We are all affected by the cost-of-living crisis, with every struggle unique to each person or family. I truly understood it was a crisis when I popped into a shop on my travels home and saw ‘luxury’ items like butter and cheese were security-tagged. I wouldn’t consider butter a luxury item – it’s not up there with cured meats, fresh seafood or expensive drink. Butter is the kind of thing we all have, right? How can this be? I did find myself staring and just looking around for a few moments to see if anyone else was as baffled as I was. Tagging those kinds of food items suggests to me that in these seriously tough times, people are resorting to desperate measures to simply eat, feed and provide.


If people are stealing, I’m sure it isn’t because they’re greedy or selfish, or make a habit of taking what is not theirs without paying for it: it’s because they’re desperate beyond comprehension, and if stealing to eat or feed others is where we are, then that is an utterly sad place to be for both that person and for us as a society. Struggling while providing for others and watching your money is something I am all too familiar with, in a quiet, personal way. As a child growing up in an immigrant household, we lived from wage to wage and often counted every single penny when shopping. I still do it now. It's instilled, habitual-even something I am trying pass on to my children. Learning to budget and know where you are spending your money is an education that is invaluable. It was a lesson we learned through circumstance, but one I want to show my kids now through choice.But, today we are watching prices soar, skyrocketing beyond belief, from food to fuel, and everything in between. All the while, wages remain the same, and this is having a dramatic, quite shocking effect on the receipt at the end of our weekly
food shops.

What has set me in good stead is that, having grown up in a no-waste family that cooked, dried, preserved and saved everything, this crisis makes me feel slightly less alarmed, because I feel armed with the knowledge that everything I do buy will be used in some way. Yes, everything is so much more expensive, but that just means I am extra aware of everything I buy and more ‘on it’ than ever when it comes to making sure not a penny spent is wasted. I am continuing to do what I always did, but I am now much more strict about what I buy, and check in with myself to make sure I’m staying on track. So, rather than adapting, I am continuing to do what I’ve been doing. At a time like this, it feels important to share some of the knowledge of my day-to-day in the hope that it will help you adopt some of the things I do. These tips really do work for me, and I hope they will for you, too.

nadiya hussain

Nadiya's tips and tricks

1. Make a meal plan for the week

If you know what you're eating and cooking, you'll know exactly what to buy. That helps keep things on track.

2. Shop online

Supermarket middle aisles are packed with offers, and that draws me in to ‘window shop’ – I end up with impulse buys. Online, there are no distractions. If you can’t shop online, use your list and stick to it – don’t be swayed by offers.

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3. Click and collect

This can save money, as delivery charges have also gone up alongside the food items. I know you’ll be spending money on petrol to get there, but that’s money you’ve already spent. But, if you do want a delivery instead, choose a slot that’s very early in the morning or very late at night, as these delivery charges are often much cheaper.

4. Check your fridge and cupboards, then write a list

Having a list of everything you need to buy will help you keep your mind on what you need, and stop you from deviating.

5. Freeze

Whether it’s berries that are too ripe or carrots that are going soft, freeze them now to save. Find out what you can and cannot freeze in our What can I freeze? guide.

6. Dry

While the weather is still fairly mild, make the most of the sun on your windowsills – leave herbs to dry, then crush and pack into jars so you have dried herbs ready when you need a pinch of flavour.

7. Look at batch-cooking in a different way

Batch-cooking doesn’t always lend itself to saving money, if it means spending more to make more food. So, all week, I freeze single portion leftovers of all the meals we’ve eaten. By the end of a fortnight, we have accumulated lots of single- portion meals. This gives everyone the fun option of choosing their own evening meal, and all you need to do
is reheat it on the day.

8. Organise your kitchen

If all your essentials, like flour, sugar and cereals, are labelled and stored either in jars or on specific shelves, it will make it easier for you to see what has run out and needs replenishing. In my house, if it doesn’t have a dedicated shelf or jar, it’s not an essential. This really does help stop the spending.

These are just some of the things I do to save money and, more than anything, reduce waste. Knowing I'm using everything makes me happy, not just because I’m saving money but also doing my bit for the environment. I hope you can take some of these tips going forward to be more sustainable in the kitchen and save your pennies.

Nadiya Hussain is the winner of the sixth series of The Great British Bake Off. She's written several cookbooks, including Nadiya's Fast Flavours, Nadiya Bakes and Nadiya's Everyday Baking.


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