments (ketchup, mayo, tartare sauce, gravy etc) and cat food (our cats don’t seem to notice the difference!). Experiment with value options and see what you like (check out this handy website which reviews own brand offerings too!). There will inevitably be some branded options that you don’t want to give up – I won’t compromise on eggs (they have to be free range happy eggs), or the brands of pasta sauce or soup I buy – but thats because I’ve tried cheaper alternatives and didn’t find them edible – I just choose when I buy them which brings us to the next point!
  • Do your homework, buy in bulk – This is one for the more than averagely organised, but the feeling of one-upping Tesco that results is more than worth it. Before you go shopping every week, , check out my supermarket to see whether any of your won’t-compromise essentials are on offer. Mine are Bertolli pasta sauce, covent garden soups and lurpack, which regularly go onto half price. When they are on offer, I stock up, buying many months worth. Obviously this only works with cupboard or frozen rather than fresh food, but you can save lots of money!
  • Buy local – Buying your fruit and veg from the local greengrocers will save you a ton of money. I do it every week and I’m constantly surprised by just how much cheaper it is than the supermarket. If you have a local butcher or fishmonger, you’ll find them much better value too! Plus you’ll be supporting local, family run businesses.

  • Dig for victory – If you have any outdoor space you can save money by growing your own vegetables! Even if you don’t want / can’t be bothered to dig up your lawn, you can still grow lots of different vegetables in plastic containers and pots. Last summer I grew loads of tomatoes in cheap plastic tubs from Wilkos. For more info on getting started, check out this guide from the BBC!
  • Cut down on waste – whether you’re particularly aware of it or not, the odds are you’re wasting a fair amount of food. Globally, around a third of the food produced for humans is lost or wasted – in developed countries, thats cos its getting chucked in the bin! If you are planning your meals, checking your cupboards and buying foods accordingly, you should find that they’ll be little need to waste food. But I also find it useful to keep portions of things that go bad quickly in the freezer. I keep fresh roles, bread, pittas and naan there so its easy to defrost and use one portion as needed. When I buy things like salmon or pizza on offer and in bulk, I also freeze them in individual portions so I don’t have to eat five salmon dinners in one week!

Thats it – all my best ideas for cutting down on your food bills! Do you have any great ideas for eating cheaply but well? Let me know in the comments!