10 Sep 2020 • 4mins • Fonk

Lockdown spending: how to make your food budget go further

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With the lockdown impacting our food shopping and dining habits, we’ve got a fresh delivery of tips to make your food budget go further – without overspending.

Our top Money Mindfulness food budget tips

Time to bulk up?
With supermarket queues often leading round the block, it can be tempting to bulk buy to minimise the number of times you need to pop to the shop. Every situation is different, and bulking up doesn’t always make sense, even if the price per kilogram is cheaper.

If you’re buying lots of an item because it’s on offer, you may go over your Groceries budget and not save anything. Plus when you've stockpiled, it’s easier to indulge a little more, so things may not go as far as you’d thought.

If you’ve got enough at home, there’s no hurry to refill your shelves.

Master your cupboards
Before joining that queue, why not make a list of everything you need and everything you already have at home? You may have more than you thought, so you’ll have less to pick up at the shops.

And when you stumble across that unopened packet of quinoa that’s been lurking at the back of your cupboard, you may even spark your culinary imagination!

Try planning out your weekly meals to help keep your costs down. Having a defined list of items you need will make you less tempted to pick things up on a whim. When you know what you’ll be making each day, you’ll help alleviate some of the lockdown’s monotony by installing a solid routine into your day.

Know your labels
Most foods are often labelled either “sell by”, “best before” or “use by”. Try to take note of these when checking your cupboards – and don’t mix up "best before" and "use by".

Best before labels just means the food is at its 'best' on the marked date, but is still safe to be eaten after this. By keeping an eye on these dates, you’ll save yourself from inadvertently throwing out perfectly good grub.

Waste not, want not
While we should all do what we can to get our five a day, try not to go overboard on buying perishables if you don’t have room to store them properly.

It’s important to properly package and store all your food – especially fruit and veg, as it can turn quite quickly. A simple way of stopping things from spoiling is to freeze your goods as promptly as possible. Split it up into the portions you need for meals, and pop them in the freezer straight away.

When you’ve stocked up on meat, the original packaging may not stop your chicken breasts from getting frost-bitten. Repackage your groceries in more sturdy foil or dedicated freezer bags to keep the cold safely at bay. It’ll keep your food fresher for longer.

Even items like bread freeze well: put half a loaf in the freezer as soon as you get back from the supermarket to stop it from going stale.

Use it – don’t lose it
While bones and veg trimmings don't seem all that appetising, they form a great base for stocks and soups! Has your tiger loaf gone stale? Don’t bin it! Turn it into croutons or, even better, bread and butter pudding!

Today’s special? Date night
You can still have fun with food, even if you can’t go out to eat at the minute. Why not turn “dinner” into a weekly date night? Challenge yourself to get better in the kitchen by finding a culinary class on YouTube and cook along with your significant other. Or you could always challenge your mates to an online cook-off. Don’t forget, Money Mindfulness isn’t just about making the pennies go further after all!

How food budgets are changing

Curious as to what impact the lockdown’s having on Yolt users’ food budgets? Cast an eye over our spending habit insights to get the full picture.