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20 practical tips for affordable shopping and increasing healthy foods more cheaply

Rising food costs are hurting us all

With the largest rise in inflation for years being driven partly by food cost increases, we are all looking for ways to control or reduce our food bills, while getting more affordable healthy foods into our shopping.

Here are 20 ways you can think about controlling and reducing your food bills and ensuring you include healthy affordable food. od. d. . that were under financial pressure, because there was a need to be creative, use cheaper cuts and leftovers and flavour with herbs and spices. food

Sadly, in the UK we throw away almost 20 per cent of the food we buy ☹ Of that, around 39 per cent is fruit and veg. It's believed that in the average household this adds up to £50 worth of food waste per month, or £600 per year, which we could be putting towards other household bills.

How can we reduce our food bills and stay healthy?

Here are 20 ways you can think about controlling and reducing your bills and ensuring you include healthy affordable food.

1. Check your fridge and cupboards to see exactly what you have already got for the week ahead. Since the pandemic, because I wanted to spend as little time and frequency in the supermarket as possible, I set myself a goal not to buy any more food unless I had used everything up. This made me a lot more thoughtful about portion size and what I did buy because I knew it had to be eaten!

2. Set yourself a monthly budget, and keep track of it, ideally shopping once a month for bulky items and topping up weekly with fresher foods.

3. Before going to the shop, draft out a rough meal plan, so that you can gauge quantities and meal combos. Try to organize the list the way the aisles are laid out, so you don’t forget anything. If you have things left in cupboards, try to incorporate them into your meals.

4. Even if you have a rough meal plan, be flexible and take advantage of any offers or special deals that can cut your bill.

5. Most supermarkets have a reduced-price area in the evenings (yellow label), and there are some good deals to be had. Just check best before dates and look at label options for freezing, e.g., milk and bread can be frozen. Lidl does a fantastically cheap box of food, which can dramatically reduce your weekly bill. Also, look out for wonky veg, as it’s cheaper and tastes the same!

6. One-stop food shopping is becoming a thing of the past, as local grocers, butchers and market stalls are usually cheaper. Wholesale stores also sell larger quantities cheaper, and you can freeze and store them for use later.

7. Buying foods from World Food aisles is typically much cheaper, especially herbs, spices, noodles etc.

8. Make sure to shop by season – it seems obvious but buying certain fruits or veg in Winter is going to be more costly.

9. Organize your fridge so that leftovers don’t get pushed to the back and wasted by accident.

10. Certain cuts of meats are going to take up a large chunk of the bill, so look at secondary cheaper cuts and alternative ways of cooking, e.g., buying chicken leg versus breast. Buying a whole chicken and cooking and breaking it down will be much cheaper than buying portions. You can also use leftovers for salads, or making stocks etc.

11. Portion control is another important element – most of us tend to overeat. Protein tends to be the most expensive part of the meal, so calculate 100 g-150 g per meal, and then spend more on complex carbs and veggies, which make you feel fuller for longer.

12. Prepping meals ahead of time avoids last-minute costly decisions like getting takeaways, eating out or buying frequently at the shop.

13. Best before dates (BBD) – don’t automatically throw food away if it reaches its best before date. Of course, you must use common sense here. Pretty much all food, except for eggs can be eaten after the BBD, if you sniff, smell, and check before eating. If it looks alright, it probably is.

14. Grow your own – if you can, try to grow your own veg and salads. Yes, it’s more hassle but it’s also very rewarding, therapeutic, and way cheaper!

15. Fresh food tends to be more expensive than frozen options, which contain the same nutrients so be sure to compare prices and take advantage of frozen foods, which are especially good for avoiding any food waste too. Fresh fish, veg and fruit can all be replaced with frozen. You can also buy fresh in volume, chop up and freeze too. Tinned vegetables are a great option and cheaper.

16. The Olio App is fantastic to connect with people who are giving away food and of course, it helps our planet!

17. Keep an eye out for gluten-free hiked-up prices, and compare the ingredients lists for both options, as the original may not actually contain gluten anyway. I did find this quite shocking, as someone that is gluten intolerant!

18. Buy supermarket’s own brands, rather than a familiar label, as they are always cheaper, especially the ‘basics’ ranges.

19. Sign up for loyalty schemes, and take advantage of deals and offers.

20. I’ve started checking the price per quantity now, and it’s unbelievable how much more expensive items can be when you compare volume pricing! Each label will not show you the price per (roll, kg etc), so you can compare items side-by-side.


Inflation is causing a significant hike in food prices, and at the same time, we are wasting too much food, with our hard-earned money going to waste. On average, we could save £600 a year on the household food bill and put that towards other bills. If we plan and are more considerate in our shopping behaviour ahead of time, we can be more deliberate in our food choices and save money.

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