Over the years, money has been tight for most of us, usually with the middle feeling the pinch the most. What 10 years ago would have been a very comfortable budget to work with, is now only just above the breadline. With soaring fuel prices, stagnant wages and huge taxes on nearly everything, it’s no surprise some are having to choose between heating and eating. Here we have a few pointers to help you save a few extra quid.

Ruthlessly plan – Being organized is key to running efficiently. The more efficient you are, the more likely you are to have money left over. The problem with food shopping is that we do get distracted, so having a list and sticking to it is vital. Also, setting out weekly menus that you rotate will help you keep the cost down, and you’ll also find you have other ingredients left over from other weeks that you can use too.

Clear out the Fridge/Freezer/Cupboards – We are all guilty of this, lurking in the back of everyone’s fridge there is a doleful looking onion, or a packet of cupasoups that went out of date in 2001. Have a good clear out of everything and start again from scratch, only keeping the stuff that is in date and you will use. This will give you more incentive to keep on top of your budget.

Make use of your freezer – One of the biggest wastages in most households is bread. Freeze bread in batches of 2 or 4 slices and defrost them the night before you need them. Also, label your freezer drawers and implement a system so that you know exactly where to look and you can easily see if you’re running low of something.

Cheaper doesn’t mean worthless – The discounted sections are a great place to look if you plan on either using the produce that day, or are going to freeze it. Freezing food essentially stops the clock on food going off until it’s defrosted again, so it doesn’t matter if the steak you’re eying up goes off in 3 days, throw it in the freezer and it’ll still be good if you take it out later in the week.

Bulk buying – Every house has certain staples, and these can be somewhat lifesaving at times. Stocking up on something will save you money in the long term as you don’t have to buy the items again for a while. Usually things like cans of soup (variety packs), Baked Beans etc have very long lifes, and as such, you can stock up on them and months later use them.

Bulk Meals Out – Meat and fish are expensive, however, you don’t have to forego them to save some cash, simply bulk your meals out with vegetables. This will also add more flavour and texture to your meals and make them healthier.

Treat yourself – Budgeting doesn’t have to be a painful experience. Throw a couple of treats into your basket. This way you won’t resent doing it.