FIRE Pillar 2: Spend Less on Food
Food is a necessity we cannot live without. But eating well does not mean that you have to break the bank. If you want to work towards your FIRE goals, it’s vital to spend less on food, without compromising your health.
From packed lunches to batch cooking, we take a look at how to slash your food spending while still enjoying a nutritious and varied diet.
Spend less on food shopping by planning your meals
Visit any UK supermarket and you can select food from all corners of the globe. The sheer level of choice is often overwhelming, with each interesting-looking product compelling us to put it in our trolley.
Having a shopping list and sticking to it is essential so that you don’t overspend. Before you go shopping, take the time to make a meal plan detailing exactly what you’re having for breakfast, lunch and dinner, for the period of time you want your shop to last. Add the necessary ingredients to your shopping list. This way, you will be less tempted to overspend when you are wandering up and down the aisles.
It’s estimated that roughly one-third of food produced worldwide for human consumption gets either wasted or lost every year. By planning your meals and only shopping for what you need, you could save money and help reduce food waste.
Make a packed lunch
Eating out at lunchtime could more than double your weekly food bill. Even grabbing a simple sandwich, drink and crisps, could set you back at least £5 per day. Over time, this figure will add up.
If you work 48 weeks per year and buy a sandwich lunch 5 days a week during this time, your office-time lunch spend would equate to £1,200 per annum.
Make your own sandwich at home and bring in a refillable water bottle and you could easily more than quarter your lunch bill. Which is a sizeable saving.
How to spend less money on food by batch cooking
Making your favourite food in larger quantities could not only help you to spend less on your overall grocery shopping but also save you valuable time mid-week. Put the extra portions in the freezer for occasions when you’re tempted to get a takeaway.
Get more creative and make a ‘base’ that can be turned into lots of different meals. For example, mince in tomato sauce can easily be turned into chilli con carne by adding a few beans, or shepherd’s pie by adding some mashed potato.
Reorganise your food cupboards
Tidying up where you store your groceries can help you see (and eat) what you have in the house, rather than buying more food. Always check you’re not duplicating before you do your weekly shop.
Stock up on frozen food
Frozen vegetables have all the nutrition of fresh vegetable (sometimes even more) and are a great way to cut down your food bill. The freezer aisle offers excellent value for money for both fruit and vegetables. As they are frozen very quickly after they’re picked, all the vitamins and minerals are locked in. And they will last much longer than their fresh counterparts.
Love your leftovers
Put your leftovers in the fridge and then reheat them for lunch the next day. Or use them to create a whole new dish. This way, you can save money by making use of the food you already have, not buying more.
Cook from scratch
It may take longer but cooking with fresh ingredients can result in big savings. If you are lacking confidence in the kitchen, there are loads of blogs to help you cook simple food for less cash.
Banish the brands
Supermarket own-brand and value products can save you some serious money. If you’re not sure you can swap your branded products for value, test an own-brand item first. Try some blind taste tests to see if your family notice the difference – the results may surprise you!
Summary: ways to spend less on food
Thrifty food shopping doesn’t mean you have to compromise on nutrition. With a pinch of planning and a dash of smart shopping, you can cut your food expenditure and work towards your financial independence and early retirement target.