Since the arrival of supermarkets in the UK in the 1950s, our buying habits have changed beyond recognition.
Whereas we used to shop around independent high street shops for the best value, the simplicity and ease of supermarket shopping has changed the way we shop. Still, the myth persists that supermarkets offer the best value, and we have accepted this to be true; though, this can be far from the case.
So let’s take supermarkets out of the equation for the moment and look at other ways of getting good value for money.
Reduce the amount of meat you consume
Meat is not only expensive but has a massive effect on our environment.
Excess meat consumption can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hardening of blood vessels, increased risk of E.coli infection and even erectile dysfunction in men.
In the UK, meat is consumed in vast quantities with dramatic effects on our health. According to The Guardian newspaper; the average meat consumption in the UK is a staggering 84.2kg per person a year. By eating less meat or cutting it out altogether, you can make enormous savings and improve your health too.
Visit local markets
Your local markets continue to be one of the best locations to save money on food purchases, yet how many of us actually take advantage of them?
Buy locally produced seasonal fruit and vegetables wherever possible and go to the markets at the end of the day to get the real knock down prices, when stall holders are trying to offload their stock.
Beware of farm shops; though you would imagine them to be cheap, they are often quite the opposite.
If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with a food co-operative, you should take full advantage of it.
As well as helping you eat more healthily, you can also save money too. Apart from fruit and vegetables, they sell eggs, meat, fish, jam, honey and bread. Another advantage is that many of these are linked to community activities such as parent and toddler groups, community cafes and social groups which offer a great opportunity to socialise and meet new people.
Buy and cook in bulk
It may seem obvious, but buying in bulk costs far less than purchasing small quantities. A large number of Wholefood stores now offer the opportunity to buy oil, lentils, cereal, beans and other dry goods in large quantities – better still if you can join a cash and carry.
Also, cook more than you need, eat what you require and freeze the rest. A great deal of time and energy goes into making a casserole or soup, so cooking in bulk and freezing makes sense.
Despite what you may hear to the contrary, a lot of foods – especially any dishes that contain beef or tomatoes – actually taste better if left in the fridge for a couple of days before eating, or even after freezing.
Making jams and pickles when fruit is cheap and plentiful was once an activity that many families enjoyed, so why not try it now? There are plenty of recipes available on the Internet that you can follow, and it’s far easier than you may think.
Some of us are lucky enough to have an old Aga in our kitchens and years ago this would be lit, perhaps only on a Sunday, and was used to cook dishes for the entire week.
It was the norm to cook a roast on Sunday, serve it cold on Monday and turn it into mince for Tuesday’s dinner. The leftover potatoes and veg were mixed and fried (Bubble and Squeak), making a delicious breakfast or supper, and made even better when topped with a fried egg or two.
Making the most of leftovers
The average British family throws out more than £39.00 worth of food a month. There are loads of recipes that can turn these unwanted leftovers into a tasty meal, saving you money and time.
Turn stale bread into breadcrumbs in your food processor, and freeze leftover sauces and wine in ice cube trays to use at a later date in your favourite recipes.
Check out www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for more tips.
Saving money on food bills is easy and well worth the effort. In fact, all we need to do is go back to approaching our food budgeting in the same way as people did in the past when convenience foods didn’t rule our lives and our pockets.