Planning at least some of your meals each week can help you save and money.
What does planning really mean when it comes to food? Do you know what you’re having for dinner tonight? Tomorrow?
Planning meals ahead can be one of the simplest things you can do to save yourself money - making sure you only buy what you need and use up what you already have.
- Check! The first thing to do is to get into the habit of checking what you already have at home, especially fresh foods like fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, cheese or milk, that can go off over time. Check your store cupboard fridge and freezer.
- Inspire! When you know what food you’ve got, it’s time to think about what you want to make and find new recipes for using up the food you have. There are plenty of recipe ideas here if you’re looking for some inspiration, and you can search by specific foods and ingredients.
- Tip: Label foods that need using first so it’s easy to spot what you’ve got.
- Plan! Some foods will need eating sooner than others, so plan around what needs eating up first. You can save lots of money by planning your meals at least a few days in advance, and up to a whole week ahead.
- Remember, it’s not only dinner or tea - if you plan your lunches at the same time, you can maximise the food you use up so nothing goes to waste.
- Top Tip: don't plan all 7 days in a week - plans often change and unexpected leftovers can disrupt everyone's best laid plans. For example leave one night as freezer night as it can stay safe at home on pause until you need it the following week.
- Top tool: Have a look at our Two Week Meal Plan for inspiration.
- Make a list! There will always be food you need to buy, and the best way to ensure you buy what you need is to keep a shopping list on the go, adding to it when you of things or run out. 4 in 10 of us take a list to the supermarket - let's make that number bigger!
- Tip: Use a mobile phone, post-it notes or scrap paper for making lists, Take a photo on your phone of what's in the fridge and cupboards before you dash out the house if you've run out of time!
- Don't panic! If it all goes wrong one week - have an unexpected dinner party or picnic for friends to use up the extra food if you've bought too much; bulk out mince with veg or lentils if you don't have enough (no one ever notices!); get your portion sizes right so you're not overcooking; or create a mix and match supper from leftovers in the freezer!
We don't have to be chefs or domestic gods and goddesses in the kitchen - just doing one thing right can make all the difference from food ending up in the bin along with our cash to food being happily eaten and money staying safely in our pockets.
For more information visit the Love Food Hate Waste website.