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If you’re looking at ways to cut your monthly costs, one thing you can’t do without is food! But that doesn’t mean you have to splurge on takeaways and the finest brands in the supermarket… you can still eat well whilst keeping your costs down.

Here at PayPlan, we’ve come up with a short list of our favourite cheap food items that you should keep in your cupboards. They’re versatile, healthy and can add bulk and flavour to your meals!

1. Lentils

A 500g bag of lentils will cost you less than £1! They are known to pack a punch with protein, are full to the brim with fibre and can help to lower cholesterol. You can also buy them tinned and prepared, but dried will be cheaper.

You can add them to a Shepard’s Pie instead of mince, or make a lentil ragu to have with some spaghetti instead of making a traditional bolognese.

2. Kidney Beans

You can get a 400g of tinned kidney beans for less than 50p at most supermarkets. They are full of flavour, are high in protein and add a really tasty texture to your meals. Some of our favourite kidney bean recipes include a bean curry, and a delicious vegetarian chilli. Or even blend them up and make a bean dip for parties, served with carrot, pepper and cucumber strips.

3. Rice and Pasta

You can bulk buy lots of grains online or at your local supermarkets – clear some space in your cupboards as this is certainly the cheapest way to do it. By adding a few frozen vegetables and a tin of chopped tomatoes, you’ve got a healthy, hearty meal.

4. Chopped Tomatoes

Stock up on tins of chopped tomatoes! You can get them for as little as 20p per 400g tin and they can be used for a variety of meals.

It is so much cheaper to make your own tomato sauce rather than buy branded products. As long as you have some basic herbs and spices such as basil, oregano and anything else you fancy you can make your own delicious homemade sauce. It will have less salt and sugar in than the branded items too!

5. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are our favourite ingredient. You can add them to curries, blend them up to make your own hummus and even make meringues – yes, seriously!

The liquid that chickpeas come in is called aquafaba – which whisks up like egg whites which can be used in mousses, homemade mayonnaise, meringues and many more recipes!

We also recommend websites such as Approved Food which sell a selection of clearance food and drink at reduced prices online.

Investing in a slow cooker is also worthwhile as you can use up cheaper cuts of meat. Chicken thigh, for example, is around half the price of breast and delicious when cooked over several hours.

What are your favourite food cupboard staples? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages!