44 Frugal Food Hacks To Help You Save More Money
We have all noticed the prices of just about everything shooting up lately, haven’t we?
The cost of living crisis is affecting so many of us, and it can feel a little hopeless at times as it seems life is rapidly becoming more expensive every single day.
Food, however, is one area of our budgets we can make big cut backs on without sacrificing quality. Savvy supermarket choices and a little research can save you hundreds of pounds each year on your grocery spend.
In this article, we are going to cover 45 frugal food hacks to help you slice your grocery budget in half this month. Let’s get started!
What is considered ‘frugal’?
A frugal person is someone that is careful with their money and resources, by choosing options that offer good value and avoiding wasting money unnecessarily.
The definition of frugality probably varies hugely from person to person. It is generally agreed that there is a difference between being frugal and cheap; frugal people tend to be economical with what they have, and usually make wise money choices.
There is zero shame in embracing a more thrifty way of life!
The benefits of being frugal
There are lots of reasons why being frugal can help us to live a better and happier life. Frugality can lead to:
- Saving more money to spend on the things you love
- Reducing waste
- Gratitude for what you do have, rather than a constant focus on what you don’t
- Living a more simple life and enjoying small pleasures
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44 Frugal Food Hacks to Help you Save More Money
Image credit: Canva
Okay, let’s get into this bumper list! I’ve split the tips into 6 main categories:
- Frugal Food Hacks 101
- Reduce Waste
- Grocery Discounts
- Foodie Freebies & Deals
- Shop Smart
- Frugal Cooking Tips
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Frugal Food Hacks 101
1. Use up what you have
The cardinal rule! This has to be number one on the ultimate frugal food hacks list, as it’s simple, but not always easy to do.
Write an inventory of items in your pantry, and build your meals based on what you already have first. Focus on using up any fresh produce as your first priority, and then get creative with your store cupboard ingredients! You’ll probably be surprised what you find lurking at the back of your cupboards that can be made into a meal.
2. Embrace batch cooking
If you have some veg on the turn or bits you need to use up, double your ingredients and serve your dish several times during the week. Alternatively you could freeze your portions to use throughout the month.
Meals such as curries, soups, and chilli are good staple meals for batch cooking, and adding blitzed or hidden veggies. They are also super easy to adapt depending on the ingredients you have at hand.
3. Always check for the longest shelf life
When buying items from the refrigerator sections that can spoil, reach to the back of the shelf to find items with later BBE dates. Longer lasting milk = fewer dashes to the corner shop, and more time to use it all up before it goes bad.
4. Be realistic and prepare for 10-minute meals
Long lasting items can be used to make speedy meals and help to stave off any convenience takeaways. Some examples include cream cheese to whip up a quick cheesy pasta or spread on toast, oats for porridge or baking, and halloumi which tends to have a long BBE date and can be used to make wraps or burgers in minutes.
If you know you have a tendency to open the Uber Eats app a little too often, adding a few of these versatile and long lasting ingredients to your next grocery shop could save you £££.
5. Freeze milk and bread
Milk and bread are probably among your most purchased food items, and are the ones that are likely to lead to a mid-week top-up shop. Freeze half a loaf and a few ice cubes of milk, and keep them as backups in your freezer to get you through to your next big shop.
6. Eat less meat
Meat is one of the most expensive items that can drive the price of your weekly shop through the roof. Try incorporating more veggie meals into your meal plan to save some cash.
Another alternative is to use meat but halve the quantity per meal, stretching it out over multiple servings and increasing your veg intake without cutting out meat entirely.
7. Meal prep for office days
If you know you tend to trip and fall into Costa on your working days and leave with a pastry or two, commit to prepping both breakfast and lunch each working day for one month. Maybe try overnight oats and a couscous salad, both of which can be made in minutes and last several days in the fridge.
8. Stick to your meal plan
This one takes some practice, as in 2022 we have become very accustomed to the luxury of choice and eating what we fancy each evening.
