5 smart ways to spend less money on food - and avoid waste!

Discover how to spend less money on food each month and come up with creative meal planning ideas.

Updated

food being thrown away

Key steps

Try these tips and meal planning ideas to spend less money on food and reduce waste:

  1. Go through your fridge and cupboards to see what needs using up when creating a meal plan.
  2. Learn how to make a meal plan every week to map out your recipes in advance.
  3. Double up on meals and save leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch to spend less money on food.
  4. Batch cook and freeze meals for easy weekday options.
  5. Try sharing meals with friends to avoid food waste when you've cooked more than you need.

Are you a student who’d like to learn how to save money on food? It’s easy – as long as you shop, store, and cook smartly. With a handful of meal planning ideas up your sleeve, you’ll not only be able to spend less money on food but you’ll throw less food away too. Here’s how to save money on groceries and keep food waste to a minimum.

Spend an evening (or weekend afternoon) batch cooking multiple meals. It’ll take a little while to get used to the new routine, but you’ll save lots of time during the week and spend less money on food in the long run.

How to save money on food and groceries every month: 5 simple steps

Try these 5 simple steps to learn how to spend less money on food and reduce waste at the same time.

1. Learn how to make a meal plan

One of the best ways of saving on waste and keeping some money in your pocket is to learn how to make a meal plan. Try these tips and meal planning ideas to get started:

  • Write out all your meals for the week ahead, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Schedule time to prepare your meals in advance – Sunday afternoon perhaps.
  • Use it as an opportunity to be healthy: try to include protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats in each meal.
  • Invest in quality food storage containers to keep food fresher for longer.
  • Think about foods you can easily freeze and stock up.
  • Add your ideas to your phone’s calendar or reminders so you get a nudge when shopping.

 

2. Check your current food stock to build weekly meal plan ideas

Learning how to save money on groceries begins by getting better at using up what you already have. Think of it as a creative way to save money on groceries and reduce waste as well as your chance to experiment with new dishes.

  • Go through your cupboards and fridge to check for items that are due to expire before going shopping.
  • Incorporate leftovers and foods about to go off into your meal plan to avoid waste. 
  • Read our article on food waste facts and ways to prevent food waste for guidance on storing food and using scraps.

 

3. Double up on meals to spend less money on food

This is a top tip when you’re cooking! Cook more food than you need to eat at dinner and save the leftovers for lunch the next day. Rather than having to dig into your pocket to buy another meal, you’ll have a delicious home-cooked meal to heat up.

  • Let your food cool before putting it in a container and storing in the fridge overnight.
  • Heat up food thoroughly before eating the next day.
  • Check that your food is safe to be reheated before saving it - be careful with meat, dairy, and rice.

 

4. Freeze meals to save money every month on groceries and food

If you want to know how to save money every month on groceries, using your freezer efficiently will help your wallet. We’ve already mentioned doubling up on meals, but you can take that to the next level by making bigger batches of food and freezing them in individual portions.

  • Pop a label on your container that includes the name of the meal and the date you need to eat it by.
  • Most leftovers can be kept in the freezer for 1-6 months but make sure you check the safety advice for your meals before storing.
  • Read our article on foods you can freeze safely for more advice.

 

5. Share dishes with friends to limit food waste

Struggle to save food for lunches or out of room in the freezer? Arrange to visit friends once a week or have them come to you and share your meals with others as a way to spend less on food by reducing your waste.

  • Share your best meal planning ideas as well as your food to get more ideas.
  • Get new recipe inspiration from friends.
  • Use this as an opportunity to experiment with new dishes and try different ingredients.

And there you have it: five top tips and meal planning ideas to help you learn how to spend less money on food and reduce waste. Now that you know how to save money on groceries and create less waste you’ll be a savvy chef in no time.

Originally published