How to save money on food this January

Top money saving tips for 2019 from LoanPig.

January always seems like such a long month! Particularly as many of us get paid early before Christmas – which is great at the time but means that things start getting very tight just about now.

One of the essential expenses we face is food shopping. When things are tight we can cut back on most other things but we do still need to eat.

So how can we save money on food bills? Let’s look at six steps that can help. Things that we can start doing right now to get us through the rest of this month, and can also then continue doing to get into better habits and keep saving money.

  1. Set a budget and stick to it

In our recent article How to Sort Out Your Finances in 2019 we looked at the importance of budgeting. And food shopping is one of the areas where it is so easy to overspend. If you keep a record of what you spend on food each month you are likely to be surprised and even horrified: it is likely to be far more than you estimate.

For the rest of January it can help to work on a cash basis. Put the cash aside and only spend that on food. You will need to be creative about what to buy (see Tip 2) but it really brings home what you are spending when you pay in cash rather than on a card.

Longer term it can be effective to cut down your spending slightly month by month. So you need an accurate record of what you are spending, then each month aim to reduce that by a certain amount of money. This will mean you making small changes in various ways but if you do this on a gradual basis it should not be too noticeable. Follow some of the tips below for how to do this.

  1. Plan your food shopping before you go

It can seem very time consuming to plan meals but it is an excellent way to save money so is well worth doing. If you don’t plan you are likely to buy whatever catches your eye and will spend more than you intend to.

First of all check what you already have in your cupboards, fridge and freezer. So much food gets wasted by being left lying around then eventually being thrown away. So plan meals that use those ingredients so that you only need to buy additional ingredients to go with them. This will cut costs and also reduce waste. Make a list of exactly what you need and just buy the items on the list.

Also be flexible about what you buy. There is currently a lot of emphasis on eating less meat, and cutting out meat from some meals if you usually always eat it, is another effective way to save money.

  1. Shop around

It can be tempting just to go to the same store you always do, but it can pay to shop around. So when you are planning your food shopping, have a quick browse around to see which store currently has offers that are relevant to you, and go there.

Also keep looking out for coupons and vouchers and make use of them if they fit in with what you would buy anyway.

It can also be useful to get to know the times of day that stores reduce their out of date stock. It is possible to pick up some really good bargains if you are able to go at the right time.

  1. Buy and cook in bulk

Buying in bulk can save you money, but only if you do it wisely. If you either buy large quantities or go for supermarket “3 for 2” or “BOGOF” offers you can save money if you are genuinely going to use the items. But beware of being drawn into what seems to be a bargain if you are just going to end up throwing stuff away.

It can pay to shop with a friend and divide bulk-buy goods between you. Then you both benefit from bargain prices and nothing gets wasted.

It also saves money if you batch cook food. It is not much more effort to make extra quantities of meals such as casseroles, pies or lasagne. These can then be frozen for future use. Or another option is to swap meals with a friend.

  1. Waste nothing

It is predicted that the amount of food that is wasted each year will rise by a third by 2030, when 2.1 billion tonnes will either be lost or thrown away. This is the equivalent of 66 tonnes per second!

So for all kinds of reasons it makes sense to try and really cut down on the amount of food we are wasting.

One way we can do this is to cut down portion sizes. Just think of the amount of food that gets left on plates. Much better to serve smaller portions – and then people can have seconds if they would like more. If there are leftovers from any meal, they can either be put in the fridge and used for lunches or as part of other dishes, or frozen in one portion sizes for a quick meal.

  1. Drink wisely

Yes we know it’s Dry January but generally we all drink too much and need to cut down. This might not even be alcohol – many of us are addicted to either fizzy drinks or juices. All these drinks cost money.

So to save money- and also for health reasons – try just drinking water with meals some days of the week. You will feel a lot better for it and will have a lot more change in your pocket!

At LoanPig we hope that these help you to balance your budget whilst still eating well. Check back here soon for more money saving tips from LoanPig.