The cost of the average Brit’s weekly grocery shop has increased by 10.1% in the last year, according to the Office of National Statistics, but the good news is that not all food prices have skyrocketed.
Some items have jumped in price, such as olive oil which is a staggering 50.2% more expensive than it was this time last year. Meanwhile, the cost of other items has risen far less, such as butter which has reduced in price by 6.1% over the same period.
Here we’ve gathered a number of recipes that focus on inflation-busting ingredients if you’re trying to keep the cost of your food bills down.
A weekly staple for many of us, and as the base of many recipes carrots are one of the cheapest vegetables you can buy at any time of the year, costing on average about 65p per kilo.
But it’s not just the cost that makes carrots a great option, they also pack a hefty nutritional punch. They’re rich in dietary carotenoids, which help maintain your immune system, support skin health and can be good for your respiratory system. Carotenoids are sometimes known as pro-vitamin A as they are converted to vitamin A in your digestive system. Carrots are also a great source of vitamin C as well as being a good source of fibre.
Carrots are one of the most versatile vegetables. They are delicious roasted, boiled or mashed, and are also a core part of a number of sauces as well as soups or stews.
If you think carrots are a little boring, why not make Nigel Slater’s carrot and parsnip loaf or BBC Good Food’s carrot biryani? If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then you might enjoy Delia Smith’s ultimate carrot cake recipe.
It might not surprise you to learn that apples, on average, are the cheapest fruit to buy year-round, coming in at around £1.05 per kilo, although pears aren’t far behind, costing an average of £1.18 per kilo.
While apples are perfectly tasty on their own, if you want to jazz things up a bit, you could try making this bircher muesli recipe from Pink Lady.
Alternatively, if the arrival of spring has got you thinking about hosting friends and family then these grilled apples with prosciutto and honey recipe makes for a delicious starter, or this apple and frangipane tart is a real crowd pleasing dessert.
Oats have had a low price increase in the last year, at a rate of 11.7%.
Among the foods listed here, oats are arguably the most versatile and can be used in a wide range of recipes, as well as to bulk out meals.
While many people might find the idea of porridge boring, there are plenty of different interesting and creative ways to enjoy oats, from using them to make Slimming Eat’s healthy pizza base, to making this honey oat bread from Jane’s Patisserie – or even this classic flapjack by Lyle’s Golden Syrup.
4. Frozen seafood
If you’re a fish fan, then it’s worth thinking about buying it frozen rather than fresh. Frozen fish and seafood usually costs a fraction of the price of the same items bought fresh and it’s usually excellent quality. The cost of frozen seafood has risen by 5.8% in the 12 months to October.
There are so many different ways to use it in your cooking. You can often cook fish and seafood straight from frozen. But if you’re frying it or want to get any colour on it, then defrosting it first is a better idea.
Next time you buy frozen fish, why not try making this comforting crumble topped fish pie by Delicious, or this five ingredient fish curry from Jamie Oliver makes a really easy weeknight meal. Have a look at this video to see how to make it:
Following oats and breakfast cereals, the price of rice has the second lowest inflation rate of readily available carbohydrates. Rice has increased by 9% in price over the past year, which is marginally less than pasta and couscous. So if you’re trying to cut costs, swapping pasta dishes for rice ones could save you money.
A whole head of white cabbage costs around 75p, and a red cabbage costs slightly less at 66p, making cabbage a great low cost food.
Although cabbage might remind some of us of school dinners – with squeaky limp leaves often boiled to within an inch of their life – if cooked well, it can be a cheap and delicious addition to your cooking repertoire.
If you’ve never cooked cabbage any other way than steaming, boiling or eating it raw, there are lots of options out there.
This fall apart caramelised cabbage by Bon Appetit is a great one-pot meal, while this choucroute garnie recipe from Sainsbury’s Magazine combines savoy cabbage with some delicious bacon lardons and sausages. If you’re a fan of spice, you might want to give Jamie Oliver’s kimchi recipe a try.
