Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Beyond Baked Beans

Continuing this week's theme of posting the tips other food bloggers employ to save on groceries and eat well on a budget, today I'm featuring Beyond Baked Beans written by Nicola Mirams.

Nicola, a college student, lives in the U.K. and she writes her blog specifically for cash-strapped students. Despite the ocean between us, and despite that we're not all college students, I love the universal nature of her tips -- in other words, we can all learn from each other, no matter our circumstances, and no matter where we live.

Note: I've edited some of Nicola's British English so that it translates easily.

"Many cash-strapped students jump to the conclusion that having little money means they will be condemned to eating baked beans and value noodles for the duration of their studies. However, it is possible to eat healthily and cheaply, and here's how:

  • Know your budget: by working out how much money you have to spend on food each week, you avoid spending money you don't have on food you can't afford, like take-away.
  • Cook for yourself as much as possible.
  • Use what's in your cupboard – it's easy to buy more than you need, even when you have cupboards full of food. Before you go shopping each week, think what you could make out of what you currently have in the fridge or freezer. For inspiration, check out the Student Recipe Finder on this website and cookingbynumbers.com where you can input what ingredients you have and it gives a selection of recipes.
  • Plan your meals ahead so you only buy what you need.
  • Learn to recognize when things are discounted - both supermarkets and markets reduce items regularly, watch out for sales.
  • Make batches of meals – for example if you’re making a bolognaise sauce make more than you need for one meal so you can freeze extra portions.
  • Don’t be tempted to spend more than you have on groceries.
  • Don’t go shopping ... when you're hungry
  • Share grocery expenses with your roommates, then cook and eat together (although this isn’t always possible due to diets, timetables, individual preferences etc.).
  • Check out the value brands – with ingredients like meat you generally want to buy the best you can afford however, things like value tinned tomatoes and butter are as good as their more expensive counterparts at a fraction at the price.
  • Look at websites to find discount coupons on the things you buy regularly.
  • Use cookery books and recipes that are geared to cooking on a budget (Like the Beyond Baked Beans series).
  • Keep basics in your cupboards such as pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes, herbs, spices, onion and garlic, so you always have something on which to base a meal
  • Check the prices on the shelf to find out which products are best value – in general the larger tins or packets are, but that's not always the case. Especially check 2-for-1 items, but only buy them if you'll use the products, and then only if they're great value."
If you like Nicola's tips, visit Beyond Baked Beans for further posts on budget shopping and cooking.


Nicola Mirams said...

Hi! This is Nicola, the author of those tips. :) Glad you found them useful, though have to point out that Beyond Baked Beans is not my creation and I just occasionally write articles for them. But do check beyondbakedbeans.com out; it is full of great tips for eating on a budget.

Louise Ross said...

Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comment, Nicola. And despite that you're not the creator of Beyond Baked Beans, your tips are terrific, so I'm glad you do occasionally write articles for the BBB blog :)

Nicola Mirams said...

You're welcome! I am glad they are useful :) Another good site for tips is moneysavingexpert.com. I am just going to have a look at the other blog entries which have tips - I am sure I'll learn something.