The Office for National Statistics printed its investigation on the rising price of living in early 2011, and produced some shocking statistics on the rise of some of our everyday food items.
A bag of flour will cost on average 30% more than it did this time last year, butter 16% and salmon fillets by 35%.
Food inflation in the UK is standing at 6.3%, and could have been caused by the price hikes in the cost of producing food, and also in market manipulation by traders wanting to increase their profit margins.
The problem is that many people found their wages grow by only around 2%- or frozen altogether- meaning that food prices only had to go up by pence to make people worse off than they were last year.
With a recent rise in people needing the help of food banks, it is obvious that in the current financial climate families in the UK are really struggling to get by.
After being a student the last few years I’ve picked up a few tricks to make my food bill cheaper, I hope some of them can be of use…
Replace fresh with frozen-
-Not only does frozen food keep longer, it is also cheaper than buying fresh and when bought in bulk can be cheaper still. Frozen vegetables can be a cheap way of providing vitamins, and frozen meat and fish is far cheaper than the fresh alternative. Shops that specialise in cheap frozen foods, though often scoffed at by food snobs, mean that you can eat a good standard of food at a much lower price.
Go to markets and only buy as much as you need
-How often have you bought supermarket veg only to throw half of it away unused? I was often guilty of leaving half a punnet of mushrooms to go off or a bag of potatoes to sprout. This is why I started going to markets and green grocers- there I only bought as much as I needed so wasn’t wasting money on food going to waste. Alternatively, if you have the space grow your own!
Buy things on their use by dates and freeze
-Often there are great savings to be made on good quality meat, veg and fish by buying them near to their use by dates and freezing them. These products will normally last around a month after freezing them and mean you can get the same kind of food you normally eat for a cheaper price.
Make bulk meals then freeze them
-The other way to avoid wastage and to save money is by making meals in bulk and freezing them, then you get the best value from buying food in bulk and don’t waste anything.
Don’t stay at one shop, shop around
-Your usual supermarket may have some good offers, but elsewhere there might be a shop providing products you regularly use much cheaper.
-Fatty, sugary snacks are some of the most expensive in supermarkets. For the price of some flour, sugar, butter and eggs you can bake lots more sets of buns or biscuits for the equivalent cost of buying shop produced baked goods. Plus they’ll probably taste better too! Similarly, make more meals from scratch, base ingredients are so much cheaper and go so much further than ready meals, and are healthier too.
Make your own lunch
-This will see you saving the pennies in no time. By making sandwiches and salads you can save lots of money, just think how much a tiny proportion of a bag of pasta is compared to a supermarket pasta salad, or how much 2 slices of bread costs compared to a ready made sandwich. Even food like packets of crisps are cheaper from multi-packs rather than from a local shop bought individually.
Eat less meat
-People are always being advised to eat less meat for health reasons, but it can also be a good way to save money too. Buying meat replacements can be just as expensive, but there are good tasty alternatives out there for people cutting down on meat which are cheap too, for example try a filling Spanish omelette.
Plan meals ahead
-Before you go out shopping plan what you are going to eat for the next week. Factor in all meals and ingredients, breakfast, lunches and snacks too, and stick to the list. You have everything you need and won’t be tempted to buy too much and waste money.
Buy whatever brand is on offer… but beware of spending more than you want.
-Being a savvy customer and shopping around for the best offer is one way of getting the best deal- throw any brand loyalty out of the window and only buy what’s on offer. However- be aware of ‘2 for £2’ deals- where you might only be saving pence for two but adding even more to your weekly shop than just buying the one item.
Also- don’t forget to be creative with leftovers and spare ingredients. Try to use everything up!