Thursday, 30 August 2012

London on a budget - food

I guess almost everyone of us has lived through those days, when at the end of the money there were still many days of the month left. Being in that situation in London is a lot worse, as food in general is more expensive than in most other places.

Here a few tipps and tricks how to survive on a tight food/eat out budget in London, let´s say about 100-150 pounds per month for a couple.

Let´s say you spend about 25 pounds per week, then try to sort your shopping the following way: 6 pounds for veggies, 5 pounds for fruits, 4 pounds for grains, 4-5 pounds for proteins, 4 pounds for dairy and 1-2 pounds for oils and other foods:

Cook at home

  • plan your weekly menu and buy basics that are filling such as rice, beans, oil and canned veggies first thing at the beginning of the month, then set a maximum amount of money you can spend per day to complement those basics as well as fresh fruits and bread** at the beginning of the week
  • make a list before you go shopping and don´t go shopping when you are hungry, otherwise you´ll be buying more than you need
  • freeze portions (for example: bread, meat, beans, cut vegetables)
  • buy dry beans instead of cans (Plaistow's Tesco has a great offer of ~1£/kg dry beans and cheap pasta/rice).  Prepare the beans once a week and freeze portions, if you are one of the lazy kind, buy a bulk of frozen veggies
  • tuna/eggs are a delicious and cheap substitute for meat and can be easily stored for weeks, cans even for months. Reduce the amount of meat you eat, most people eat too much of it, a good rule: an amount such as half of your palm should be enough in terms of proteins etc
  • vegetables in cans, such as corn, peas or tomato cans or fruits such as pineapple in cans, can be easily stored for emergency times
  • same goes for cheap mince meat, go for the big portions and freeze them
  • the big chain supermarkets often sell the due-date products cheaper 1h before closing the shops, get your favourite **bread and rolls cheap and freeze them
  • buy cheap fresh vegetables, fruits and even fish from local market shops, Peckham High Street has a lot of small vegetable markets and shops where you can get cheap, filling sweet potatoes, mandioc and other delicious vegetables
  • make porridge with fruits such as banana and basic oats (water and sugar can be an emergency solution, if possible it obviously tastes better if prepared with milk and sugar), have oats instead of cornflakes / bread
  • if you have to choose between buying pasta/rice or bread, always go for pasta/rice/cooked food - it is more filling and can be delicious if fried with a bit of oil and fresh garlic
  • you should also get used to weeks in which you basically eat the same food during a few days, make sure to get at least 2-3 cheap options to switch (pasta, rice, potatoes - chicken, mince, tuna) etc
  • try to not throw things away, eat what´s in the fridge before buying new stuff
  • sometimes if you feel like you are still hungry, you are thursty. Make sure to drink at least 1,5-2l water/herbal tea per day and you´ll probably need smaller portions compared with when you were drinking less

Going Out
  • opt for take aways instead of eat ins, if you decide to eat in a restaurant, don't hesitate to ask for a take away box to take the rest of the food home 
  • share meals with friends
  • if you meet your friends in a chain cafe, get the basic black coffee (shouldn´t be more than 1,50 or 2 pounds maximum, often even just about 1 pound) and create your own coffee-mix with milk, sugar and flavours that are offered on the side stand. Get a big coffee instead of two small ones and share it with your friend, that way you´ll get the same portion but cheaper

This blogpost is in constant reconstruction.

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