Back to school can be an expensive time for families, with new uniforms and school supplies all needed before September and that credit card bill from your summer holiday still going through…
The easiest way to save cash quickly is by making small changes to the things you buy on a regular basis - like your weekly food shop.
We’ve enlisted the help of food writer Cate Dixon to give us the best tips and tricks for cutting down your food expenses while still eating a full, balanced meal plan every week and keeping the family’s tummies happy.
Cate says: “Feeding the family can seem both daunting and expensive, but there are simple ways you can cut down on food costs with these quick and simple swaps.”
Scroll on to discover Cate’s best money-saving tips for families below.
"Before you do your next big main shop, take stock of what is already in your cupboards, fridge and freezer. This will help you make the most of what you've already got lying around before you fork out for filling the cupboards with things that you might not even get around to eating this week…"
"Come up with a weekly meal plan that works around fussy eaters. Write a shopping list with all the items you need and then stick to it when doing your weekly shop. This way you won’t have to pop out to the local, more expensive shops to stock up your fridge.
"Meat is one of the most expensive products in your shopping basket so why not go meat-free a few days of the week? There are loads of vibrant, delicious and healthy vegetarian recipes that are quick to make and are sure to satisfy even the fussiest of eaters. What’s more, eggs are a brilliant and cheap source of protein and an easy substitute for meat in a meal. Buy them in bulk and eat them hot or cold for breakfast, lunch or dinner."
"Own-brand products are often cheaper than their branded equivalent so read the label to see which is your best option and make a quick and easy money-saving swap.
"Loose fruit and vegetables are often cheaper than those pre-packaged. Check the price per kg or 100g to see what product is your cheapest option, plus you get the bonus of saving on single-use plastics. Similarly, have a look at the fish and meat counters to see if they have any special offers.
"Whenever possible make the most of products when they’re in season. If an ingredient is out of season in the UK it will have to be shipped in from a hotter climate and these airmiles add up! Before autumn hits, tuck into broccoli, tomatoes, courgettes, green beans, plums, peaches and nectarines and berries before they’re gone.
"Buying cheaper cuts of meat is a great way to save money. These cuts are often tougher by nature so are best slow cooked in braises or stews, just make sure you plan ahead so it’s ready in time for dinner. Look out for beef brisket, skirt and shin, lamb breast and pork ribs and belly.
"Frozen fruit and vegetables are often a cheaper alternative to their fresh counterparts. Stocking up on freezer essentials is also a great way to save on food waste as you only use what you need."
If you’ve got it, use it!
"Make the most of your leftovers and use them for lunch or dinner the following day, just keep them chilled in the fridge overnight. Similarly, a lot of food can be frozen into portions then simply defrosted when needed – it’s like making your own ready-meals, but at a fraction of the cost.
"Fresh fruit and veg are an important part of the weekly shop that can often go to waste. When they start to look a little tired make the most of fresh fruits by stewing them down with a little water and some honey for a delicious fruity compote that works beautifully on top of yogurt or granola for breakfast, or lightly stirred through readymade custard for an easy fruit fool for pudding.
"There are loads of tricks to stretch the shelf-life of your fruit and veg. For example, keep bananas separate from other fruit, store apples and potatoes in a cool, dark place and wrap your fresh herbs and lettuce in damp kitchen paper in the fridge. Reducing food waste helps save on your weekly shop."