How To Feed Your Family on a Budget

Food is expensive- there's no denying that. If you take a look at your monthly budget, it's not difficult to see that a huge portion of it goes on groceries alone. But what can we do about it, we've got to eat right?! But actually you'll be pleased to know that there are a few ways you can cut down your food bill, without sacrificing on flavour. Here's how to go about it.


Along with your regular fridge/ freezer, it's well worth investing in an extra freezer too if you have the space. It could go in a shed, cupboard or anywhere else that has a plug scoket. Whenever you see ingredients on offer, you then have space to put them to be used at a later date. Don't just put hunks of meat in freezer bags and straight in though, spend some time dividing it all up. Buying a large cut of pork or beef for example will be a lot cheaper than individual cuts- then you can cut it up yourself. Divide the different cuts into different bags, and carefully label them so you know exactly what's in each. The freezer is also useful for storing things that would have otherwise been thrown away. For example, odds and ends of cheese can all be added to a freezer bag to be used in cooking when needed. Rather than letting fresh herbs go to waste, chop them finely and freeze them in olive oil in an ice cub tray. Again then when you're cooking a soup, stew, ragu or anything else you have a handy sized portion to pop right in.


Again bulk buying items will work out cheaper, so if you have a lot of produce to use and don't just want to freeze it all you could batch cook instead. Cook a large pot of food, eat what you want on the first day and then divide then rest into Tupperware containers for the freezer. This also saves you time too as if you're having a day when you're too busy or tired to cook you have an arsenal of ready cooked meals that just need to be microwaved. Much cheaper than pre-packaged ready meals, and means it's easier to resist a takeaway since everything is already waiting to go. If you do give in and order a takeaway, find discounts like these Dominos coupons as they can be expensive at full price. As with everything you put in the freezer, put a clear label onto it so you know exactly what it is. Putting the date is also a good idea, while frozen meals like this will last a long time if you have quite a few of them floating around in the freezer it helps you to keep track. 


Putting together a store cupboard brimming with long-lasting ingredients is one of the best things you can do to help keep meal costs down. Having a wide variety of dried herbs, spices and seasonings means you can make even the most boring of ingredients exciting. Big bags of dried rice, pasta, cous cous, quinoa and other grains can be the staple of inxpensive meals when you don't have a whole load of fresh ingredients on hand. Tinned vegetables, dried beans and lentils, sauces and other essentials will all allow you to cook hearty yet healthy meals even during leaner times budget-wise. 


Meal planning is a surefire way to keep food costs down. You could buy a chalkboard to hang in the kitchen, and write out your menu each week so everyone knows exactly what they will be having. Get all of the family involved in this, and use cookbooks and Pinterest for meal ideas to switch it up and keep it interesting. Take your lifestyle into consideration here, for example if you're very busy on certain days of the week then be sure to plan a meal that's quick and easy to cook on those days. If you have family over on the weekend, choose crowdpleasers that suit the situation. Having a meal plan saves you from getting home after a busy day, and thinking 'what on earth am I going to cook?' A bit of forward planning can save a whole lot of hassle. 


Once you have your meal plan, you know exactly what ingredients you need to buy for the week. Unless it's something for the freezer or the store cupboard which is a good deal, you can stick to what you need to buy. If you find you're often tempted by things you don't really need, it could be a good idea to do your shopping online instead. While you're shopping, making the swap from brand names to less expensive supermarket versions can also cut some serious cash off your shopping bill. It's not always worth going for the cheapest available as with some items this will mean reduced taste and quality. Although in many cases, the ingredients are almost identical and they're very similar for less money. If you think you're addicted to your favourite brands, check out the BBC program 'Eat Well For Less.' In a blind tasting, many people can't tell the difference. 


Meat will be one of the most expensive items on your shopping list. And if you're like the majority of families in the Western world, you eat too much of it anyway. Rather than let meat be the star of the show at each meal, use smaller portions and fill up your plate with healthy vegetables and whole grains. When you're making things like chilli, bolognese and lasanges you can bulk up the mince with lentils and finely diced veggies. Once it's all cooked together and seasoned you'll barely notice the difference. It's cheaper and a whole lot healthier too. To save time on finely dicing vegetables, invest in a food processor. You can create loads of healthy meals using it which will save you money in the long run.

How do you keep your food costs down?