If you’re finding that there is more month than money (especially in Januworry), then finding ways to save will be quite high on your list of priorities. We’ve put together a list of practical tips on how to eat well on a budget that are not only easy to implement but are so effective, you’ll continue using them.
From how to save money while grocery shopping to budget recipes and frugal foodie hacks, here’s how to save money on food.
Make a weekly meal plan, think about the ingredients you need, write a shopping list and stick to it. This saves you time on grocery shopping (and we all know time is money), fewer grocery trips mean you’re less likely to buy treats and things you don’t need, and planning ahead helps stop food wastage.
If you can’t decide what to make, sign up for our Recipe of the Day mailer, to get a weekly meal plan delivered straight to your inbox every Monday.
👛Here’s how to save money on groceries
Never shop when hungry – This might seem obvious, but shopping hangry (angry because you are hungry) is not only unpleasant but you’ll end up buying more than you need. The best time to shop is after a meal because you’ll feel better and buy less.
Buy in bulk and share – While you may not want to be part of another Whatsapp group, hear us out. Buy some items, like onions, in bulk and share with other people. These could be neighbours or co-workers. The idea is to share with people you see often.
Check the price per kilogram – Which is cheaper per kilogram, 500g of mince for R45 or R750g for R72? It’s difficult to tell at a glance, which is why you should always check the price per kilogram. Often bulk items seem cheaper, but when you compare the price per kilogram, you’ll see that buying 2 smaller items can save you money. If your favourite store doesn’t show the price per kilogram, tell the manager, write to head office and post on their social media pages that you want to see it on the shelf prices!
Don’t be fooled by deals – Don’t by 3 for 2 when you only need one. When it comes to budgeting, cash flow is important. And while getting one free might seem like a deal, if the food is going to go to waste or it messes with your cash flow, it isn’t really saving.
🥦Go meatless one day a week
Switch meat for legumes a couple times a week – Let’s face it, meat is expensive, and while we’re not going to pretend you can’t tell the difference between lentil bobotie and beef bobotie, they can both be delicious and lentils are very healthy. Try this delicious vegetable and lentil cottage pie recipe.
If you’re very new to vegetarian cooking, start by replacing half the meat in soups, stews or sauces with lentils, chickpeas or beans. For vegetarian recipe ideas, click here.
🍗Try less expensive cuts of meat
Less expensive cuts do not mean that you have to compromise on quality or taste. Use tougher cuts for stews, curries or soups as cooking these for longer not only improves the flavour but also makes it melt in your mouth.
Instead of buying chicken breasts, opt for chicken thighs (which can also be bought boneless). Mince is also a versatile meat that can easily be beefed up with vegetables to be used in pasta, casseroles and wraps.
🍓Buy fruit when it is in season & freeze for later
Buy in-season fruit, like strawberries and then freeze them in ziplock bags so that they can be used later to make smoothies or desserts (like the chocolate cheesecake with salted caramel and frozen berries below). Frozen fruit can be stored for about a year.
🌽Buy frozen veggies
While we prefer some vegetables fresh, peas, edamame, mixed veg and sweet corn taste just as good frozen as they do fresh. Frozen vegetables can be used to bulk up any meal and are perfect for stews, soups and as sides. And here’s why frozen veggies are often as healthy if not healthier than fresh veg.
🥄Make your own
Don’t worry, we know no one has time to start making their own bread or yoghurt, so we’re not going to suggest that. Rather look at what you spend money on and check whether making it yourself would save money. Things like lunchbox snacks, wraps and beans are much cheaper to cook yourself. If you make big batches and freeze some portions, you’ll also save yourself time.
- Try these spinach, cheese and basil muffins or these apple and carrot muffins
- Make your own coleslaw by shredding cabbage in a food processor and adding equal parts mayo and plain yoghurt plus mustard to taste
- Combine chickpeas, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice into a food processor for a budget-friendly hummus
🍝Cook extra for lunch
It’s not that much more effort to cook a few extra portions of food when you make dinner (browse our quick & easy recipe section for ideas). You can take the leftovers to work and eat them for lunch. Buying lunch even a few times a week REALLY adds up.
If you spend R50 twice a week, that is R450 a month which adds up to R4950 a year (this takes holidays into account). Rather save that money and use it to treat yourself during December.
Think about ‘nextovers’ – move over leftovers, 2019 is the year of the nextover. Nextovers happen when you cook lots of something once or twice a week and then use whatever you’ve cooked in a few meals.
For example, instead of roasting one chicken, roast two. On the first night, it’s roast chicken for dinner, on the second night, it’s a healthy but tasty chicken salad, and on the third night, it’s chicken soup.