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How to stop spending so much money on food!

20 replies

Bookaholic73 · 14/01/2022 20:53

I work 4x a week, 11-hour shifts (8-7)
My husband works 4x a week, 12-hour shifts (8-8).

We are often so exhausted by the time we get home, so don't have the energy to cook from scratch. So we end up spending lots of £ eating takeaway or unhealthy oven meals (oven chips etc).

We really want to eat better, and spend a LOT less money on food!
Any tips on how to reduce the amount of money we spend, plus eat healthier?

OP posts:
SwaylorTwift · 14/01/2022 21:00

There is a programme on BBC about this called eat well for less I think.

Bookaholic73 · 14/01/2022 21:02

I'll have a look for that on YouTube, thank you @SwaylorTwift

OP posts:
violetbunny · 14/01/2022 21:02

Meal plan (and stick to it).

Before you go shopping, have a good look around in your fridge, freezer and cupboards at what needs using up. DP is terrible for this, which is how we end up with 6 tins of baked beans in the cupboard at once.

We don't have eat for every evening meal, having some meat free days is good for the planet as well as the budget. Pulses in particular are very cheap.

If you're short on time, batch cook (I often make double portions and then we have leftovers the next day). Often this is more cost efficient as well, so you don't end up with too many leftover ingredients unused.

Invest in a slow cooker or multicooker (e.g. instant pot). I have both and use them all the time. Multicookers are great because you can whack everything in and then go do something else and they will switch to a keep warm function when done. Curries, risottos, casseroles etc only take 10-15 mins to prep then you can just walk away and leave it until it's ready to eat.

rrhuth · 14/01/2022 21:09

Yes there is a lot you can do to improve this.

If you are spending on takeaways then you will not be looking for super-cheap meals as you will just be wanting to drop to normal meal spending levels?

Things that will help you are:

  • nutritious cold meals, that require no cooking at all. We often have a lot of very veg-based salads, bread, cheese/houmous
  • bake in the oven meals - anything you can roast, baked potatoes etc. plus there are lots of single roasting tray recipes you can do
  • simple dishes like curry/chilli/pasta sauces that you make once for two evenings (e.g. chilli sauce, one night with rice, next night with wraps)
  • making batches of soups, sauces that you get out of the freezer in the morning ready for the evening
  • slow cooker: I have never had one but my mum swore by hers when she was really busy

Also buy or make really healthy bread. This is a good basis for many meals that take little time.
coronabeer · 14/01/2022 21:17

Look at the Roasting Tin cookbooks - lots of them only require 5-10 minutes preparation. Most of the time you don't do much more than put the ingredients in a roasting dish and stick it in the oven. We've had some really nice meals that way for not much more effort than a ready-meal.

If you do cook something like shepherd's pie, lasagne or chilli double up the ingredients and have a spare dish to go in the freezer. It doesn't add much to the prep time, but it feels so nice to get it out of the freezer and have a home-cooked meal ready prepared.

Bookaholic73 · 14/01/2022 21:18

Thank you @violetbunny yes we definitely need to meal prep more, or at all! Batch cooking is a great idea, especially if I just make extra portions of the meals I make on my days off.

@rrhuth that's right, we just want to save money by not buying takeaways as they are pricey! We don't need our actual meals to be cheap, just average priced, but we would automatically save money by not buying takeout so often.

OP posts:
GoodnightGrandma · 14/01/2022 21:19

Stir fry, very quick.

Bookaholic73 · 14/01/2022 21:21

Where I work I don't have access to a microwave, so my lunches are always cold. So I do like a hot meal in the evening at this time of the year.
I love the idea of roasting dishes in 1 tray, as I could prep it all before work and just put it onto the oven as soon as I get home.
I have tried making so many things in the slow cooker and just don't like them at all. But I've not got an instant pot, I might have a look into them if they're quick.

OP posts:
User0ne · 14/01/2022 21:22

What @rrhuth said.

Also omlettes/scrambled egg and baked beans.

I always cook at least 2 meals worth of food if it's something that takes more than about 20mins of active cooking (as opposed to sitting on the sofa while something's in the oven).

Also think about how you can "double up". Eg I often make extra mashed potato and use it to make potato cakes (about 2 mins prep and serve with bacon and eggs), or fry up pre cooked boiled potatoes - left over from another meal - with some chorizo/chilli and cheese to serve with salad

Bookaholic73 · 14/01/2022 21:30

Right, it sounds like batch cooking is the way to go then.

