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Cooking on a Budget - Part 1

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Part 1 – Budgeting and Planning


In these challenging times, it can be difficult to keep up with the rising cost of food. Whether you live by yourself, with friends and flat mates, or with family, access to affordable, tasty, and healthy food is something we should all benefit from. The good news is that this doesn’t need to be complicated!

In this blog series, we at Granite City Good Food have compiled simple hints and tips to help you create interesting, nutritional, tasty meals, and help the pennies go further. Part 1 covers tips for planning your meals, and throughout the series, we will follow the journey from

Part 1 - Budgeting and Planning, all the way through to Part 2 - Shopping, then Part 3 - Cooking, and finally Part 4 – After Cooking.



Let’s get started!


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1. Set your Budget – and Do Not go over it


One of the most important ways to make your money go further is having the confidence to budget. It’s important to have an idea of how much you can spend on food per week and stick tightly to it. Whilst we have summarised lots of tips and tricks of making the most of your budget - which we have compiled with the help of the CFINE Team - you can access further information on tracking your monetary budget and where to get started from Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert, here: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/budget-planning/.


Once you have set the budget, it's important not to go over it. A fantastically simple way to do this is to leave your card at home and take cash! Having a physical, tangible budget means that it is much more difficult to spend more! Take a calculator with you, or use your phone, and keep tabs on how much you have as you shop - when it’s gone, it’s gone!




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2. Plan, plan, plan

Planning your meals for the week doesn’t just save you money, it saves you mental energy. By doing all the planning for the week in one go, you don’t need to worry during the rest of the week. Planning ahead not only allows you to save on mental calories but also allows you to make sure you’re getting everything you need for a nutritionally balanced diet in one day whilst also allowing for variety of flavours and textures of your meals within the week.

Meal planners are a really great way to plan what you want to eat that week! Why not use our Granite City Good Food Meal Planner, found on our website, and create your first plan as you read through the rest of our tips and tricks?



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3. Check what you already have

After planning your meals for the week, you need to know what to buy; and to know what to buy, you need to know what you have. Before going to the shops, have a wee look in your cupboard, fridge, freezer, and anywhere you store food items. Tick off the ingredients you already have against your meal plan and, that way, you won’t risk buying duplicates. As a bonus, it can also mean less to carry!



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BONUS TIP - Themed Nights

When planning your meals, it can be difficult to know where to start. A handy tip you can use week after week is the utilisation of themed nights; this can include, for example, Meat Free Mondays, Fish Tuesdays, Ragu Wednesday… the possibilities are endless!

Themed nights allow you to pull from a bank of recipes, which not only keeps mealtimes interesting but gives you structure when deciding what to do for dinner. You’d be surprised how many recipes you can think of! As your confidence and bank of recipes grow, you may even be able to build up a store of ingredients.


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Feeling unsure about cooking in general? Join the CFINE Cooking On A Budget class! CFINE Cooking On A Budget class is a four week course delivered once a week, which not only teaches you healthy, tasty, and cost effective meals but expertise such as knife skills. If you are interested in joining a Cooking On A Budget course, please email mhume@cfine.org for more information.


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With these tips, you will be able to take the first steps in planning meals effectively and will be ready to start thinking about shopping. Therefore, our next blog post in this series will cover shopping tips, and how to turn effective planning into efficient shopping! Keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment!




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