It can be easy to overlook leftovers and order a takeaway instead because you would prefer to eat something different. However, to save money on food we need to get used to sticking to our meal plan and eating what’s sitting in our fridge first.
Discipline is key!
9. Grow your own
When chopping your veggies, save the seeds and have a go at growing your own. Collect the seeds from your tomatoes, peppers, chillis, etc., and try some frugal gardening.
10. Utilise the freezer
SO many foods can be frozen. The opportunities are endless! Did you know avocados can be frozen? Birthday cake? It’s true!
You can always do a quick Google check if you are unsure, but if it can be frozen, freeze it, and you will make huge strides towards less food waste overnight.
11. Have one ‘use it up’ night per week
You might feel super organized by planning your meals in advance for every single night of the week, but sometimes this approach can have its downfalls.
You could end up with too much food and not enough days to eat leftovers. Also, let’s face it, it’s good to be realistic when planning, and cooking from scratch seven nights a week is unlikely to happen! Set aside a day per week where various leftovers or freezer meals are eaten up, reducing any waste, and giving you a night off too. Win!
12. Keep your veg ends to make stock
As you prepare your veg, pop the peel and ends into a freezer bag and store for later. When you have collected enough, boil your scraps to make veggie stock or base for a soup. Tasty!
13. Portion your food before serving
Get into the habit of portioning up each meal at the time of serving. If the leftovers have been set aside for freezing straight away, it will stop you from going back for seconds just because it’s there, or for dishing up more generous portions to use the food up.
Even a small portion can be saved to top a jacket potato for a quick lunch!
14. Buy frozen or canned veg
Fresh veg is delicious, but sometimes it can go past its best pretty quickly. Frozen or canned can be just as nutritious, and lasts so much longer, so try keeping some on hand to use when you run out of fresh produce.
15. Store produce correctly to keep it fresher for longer
Knowing how to store your fruit and veg will help to keep it at optimal freshness levels for longer. Some examples to get the most from your produce:
- Tomatoes are best kept out of the fridge, and stored on the counter
- Onions and potatoes should be stored seperately (as together they produce gases that spoil both)
- Leeks and spring onions are best kept in a glass jar with the roots submerged in a little water
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15. Shop the yellow sticker sections in supermarkets
Is there a better feeling than nabbing an amazing yellow sticker item for pennies? Check with staff in your local stores who will usually tell you the best time to grab some reductions. Obviously later in the afternoon/evening tends to be better, and remember that many items can be frozen if needed.
16. Pick up cheap supermarket veggies
Some of the best supermarket value veg offerings in the UK right now include:
17. Use new customer grocery offers
New customer offers are often the best! Take a look at this ultimate list of customer grocery offers and take advantage by stocking up using these fab discounts.
18. Shop at cheaper supermarkets
19. Shop at stores selling items past the best before date
A great example is the website BestB4Foods. Most items are past the best before date, however they are perfectly good to eat and you can find some excellent discounts.
20. Look for a “social supermarket” near you
Social supermarkets are part of a growing trend of social enterprises aimed at tackling food poverty in the UK. These stores tend to be community driven, with customers often paying a membership or weekly fee in exchange for a basket of groceries at a greatly reduced price.
Take a look at your local council website to see if there are any similar organisations running in your area.
Foodie Freebies & Deals
21. Download the Olio app for free food
Olio allows you to collect food for free that has been donated by local businesses or residents. It’s a fantastic free app for those looking to slash their grocery bills, and helps to reduce food waste too!
22. Oddbox £1.69 veg box
An entire box of veggies for just £1.69… seems too good to be true, but it’s not! By being referred by a friend, you can get £10 off your first order.
If you’d like a very affordable box of fruit or veg for just £1.69, as well as helping to fight food waste, then this is offer is for you.
Oddbox is a fun way to expand your horizons and eat vegetables you might not necessarily buy yourself. I now know what Kohlrabi tastes like, thanks to Oddbox!
Also, there’s a wonky bread box available now too!
