Handy Hints

Cooking tasty, healthy meals for your family doesn't need to cost you lots of time or money. Select a topic below to find out how you could make a change.

Money Savers

Check your cupbaords

Check what's already in your store cupboard before you go shopping, and plan what meals you can make from those ingredients. Check out our tips on store cupboard essentials to find which ones to buy and keep at home.

Be flexible

Buying foods that can be used for several dishes gives you more flexibility to create different meals.

Try frozen and canned

Using frozen vegetables means you can keep a few different types and gives you a better choice, with less waste. Tinned fruit and vegetables are also a good choice.

Make a shopping list

Making a shopping list will help you stay on track when you're shopping, and help you avoid 'buy-one-get-one-free' and 'multipack' offers on foods not on your list.

Soup saves money


"Learning how to make soup from scratch is simple and full of nutrients. I can also be made in bulk and is cheaper than the tinned stuff!"


Batch cooking

"I set aside one day a week where I do a batch cook. I'll make a large pan of soup, fish pie, casserole, a pan of mince and lasagne. I'll then divide it into portions before cooling it and freezing. It doesn't take more than a few hours, and means I save time during a busy week!"


Look at the date

Look for the furthest away use-by date, or buy fresh foods which can be frozen in case you don't get round to eating them in time.

Look for clever deals

Choose 'buy one get one free' and other offers wisely. If the foods on offer aren't on your list, then buying them could be a waste rather than a bargain. Browse offers online here, so you don't make any bad decisions later.

Make soups

Leftover meat and vegetables can be used to make soups. Just remember to keep them in the fridge and use them within two days.

Leftovers for lunch

Take leftover dinners to work the next day, or freeze them for a quick dinner another night. Saves money and time. 

Build around staples


"Bulk out meat dishes with beans or lentils or grated veg to use less meat. I made a shepherds pie that served 4 with 150g mince bulked out with grated cougette."


Roasts are 2 meals in 1

"I roast a ham joint for my Sunday Roast and then add the leftover ham and vegetables to a soup for Monday lunchtime. That's 2 meals for my family out of one joint."


Build around staples

"Basing your meals on cheap staple foods like pasta, rice and potatoes will help you spend less on more expensive ingredients like meat and cheese."

Mairi, Glasgow

Use your vouchers

With Healthy Start, you get free vouchers every week to spend on milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, and infant formula milk. You can also get free vitamins. Find out more!

Stick to the list

Have a shopping list every time you shop so you don't end up buying things that you already have.

Shop around


"Shop around your local retailers for the cheapest deals, as you can save a lot of money going to different shops."


Don't shop hungry


"My top tip is never shop when you're hungry as you find yourself craving all the wrong things. Suddenly they're in the trolley and you've spent more money."


Make a stir fry

"My favourite for leftovers is my aunt's recipe. She calls it chow fan. She stir fries leftover meat (sometimes 2 different meats) and veggies, adds 1 beaten egg, and then stirs it all through freshly cooked rice and soy sauce. It clears plates every time!"


Last minute bargains


"Ask around the local shops to find out if they're throwing away food that's near its sell-by-date, but still fresh. You might find you can make a wee deal with them. Some shops will be reluctant but keep trying."


Buy smaller

 No one wants to waste food these days. If buying a large pack of something means you'll eat more than you need to, buy a smaller pack instead.

Different ways to understand cost

Buying food in bulk doesn't always work out cheaper. Comparing the cost per 100g rather than the price per packet (this is displayed on the shelf ticket for most products) could help you make a cheaper choice.

Waste less

Use leftovers to create new dishes. For example, you could use leftover mashed potatoes to make fish cakes.

Buy basic

Try buying value or basic range foods. Judge the food behind the label rather than the label itself.

Share bargains with friends

"Buy from markets, or online in bulk, or share supermarket 'BOGOF's' with friends and family, to take advantage of bargains."


Pack a lunch

Making a sandwich at home, or taking a packed breakfast to work, is cheaper than nipping to the shop.

Bake in bulk

Bake several potatoes together. What's left can be covered, refrigerated and reheated in a microwave the next day or used in another dish.

Freezing Tips

"Freeze slices of bread individually to avoid wastage."

Claire, Glasgow

Keep track when shopping


Taking a pen and calculator with you when you shop, will help you keep track of costs as you go along. Try to stick within your budget by making substitutions for similar, cheaper alternatives.

Soup for lunch


"Once a week I chop a few extra vegetables while I make dinner and put on a soup. It means no extra cooking, but I end up with lunches for the week."


Frozen veg saves time and money

Try frozen veg like sliced peppers and mushrooms to save wasting time and money.

Use less meat

For a cheaper meal that goes further, add tinned lentils, broad beans and kidney beans to curries, chilli and casseroles, instead of meat.