The standing joke amongst students is leaving home and realising how expensive cheese is. Well, imagine leaving home and also finding that bread, pasta, oats, milk and butter were also going to be breaking your budget every week.
Living free-from for choice, health or necessity comes with a price tag. When thinking of budget meals, pasta, oats, beans on toast all flood to mind. But now imagine that your loaf of bread costs £3 and is also half the size of a conventional loaf. Your pasta will never be cheaper than £1.50 and your oats will be premium too. Suddenly a lot of the budget meal ideas don’t seem quite so budget. But what can be done about it?
- Be inventive
The cheapest way to avoid spending £3 on a loaf of bread is to not eat bread. Instead of beans and toast, have a jacket potato instead. Although abstinence is not what you probably wanted to hear it is one of the best ways to keep costs down. Use it as an opportunity to try something new. Also, try using rice more in your cooking, naturally gluten free and super cheap, it’s a staple for me. One of my favourite budget recipes is sweet potato chilli – learn how to make it here.
- When the price is right, buy in bulk
When almond milk is on sale for a £1 I stock up. This goes for any free-from items. One of the best deals is when they are offering 3 for 2 on all free-from products at Tesco. Be savvy and ensure that the product you’re getting free is the same price as the ones you’re buying. I use this deal to stock up on pasta and oats, as essentially it’s something I would have bought anyway and I’m getting a packet free.
- Shop around
Keep an eye on your favourite supermarkets to catch when they are offering the best deals, I’ve found that Sainsbury and Tesco seem to run their promotions at alternating times, which means I rarely have to pay full price for a product. Equally, try to never impulse buy, my local shop Budgens may stock a lot of the things I need but they rarely do deals and the products are more expensive than they are in Tesco or Sainsburys.
- Make full use of your loyalty card
The more free-from products that you buy and use your Clubcard or Nectar card with the transaction the clever little computer remembers that you buy them. So next time you’re at the checkout a voucher for money off Alpro appears. The more you shop the more tailored your vouchers become.
- Go online
For staples, the alternative to supermarkets is to go online. Sites such as Naturally Good Food offer many brands that aren’t stocked in store, as well as great offers on multi packs and bulk options. You might need to do some maths to make sure you’re getting the best deal, but especially if you prefer organic then online can be a great place to start.
For budget series recipes – all gluten and dairy free, check out the Recipe section of my site.