If your family is anything like mine, you have probably seen your food bill creep up during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. With the kids at home all the time and families trying to shop only once a week (see government guidance on what to do during the pandemic), it has become even more important to save money on food right now. So here are some top tips to save money on food during the coronavirus pandemic.
During the coronavirus outbreak, many families have been encouraged to shop only when it’s essential; this means, for many, a switch from popping to the shops every couple of days to doing one big weekly food shop. One of the best ways to save money on food is to plan your meals.
Meal planning can cut food wastage and also make use of what you already have in the house. When starting your plan, rummage through your store cupboards and freezer to see what you already have. Then try to plan a meal for each day and stick to it. This will encourage you to avoid buying unnecessary food and to make use of what you already have. Which all adds up to you saving money on your food bill.
It is a well-known fact that kids like to snack. Mine would be grazing from breakfast through to dinner if they could! But if you want to save money on food during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s probably not the best idea to let the kids have free rein of the snack cupboard.
One thing that has worked for me is a snack tray. Each child has his or her own compartment, and in it I place three snack items for the day. The rule is that once the snacks are gone, they are gone.
This idea helps to ensure that your snack supplies don’t disappear straight away. And it helps children to monitor their own eating habits.
The coronavirus pandemic has meant that a lot of us have had to change the way we shop for food. While there is plenty of fresh fruit available, if you are only going to the supermarket once a week and have the kids to feed at home, you may find that your stash disappears quite quickly.
Canned fruit is a cheaper alternative that will last that bit longer. Tinned pineapple chunks or pear halves can be chopped up and added to a lunch plate or to a smoothie. If you are not keen on canned fruit, maybe reach for some frozen fruit. This can be added straight to a smoothie or defrosted and then portioned out for hungry little mouths.
Batch cooking is a great way to save money when you are trying to feed a family. Making larger portions and freezing half can make your food go that much further. It also means that after a busy day of juggling home schooling and work, you have a home-cooked meal ready with minimum effort.
Top tips for batch cooking are to freeze individual portions if you can and to check what can be frozen. Certain ingredients don’t lend themselves to this sort of cooking.
Finally, make sure the meal is defrosted fully and reheated to the right temperature before eating.
For other money-saving top tips, check out our article ‘Family meals on a budget: 5 tips for saving money on food’.