For those of you who may have had a peek at my blog before reading this article, or potentially follow it, you will have seen that I am a great advocate of saving money where possible. I am in love with the frugal lifestyle because in my opinion you don’t need to spend thousands to gain great quality dishes in the kitchen – all you need is a little inspiration and a lot of know-how.
Over my years as a thrifty student, I have managed to gain many skills and assets that have helped me spend pennies on things that would normally eat away at my budget. I’ve fed myself and one other for as little as 19p per meal and with this know-how I’ve managed to save thousands!
It is these hints, tips, and recipes I dedicate my blog too because if I can do it there’s no reason why you can’t too!
Now, I am aware many families incur many expenses that I (as a student) haven’t encountered yet – mainly those orientated around children and the like. But that doesn’t mean that some of these tips won’t bee useful; the majority are transferable and will still allow you a few spare pennies!
1. Shop local (for bits and bobs only)
Everyone knows that shopping local doesn’t work on a tight budget especially for your weekly shops. However, forgotten an integral fruit or vegetable for your dinner tonight? Then head down to your local fruit and vegetable store (and I’m not talking about Spar!) I’m talking about the authentic, fresh from the stem, food goodness! You’ll find that fruit and vegetables are a lot cheaper (and triple the size) than nipping to Tesco. And plus, you’re helping a local business in the process too – it’s a win/win!
2. Use Sunday’s as a cooking day
I love bulk cooking. In fact, I swear by it. If there’s one method, you must try to save yourself some extra pennies it is this! I can make 8 portions of Bolognese sauce from one batch of sauce. With a little help with my freezer, that sauce will last 3 to 4 months which means 8 evenings of hassle-free cooking.
But it doesn’t stop at Bolognese sauce, this works for most (if not all) of the sauces that I create on my blog. The Chicken Pasta sauce will create 5 portions and the Shepherd’s Pie 8 portions. But your creativity doesn’t have to start and end at Shepherd’s Pie, Bolognese, and Creamy Chicken – you can use these sauces to provide a base for many, many meals. This means over 6 months you can have a variety of dinners – each with a different taste and flavour – at your fingertips. If you’re cooking for one, the amount of portions doubles! That’s 42 meals stored in your freezer!
My freezer really is my saviour and it is always stocked with an abundance of sauces, cous-cous lunches, soups and reduced supermarket produce.
3. Cook from scratch
While I am on the topic of bulk cooking, I urge you to start cooking from scratch. Not only can cooking from scratch save you pennies, it’s a fun and healthier alternative to the convenience of shop bought items.
If you want a pizza, make some dough and have some fun decorating and rolling your way to pizza heaven! Pizza dough is made up of flour, water, and yeast and can be made within 5 minutes. If you don’t want to make it on the night, simply freeze it and use when you fancy. The good thing about this is you know exactly what is going into your food and it costs a pittance if you consider how much you flour cost in comparison to what you’re using.
4. A simple spice can take you to a thousand places
I didn’t choose the spice life; the spice life chose me. And you should allow it to choose you too! When you finally give in to its temptations, you’ll be transported to a thousand different continents with just one taste of even the simplest dish. You must never underestimate the power of spices (and herbs)! I can make a simple tomato soup come alive with the addition of vegetables, lentils, and spices to create a wholesome lentil gumbo.
5. Keep an eye out for money-saving opportunities
Apps are your saving grace! As food waste has become an issue in the last few years so many apps and websites have been developed to help us combat it. Apps such as OLIO are great to swap and save when you have too many ingredients and little inspiration with how to use them. It’s also a great app because it’s local and only requires you pick up what you need when it’s available from other users.
Some local café/coffee chains have also started to get in on the action, so keep your eyes out for freshly made and packaged sandwiches, salads, fruit…you name they’re giving it away! However, these thing go like gold dust so act fact!
While we are talking about technology, I tend to follow money-saving groups on Facebook live Save the Student. Coupons are also something to look out for. Even though they are in short supply, they are around (surprisingly). It’s a shame they only seem to big in the USA. There is the odd coupon dotted around in newspapers. I recommend keeping your eyes peeled for the Lidl £15 off a £40 spend because they are something that you must take advantage of!
And with these tips in mind, I urge you to implement at least two in the coming weeks and see how they fit with your lifestyle. The frugal and home-made life isn’t for everyone, but I assure you if you can at least implement two, you’ll see you pennies start to go a lot further than you have ever anticipated.