23. Try the app Too Good to Go
Reserve a Too Good To Go magic bag filled with goodies at a heavily discounted price. Lots of well known brands participate, such as Costa, Greggs and Morrisons, as well as independent cafes and restaurants. The contents of the bag is a surprise, but it’s always yummy!
24. Use recipe box new customer offers
Often recipe box services offer great value deals for new customers, and you can cancel after receiving your first box if you choose not to continue with the services. Gousto, Hello Fresh and Green Chef are all offering discounted first boxes right now; if you haven’t tried them, it could be well worth pricing up a box!
25. Simply cook freebie
Simply Cook boxes are fantastic if you are looking to try cooking some exciting new dishes, as the range of meals available makes it hard to choose! Best of all, the first box is completely free too. All sauces and spices are provided, and the ingredients list is very short and can be easily substituted, so this is 100% worth trying if you haven’t already.
26. Find the nearest community fridge near you
Community fridges tend to be located in public spaces typically close to a restaurant or store willing to provide the electricity. Food is donated from local organisations and stored in the fridge, free for members of the public to collect.
Click here to find your closest local community fridge.
27. Apply to become a taste tester and get free food
Sample new foods and earn paypal cash for completing your taste test (which covers the cost of the item plus a little extra). What could be better?!
I’ve completed a few trials for Flavor Wiki and would recommend. Click here to join Flavor Wiki.
28. Use cashback grocery apps for freebies
You can get SO many freebies and coupons via cashback apps, they can really make a difference to your weekly food budget. It’s as easy as purchasing your item, scanning the receipt, and waiting for your cash to drop into your account. Easy peasy!
Some examples i have tried and tested include:
- Shopmium (use my referral code AMUYHAFY for a free tube of pringles to get you started!)
- Checkout Smart
29. Shop the international aisles for cheaper alternatives
Products sold in the World Food aisles tend to be cheaper than the same items found elsewhere in store. Sometimes even cheaper than the supermarket’s own brands! Examples could include:
- Coconut milk
- Kidney beans
- Chopped tomatoes
Compare prices online and make sure you get the best value!
30. Compare prices of food by kilo and bulk buy
If you have the storage space, buying certain items in bulk can be a very cost effective way to shop. I’m not suggesting stock piling, but rather buying food items in larger quantities which is usually more cost effective.
Always check the price per kg/100kg (it’s usually stated on all price labels in store and online) to ensure optimum value for money! I often buy rice, porridge oats and lentils in larger quantities, as I know they are kitchen staples that I eat regularly, and the price per 100g tends to be much cheaper.
31. Shop for seasonal fruit and veg
Fruit and veggies that are in season are always going to be plentiful, and are therefore likely to be some of the cheapest produce around.
Here’s a guide to seasonal fruit and veg in the UK, so next time you head to the supermarket keep your eyes peeled for seasonal produce on offer.
32. Stock up on the essential spices in bulk
It’s often much better value to buy spices in 100g or 400g packages rather than the individual 25g jars. Buy those you use regularly at a cheaper price, decant into jars if you’d like and save your pennies! Often the best deals for spices can be found in the World Food aisle.
33. Swerve branded items and go for supermarket own
Often food produced in one factory is then packaged up and shipped off to various stores under a range of price points. The quality of the items could be identical, and doesn’t always reflect the price. Give supermarket own brands a chance and see if you are able to taste any difference.
34. Prepare your own produce rather than buying pre-prepared
Grated cheese and chopped fruits are two examples of foods that are priced at a premium purely for shopper’s convenience. Take a few minutes out of your day to prepare your own food, and save the difference.
35. Buy multipack bars instead of individual at the corner shop
If you notice yourself popping into the local corner shop regularly for a can of coke or chocolate bar, stop!
These items are often 4x more expensive to buy individually than they would be as part of a multipack in a supermarket. Make sure you are buying snack items such as crisps, drinks or sweet treats in multipacks if you have a tendency to snack.
Frugal Cooking Tips
36. Food fusion
Katsu curry burritos? Paneer tacos? Thai green soup? Sometimes just changing up how a batch cooked meal is served can reduce meal plan fatigue, and can stop you feeling like you are eating the same meals over and over.
