Image by Krista Baltroka, Latvija
In a recent article, we discussed how to save money and energy in your kitchen, explaining that cooking meals at home more regularly will cause your energy bills to rise, and gave some tips on keeping the cost down.
However, we didn't go into detail about how to budget money in the kitchen, plan meals, and spend less money on food. If your Money Dashboard account indicates that you're overspending on groceries and supermarket shops, the following 20 money saving tips should help you gain control.1. Make your own breakfast cereal. Start with oats, add honey, cinnamon, a drop of vegetable oil, and bake until crispy.2. Chillies last longer in the freezer and can be defrosted under the hot tap.3. Meat and fish are expensive. Try having a vegetarian meal once or twice a week with beans, lentils or pulses as replacement protein. If you're keen on your meat, you should still bulk out your meal with some greenery; it's healthy and inexpensive.4. Never go to the supermarket when you are hungry. You'll buy too much.5. If your bananas turn black, peel and freeze them for use in smoothies, cakes, or banana bread.6. Explore your fridge thoroughly every few days, make sure you know what's in there. Use up anything that's close to its sell-by date and if you're running low on something add it to your shopping list.7. Breast of lamb is a delicious and inexpensive cut for a Sunday roast. Mutton is also a thrifty choice, and can be almost as tender if roasted a little longer.8. Ginger, garlic, chillies, and spices are available in bulk from ethnic supermarkets. Stock up and make your own freezable curry pastes.9. Herbs seem to be cheapest in September, stock up and store them in the freezer.10. Make leftover bread into breadcrumbs, especially the heels of the loaf, and freeze for future use.11. Plan your meals in advance, as far in advance as you can manage, and only buy food that is part of your planned meals. If you have leftover ingredients, work them into your plan too to avoid wasting food.12. Make a shopping list before you go to the supermarket. Stick to the list, don't get side-tracked. If you see something you really want, add it to next week's list instead to avoid impulse buys.13. Brand marketing is powerful, and it's easy to assume the most well known and expensive brand is the best. But in blind taste tastes, people are rarely able to tell the difference between the leading brand and the economy brand. Don't pay extra for colourful packaging.14. If you have space in your freezer, take advantage of multi-buy deals and store food for future use. If your freezer is full, don't bother with the deal, as your food could go to waste.15. Check out eatseasonably.co.uk for advice on what fruit and veg is in season. Food that's in season is not only cheaper, it'll probably taste better too.16. Vegetables can be grown even in small gardens, and a herb garden can grow on your windowsill. Growing your own veg is cheaper than buying it, and you can taste the freshness.17. Look online for supermarket coupons for money off before heading to the shops or shopping online.18. Keep a regular stock of beans, pasta, rice, noodles, flour, stock cubes, spices, dried herbs, couscous and tinned tomatoes. These foods can be stored at room temperature without expiring, and can be used to create a plethora of different meals with some fresh meat and veg. Buy them in bulk.19. Before making a new meal, see what leftovers or leftover ingredients you have from previous meals. Can they be re-worked? Perhaps including some of your store cupboard basics from the previous tip?20. Make twice as much as you need to use up all your ingredients. Freeze the leftovers for a quick meal at a future date, or store them in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch.To see the effect these changes have on your overall spending, log into your Money Dashboard budgeting software account and see how much you spend on groceries or at the Supermarket each month.