Being a single parent is synonymous with being an expert juggling act in terms of time, resources and even finances. With a high percentage of the 1.7 million single-parent families in the UK grappling with the costs of raising children, being smart with their limited income is one of the best things they can do. When most people think of smart money management, they consider ways to save to money as a first step, and rightfully so. One of the first places you should be looking at is your kitchen. According to Money Service Advice, more than 50% of a household’s spend goes on food, housing and fuel, and recreation. So whether you’re a parent looking to save a house deposit or tackle your debt, here are a few ways you can be financially savvy in the kitchen.
Ditch The Branded
One of the top mistakes families are making is buying branded. Many of the supermarkets such as Asda and Tesco all have their own branded ranges with alternatives to many items, ranging from dairy to pasta, and if you take a second to compare against branded products, the ingredients and nutrition are exactly the same. In a few cases, the supermarket brand can actually prove to be better for you and your family’s health, with lower sugar content or caloric value. One example is the cost of a 500g branded pack of spaghetti, costing approximately £1.00, while the supermarket savers range offers a pack at the cost of £0.20, offering a saving of 80%. Even if multibuy offers are utilised at 2 packs for £1.50 compared to the equivalent £0.40, you are still saving a significant amount. So when you do head out to do the food shop, take a minute to consider the own brand alternatives on the shelves.
Use Your Appliances Smartly
The average gas and electricity bill for UK households stood at £1,137 annually, according to market regulator Ofgem. With an estimated 24% rise in energy costs last year, many customers are now finding themselves in debit with their suppliers and having their financial record affected due to late or default payments. Considering your household payments, this means that your energy spend is right up there with your council tax bill, mortgage, and car finance payments. In the kitchen, the UK uses more energy boiling their kettles than when using their ovens. Kettles account for approximately 6% of the electricity use in British homes, and 40% of us boil them at least five times a day.
We are also using more water than we need and wasting much of it each day. Fill only what you need, and time your use to align with when you will actually use the water while hot. Another great tip is to switch off your kitchen appliances when not in use. While microwave ovens are energy efficient, they are still using some energy when idle. By not leaving them in standby, you could be saving around £40 annually.
Employ DIY In The Kitchen
Continuing with the water and energy conservation theme, get into the DIY spirit while in the kitchen. When it comes to dishes, opt to do the washing up yourself rather than using a dishwasher. For prepping ingredients and vegetables, get familiar with a cutting board and carve out 30 mins in your week to cut and prep your fruits and vegetables for the week. Not only does this remove the need for processors and dishwashers, but it also reduces your food spend. Pre-cut ingredients carry a higher markup in the supermarkets to account for the convenience.
Go Shopping In Your Freezer Once A Week
Families toss out millions of tonnes of food, including leftovers, every year. In fact, cooked leftovers were fourth on the list of most wasted food by consumers. Hotpoint estimated that we are wasting 8% of our weekly shop every week. That comes to over £270 in perfectly edible food every year. While more consumers are turning to their freezers for long term food storage, we are still making the mistake of not using up what we put in there in the first place before we head out shopping or order a takeaway. Set a day each week to go through your freezer leftovers and get creative making a meal out of it. If you favour batch cooking, this is even easier, as its simply a matter of defrosting the meals.
Most of these changes take minimal effort, and with practice, can easily become a part of your daily routine. With all the savings you can make, think of what you can do for your family’s future.