Financial well-being and eating well.

Mabel McLean
February 14, 2023
Financial well-being and eating well.

Recently YouGov published the results of a survey showing that 1 in 6 UK households are in "serious financial difficulty".  In October 2021 it was 1 in 10 households, this means in over a year a further 1.6million households entered severe hardship.  

It's a scary number, especially as inflation continues to be high which then drives up the cost of everything. On top of inflation there's the ever rising of energy bills and life in general.  It seems so bleak but please do remember that there are things which Team MFS can help with.

We can review your insurances to find something cheaper in the interim.  If it's time to remortgage, again, we can review deals and find the most suitable deals for you.  We're also here to listen, sometimes just talking about it can greatly alleviate the stresses and pressures.  Read our previous blog on Mental Health and Financial Well-Being.

Mabel met up with Siobhan Jaffray of SJ Nutrition to chat about food and have a catch up in general.  Mabel used Siobhan’s services last year to support Mabel’s health journey.  “Siobhan’s approach to weight, wellness and nutrition finally made sense to me.  There’s no shame, no guilt just accountability and empathy.  Food isn’t the issue, there are no demon foods but a society that hyper focuses on unrealistic beauty aesthetics.  Working with Siobhan helped me understand my relationship with food and repair that relationship”.

Naturally the conversation turned to how we can eat well without it costing the earth.  After your mortgage or rent payments, the biggest expense tends to be energy and food bills.  The average cost of a weekly food shop for a family of four in the UK is £129...let that sink in.  That’s a no-frills shop, those are the essentials.  We know the use of food banks has risen sharply and eating well can be seem daunting when there’s a budget to stick to.  

Siobhan shares how she eats balanced and delicious meals whilst being mindful of a budget.  

Money Saving Food Tips  

This may seem like an obvious of the best ways to get in control of your nutrition and what you spend on food is to start at the root of it. Before you head out for your food shop take 10 minutes to plan your meals for the week then write yourself a shopping list. This will stop you picking up unnecessary/impulse purchases. It’s not a deal if you don’t need it.  

When considering your meals for the week ahead consider recipes that you can batch cook to save on energy costs. Freeze them down in typical portion sizes and freeze down any leftovers too. (Future you will thank you for this).  

Planning will also ensure you have less food waste, and you are less likely to pop into the local corner shop to pick up something for dinner/phone for a takeaway. They typically cost considerately more than what you can get in the bigger supermarkets. I always like to check what I already have in the fridge and cupboards before planning my meals, this saves buying duplicates and means I can utilise what I already have in.  

A great tip I have picked up is having a shelf in the fridge with the products I need to use first, so they are in focus, and I don’t forget about them.  Don’t shop on an empty stomach, I have made this mistake too many times and ended up with a bunch of food I can’t make meals from.  

Frozen fruit and vegetables are handy to have as this saves on food wastage. When fruit and vegetables are picked the countdown is on from the journey from field to fork. Loss of nutrients is almost immediate, so when they are frozen this preserves the nutrients. If you have fresh berries or bananas that are about to turn chop them up and pop them into the freezer. They make great pre-portioned up smoothies.  

Use legumes, lentils and beans to bulk up meals to make them go further. These can be picked up cheap, they count as one of your 5 a day and are full of fibre!  

This is an important tip.

Look after your ingredients. Store opened cheese in something airtight at the back of the fridge. Using the little cabinet at the front exposes it to warmth when the fridge is opened, and it won't last as long. Don’t store bananas with other fruits as it ripens them quicker. Store fresh herbs in a damp piece of kitchen roll or chop them up and place into ice cube trays with water to keep them fresh. Keep any opened packets of meat wrapped up too or freeze them for future meals.  

Keep an eye out for bargains. I am personally a fan of an orange sticker and have found many a deal on the bargain shelves. Things like meat and bread can be frozen for a future date if you aren’t able to eat them straight away.  

There are apps like Too Good To Go and OLIO that are good. Restaurants and supermarkets use them, and you can get perfectly good food that shops are unable to sell. Get your head around what dates on food mean. You should not eat food past its use by date (unless frozen). Best before dates are a sign of food when it is at its best but can still be eaten after the date passes.  

Finally, the supermarkets own brand is quite often just as good as the “real deals” I personally don’t notice any difference with items like pasta, oats, lentils. This will save you a lot of money on your weekly food shop.  Look at the bottom shelves for these items.  Those at eye level tend to be the big brands, therefore more expensive.  

Siobhan Jaffray of SJ Nutrition.

Overall, you can reduce your food shop with some planning and savvy purchases.  Even swapping out the big brands for the supermarket own brand can save some pounds.  If you’re struggling with your finances, there’s the North East charity, Ditch Debt with Dignity can help out.  

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