In part 3 of our shopping series of blogs, we look at how to keep saving once your food shop is complete. Because that is no time to relax! Once you have purchased your food, the job is only half done. There are still many ways that you can behave to ensure that you get the most out of what you bought. We look at how to save money after a food shop.
This may seem like a rather irrelevant point, but this is something that has saved me many a time! I only have a small fridge and yet i have still let stuff expire because i forgot it was there. With any fridge having side compartments trays and blind spots, it is easy to waste food in your fridge. So arrange yours so that the short-life (and most expensive!) items have clear prominence. Knowing what is in your fridge allows you to plan your meals and avoid waste.
Another weakness of mine, when cooking or generally when putting stuff away, i can be lazy or rushed and leave food exposed. It is vital to store food carefully to ensure you get the full life out of it. As an example, not covering half-eaten blocks of cheese has led in the past to the cheese hardening and becoming inedible. Check too that your settings are correct in the fridge, and consider leaving a cloth at the base of your vegetable drawer to soak up any excess moisture.
The freezer is your best friend in preserving food and getting full use out of what you buy. It allows you to extend significantly the shelf-life of most foods. Use it as back up too so that you always have an option to cook, rather than persuading yourself to get a takeaway or eat out and spend more money. Again, food will not last eternally in a freezer, so organise your space so that you know what is in there, and use older stuff first. Big packs of meat can be split up. Separate them into smaller bags or boxes before freezing. Then you can just take out the amount you need in future and avoid wasting extra.
Like an edition of Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook, you may be surprised what you can make with a few seemingly random ingredients and left overs. Use the internet to find some tasty and cheap meals. Left over rice for example can be used the next day to make a biriyani dish. The key though to saving money is to cook your own meals as often as possible. It is cheaper than eating out, cheaper than takeaways, and cheaper than unhealthy ready meals.
As mentioned in a previous blog, start filling up a cupboard full of essentials and commonly used long-life items so you are always prepared. Batch cook so that you get multiple meals from one shift in the kitchen. Research cheap recipes, and use what you have. Go through your cupboard periodically and shape meals around what you discover in there.
This will not suit all, but if you have the opportunity to grow your own food, then it can be very rewarding. You will also save a lot of money. This could be in your garden, some herbs in a pot indoors or an allotment, though demand for them is huge. If you do not grow yourself, you may be able to source cheap ingredients from other local gardeners.