Save Money by Cooking at Home

In last week’s blog, we looked at why it’s important for students to budget. This week, we’re looking at another way to help save money, which is by cooking at home.

In a city like Oxford, where there are plenty of top restaurants, cafes and pubs, going out to eat can be convenient, but it can also be expensive. Whether you’re a student, in a full-time job, or running your own company, a busy life can make it feel as though it’s easier go out than to cook at home.

However, by planning ahead, you can make home cooking a treat, rather than a chore. Here are 5 tips for how you can use good planning to save money and enjoy the experience of cooking from home.

1) Write out a weekly menu

Part of the reason cooking from home can be unpopular is the amount of work involved in deciding what to cook, particularly if you’ve just got in from a long day of work or study. By planning a weekly menu in advance, you can make the task easier.

It also means you can shop for the ingredients you specifically need. We all know that feeling in a supermarket where we buy more than we need. By creating a menu, and a shopping list, you can make sure you save money by budgeting for what you need.

2) Shop around

Supermarkets are among the most competitive businesses for pricing. Most shops have different offers, loyalty schemes and discount vouchers. Most also have specific sales at different times of the year. Scout out the best prices for what you hope to cook, and avoid only using one shop and missing out on better prices elsewhere.

3) Buy long lasting food and re-use leftovers

Eating at home is a great way of looking after your wallet, but it’s also a good way to reduce your carbon footprint. By purchasing long lasting foods, like pasta, you can reduce the need to buy extra packaging, and can save extra trips to the shop. There are even some shops that allow you to refill your existing pasta cartons, cutting out the need for any extra packaging.

You can also find clever ways to re-use any leftovers, which helps to cut down on food waste. For example, look up a popular British traditional recipe called ‘Bubble and Squeak’ – you can find all sorts of interesting variations depending on what you have leftover in your cupboard.

4) Use recipe books

If you feel your cooking is limited, or you’re lacking ideas for mealtimes, check out different recipe books to give you inspiration. Some recipe books focus on particular tastes and flavours, or particular types of cooking from around the world. Some even focus on cooking delicious meals on a budget, helping you to make the most of lower cost ingredients.

5) Make your cooking about community

Cooking can be a great way to bond with housemates, neighbours, friends and family. Preparing ingredients, cooking them, and then eating a meal together it is one of the oldest communal traditions. It’s a proven way to improve communication, and promote strong connections with others. If you share the costs, it also helps to reduce the financial burden.

Although it’s good to go out to eat once in a while, especially as a reward or a celebration, cooking from home can be a great way to reduce your expenditure, bond with family and friends, and help reduce your carbon footprint.