In my last blog post I showed that ‘free from’ foods can cost double, triple or even more compared to their standard equivalent. People with food allergies don’t get any food on prescription or any financial support. Food allergies are particularly common in babies and young children, so this is an issue that affects families when money may be tightest. We’ve certainly noticed a sharp increase in our food bills since our youngest daughter was born with multiple allergies. We usually spend £150 – £200 per week for a family of four, with 2 children age 5 and 2. I can only imagine what this will be when they are teenagers if they don’t grow out of their allergies and intolerances! For me, food is really a high priority for spending, so I try to save money in other areas first, but here are my money saving tips to reduce your food bills:
- Avoid ‘Free From’ Foods – they are very expensive and you often only get tiny portions. Only buy them for the things you really can’t live without, or for special occasions! Instead buy food that is naturally free from allergens, such as rice, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, meat and fish (obviously this depends on your individual allergies) – they’re also much healthier for you than processed food.
- Stock up on special offers – the best supermarket for special offers on ‘free from’ foods is, without a shadow of a doubt, Ocado (voucher in sidebar>>>). I often stock up on gluten free sausages, coconut oil, flour, etc whenever I spot them, but also on normal foods – I often fill my freezer with meat!
- Plan your meals – I couldn’t live without my meal plan! I plan out a whole week’s meals in advance, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and do a big shop. Then I top up with fresh fruit and veg later in the week as needed. This helps to avoid last minute expensive purchases from convenience stores. I also find it helps for my sanity if I know in advance what I’m going to cook each night!
- Batch cooking – always cook more than you need. You can use the leftovers for lunch the next day, or freeze them and save them as home made ‘ready meals’ for days when you don’t have time to cook.
- Make a shopping list and stick to it – once you’ve done your meal plan, use it to make a shopping list and only buy what’s on the list! I find online shopping is better for avoiding temptation and impulse purchases.
- Use what you have – one week a month I try to ‘shop’ from my own kitchen, using up what I already have in the fridge, freezer and cupboards, and only buy fresh bits.
- Use cheaper cuts of meat – mince is cheap and versatile, chicken thighs are cheaper than breasts, stewing meat is cheaper but has to be cooked slowly. You could also try introducing organ meats such as liver which are much, much cheaper and also packed full of nutrients.
- Boil your bones – yes I am slightly obsessed with bone broth, but for good reason – it’s free food from something you would normally throw away! You can use it to make soups, to cook quinoa or rice, or add it to sauces. It also contains loads of minerals including calcium, which is really important if you’re not eating dairy.
- Meat free meals – eating vegetarian meals once in a while can save you a bit of money, as meat is usually the most expensive element in a meal. My children love sweet potato & butternut squash soup.
- Buy local – buying fruit and veg from farm shops, farmer’s markets and veg box schemes can help you to save money, and they’re also better for the environment = win-win!
What are your best money saving tips for food shopping with allergies?