Eating on a budget
Shopping for food eats up a big portion of your money. We’ve found some ways to help you cut back while still enjoying what you eat.
Chanelle is both a Home Group customer and colleague. She has two young budding gymnasts who need plenty of food to keep them going. She’s a savvy shopper and is sharing some of her advice when it comes to food shopping.
Plan your meals ahead
Planning your meals for the week means you know exactly what to buy. And that means you are less likely to waste food.
There are some creative menu plans online. Here are some Instagram accounts to get you started:
Make a shopping list
Supermarkets are carefully designed to get you to spend more than you planned. Take a shopping list with you to make sure you stick to your budget.
Keep your eye out for coupons and vouchers – in particular when you are buying large items.
Check out the reduced to clear section at the supermarket. Things can be frozen down and saved for later.
Don’t go shopping when you are hungry!
Check out buy two, get one free offers. Split the cost with friends and family.
Visit your local market
Markets are a good source of cheaper food and an excellent place to stock up on seasonal fruit and veg.
Use apps to find a bargain
Don’t shop when you are hungry
We’ve all made the mistake of shopping on an empty stomach before. The more hungry you are, the more temptations find their way into your trolley. So eat before you shop.
Listen to: ease the squeeze podcast
Consumer champion, Which?, talk ways to save on your weekly shop with the Food Foundation's Anna Taylor and BBC 'Eat Well for Less' host Chris Bavin.
Supermarkets place the food they want you to buy at the end of aisles and at eye height. This might not be the best value food so look around and compare prices.
Change your supermarket
Compare supermarket prices and switch to a cheaper shop.
If you have the time, shopping in a couple of supermarkets means you can choose the best value each has to offer.
The Trolley app compares prices across 16+ supermarkets.
Use larger supermarkets
Smaller supermarkets often charge more than the bigger supermarkets, even if it’s the same retailer. If you can get to a larger shop you might find more choices and better value.
How to use a food bank
Food banks can help if you are finding it difficult to pay for the food you need. You usually need a referral before you can use it, which we can provide.
We have a direct referral to Trussell Trust foodbanks and can issue food vouchers to whoever is in need. Foodbanks provide individuals and families with food packages and Trussell Trust have a network of food banks across the UK – visit trusselltrust.org to find out more. You can speak to your support worker, housing manager or our financial inclusion team about referrals.
Buy food that’s efficient to prepare
With energy costs high buy food that doesn’t need hours to cook. Using a grill, frying pan, microwave, slow cooker or airfryer can be a cheaper way to cook.
Make a packed lunch
Even spending £3 a day on a meal deal adds up. With a little organisation you can take your lunch and save every week.
Eat seasonal fruit and veg
Eating what is in season is cheaper. This guide will help you find out what is in season.
Use tinned food
Tinned fruit and veg can be a nutritious and cheaper alternative to fresh food. And means you’ve always got something in the store cupboard if you can’t get to the shop.
Look out for yellow sticker bargains
Many supermarkets label their reduced items with yellow stickers. These bargains are often near their sell-by date or have damaged packaging.
Keep on the lookout as they may in with full-price items. Some supermarkets also have a whole shelf of "whoops", or yellow sticker bargains.
Ask in your supermarket when it is a good time to visit the for reduced items.
Don’t get carried away though; it is only a bargain if you need it.
Check the label to see if the reduced items freeze. Then add them to your meal plan for another week.
Buy in bulk
It is often cheaper to buy something in bulk. How about buddying up with a friend on some bulk buy items?
Read the label
Comparing unit prices will help you decide which item is the cheapest.
Cook in bulk
Make double for the next day. Or if you have a freezer you can keep your extra portions for another week.
Store leftovers safely and they can be a good basis for another meal. From freezing bread and bananas to making leftover soup, here’s a guide to what to do with leftovers.
Talk to our financial inclusion team
Our advisors are trained to give free, one to one support, if you're worried about money. If you're struggling to pay your rent, looking for benefits advice or help with budgeting then give us a call. They can even help you find free clothing and interview coaching.