Buying food is expensive and one of the biggest bills for most people. But is it possible to eat well at low cost? As a busy mother of four older children, I had to learn how to feed my family on a tight budget. With two teenage boys at home, any food I buy doesn’t last long!
Here, I’ve seen ways to slash your groceries bill but still eat well. I investigate how to feed hungry teenagers or insane eaters. I also keep an eye on how to shop for special dietary needs without ruining the bank.
9 good tips for eating less
Here are my top tips for eating well at a low cost:
- Write a meal plan – It’s easy to pop some extra things in the basket, and those little extras will be added soon. By first checking what you have in the closet and shopping for special meals, you can plan on eating cheap and healthy meals.
- Stock up on your fridge – Frozen fruits and vegetables are still extremely healthy and these are often much cheaper than fresh alternatives. My kids love to eat frozen fruit with their morning cereal or some pancakes.
- Plan at least two really cheap meals each week -My go-tos are jackets beans and cheese on potato or lentil curry. Other options include lentil cottage pie and pasta with mushrooms and pesto.
- Cook from scratch – It doesn’t have to be fancy. Learning a few simple recipes like pasta sauce and roast chicken means you can cook hearty, delicious meals.
- Buy meat at a lower price – Cheap cuts like beef or chicken drumsticks can still make hearty, healthy meals.
- Eat plenty of food with pulses and vegetables – Adding one tablespoon of lentils to bolognese sauce helps to stretch the meat and also keeps it healthy.
- Buy budget range at the supermarket -Expensive porridge oats or cheap cheddar cheese often taste like the most expensive thing.
- Refrigerate some emergency food – While you can’t bother cooking, oven chips, eggs and beans are really cheap and healthier than takeaways.
- Save for Christmas food all year round – I add a separate savings account in the year so I can drop a bit in December.
Can unruly consumers eat less?
If your family has whimsical food, is it possible to eat well at a lower price? I have found it helps to think of foods that you can vary according to taste. For example, when eating fajita, tortilla wrappers can be simply served with cheese and ham for those who do not like fajita sauce. Carney can be cooked without pepper, and tobasco sauce can be added to the table.
Can teenagers eat less?
For hungry teenagers who seem to be eating all the time? I like to eat cheap but relatively healthy foods like English muffins, cramps and good old toast. If they get munchi in the middle of the night, they can even help themselves to breakfast cereals.
I have trained my older kids to cook a simple meal themselves so they can cook some pasta or pop a potato jacket in the microwave if they are frustrated.
What about food demand?
When my daughter was only two, I found out she had celiac disease. My first grocery store took about three hours after the diagnosis because I had to read each label carefully. Still, a few months later, I started hanging things out. Here are some of my best tips for eating less on an expert diet:
- Look for naturally ‘free’ food -Expert foods are usually expensive, but you can often find naturally free alternatives. For example, potatoes and rice are naturally gluten free and well priced.
- Cook from scratch – You don’t have to be Mary Berry. If you master a simple gluten-free sponge recipe, it can be made into fair cake or Victoria sponge and used for fruit pudding. Yam!
- Take a snack with you – If you have an expert diet, it is really difficult to get food on the go. This often limits you to expensive shops and restaurants. Try taking snacks with you to limit costs.
Eating well for less does not mean that you are not allowed occasional treatment. Homemade flapjack and ginger cake are my personal favorites. And they are even better if you can persuade the kids to cook them!
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