14 September 2022
Save money on your food bills
How to save money on your food costs
It would be hard not to notice the rise in the cost of food over the last few months. According to Trading Economics’ Ireland Food Inflation Report the cost of food in Ireland has increased 8.8% in August 2022 compared to the same month in 2021.
The results of a recent Sunday Independent survey in August showed the following difference in prices between February 2022 and August 2022:
- a 7% increase in a Brennan’s White Sliced Pan;
- a 24% increase in own-brand 2 litres of milk;
- a 21% increase in the price of a Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate Bar.
There’s no denying that rising food costs, energy bills, petrol prices, mortgages and many other goods and services are affecting us all. While we consumers can’t control the external economic forces at work, we can make some changes to our food-buying habits to minimise how much those rising costs will impact our household budgets.
In this month’s guide we give you some food for thought (sorry!) on how you could save money on your food bills.
- Plan your meals
Plan your meals ahead of time, taking into account other activities or demands on your time on specific days.
- Take stock of what you already have
Once you’ve planned your meals for the week do a quick stock-take of your cupboards and fridge/freezer.
- Make and stick to a shopping list
Following the above 2 steps, create a list of what you need for the week ahead. Stick to this list and resist the temptation to impulse-buy in the supermarket.
- Leave the kids at home
If possible, shop without the kids, and avoid little hands throwing unexpected items into the trolley.
- Consider switching your supermarket
Depending on where you shop, you might be paying more than you need to. Try switching your supermarket to see if it saves you money. Try swapping some branded items with own-brand ‘value’ items to see how they taste.
- Shop online
Consider shopping online to reduce the temptation to impulse-buy, while giving yourself more time to compare prices on items. Depending on how far away you live from the supermarket you could save money on fuel by opting for one of the cheaper delivery slots, or you could click-and-collect instead.
Bulk-buy if you can and save money on larger bags or multipacks, but do make sure to watch out for the price per kg/litre etc. as sometimes you’re paying more for multi packs, especially if single packs are on special offer.
- Batch cook
Cook multiple meals or extra for freezing, especially if you’ve bulk-bought food items. For example: tomato sauces with vegetable can be used as a base for lasagne, bolognese, pizza sauce, etc.
- Seasonal eating
Buying in-season fruit and veg can save you a lot of money. September in Ireland is a good month for: apples, cabbage, berries, carrots, herbs, onions, mushrooms, cauliflower (see more at www.stopfoodwaste.ie).
- Use leftovers
Waste not, want not! Avoid food waste by freezing fruit and veg before it’s past its best. Slice and freeze lemons, limes and oranges for use in drinks later. Do the same with apples, bananas or other fruit and veg for use in for smoothies or homemade cakes. Freeze stale bread for breadcrumbs to top chicken/fish pies, or make a Sunday bread stuffing.
- Consider eating more vegetarian meals
There are so many great tasty vegetarian meals online to try. By adding tins of pulses and chickpeas you can add protein and nutrition to meals at a fraction of the cost of meat.
- Buy a pressure cooker or a slow cooker
These allow you to buy cheaper ingredients that usually need a longer time to cook (think: beans, pulses, cheaper cuts of meat).
- Regrow & replant
Regrow lettuce from stalks and take pride in growing your own greens quite simply! Replant herbs in bigger pot - they keep growing for longer.
- Have a no-spend day
Set yourself a challenge with a no-spend day, using what’s in the fridge and presses only (so no shopping that day). Make it a family challenge and get creative together!
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry
Last, but by no means least: never shop when you’re hungry because your liable to buy too much food!
There are plenty of good low-cost recipes on the web, and lots of bloggers with even more tips on how to make your food budget stretch further. Some of our staff’s favourites include: