Frugal food is a must for many of us right now but too much of the cheap food we buy is a recipe for diabetes, heart disease and blood pressure.
And that’s not good, right?
I mean the last thing we can afford in these strange and frightening times is to put our family’s health at risk.
So to slash your family meal budget without risking your health try these frugal food tips, ideas and hacks.
These are the frugal food tips I discovered when we went pretty fast from two incomes to one. My pre-frugal self – who lived on a fridge full of ready meals plus takeaways – would have thought some of these frugal hacks were extreme.
But you know what?
They’re actually not.
They’re just simple, common sense ways to eat loads of healthy immune boosting food without forking out a small fortune for it.
Each of these frugal food hacks might only save a pound or dollar or so a week but I’ve got 50 of these frugal food ideas so all in they can save you over two and a half grand whilst helping the whole family get healthy.
Even better lots of these frugal food tips can be fun – honest!! – for the whole family and right now we need things to help us smile, don’t we?
I do hope they help. Let me know how you get on and for more help saving money in these new times check out my other frugal living posts.
50 Frugal Food Tips
- Vegetable stalk soup: most of us chuck out broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage stalks but they can be super tasty and nutritious. Fry them lightly with naturally antibiotic cumin and turmeric or garlic and then blend with pulses and water for quick soup. If you currently buy soup, you can easily save a quid week – that’s 50 quid a year & a grand over 20 – just by eating up veg stalks!!
- Make stock from vegetable scraps: make super healthy vegetable stock – without store bought nasties – from leftover vegetable scraps and peelings you would usually chuck out.
- Eat leafy root vegetable tops: most of us chuck away the leaves on carrots and beetroots and turnips but they can all be used like cabbage and kale and blended in soups and juices and are super quick & easy vegetables to grow.
- Regrow vegetables from scraps: you can regrow vegetables quickly over and over again from leftover kitchen scraps. Check out these growing vegetables from scraps tips to regrow everything from cabbage and kale to celery.
- Bake your own bread: you can make bread for as little as 5p a loaf. That’s a big saving on shop bought loaf. And if you use wholemeal flour, it will keep you full for much longer so will save even more.
- Grow potatoes in a bag: any potatoes that start sprouting can be grown in a reusable shopping bag of compost. Your own crop can keep the family fed frugally even when things get really tough.
- Make potato soup : potato soup is about as frugal as it comes – you can even make potato peel soup!! – but it doesn’t mean it can’t taste good. Master a recipe your family love so it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice when you need to rely on it.
- Cook extra low GI potatoes : cook extra boiled or mashed potatoes one day for a quick meal the next. Cooking the potatoes and leaving them for 24 hours before using actually lowers their GI and will keep you full longer.
- Potato pancakes: traditional Scottish tattie scones have no eggs or milk and reduced flour but are quick and delicious for breakfast.
- Potato pastry: you can make easy, quick savoury pastry for pies and pasties with potatoes and only a tiny amount of fat.
- Real Scottish porridge: cheap nutritious oats keep us full for ages and in traditional Scottish porridge are super frugal as it is made with water rather than milk.
- Fill the oven: if you’re baking make sure you have a full oven. It takes more planning but try not to put the oven on for one thing.
- Go blackberrying: there are immune boosting blackberries going free in hedgerows and woods from July to September. Fill your freezer and use them in frugal but yummy crumbles, pies and puddings.
- Pick elderberries: it’s not just blackberries going free in the hedges there’s also super healthy elderberries, a traditional remedy for colds and flu.
- Forage for damsons & sloes: free damsons and sloes in the hedgerows in autumn aren’t just for the gin, they’re also great in cordials and jams and puddings and sloe jelly knocks the socks off cranberry jelly.
- Collect crab apples: small hard crab apples don’t look like much but you can collect buckets of them for free to make jelly and even home brew cider!!
- PYO apples: you won’t get them for free but you can pick them for 5p or less each at local farms and they will keep crunch for months if stored properly.
- Water down juice: if you reduce it little by little to half and half your family won’t notice the difference (that much) and will get the vitamin C benefit without the sugar spike that many of us get from guzzling so much straight juice.
- Water down milk: if you’re cooking with milk, whether you’re making macaroni cheese or lasagna or whatever, you can almost always water the milk down with stock by a third to a half.
- Water down cans of tomatoes: stretch a can of tomatoes to two recipes by using half a can of tomatoes to half a can of stock
- Fine grate cheese: you’ll need far less cheese in recipes if you always grate it very finely.
- Save all your jars: save any jars food comes in for preserving and storing foods. You’ll never need to buy storage jars again and will be zero waste whilst you’re at it.
- PYO strawberries: frugal food truly can be fun, picking strawberries to fill the freezer with cheap healthy berries is a lovely annual family day out that actually saves money.
- Ask for fruit bushes as gifts: fruit plants, bushes and trees can cost £10 and up to buy, but they make a lovely birthday gift you could ask for from friends. Raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrant, peaches, plums and cherries can produce a deliciously healthy harvest to feed the whole family.
