You don’t have to live off beans on toast when you have a student loan. And a tight budget doesn’t need to get in the way of nutrition.
With these money-saving tips, you can eat like a health-conscious king or queen every single day.
Plan ahead: Never underestimate the value of a simple shopping list. It will help you avoid impulse buys and reduce what gets thrown away. Check your cupboards, freezer and fridge so you only include what you actually need. Then decide what meals you’re going to cook for the week. Make sure you take into account those odds and sods that need using up.
Your local greengrocer is a great place to pick up reasonably priced seasonal produce in the exact amounts you need. The same goes for butchers and fishmongers. Try asking for cheap cuts (such as braising steak and lamb shoulder) and tips on how to cook them.
Buy cheaper basics
Budget supermarkets like as Aldi and Lidl can’t match the range of the Big Four, but they offer good quality basics at undeniably great prices. In fact, Aldi has won Which? Best Supermarket the last four years running, and Lidl boasts award-winning cheddar and wine.
Ignore the supermarket tricks
Take nothing at face value. Supermarkets want to make money out of you, not help you make savings. A BOGOF is only good value when the product isn’t perishable. And as for multibuys, often retailers up the price per item. Think you’re getting a bargain with a money-off deal? They may just have increased the product’s original price.
Make the freezer your friend
Frozen meat, fish and vegetables are almost always cheaper than fresh. Don’t forget to use your freezer to extend the life of fresh food, too. Many vegetables, such as broccoli and capsicums, freeze really well. You can also freeze milk, cheese, nuts, berries and many more items.
Buy a whole chicken
You know those boneless, skinless chicken breasts? The ones you can buy pre-diced? It’s the most expensive way to buy chicken. Buy a whole bird to get maximum bang for your chuck – blogger and home economist Kristen Swensson claims you can make 17 meals!
Do it yourself
Avoid ready-meals and jars of pasta sauce. The same goes for pre-grated cheese and pre-chopped stir-fry vegetables. Cooking from scratch is far healthier and cheaper. Rubbish at cooking? Try www.cookingonabootstrap.com and the
You can keep track of how much you’re spending, easily compare the price of parity products, and with a basket comparison tool like mysupermarket.com, you can see which supermarket is cheapest.
Add these to your list
There are some ingredients no pantry should be without. Stock up on the following and get more out of your meals.
Potatoes. What’s not to love about the humble potato? They’re not only cheap but incredibly versatile. Great for mash, chips, in a stew, or fondants if you’re feeling fancy. They’re also packed with fibre, potassium and vitamin C.
Minced meat. You can get really good deals if you buy in bulk. Then just divvy it up into freezer bags, ready to be turned into chillis or shepherd’s pie. And if you want to reduce your cost per potion still further, a little mince goes a long way when you bulk it out with vegetables.
Eggs. Another cheap, nutritious and versatile staple. You can a meal out of eggs in minutes, and they keep fresh in the fridge for up to five weeks (foodsaftey.gov).
Cheese. What could be cheaper and tastier than macaroni cheese? You can’t beat a block of good old cheddar for value and flavour. Oh, and if your recipe calls for parmesan, try Grana Padano. It’s much cheaper and we bet you can’t tell the difference.
Herbs, spices and garlic. They make basic ingredients taste better. Food writer Jack Monroe suggests buying “everything herbs” coriander and parsley, plus paprika, cumin and turmeric.
Pulses. Tinned or dried, these are cheap and full of protein and fibre. Great as the star of the show or for bulking out dishes. And as they’re slow-release carbohydrate, they’ll keep you full for longer.
Lemons. Whether you want to add zing to fish dishes, marinade your chicken for extra succulence or whisk up a vinaigrette to enliven a salad, lemons are your go-to ingredient.
Mushrooms. For flavour and adaptability you can’t beat the button mushroom. They’re also one of the cheapest vegetables on the shelf.
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