Ingredients laid out on a table including cauliflower, lemon, chickpeas and chilli

Whether you’re a student sticking to a budget or trying to keep costs down while cooking for your family, we’re here to help with this list of budget-friendly ingredients to look out for while you’re shopping.

With food and energy prices rising, it’s never been more important to stick to a food budget. But we know that can be tricky, so we’re here to help make your money go further with our handy guide to shopping on a budget. 

You don’t have to go out and buy all of these, but if you can get your hands on even just a few, you’ll see that eating well doesn’t have to cost a fortune. A few small tweaks can make a big difference and help your money go that much further.

From making the most of store-cupboard staples to buying wonky fruit and veg, we’ve put together the ultimate budget grocery list with recipes, top tips and tricks to help you shop smart, cook clever and waste less. 

Head to our budget-friendly recipe hub for more inspiration on how to save money in the kitchen.

Get organised

Cheap store cupboard essentials

Always check the fridge and store cupboard before you go shopping – not only will it stop you doubling up on things, but you can plan meals by buying the additional ingredients that will go with what you already have. Sounds simple, but it really does make a difference!

Stick to the list

First up, set yourself a realistic grocery shopping budget. Then plan your week’s meals and create a shopping list based on that – this way, you’ll only buy what you need. It also helps prevent those inevitable impulse buys that can add up. You can also keep costs low by planning your meals around budget-friendly ingredients. With just 10 versatile ingredients, you’ll be able to cook up 3 healthy veggie recipes: jacket spuds & homemade beans, a tasty potato, pepper & broccoli frittata and smoky veg patties. This means less spending, less planning and minimal food waste!

Shop seasonally

Red and green tomatoes - seasonal July ingredient

Eating seasonally is a great way to keep your diet varied, and it can save you a bit of money, too, as fruit and veg in season is often cheaper than those grown out of season. Check out our handy guide on cooking with seasonal ingredients to make the most of the beautiful fruit and veg available in the UK. 

Shop smart

Kilo for kilo, buying a whole chicken and portioning it up is much cheaper than buying chicken breasts. A complete bird goes much further too; leftovers from a roast chicken can be used for a pasta bake, risotto or soup. Similarly, pick up a whole side of salmon when it goes on offer in the supermarket, then chop it up into fillets or chunks and freeze it. It’s much cheaper than buying individual packs of fillets. Which leads us onto…

Cheaper cuts of meat

Meat can be pricey, but you can choose cheaper cuts that will offer you better value for money while still packing in plenty of flavour. The next time you’re at the supermarket or butchers, opt for budget cuts like chicken wings, lamb shank and neck; and pork chump and cheek. 

Opt for different varieties of fish

mussels pasta in a bowl on a marble table served with a side salad

Some types of fish are cheaper than others – so how about trying something new? Mussels and sardines are affordable and super-easy to cook with. Have a go at making recipes like this smoky mussel laksa, these creamy Cornish mussels or this speedy sardine spaghetti. Find out how to cook smart and waste less with our fabulous fish ideas.

Embrace wonky fruit and veg

Misshapen fruit and veg are often sold at a discounted price in supermarkets, but are just as delicious and nutritious as the more regular-shaped ones we’re used to. Whether it’s a crooked carrot or a knobbly potato, you can enjoy produce in all its shapes and sizes with these delicious veg-packed recipes.

Chill out 

How to prep food for your freezer

Frozen veg is a great way to save money and reduce waste. Not only is it packed with nutrients, as it’s picked and frozen at its best, but bags in the freezer mean you can easily portion out what you want whenever you want it, without having to worry about food going off in the fridge. Your freezer can also help you stretch ingredients that little bit further and reduce food waste. Commonly wasted foods like bread, fresh herbs, fruit and veg can all be frozen, so head to our freezer tips and tricks to help you make the most of your freezer. 

Go big

If you regularly buy certain ingredients, buying in bulk is often better value and means you save money in the long run. For example, buying big bags of rice and pasta works out cheaper per kilo. You could buy bigger packs of dried chickpeas and beans instead of tins, and if you cook with lots of spices, buy bigger packs instead of the smaller jars. 

Store-cupboard staples 

Keep your cupboards stocked with ingredients that will keep for a long time and that you’ll use again and again. Try cooking with tinned food – like tinned tomatoes and chickpeas – and make the most of oats and dried pasta. These store-cupboard essentials will seriously deliver on the flavour front with minimum fuss. 

Check out our store-cupboard recipes & ideas.