- Learn how to can fruit: if you learn how to can fruit you’ll be able to preserve a harvest of home grown, PYO or foraged fruit to see you all the way through the winter.
- Learn how to pickle vegetables: if you learn how to pickle vegetables you can store own grown and PYO vegetables or any going cheap at the store even if your freezer is full.
- Grow spinach & salad leaves: you don’t need a garden to grow spinach or salad leaves. You can grow them super quickly in the kitchen from seeds or scraps in an old ice cream tub. And they’ll keep growing after you cut them so you can cut and come again.
- Master bean & pulse recipes: beans, lentils and pulses are a super frugal way to feed the family energy boosting protein every day, so master easy recipes you can make even when exhausted.
- Cook beans for the week: dried beans are cheaper than canned beans but do need a bit more effort and time so use this tip to cook in bulk to use throughout the week.
- Buy beans & pulses in bulk: once you’ve mastered some great beans and pulse recipes your family will happily eat, buy in bulk.
- Buy oats in bulk: buy oats – that will store for a year – in bulk. Then however tight things get you can fill up and keep going on porridge.
- Buy rice in bulk: rice will store for a year as well and you can save money by buying in bulk.
- Go zero waste: don’t throw away any food and if there’s any bits you absolutely can’t eat compost them.
- Learn how to make pastry: pastry is easy – 4 year olds can make pastry – and if you can make pastry, you can whip up a pie with leftover meat or veg and gravy quickly for less than a pound.
- Learn how to make white sauce: and if you can make white sauce – and cheese sauce – from scratch in 5 minutes you can come up with macaroni cheese and lasagna and every disguised-leftovers-gratin you can dream of frugally and fast.
- Ask for herb cuttings: you can easily root most soft herb cuttings in water to start new plants. A small herb garden in containers will provide you not only with free flavourings but also with natural antibiotics you can use in natural cough and cold remedies.
- Detox from caffeine : your head will hurt like hell for 4 or 5 days but cracking your caffeine addiction can save a small fortune over your life time and cut blood pressure.
- Make & freeze bone broth : don’t let that chicken carcass go to waste, make and freeze super healthy, frugal bone broth and use it as the base for everything from soup to spag bol.
- Always eat leftovers first : I’m a 70s kid and I’m sure the whole country – from the Queen herself down – survived on cottage pie and chicken curry leftovers for most of the week. Slight exaggeration maybe but eating up leftovers before you even think about cooking something new can save us serious time as well as money.
- Create an expiry shelf : it’s easy to chuck out 3 or 4 quid’s worth of food a week. It doesn’t seem much. But it’s 200 quid a year – two grand over ten – thrown in the bin, literally. So create one shelf for anything that needs eating fast and cook from it first.
- Have a use first tub in fridge : likewise in the fridge have a shelf for leftovers and a basket or tub of stuff to eat urgently.
- Find the food you don’t really like in your cupboards : we all end up with food we’re not keen on. We feel guilty about throwing it out. So we leave it at the back of the cupboard until it expires. And then we throw it out. Hmmm … we need to swallow the frog. Find a way of making it palatable and serve it up, today!!
- Learn how to flash freeze : flash freezing is the simplest ever frugal food tip but a brilliant money saver as it lets you freeze leftovers, bulk buys and home grown and PYO fruit and veg without ending up with a big old frozen blob you can’t do anything with.
- Flash freeze anything about to expire : even the best laid meal plans go awry and we end up with fresh food and leftovers we just can’t get through. Get into the habit every day or so as you start to prepare meals of getting food you can’t eat in the freezer.
- Freeze milk in ice cube tray : and once you get going you’ll discover there’s all sorts of stuff you can freeze including handy portions of milk in ice cube or muffin trays …
- Freeze eggs : … and even eggs!
- Freeze bananas : we’ve all been there with ever blackening bananas – attracting the flies – in the fruit bowl without time or will to make banana cake again. Much easier to freeze them in advance so you’ve always got some to hand for puddings or smoothies or cakes.
- Start meal looping : meal planning certainly can save money on food lots of us struggle with it. It feels too much like hard work and life gets in the way. Meal looping is easier. Simply:
- write a list of 8 to 10 easy, healthy faves
- you can cook without thinking
- using common pantry staples
- write up a shopping list
- and loop through it, so you know what you’re going to eat every day but you can tweak it easily.
And there you go. 50 simple, little frugal food tips, hacks and ideas that can be healthy and fun and seriously save us money on groceries.
You don’t have to do all of them at once. But I found little by little they became easy no prep, no faff habits that have actually made family life calmer and happier.
I do hope they help. Let me know how you get on. And for more frugal food tips follow me on Pinterest and check out these frugal tips:
Photo: Top view of baking background with flour and cooking supplies and Tomaten und Möhren by Marco Verch under Creative Commons 2.0