10 ways to save money in the kitchen

22 Dec 2015

The internet is full of tips to save money in the kitchen, and a lot of them begin with your eating and shopping habits. There are many creative ways to stretch your budget and still produce something tasty and healthy. A small change can have a pretty big impact on your shopping bill over the course of the year.

Make your own lunch
This will save you a fortune. For example, if you usually spend £2 on a shop-bought sandwich three times a week, that’s £6. A loaf of bread costs around £1.50 and will make around 15 sandwiches (bread lasts longer if you freeze it and only thaw what you need). That, plus a few fillings, will save you a lot of money.

Shop with a list or go online
Don’t be tempted by shiny supermarket offers unless you actually need the items. Bringing a list will make sure you stay on track. One way to avoid this could be to do your shop online. Get housemates in on it and split the delivery charge. Choose your delivery time carefully; if you’re able to take delivery at an unsociable hour, it’s likely to be much cheaper.

Do one big food shop
If you live near a supermarket or pass one on your way home, it’s easy to think you’ll just pop in for a couple of bits, but inevitably lots of little shops will amount to more than one big shop. It also encourages you to use up what’s in your cupboards before you do the next shop. You’ll be surprised how far each one will go, especially if you find a site or an app that lets you search recipes by ingredient.

Cook in batches
You’ll free up your time on another night that you won’t have to spend cooking and of course, save on energy that you would have used cooking another meal from scratch. Just be considerate of your housemates and how much freezer space you’re using (unless they want to get in on it, of course).

Consider a meal planner
This can keep your spending on track, provided you more or less stick to it. What does a week’s worth of food look like? Choose items that can be used in several of your dishes for the week and work out a go-to list of staples.

Cooking rota
Sharing the cooking in a student kitchen is a great idea. You can try things you may not otherwise have tried and you may only end up cooking once or twice a week. Buying ingredients for one big meal is better than buying ingredients for a different meal every night of the week. Just make a note of everyone’s likes and dislikes and enjoy the variety! Factor in your different schedules as well, so if someone is home late one evening, then have someone with an earlier finish cook, then swap accordingly.

Consider eating less meat
This may seem a nightmare for those meat-and-two-veg types out there but guess what… you can actually go without the meat (and enjoy it), which will save you money on your food shop. It’s worth a try to see how much you save by eating meat just a little less often, even if it’s only a couple of nights a week.

Buy non-branded
You’ve probably thought of this one already, but choosing non-branded food, drink and kitchen essentials can slice a big chunk off your food bill, especially if you have a…

Kitchen kitty
If you’re living with four other people, you don’t each need a bottle of milk at any given time. Equally, you don’t all need loaves of bread, tubs of margarine or packets of scourers – kitchens are only so big! So if you all put a pre-agreed amount of money into a communal kitchen fund, then you can buy all of your essentials with it. You’ll be surprised how far this will go and you'll save more money, especially on things you all need, like washing up liquid.

Change your cooking habits
Tips to reduce how long you are cooking for can also save you money on your energy bill. For example, cooking and leaving the lid on your pan means heat is retained so your food will cook faster. Or you could plan the cooking so that you and a housemate use the oven at the same time.

Sarah Yeomans