It might seem a bit baffling that something decadent like chocolate is an inflation-busting food, but while other prices have been rising dramatically, the price of chocolate has only increased by 11.8% over the past year.
Not only is this welcome news for any chocoholics out there, but if you opt for dark chocolate, it’s believed to release a range of feel-good compounds which have been linked to improved mood – something we could all do with at the moment.
So while you might not be swapping a chicken breast for a bar of chocolate, there are lots of ways you can incorporate chocolate into other meals.
Of course, there are always some classic sweet options to make with chocolate, including Waitrose’s flourless chocolate cloud cake, chocolate and salted caramel traybake, or chocolate truffles. Check out the video below for more guidance on how to make these.
8. Peanut butter
Peanut butter may be perfectly delicious smothered over a piece of toast, but it can also be used in a number of dishes, both sweet and savoury. The cost of peanut butter has increased by 6% in the last year and a 225-350g jar now costs around £2.14.
One of the reasons peanut butter is so popular is because of the amount of protein it provides, which helps keep you feeling fuller for longer. It’s also a good source of vitamin E, magnesium, iron, selenium and vitamin B6. However, not all peanut butter spreads are created equal when it comes to nutrition. Some of the cheaper options have added salt and sugar added, so if you want the healthier choice, look for jars with just peanuts listed on the ingredient label.
If you’re looking for new ways to use peanut butter then these chicken satay lettuce wraps from the BBC are a tasty option, or if you want a quick sweet treat, then these three-ingredient peanut butter cookies are easy to whip up.
9. Baking potatoes
Potatoes are some of the most affordable sources of carbohydrates, and baking potatoes are often the cheapest type, costing on average 88p per kilo.
Potatoes may be seen as boring, or even unhealthy, but they pack a great nutritional punch. When eaten with the skin on, they are a good source of fibre, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 and folate. They are also less calorific than other types of carbohydrates, such as pasta or bread, when compared gram for gram.
Baking potatoes are great for baking, mashing, roasting or frying. While there’s nothing wrong with a good old jacket potato, baking potatoes can also be used in any recipe that needs floury or starchy potatoes, such as this one for a classic potato latke, from Olive Magazine.
Lemons might not be the fruit that springs to mind when you’re looking to save money, but they haven’t increased in price since last year, while other fruit, such as bananas, have seen a whopping increase of 22%. A single lemon costs around 32p, but you can often find bags of five or six for less than £1.
Lemons are high in vitamin C, and they are a great addition to a range of dishes. Try this courgette & lemon risotto from BBC Good Food, or if you’d rather make something sweet, then this vegan lemon drizzle comes highly rated.
11. Dried fruit and nuts
The price of dried fruit and nuts increased by 9.3% in the year to October. This makes it one of the food items with the lowest price inflation over this period.
Dried fruit offers a great source of dietary fibre and provides a range of vitamins and minerals, while nuts are high in protective antioxidants and support both gut and heart health.
You can eat dried fruit and nuts by themselves, but if you’re looking for new ways to incorporate them into your diet you could try making this sesame chicken with nuts and dried fruit for dinner, or this Greek baklava makes a great dessert for a group of people.
While avocados might be expensive, their cost has only increased by 3% over the last year, so the price of a single avocado is around 92p.
Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fat and vitamin E, and folate. While fats are often demonised by the diet industry, consuming a moderate amount of healthy fats is important for the creation of fatty acids, and for helping you to absorb other nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E.
Avocado is great on toast or mashed in guacamole, but if you’re feeling more adventurous, why not try making these griddled avocados with crab and chorizo, or these avocado brownies could be your next healthy baking experiment.
These are just a few ingredients to consider when thinking about how to cut costs. If you’d like to explore other ways to keep food costs to a minimum, have a look at our guide 21 ways to save money on your food bills and 5 ways to cut energy costs when you cook.
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