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How to save money on food in London in 2023

How to save money on food costs London

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Living in London is known to be rather expensive. Looking at food costs, the prices are in general higher in the city than in supermarkets on the countryside. If I compare the food costs to Germany, prices are also usually 10-20 % higher. With a few tricks you can live cheap and healthy though. Talking about figures: Fresh, healthy food, three meals a day for 15-20 pounds per week per person. I’ll tell you how.

Low-price supermarkets in London

The easiest way to save money on food without big effort is to look out for the low-price supermarkets in your area. The one’s I’ve liked and visited frequently were Lidl and Asda. I usually avoid express supermarkets as well as Sainsburys and Tesco (comparable to Edeka and Rewe in Germany) as food is more expensive there in general. Only for special products, e.g. tofu, Asian food or plant based replacements, I’d go to Tesco. However, Lidl and Asda have improved a lot over the past two years when it comes to vegetarian and plant-based food.

Usually, I have porridge for breakfast and cook two warm meals a day. Most meals I eat at home, once or twice per week I’d eat out. My grocery costs for nutritious, balanced, fresh & plant-based food therefore vary between 25-40 pounds per week depening on the meals and availability.

Need some food inspiration? Have a look at some simple & delicious recipes.

Udon noodle soup unchopped ingredients

Go even cheaper with OLIO and Too Good To Go

Already going to low-price supermarkets? Great! You can go even cheaper. I discovered two apps which are a fantastic way to fight food waste and save lots of money on food in London: OLIO and Too Good To Go.

OLIO – The free sharing app

With OLIO you can pick up free food from people living in your neighbourhood.

Save food from the bin

One scenario for OLIO is that someone is moving out, going or holiday or just doesn’t like a specific type of food. To not have to throw the food away this person is therefore posting it on the app. All the required information about the item, pictures, pick up location and time are provided on OLIO. With only a few clicks you can arrange the pick up and get the item for free.

Sponsored items from supermarkets are real fun

OLIO becomes real fun when there are some food waste heroes around the area. Being a food waste hero means that one picks up unsold food and items from huge stores like Tesco and Iceland. The items are reaching their best before date and can therefore not be sold anymore. Food waste heroes are saving and redistributing the food to people on OLIO. Every day there are literally hundreds of baked goods, fruit and many many more items left over. You could literally create multiple meals with the daily leftovers from big stores like Tesco and Iceland.

Normally the supermarkets have to pay a fee to have their waste picked up and processed. With OLIO they can save this fee and the food doesn’t go to waste.

OLIO pick up
One of my OLIO pickups
OLIO Mint, apples, oranges, flowers, potatoes - great quality, for free
Mint, apples, oranges, flowers, potatoes – great quality, for free

It’s quite sad to see that so much stuff is thrown away every day. But at the same time it’s great, that there are apps like OLIO, which make it possible to save food and money. Everything I’ve picked up so far was always good quality, even though the best before date said something else.

Usually the leftovers from supermarkets were uploaded between 8 and 10 pm. You really have to be quick as most items are gone within 15 minutes.

How you can become active on OLIO

OLIO can be used to share any food items and also non-food items. You can pick up stuff, upload items yourself or why not even become a food waste hero? If I stayed longer in London I would’ve definitely done it. OLIO makes it possible to save food from existing households or supermarkets – it’s completely free.

New in London? Get to know the city with six acitivities off the beaten track.

Too Good To Go – Great value for a small price

Too Good To Go saves food and meals from cafes, restaurants, hotels, individual supermarkets and manufacturers. At the end of the day, the leftovers will be packed into a “Magic Bag” and can be bought for a small fee.

Magic Bags

Let me explain the Magic Bag concept with an example. I usually purchased a Magic Bag from my favourite bakery once a week. They always had around five bags available each day. The content of the bag varied each time – based on what was left at the end of the day – but the value was always pretty much the same. I paid 3 pounds and always got baked goods worth around 20-25 pounds. It was a good mix of sweets and a huge loaf. Only the loaf would’ve cost 6 pounds. As the Magic Bags of this bakery where exactly what I wanted (a good mix), I stuck to them and became a regular Too Good To Go customer.

The fun thing is that you can try different places and you’ll get to taste a good variety of the food they offer. Also not knowing what’s in the bag is quite exciting. You like surprises? Get a Magic Bag! With time you’ll know what you get from each place and can then maybe go there regularly or just keep trying other shops.

too good to go baked goods
Baked goods worth 25 pounds for only 3 pounds
too good to go good quality food
So fresh, so yum

A little bit more about the app

Summing up, on Too Good To Go you can find a variety of unsold food near you. So far I’ve tried a bunch of bakeries, an Indian Restaurant and an organic supermarket. The whole purchase is done on the app. Once purchased all you have to do is to wait for the pick up time & get your goods! On To Good To Go you can also set your dietary preferences before looking for food.

Making finding a home in London easy. Find out more.

Save food & money

I have been using those two apps almost on a daily basis and would tell everyone about it. Not only am I able to save food from going to the bins but also save lots of money. Maybe OLIO and Too Good To Go are also in your area! The effort of messaging and picking up the items is worth it, especially when you’re picking up a bunch of stuff. So far these apps have been a game changer and made it possible for me to save money.

Have you been saving food? Or some special advice to save money on food? If yes, I’d love to read it in the comments!

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