When you look up and down the supermarket aisles, it often seems to be the unhealthy options that are on special offer. However, cooking healthy food doesn't have to burn a hole in your pocket.
It pays to plan
Planning meals makes it easier to budget and think about how you're going to use leftovers. Why not get into a routine of planning a week of meals? You could try meat-free Mondays, chilli Tuesdays or fishy Fridays.
- Make a shopping list and group it by meal – this will make you less likely to buy things you don't need
- Measure out portions of rice, potatoes and pasta so you cook the right amount
Get fridge and freezer savvy
Chill out in the frozen food aisle of your local supermarket – frozen fruit and veg are often cheaper than fresh, are just as nutritious and still count towards your 5 A DAY.
- Check the dates of perishables and put the oldest at the front of the fridge so you use them first
- Buy one, get one free – and freeze the spare
- Make batches of stew, soup and chilli, then freeze individual portions
- Chop up fresh herbs and store them in a bag in the freezer for up to 12 months
Be canny about cans
Canned or tinned foods can be stored for a long time, and can often be bought in bulk. Don't limit yourself to tuna and baked beans: lots of fruit (prunes, peaches, pineapple), vegetables (sweetcorn, peas, asparagus), pulses (chickpeas, butter beans, kidney beans) and fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel) can be bought cheaply in tins.
- Half the amount of mince in a dish and replace it with tinned pulses – an excellent alternative source of protein
- Buy fish, beans and pulses in water rather than in oil or with added sugar and salt
- Brighten up a fruit salad with exotic tinned fruit in juice – but watch out for fruit in syrup
Be smart in the supermarket
Special offers are only good value if you use what you’ve bought – make sure extras can be frozen or used up before they go off.
- Shop towards the end of the day when fresh produce is more likely to be discounted
- Check dates when buying food
Love your leftovers
Make food last longer by storing it correctly – for some food, the fridge may be too cold or damp. Reusing food in another dish can often save you time and money.
- Make leftover roast soup after a family Sunday lunch
- Make fruit or veg that's past its best into a juice, smoothie or soup
- Bulk out leftover curry, bolognese or stew with beans or chickpeas