The Herald's Cooking the Books personal finance podcast is here to get you the tips you need to weather the financial storm. Hosted by Frances Cook, with a new expert on each episode.
We all have to eat, and most of us get a lot of enjoyment from it.
But it can be one of those core expenses that swamps the budget, and we feel little control over.
You can absolutely have your cake and eat it too, or rather, stay on budget while still enjoying your dinner.
Listen to the Cooking the Books podcast here:
On the latest Cooking the Books podcast, host Frances Cook and Sorted personal finance expert Tom Hartmann discussed the ways to reduce the food budget. Here are their top tips.
1. Stock up on staples, but without sabotaging yourself.
It's true that you can do well by stocking up on staple foods when they're on sale, or in season.
But there are two warnings that come with that.
Firstly, make sure you have an energy efficient freezer. An old battle axe from the 1980s could cost you more in electricity than you'll save on food.
You can find efficient new models secondhand if you need to update yours.
Secondly, it's often best to stock up on staples, and not treats.
Otherwise, you could find you stock up on some of your favourite foods, only to eat through that delicious stash within a week.
No matter how energised or organised we are, everybody needs a night off from cooking now and then.
So each time you cook, make extra. Then next time you need a night off, rather than reaching for the takeaway menu, you could reach for the freezer instead.
This works just as well if you also want lunch for the next day.
3. Shop the pantry or the freezer
We've all been guilty of enthusiastically buying a bunch of fresh veges, only to find them wilted and unused a week later.
Find a few recipes that let you chuck in almost anything, and then regularly use them to clear out your fridge, freezer and pantry.
Nachos, shepherd's pie, curry or soup can be made out of just about anything.
If you keep some cans of beans, canned tomatoes and stock on hand, you'll find many leftovers can be mixed in to create something new and delicious.
4. It's not just what you buy, but where.
While supermarkets have everything in one place, they're often not the cheapest place to shop.
Local fruit and veg stores and butchers tend to have great deals, and you have the added bonus of shopping local.
Discount stores are also a great way to stock up on canned and frozen goods. Some places will cut you an even better deal if you buy in bulk, but that does depend on how much storage space you have.
5. A little bit of organisation goes a long way.
It's an old chestnut, but that's because it works. Shopping with a list is helpful to make sure that you get everything you need for a good dinner, and don't get distracted by the treats.
You can try shopping online, or using click and collect, if that helps you stick to your plan. Just check if there are any fees attached to those services.
Online services also make it easier to compare prices, and to keep track of how much you're spending as you go.
• Listen to the full interview on the Cooking the Books podcast. You can find new episodes on Herald Premium, or subscribe on iHeartRadio, Apple podcasts app, or Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.