I used to have a very fast and loose approach to cooking. I would show up at the supermarket, and just pick up the things that grabbed my attention. I didn’t really plan my meals ahead, but rather just hoped that I could turn whatever I had on hand into something tasty.
About a year ago, I began planning my meals in advance. With working a full-time office job, I didn’t have too much time in the evenings to think about dinner.
I saved money in three main areas:
1. Reducing food waste
2. Cutting back on transport costs
3. Removing the temptation to impulse buy takeaway food at the last minute
– You will reduce the amount of fresh food that goes to waste because you didn’t cook it before it turned bad (we’ve all thrown away a broccoli or a few old potatoes!).
– You will travel to the supermarket less often because you won’t need to pop out for just that one thing that is missing from the recipe.
– You will be much less likely to grab a takeaway burger on the way home or to order in for a few pizzas. Not only is cooking for yourself cheaper, it is also a much healthier way for you and your family to eat.
Here’s how I did it:
Step 1: Take stock of what you have at home
Before you plan your meals, and even before you write your shopping list, take a full inventory of what you have at home. Make a list of everything you have, and write down roughly how much of it you have.
Step 2: Research recipes that use the same main ingredients
Common main ingredients are beef mince, chicken portions, sausages or potatoes. Make a collection of all the recipes that appeal to you. Pinterest is a great tool for this! Group the recipes by common ingredients.
For example you can cook this chilli con carne pasta bake on Tuesday, and then this beef moussaka on Wednesday – the common ingredients you can buy in bulk are: ground beef, tomato paste, onions and garlic.
Step 3 : Research recipes that use the same cooking method
Planning will help you cook more efficiently, which means using less electricity or gas. If you are baking a cake, why not also make a batch of granola and bake them one after the other?
Never go grocery shopping without a full list of what to buy. Treat the list as “these are the only things I am going to buy” rather than a short list of must-buys added to the rest of the trolley.
Thinking of starting a meal planning regime? Start by signing up for our Easy Weekday Meals Newsletter – and every Monday we send you 5 delicious recipes for the week ahead.
What are your tips for saving money on food? Share them below or email us!