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By Nutritionist

Wednesday, January 7, 2009.

Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”. It may be a well-worn cliché but it surmises the meaning of budgeting perfectly.

Whether it is family, a demanding pet or the bank manager we all have something tugging at our purse strings and with a limited household budget to contend with day to day living can be a struggle at the best of times.

 The price of food, oil and other basic commodities are increasing steadily and there is little evidence to suggest our incomes can keep pace with these price hikes. We are literally losing a race to keep up with inflation. Worryingly food prices in some EU countries have recently risen by more than twice the rate of inflation. And more bad news; it appears some of us may be guilty of contributing to these escalating price rises through careless spending.


A government study stated that the UK wastes 4m tonnes of food every year, adding £420 to a family's shopping bills. The food policy study also says the average UK household throws away £8 of leftovers a week, yet spends 9% of its income on food.


We can all try to be more pro-active in managing our food costs. Becoming more economical with your grocery shop can save you hundreds of pounds every year!


Implementing these top 10 quick and easy budget-trimming tactics is money in the bank - literally.


                  eDiets Tesco Diets    


1. Don’t shop when you are hungry!
You will end up buying the foods you need but also all the rubbish that you don’t need spelling disaster for your waistline and pocket.


2. Set a reasonable weekly shopping budget
If you can start to live with your budget you can keep trying to make improvements to it as you see fit.

 3. Write out your shopping list
...and stick to it. Decide exactly what you need and before doing the shop, plan your meals for the week and write your shopping list accordingly. Organise your list with consideration to the store layout. This will save you time and reduce the temptation to buy foods not on your list.


4. Trade down
We all have brands that we will not swap such as Diet coke, Kellogg’s but why not try trading down brands for products that you aren’t bothered about. You can try the supermarket own brand or better still swap to their cheap range.


5. Shop when products are reduced
Most stores will cut prices on their perishable foodstuffs near the end of the day. Go shopping an hour or two before the store closes -- you can often pick up some great bargains. The best products to look out for are bread, fruit and vegetables and chilled foods. Most large supermarkets have discounted food trollies and ‘deals of the week’, check them out. The food may be discounted but it is still perfectly good to eat.


6. Buy the ‘right foods’ in bulk
Buying twice your usual amount of milk because it is on offer unfortunately doesn't mean that it will last twice as long in the fridge ... so don't stock up on perishable items that won’t be used. Look out for one-free deals on store-cupboard staples like dried pasta, rice and tinned products.


7. Make your own instead of ready made
Many meals are cheaper to make from scratch instead of buying the convenience version. Shopping for generic foods rather than pre-packaged, processed foods is much more efficient. Make your own pizza or Chinese stir fries rather than getting a take away or buying expensive convenience meals.


8. Think in Season
Help mother earth and choose seasonal fruit and vegetables where possible and then you can prepare dishes that will make the most of these.


9. Plan the use of leftovers.
They can be used in casseroles, stir fries, soups, for snacks and in lunch boxes.


10. Grow your own
Start your own vegetable patch, if you have good neighbours perhaps this could be neighbourhood activity.


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