Doubling up is a good idea too, thank you @User0ne

OP posts:
katieg03 · 14/01/2022 22:29

I always go to the butcher for meat. Get a mountain of mince make spag bol, chilli, shepherds pie, lasagne. Then when you come home all you need to do is throw on some rice or spaghetti or some veg.

Omlettes, stir fry and a pasta bake are my easy throw in a rush meals

Things like fishcakes and salad or veg literally take 20 mins

I like the cooked salmon from Tesco I have that with salad - make up 2 days worth on plates in the fridge. Then I usually just throw on some mushrooms, rice or noodles on the side. Or a baked tattie

NeverSurrender · 14/01/2022 22:43

We do a big batch cook on a Sunday morning every few weeks -Bolognase, chilli, curry, to, tomato pasta sauce. Then just have to do the pasta or rice and some garlic bread.
Have the chilli the next night in wraps
Have jacket potatoes one night
Also, meal plan what you're going to eat each night, checking what's in the freezer. I found having a plan for the week meant we didn't resort to takeaways because we couldn't be bothered to think what to have! It's saved money on the weekly shop too because we're just buying what we need rather than loads of options that we can't be bothered to cook!

SummaLuvin · 15/01/2022 14:02

We do a big batch cook on a Sunday morning every few weeks -Bolognase, chilli, curry, to, tomato pasta sauce. Then just have to do the pasta or rice and some garlic bread

This. Pre-covid when DH and I were both out all day with demanding jobs we did this (WFH has been great in that respect). I would batch cook on a Sunday, sometimes even 2 or 3 dishes. Currries, ragu, chilli... then on a week day we would have healthy freezer meals waiting for us and it took 10-15 minutes to reheat.

coodawoodashooda · 17/01/2022 00:36

Freeze your favourites

immersivereader · 17/01/2022 02:50

Quiche and also soups reheat well. Quiche is good cold for lunch too. Very filling

Gingerkittykat · 17/01/2022 05:11

There are some decent ready meals out there, the Bol veg pots are £3 each (£2 on clubcard right now) and are tasty and healthy. They might seem expensive but are still cheaper than a take away.

user1497787065 · 17/01/2022 05:44

Firstly I think this depends on how keen a cook you are. During the very first lockdown I compiled a list of all the dishes I cook for supper and was surprised when it came to about fixity dishes.

Before shopping each week I plan what to have each night for supper trying to vary things so we don't end up having pasta or rice, chicken or mince two nights in a row. I then shop for all
Ingredients required for each dish in one go.

I then make sure that I have got anything out of the freezer to defrost in the morning before leaving for work.

I cook from scratch and use mainly Mary Berry recipes as they are generally simple and straightforward and don't require rare ingredients that can only be obtained on a trip to Fortnums. I grate a quantity of both cheddar and Parmesan and keep them in tupperware in the fridge. I also keep jars of easy ginger and roasted peppers in the fridge to cut a few corners.

This approach to cooking supper does require a bit of planning but it definitely works and I can definitely have supper served most nights within half an hour to an hour of getting in.

ZealAndArdour · 17/01/2022 06:02

Me and my DP used to fall into this trap and end up with takeaways because we’d get home and deliberate so long on what ti have that we’d get ravenous and then default to takeaway.

I got us a big menu planner fridge magnet from Amazon, we fill it in every Sunday night for the coming week, and we also have hello fresh for three meals a week, and plan those for the days where there’s adequate time for one of us to cook it, or an evening when we’re both home. Then the other nights of the week we’ll put in other simple basic stuff like Chilli & Jackets/Beans on Toast/Loaded Nachos/Oven Pizza/Stir Fry, etc, or “beige freezer dinner”. We also write both of our shifts/days off on there and any other evening commitments so we plan our own thing that night.

Hello Fresh isn’t the cheapest way to eat, but we do really enjoy cooking it and the food is almost always delicious, and the freedom from that teatime indecision and procrastination is priceless to us.

languagelover96 · 20/01/2022 10:15

I like to buy fruit and vegetables from a local open air market. That way I know that it is fresh and has not come from anywhere either. I also prefer to get my cheese at a local farm shop inside a garden center as well.
I also meal plan all the time. I print out a weekly meal plan on Sunday afternoon that covers the following week. You can pick up ready meals from the local supermarket that are quite cheap. And you can even order food online in order to save money and time at the same time. BBC good food site is quite good for recipes, I recommend starting there.

Curiousmouse · 20/01/2022 17:10

Make and freeze sauces. Make tomato sauce, bolognese, cheese, vegetable, curry. Freeze in usable portions for your family, then microwave or defrost to use with whatever eg rice or pasta or fish.

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