Are you finding it harder to eat healthily with a limited budget? You’re not alone. Many people are worried about the cost of nutritious meals – is this something consumers in the future will find more difficult?’
In a Which? survey more than half of consumers (55%) reported that high food prices already make it difficult to eat healthily. One respondent commented that:
‘We are eating less of the better quality food as we just can’t afford the better food, which is worrying as we want the best for our kids and just can’t give it to them’
The same survey revealed that 84% were concerned about prices increasing further. In our quarterly consumer report we found that, in the light of the current financial squeeze, 43% of people were likely to cut their spending on food.
Saving £50 per month on food
So how are you managing to eat healthily and within budget? I have fundamentally changed my shopping and cooking habits. I am saving about £50 a month by buying food from my local greengrocer and cooking from scratch. No more packaged food for me. I feel much healthier and am also emptying my bin a lot less often. So it’s win-win all round.
I have been following the example of the ‘Dinner Lady’ – author of the blog Four and a Half Bellies. If anyone wants to know how to feed a family of four or more on a budget she is the lady to follow.
‘When our third baby was born our budget had been cut by almost a third as I had left my job. We have made a few simple changes which have reduced our bills and yet we still eat well.
‘We eat far less meat and fish than before, both of which are expensive. Instead, we eat a lot more pulses. These are cheap, healthy and, cooked well with other fresh ingredients and lovely spices or herbs, they taste great. And I only ever serve small and realistic portions, as we think it is better to go for seconds and thirds rather than leave food on our plate. We have really reduced the amount of food we throw away and this is good for the budget.
‘Cooking from scratch (we no longer have fishfingers in the freezer) saves an awful lot of money. The future of food security is scary, but I know that if we all change our lifestyles the outlook could be better.’
But even with a ‘back to basics’ approach, is food going to continue to eat further into our pockets?
How much do we really spend on food?
In the early 1950s we spent 40% of household income on food. By 2004 this was 11% and even with recent food price increases this has now only risen to 12%. According to government figures, between June 2007 and June 2011, food prices increased by 26% so we seem to be finding ways around spending a higher proportion of our income on food. Will this get increasingly hard to do? Will food prices keep on rising and how will we cope?
The rain may have ruined our summer but we had a lucky escape. Earlier this year, the National Farmers Union announced that if the drought continued, food prices would increase further. Recent reports are now telling us that the rain has ruined some crops such as fruit and potatoes and we may now see those price rises after all. Drought in America is also threatening to push up food prices over here as well as there.
So it looks like with our changing weather and increasing population even the ‘back to basics’ approach will push our food budgets to the edge. What are we to do?