As the price of living increases, there are few of us who can afford a limitless food shopping bill. Food can be expensive but yet all too often we hear reports of the thousands of tonnes of food in the domestic waste. Equally there has been an increase in demand for local councils and charities to offer food banks or facilities alike to people who cannot afford to feed themselves or their families.

This article looks at how to set a food budget, regardless of your financial circumstances and guide you through how to maximise your food to maintain health.

1. Monitor your spending

The amount you spend on food will rely on many factors and may fluctuate from time to time. It is important to be realistic about how much you spend. Keeping your food bill receipts and monitoring how much you spend over 2-3 weeks will help you understand where your money is going and to set a realistic budget. It is advised to include how much you spend on eating out, including coffees, lunches and takeaways.

2. Decide what you cannot live without

Once you know what you're spending your money on, you become aware of habits. If your goal is to reduce your spending there may be some luxuries you have to find a cheaper alternative to or maybe even sacrifice. Decide what you cannot live without and deduct these from your total budget.

3. Shop around

If you are not too inconvenienced or fussy about what supermarket you spend your money in, shop around! Browsing online may help you find the supermarket that best fulfil your budget and grocery shopping needs. Supermarkets advertise their deals to encourage you to shop with them, take advantage of them and save yourself some money.

4. Simple swaps to help your pocket without compromising your health

Only buy what you need. Sometimes this can be difficult to navigate but read our blog on creating a shopping list to help. In the meantime let's discuss some things you can implement to save you some money. 

Switch to frozen fruit and vegetables - nutritionally it has been shown that consuming frozen fruit and vegetables is the same as consuming fresh fruit & vegetables. Benefits to frozen food include a longer shelf life and more for your money. There is also no pressure to finish large quantities of fresh food in a hurry which may help you reduce your food waste.  

Other frozen alternatives include meats and fish. Don't forget to follow food safety guidelines when defrosting or cooking from frozen (click here for more information).

Most supermarkets also now offer their own brand of products which generally are cheaper than more familiar brands. Products include milk (including milk alternatives), bread, eggs, tinned foods, pasta, juice, cereals, sauces and even alcohol.  There will be minor differences in nutritional values but this is the case between all brands of similar products. Sometimes own brand products are even produced in the same factory as well known brands with only minor tweaks in the recipe!

This applies for household products, soaps, detergents and cleaning products. We are creatures of habit but try it, it could make a big difference to your spend!