Add variety wherever you can and switch the carbs, or try serving with different sides. Some more ideas to switch up your meal options:
- Extra mash can be made into potato patties
- Fajita leftovers make great quesadillas for a speedy lunch
- Combine leftover veggies from your Sunday roast with egg fried rice & add hot sauce
37. Look up 3 ingredient recipes
Cooking from scratch can save money, but sometimes the ingredients list can be so long it’s off putting, and if the items are more obscure, it can sometimes end up costing a fortune! Research into 3 or 4 ingredient recipes for simple cooking, with minimal shopping lists required.
I regularly bake these three ingredient peanut butter cookies and they are soo easy!
38. Bulk out your meals
Every time I cook a dish such as a curry or chilli I try to add at least one ingredient to bulk out the meal, and make it stretch a little further. Ingredients such as lentils, chickpeas and grated carrot work really well in loads of dishes, and in some cases are barely noticeable.
A handful of oats can also be added to mince based recipes and will blend in easily, taking on the flavours of the dish.
39. Research no bake recipes
With energy prices rising rapidly, we are being a little more considerate about how often our oven is used nowadays. If there is a ‘no bake’ alternative to one of your favourite recipes, then why not try it instead, and save on energy! No bake flapjakes taste great, and just need some time to set in the fridge, for example.
40. Get creative with food waste
Fizzy drinks that have gone flat can be used to make tasty ice pops ready for the summer months. Leftover Christmas chocolate could be melted down and used to top baked treats. Before throwing any food or drink away, take a moment to think how it could be used up to reduce waste.
The Instagram account Reduce Waste Now is fantastic for waste saving tips.
41. Use up wilting veg by making soups
Almost any veg can be made into soup, and even if it’s looking a little sorry for itself, the produce is cooked and blitzed anyway so it makes no difference!
Slightly soft peppers, carrots that have lost their crunch, unwanted brocolli stalks… they can all be thrown into a pot with a sprinkle of seasoning to make a delicious soup.
42. Make your own sauces and spice medleys
A few packet spice mixes and pre-made sauces are super convenient to keep on hand for those nights where you simply do not have the time to cook from scratch.
However, the mark up on these items can be high, and it can be worthwhile trying your hand at making your own. A simple tomato pasta sauce is a good place to start, and is an easy one to adapt. As well as being cheaper, it’s likely to be significantly healthier too, with less salt and sugar!
Once you’ve stocked up on spices, you could make spice mixes for dishes you cook regularly too, bidding farewell to the expensive single use, pre-made sachets. Here’s a simple fajita seasoning recipe to get you started!
43. Experiment with fakeaways
A friday night takeaway with a movie after a long week at work is BLISSFUL. However, with the cost of living creeping up on us, substituting a takeaway with a fakeaway (homemade version of our favourite take out foods) is something I have been experimenting with lately.
It can be simple (frozen margherita pizza with added toppings of your choice plus extra cheese), or you can go all out if you choose. A chinese fakeaway can be easier than you think, and having a dig through your cupboards to see what ingredients you already have is recommended!
This is the first ever chinese fakeaway I attempted and honestly it was banging (if I do say so myself).
44. Use a recipe generator website
Do you ever look in your fridge, spot a few random ingredients and think… I’m sure I could make something with this?!
Enter, recipe generator websites. Here to provide cooking inspiration and suggest foodie combinations you might never have thought to try.
Popular recipe generator websites include:
Simply pop your ingredients into the virtual pantry, and search for instant meal suggestions. If you need a little nudge, this is a useful tool to spark inspiration in the kitchen and add a new recipe to your repertoire.
Final Thoughts: 44 Frugal Food Hacks
I hope some of these frugal food hacks were useful! By reducing our waste, making our shop last longer and shopping smart by making the most of offers and discounts, we should be able to cut our shopping budget right down and save some serious cash!
If you have any more frugal food hacks that I’ve missed, leave them in the comments!