Money

5 Cheap Food Hacks For The Week Before Payday

It’s been a long month, friends. You had goals at the beginning of the month, to put some money into savings, to cook more for yourself, to spend less on nights out. But you maybe spent a little more than you intended. Ordered in one too many times. Had a few too many coffees. And now it’s the week before payday and you have no money for food.

It’s okay! We all find ourselves in that situation from time to time. Personally, I’m working my way through the leftovers I’d forgotten I’d stored in the freezer. Put that stress on ice though – here are some cheap food hacks to carry you through to the light at the end of the tunnel (i.e., payday).

#1 Buy fresh vegetables

Vegetables are among the cheapest items in the supermarket. Find some vegetarian recipes and cook those in the week before payday for some cheap meals that pack a healthy punch.

Vegetable curries are delicious, stir frys are healthy and quick to cook, and you could even substitute meat for veggies in some of your go-to recipes (think eggplant schnitzel) rather than forking out for meat, which is more expensive.

Many supermarkets now also have ‘ugly’ produce on sale for a reduced price – food which looks less appealing because its shape may not be perfect, but is still healthy.

Also check out this list of supermarket items that you can buy for cheaper prices.

#2 Cook with eggs

Another cheap-yet-healthy supermarket buy is a carton of eggs. And you can cook so much with eggs. Scramble them with garlic and spinach for a quick dish, cook them sunny-side up and have them on toast, or go a little fancier and make them into an omelette.

Eggs are also great because they’ll carry whatever you have left in your fridge. Even if you end up eating scrambled egg with veggies mixed through, at least you’re not going into debt to feed yourself.

#3 Eat grains and legumes

Other cheap foods are the ones you can buy in bulk. This could include pulses, such as beans and lentils, and grains, like barley and rice. They pack a calorific punch, fill you up and can be used to make bunch of meals cheaply. Try cooking an Indian dahl – basically a mix of lentils, spices and veggies.

Rice is also good to use up all those bits and pieces left in your fridge – a simple fried rice can carry all sorts of vegetables you can’t use another way, or even odds and ends left over from other cooks.

Here are some other recipes to get you through to payday, including one for dahl.

#4 Cook a batch

Whatever you cook, make it a big batch. Use your biggest pan and pad the dish out with those cheap ingredients. If you go for a pasta, make sauce with added tinned or fresh tomato. Mix lentils or beans into your fried rice. If you can pad out a cook with some simple additions, it’s an easy way to quickly have more food out of a few extra ingredients.

If you have a while to go until pay day, package it all up into containers and store some in the freezer to make it last longer.

#5 Scrounge, borrow, grab a deal

If all else fails, visit your parents or your friends for a home-cooked meal (just remember to repay the favour). Your parents will probably let you take leftovers with you, and they might even agree to your raid of their pantry.

Remember that gift card you got from work six months ago you can only use at selected food stores? Now’s the time to cash in on those random bits and pieces laying about the house. Also take all your spare change to the bank and deposit it – those gold coins really add up (but you probably already thought of that). Also, coupons.

As you’re eating your freshly cooked omelette, or rice and beans, reflect on why you’re skint at the pointy end of the month. It might be time for you to set a budget, conquer your money anxiety, and kick some savings goals.


Mitch is Editor of The Cusp and has been saved by a week of eating omelettes more frequently than he’d like to admit. 

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