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Cooking On A Budget - Part 2

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Part 2 – Shopping


In our last post in this series, we explored the tips and tricks for budgeting and planning your weekly meals, effectively.

In this second post in our Cooking on a Budget series, we’re taking a look at how you can make the most of all the planning you have done, and how to turn it into a successful shopping trip!

Shopping can be a tricky experience, with so much to choose from in terms of products, and then so many different varieties of product on top of that! Let’s get started, and see how we can navigate that:


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1. Shopping Smart

When you reach the store, shopping smartly can be one of the best ways to save money on food.

Buying some items in bulk can help make you make the most of your money to buy several meals worth of ingredients at a time. For example, buying a 3kg bag of pasta lasts a lot longer and is often cheaper per kg overall!


To make the most of this tip, it is also worth shopping using the ‘price per -g’ cost, which is often found on the bottom corner of a price label. Using penne pasta as an example for this, the cost of 1kg from ASDA is £1.40 per kg, whilst 3kg can be purchased for £1.25 per kg, or £3.75 for the pack. If you use pasta regularly, and can afford the higher cost for the larger pack, the cost per portion is often better for your pocket.


Alternatively, some items of larger quantity may not be automatically cheaper per kg! This is why it can be so important to check the ‘price per kg’ and the actual cost – don’t be caught out!



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2. Make the Most of Offers

Making the most of BOGOF’s and other deals on cupboard staples and long-lasting items doesn’t just mean that you save money in the long term, it means there’s always something in the cupboard in an emergency. Taking advantage of deals on long lasting products means that the weeks you may be struggling, time wise or money wise, you’ll have tins in the cupboard.

But remember: A deal is only a deal if you were planning on buying the product or item, and if you will use it all! Check the weight against the cost, and only buy the amount you’ll need. For short date or perishable items, there’s no point in buying a 500g pack for £3.00 over a 200g pack for £2.00 if you’re only going to use 200g before it goes off!




Cupboard staples

Cupboard staples are fundamental for the base of any meal. Dried and tinned products which can live in the cupboard will be long lasting products and used time and time again. These products can include;

- Carbohydrates: pasta, rice, noodles, couscous, grains

For the most nutritional value, try wholegrain over white; it’s often the same price!


- Tinned protein: tuna, salmon, sardines, hot dogs, pork, corned beef

Get your tinned fish MSC Certified if possible!


- Oil: a simple cooking oil & an oil for drizzling

An extra virgin olive oil for drizzling can really add to a salad


- Herbs & Spices: oregano, mixed herbs, salt, pepper, cumin, chili, paprika

There is a wealth of herbs and spices out there but don’t feel pressured to have a full spice rack. Pick your favourites; staples such as mixed herbs, salt, and pepper can add a touch of flavour to any meal!


- Pulses & lentils - tinned or dried: chickpeas, butter beans, kidney beans, lentils

Pulses & lentils can be dried or tinned and are very versatile


- Tomato based products: passata, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree


- Stand alone tins: soup, baked beans

Baked beans provide a quick and easy meal and are chock full of protein! Use tins of soup for quick nutritious meals or add to simple pasta dishes for further flavour


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3. Maximise your Freezer

Frozen goods are a great tool to feed you and your family for less. Often, we can find larger packets of frozen meat, which can be used a bit at a time or all at once for batch cooking. Frozen vegetables are also fantastic resource packed full of vitamins and minerals as the products are often frozen just after picking!


TOP TIP - Frozen veg is great in stews, soups, casseroles, or pasta bakes as well as a side dish to most meals.



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4. Make the Most of Perks

Loyalty cards allow you to make the most of deals in the big supermarkets. Tesco Club Card, Morrisons More Card, Sainsburys Nectar Card, and Asda Rewards App all have a points collection which can lead to money off. Shopping around is a great way to save money on products as supermarkets will have different deals on. If you were going to go anyway, you may as well get something for free!

Yellow label products are another way to try something you wouldn’t normally. If timed right, you can find some fantastic discounts on products that will be needing sold that day. If you can make use of the product that day, or certainly soon, make the most of the opportunity!

Remember: It’s only a deal if you will eat it - and not leave it at the back of the fridge!


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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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By using some of these tips whilst shopping, you can make sure you are shopping smart and making effective use of your budget and shopping list! In the next post, we’ll get into the kitchen and share our advice for making the most of your budget in the kitchen.


You can find the last post in our series, here: https://www.granitecitygoodfood.org/post/cooking-on-a-budget



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