When starting to think about eating more frugally and simplify food shopping, I think most of us discover just how freeing it can be to plan meals and create a shopping list, and how much we can save by cooking from scratch. Such a simple change but it massively helps bring down food spending and food waste, and cuts out last-minute trips to the shops to get "something for dinner".
Now these pearls of wisdom are being brought to a new audience with a fantastic new programme from the BBC called "Eat well for less". A tv chef and grocer help a different family every week to cut their food bills and eat better. They invade the family's kitchen and replace their normal food shopping with unbranded food. Some is swapped for cheaper food, such as dried pasta instead of fresh, or supermarket own-brand products. Some is their normal food without the packaging. Some is even more expensive but better quality.
We watch them nervously try the various foods and try to guess what is swapped and what is the same, and then there is the big reveal, we learn the identities of the products and the savings on each item. It amounts to thousands of pounds saved over the year. And most entertainingly, the families often like least those items which weren't swapped - once the packaging is removed, turns out they don't really it!
They also have a dietician looking at the amount of sugar in different brands of pasta sauce, and comparing the nutritional value of different tins of baked beans. They do blind tastings of yoghurt, tea and orange juice (among others) in the general public and see whether the most expensive is also the most popular.
It's made us look again at our own spending, and we've started trying some cheaper brands to compare price/quality. We've also switched from buying bags of pre-prepared salad to preparing our own from a head of lettuce and a punnet of rocket.
It's a really interesting programme, and for those outside the UK, the episodes are available on youtube.