Feed A Family: How to make the most of your grocery budget

Rising fuel bills have put additional demand on carefully planned household budgets leaving many people trying to make their money go further.

Food bank vans being loaded up
Food bank vans being loaded up

Supply and demand on the global wholesale market has driven up the amount providers pay for gas and electricity – and that cost is being passed onto the consumer.

Food prices have also been rising and according to the the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) they recently hit their highest level in over a decade.

This has resulted in many individual families trying to make savings on food and electricity and gas.

There is lots of advice out there to help people make the most of their grocery budget and reduce energy use while cooking a meal.

This includes buying frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables, rather than fresh, as they are just as good for you, cheaper and last longer.

Tinned oily fish like sardines and salmon still contain heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids.

Supermarket own brand products are cheaper and usually the same quality as more expensive varieties.

Try markets for fresh fruit and vegetables as they will cost less and you can just buy the amount you need.

Experts recommend cooking once, eating twice. Either eat the leftovers the following day, or freeze for an easy meal another time.

When shopping remember that buying in bulk doesn’t always mean foods are cheaper

Look at the price per 100g, rather than the overall price printed on the packet, to see which is better value for money.

People can also take advantage of a growing number of number of apps aimed at cutting food waste such as Too Good To Go app, where restaurants, cafes and bakeries list leftover food that would otherwise be thrown away. Users can then browse the map for food near them and pick up a ‘magic bag’ for a fraction of the original retail cost.

Cannock Food Bank at the launch of the Feed a Family This Christmas appeal

There is also Olio where people share unwanted food and other items for free.

Thinking carefully about how we use our cooking appliances can help us save on our fuel bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

For example, it says that only boiling the amount of water that you need in the kettle each time will use less energy.

The Energy Saving Trust recommends using the kettle to boil water quickly and transfer to a pan on the hob for steaming and boiling vegetables or pasta as this uses less energy than boiling the water on the hub from cold.

Choose your cooking appliance wisely as a slow cooker uses the least fuel,followed by a microwave oven, hob and lastly an oven.

When using the hob, keep lids on saucepans when cooking and use the ring that matches the size of your saucepan to avoid wasting heat. Chopping foods into smaller pieces will help it to cook quicker.

Turning off the heat a couple of minutes before your food is fully cooked, particularly if you’ve got an electric hob, as they take some time to cool down and will continue to cook your food.

But, sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it can be really difficult to make ends meet.

No one should feel bad about this and it is important that they ask for help.

The first of call for families with children under 18 is their local Family Centre. People can also contact their local Citizen’s Advice Bureaux for advice on issues such as debt.

Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, which has a network of food banks that includes many in the Midlands, said numbers seeking help was continuing to rise. Between April and September 2021, almost 2,000 parcels were provided for children every day on average, compared to almost 1,700 in 2019.

“Everyone in the UK should be able to afford the essentials – to buy their own food and heat their homes. Yet food banks in our network continue to see more and more people facing destitution with an increase in food parcels going to children. This is not right,” she said.

To help those struggling this winter, we have once again launched our Feed a Family This Christmas campaign to support and champion the work of charities assisting those struggling to put food on the table.

We are asking anyone who can afford to do so to consider donating food and toiletries to organisations working tirelessly to ensure that no one in our communities goes hungry this winter. Thousands of food parcels are being handed out to individuals and families and charities need to keep their stock levels up. If you would like donate food or toileties, please use charities’ established donation points, listed on this page, to ensure items reach their dedicated teams quickly and safely so they can be passed on to those who need them.

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