From shopping local and freezing leftovers to bagging discounts and dine-in deals, learn how to eat healthy food on the cheap in the UK with these tips.
When you first arrive in the UK, you might not know where to find the best food for the cheapest prices. But believe it or not, it is possible to eat a healthy, balanced diet without having to spend a fortune in the process. And no, we’re not just talking about switching to buying organic food. After all, it’s no secret that shopping for organic groceries often costs a considerable amount more than conventional ones. One survey by Voucherbox even found that UK consumers are paying an extra 89% for organic products at the major supermarkets. And sadly, not everyone can afford such luxuries.
The good news, however, is that eating well doesn’t have to cost you more. In fact, there are plenty of ways to eat delicious, healthy food on the cheap in the UK. Just take a look at these six simple yet effective tips that will help you fill your belly while saving pennies in your new home.
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1. Don’t shop for groceries when you’re hungry
Okay, so this might sound like a really obvious tip, but one of the most common mistakes that people tend to make when shopping for groceries is heading to the supermarket on an empty stomach. After all, if you’re cruising down the aisles with a rumbling belly, you’re far more likely to throw more items in your basket or trolly and end up spending more than you intended.
If your blood sugar levels are low, you are also more likely to succumb to the temptation of buying more sugary, high-fat foods and snacks, which aren’t great for your health in the long run. Therefore, a simple way to ensure that you only leave the supermarket with the (healthy) groceries that you need is to eat before you hit the aisles.
2. Make a shopping list – and stick to it!
We’re all aware of the sneaky tactics that supermarkets use to try and lure us into spending more money on things we don’t need. And unfortunately, one of their biggest tricks is positioning sugary snacks where we can’t avoid them. We’re looking at you, checkout counter chocolate! But fear not, because one simple tip to help you avoid caving in to impulse buys and adding to your food bill is to make a simple shopping list – and stick to it.
Of course, this does require some willpower. After all, those colorfully packaged treats can look awfully tempting. But sticking to your shopping list will help you to resist the urge to splurge on things you don’t need – or aren’t good for you – and only buy what you actually intended. This will ultimately prevent your supermarket receipt from expanding – along with your waistline!
3. Come up with a weekly meal plan
A great way to keep your grocery expenses within budget is to draw up a weekly meal plan so that you use all the ingredients on your list. Of course, this will also help you to write a well-thought-out shopping list to take to the supermarket. Luckily, there are numerous meal planning apps, websites, and even meal kit providers that can make the task seem effortless.
Whether you live alone or have a family to feed, these can save you the time, money, and stress that planning what to eat each week can create; not to mention ensure that you eat well in the process. Furthermore, many of these apps, websites, and providers allow you to tailor your meal plan to cater to specific dietary requirements; this might include vegan, vegetarian, or diabetic-friendly recipes. Here are some great options to get you started:
- BBC Good Food – plan a week of healthy and cheap family suppers
- British Nutrition Foundation – design a seven-day meal plan for adults
- HelloFresh – have a range of delicious recipes and meal kits delivered straight to your doorstep for you to cook up in your kitchen
- NHS Change4Life – discover quick and easy healthy family meals for each day of the week
4. Waste less food by freezing leftovers
Did you know that UK households throw away 4.5 million tonnes of food each year? That’s £14 billion worth of food? Pretty shocking, isn’t it? Well, just imagine how much money that amounts to in a person’s lifetime – okay, maybe don’t! One simple and effective way to reduce food waste is to freeze any leftovers or unused food so that you can enjoy them another day. Of course, you could also cook extra portions of your evening meal so that you can eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. This is where a good quality set of food storage containers can really come in handy.
Fortunately, there are plenty to choose from on the market. Many of them are also designed to serve a specific purpose and are made to be airtight, fridge and freezer safe, and leak-resistant. You can also follow these handy Food Standards Agency guidelines to make sure that you store food correctly and avoid any risk of food poisoning. Reducing how much food you throw away is not only an effective way to keep your monthly food bill in check, it’s also one of the most simple and powerful ways that you can help the environment; not to mention help the UN achieve its target of halving global food waste by 2030.
5. Eat less meat and more veggies
Naturally, some ingredients on your shopping list will be more expensive than others, and this is especially true of meat and fish. Therefore, one great way of ensuring that you get your healthy five-a-day fix while saving money in the process is to eat less meat and more vegetables. Healthy green foods such as broccoli, spinach, cabbage, and kale are not only extremely nutritious but also incredibly cheap in the UK. Therefore, adding them to your daily meals can not only help you achieve the recommended daily nutritional intake but also keep your food costs down.
What’s more, shopping for fruit and veg at your local market can prove to be even cheaper than heading to the nearest supermarkets or farm shop. So if you’re looking to eat healthy food on the cheap in the UK, this is a great place to start. Many people in the UK are also choosing to take part in the global Meat Free Monday campaign, which aims to encourage people to reduce the amount of meat they consume each week. This is not only bringing about numerous environmental benefits, but also helping to prevent 45,000 deaths in the UK each year which are caused by heart disease, cancer, and stroke; thus saving the NHS £1.2 billion in costs. So you see, there’s a lot of power in those little greens!
6. Look out for special deals and discounts at the supermarket
Keeping your eyes peeled for special deals and discounts at the local supermarket is another great way of bagging cheap food in the UK. And luckily, all major supermarket chains across the country offer plenty of promotions. These can range from price cuts and half-price discounts on selected products to money-saving bonus points for reward cardholders. Several leading supermarkets across the country, including Marks and Spencer (M&S), Tesco, and Asda offer fantastic ‘dine in’ deals which include food and drink for two.
For a mere £10, for instance, customers can delve into a top-quality main, side, and dessert or starter from M&S. Shoppers at Tesco and Asda can enjoy similar deals, with the option of choosing one main, one side, one dessert, plus a bottle of wine or pack of soft drinks for £10. Doing your food shopping online can also shave money off your food bill as there are often cashback and discount codes that can enter at the checkout. And if you head to the supermarket towards the end of the day, you might also discover some hefty markdowns on perishable goods which can save you some pennies. It might just mean that you have to eat them that same day.