Change At The Checkout…

22nd October 2010

Food prices are increasing at their highest rate for 15 years – faster, in fact, than our incomes. We spend on average 15 per cent of our weekly outgoings on food, but with food prices rising 3.8 per cent in August alone, what we eat is now set to consume an even larger slice of our salaries.

It seems that a decade of cheap eating is coming to an end. The cost of food is climbing because world shortages of important crops, such as rice and wheat, have been pushing up the price of ingredients for food manufacturers – and there’s a suggestion, too (in a report from the World Development Movement, released to mark World Food Day on 16 October), that it won’t stop here. Speculation on food commodities by hedge funds, pension funds and investment banks is likely to lead to steep rises in the future.

Today our trolleys can no longer be just about taste: we need to be cost-conscious too. With staples soaring, we’re not being left with much change at the checkout. But by being more aware as you roam the supermarket aisles, it’s possible to continue eating deliciously, while keeping a firm grip on your food finances.

Below: ten thrifty tips to stretch the pound in your pocket just that little bit further.

Plus: see these tasty and inexpensive recipes featuring seasonal British leeks.

Ten Thrifty Tips

You may already have implemented all these suggestions into your household budget. You may find them patronising. But they’re all worth considering, both for saving money and salving consciences.

1. Pays to plan: planning your family’s meals for the whole week will mean less wasted ingredients. If you’re nipping out to the supermarket every other day, it’s much easier for expensive (and probably unnecessary) extras to creep into the trolley. Or shop online to avoid temptation

2. Favour fresh: fresh ingredients, such as lovely fresh British leeks, are much more economical than pre-prepared meals – and likely to be far more nutritious too

3. Shop seasonally: apart from being more environmentally-friendly, buying locally grown fruit and vegetable is far cheaper than out of season produce that’s been shipped over to the UK using expensive fuel

4. Double-take: cooking double quantities will cut down on wasted ingredients – and time spent in the kitchen at a later date

5. Sarnie saver: take tasty leftovers into work the next day to save spending on expensive sandwiches

6. Back to basics: switching to own-brand ‘basics’ ranges for some of the staples could cut your food bill considerably

7. Stay simple: stick to tasty but simple dishes that don’t require a trolley full of fancy ingredients

8. Love loyalty: register for a loyalty card at your supermarket and reap the financial rewards

9. Waste not want not: we waste roughly a third of the food we buy each year (6.7 million tonnes – enough to fill Wembley Stadium eight times over!) at a cost of £10 billion. Wasting food isn’t good for our planet or pocket, so be creative with leftovers. Older fruit and veggies make delicious soups or smoothies

10. Supermarket survey: investigate different supermarkets for price and quality. 90% of us choose the nearest supermarket, rather than considering cost. Even if you’d rather stick to your usual store for fresh produce, a cheaper supermarket might be an option for the basics

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