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Eating a whole in your budget? Here’s the best tips and tricks to save big on food.

Does deciding what to eat each night send your brain into a loop?

What do I need? What do I actually want? What can I afford? (Not much.) What can I rustle up at home? (Not much.) What do I have time and energy for? (Even less.)

Between our busy lives and the rising cost of living (and um, eating—you know, the main component of living), we’re in quite the tizz. And it’s breaking our budgets.

Food is the number one impulse purchase we make.

Yes, food! When we think about, it’s not all that surprising.

We gotta eat, right?

And when we are in a tizz or just plain hangry, making sound decisions is very, very hard.

Enter: RevUp’s Ultimate Guide to Cheap, Tasty Eating. In this blog, we’re going to show you how to keep that hungry little devil on your shoulder under control with:

  1. Kitchen hacks,
  2. Meal plans,
  3. Good ol’ bargain hunting,
  4. Magic dinner tricks, and
  5. Your new best friend, the freezer.

Let’s get into it.

1. Hack your way to a thriftier kitchen

Fridge is full yet you have ‘nothing to eat’?

That’s because a messy cupboard, pantry or fridge is messing with your brain. When our minds are racing trying to remember what we already have, what needs to be used first, and what we need to buy, it implodes. Ever heard the saying ‘messy house, messy life’?

A tidy kitchen is a thrifty kitchen.

  1. First, you’re going to pull everything out and throw out anything that’s expired or that you have no intention of ever using. (Like that liquorice your aunty bought you for Christmas that makes you gag every time you look at it.)
  2. Next, you’re going to invest in some simple storage hacks that are going to make your kitchen tidier than Marie’s. Kmart is our go-to for stackable containers, turntables, spice racks, label makers, and more.
  3. Now, you’re going to put what’s left back—in an orderly manner. Give everything a home. Spices with spices, sauces with sauces, rice with rice.

(While we’re on it, your kitchen probably isn’t the only thing that could use a tidy. Read this).

2. Write your list and stick. to. it.

Now we have a kitchen you actually want to cook in, let’s get our food for the week sorted. Step number two: meal planning.

I know, I know! Yuck! It might not sound fun but once you’re in the swing of it, this step is actually pretty easy. Also, pretty necessary.

  1. Start off by taking a quick look at the week ahead. How many nights will you be out, how many meals will you need? Are there any nights you’ll be home late thanks to footy training/a colleague’s farewell party/the dreaded parent-teacher night?
  2. Next, decide what you’re making. A big pot of spag bol on Monday, tacos on Tuesday, leftover spag bol when you get home late from the office on Wednesday.
  3. Now, take a good look in your kitchen to tick what you already have off your list, and off to the shops we go.

Hot tip: don’t make it any more complicated than it needs to be. I keep a recipe folder split into three useful sections to make this step super easy—go-to faves, newbies to try when I have a little extra time, and total fails I don’t want to risk again.

Hot tip two: try to choose meals that make use of the same ingredients, especially perishables like herbs and veggies, to keep your list nice and small and cut down on wastage. Win for you, win for the planet.

3. Shop around

Before you head off to the shops, jump online and compare prices. It does not pay to be loyal.

A little bargain hunting can go a long way, especially when it comes to pricier items like your cleaning solutions, personal products, and big-ticket ingredients like meat.

Don’t be afraid to go to more than one store too. If meat and laundry detergent are on special at one store, but you’ll get the bulk of your fruit and veg cheaper at another, the extra trip is worth it.

4. Prepare for mid-week magic

Behold, the secret to getting Wednesday’s dinner on the table in 15 minutes…

It’s not magic. And it’s not Jamie Oliver.

It’s preparation.

Yes, we’re going to talk about meal prepping but we’re not going to make you spend your entire Sunday preparing 5 days’ worth of meals (but hey if that’s your jam, go ham).

All we want you to do is remove that little layer of resistance that comes from having to start from scratch when you get home (you know, that thing that has you reaching for the takeaway menu).

Spend an hour getting some basic components ready to go. Dice your onions, mince your garlic, peel and chop your veggies, mix up your spices and marinades.

Pop it all in the fridge ready to be pulled out as needed, like your own ready-made meal kit. All you need to do is throw them in a pan or bang them in the oven. Done.

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Don’t forget about the snacks!

Whip up some hummus, cut up veggie sticks, wash your fruit or go nuts and bake some muffins if you fancy it.

Muffins as well as overnight oats, chia puddings and frittatas also make great on-the-go breakfasts. Even easier? Frozen fruit you can throw in a blender (for a speedy if slightly noisy option).

5. Make friends with your freezer.

The more you start cooking, the more leftovers you’re going to have. And budgets loveee leftovers.

A lunch here, a quick late-night dinner there… and we all know next-day spag bol is the bomb, right? (I don’t know what happens in that fridge overnight, but it’s good).

If I had a dollar for every time I have been moments from ordering a greasy pizza then remembered I had some of last week’s epic chilli beef in the freezer… oh wait, I do. Several of them sitting pretty in my savings account.

Trust me on this one and your bank account and your tastebuds are going to thank you, too.

Bonnie’s wrap

Keeping our weekly food spending to a budget has always been tricky. Throw in the cost of living crisis and it’s no wonder we’re all finding it a little extra tough.

We don’t want to see you living off peanuts or watching your financial dreams slip out of reach. They’re closer than you think, we promise!

We’ve all got our own recipes for success, but we think if you remember these five easy steps, you’ll be cooking your way to a juicy budget in no time:

  1. Tidy.
  2. Plan.
  3. Shop. (Smart.)
  4. Prep.
  5. Freeze.

And if all else fails… eggs on toast or a frozen pizza make a cheap as chips and just as delicious dinner every night of the week.

Related to: All, Savvy Shopping
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