Ready meals cut costs

Ready meals cut costs

microwaving can reduce bills

The typical pensioner household will have an annual food bill averaging £1,563 and rising according to recent figures – with spending on housing and fuel costing £1,485.

But there are ways to cut costs and battle the pressures of inflation – by using ready meals that are cooked in the microwave.

A comparison undertaken by Parsley Box – providers of delivered ready meals to the over 65s – has shown that savings can be made by planning menus in advance and thinking how they are stored and cooked.

In a bid to help their customers tackle the threat of increasing costs, they have reduced the costs of some customer favourite meals to just £2.95.  This could mean a main meal every day for just over £20 a week.

Their ambient meals don’t need to be stored in a fridge or freezer and are cooked in just a couple of minutes in a microwave – saving even more money.

Oven versus microwave

The method chosen to cook dinner also has an impact on utility bills.

Cooking with a microwave is much more energy efficient than cooking using an electric oven, according to data from the Energy Saving Trust.

The average microwave uses less than half as much energy as the typical oven – and used once a day costs on average £13 of electricity a year, compared to £30 for an electric oven.

More than ingredients

The cost of cooking is more than just the price of the ingredients with around 20% of a household energy being consumed in the kitchen with expensive ovens, hobs, refrigerators and kettles. Fridge freezers are thought to count for 12% of that cost as they are continually drawing power to maintain a constant temperature.

According to Parsley Box’s Managing Director, Simon Russell, ovens are particularly inefficient because you have to heat up the whole appliance, not just the food in it. ‘Cutting down on the use of the oven and maybe only using for special occasions will make a big impact.’

Microwaves, slow cookers, electric pressure cookers and air fryers all consume significantly less energy than ovens, so using these instead will save you money – with microwaves being particularly energy efficient.

Comparison of cooking methods

Figures from Sarah Bridle, Professor of Food, Climate and Society at the University of York, based on Wattage numbers from Supplementary Data of supplementary table of Frankowska et al Nature Food.

Reheating casserole

  • Reheating stew on standard electric hob (12 minutes) = 0.43kWh
  • Reheating stew in the oven (45 minutes) = 2.27kWh
  • Reheating stew in microwave (8 minutes) = 0.11kWh
  • Reheating stew on induction hob (5 minutes) = 0.35 kWh

Further savings

There are other benefits of buying ready meals.  Meal planning means eradicating the stress of last-minute cooking while also minimising food waste – an added benefit considering the campaign group WRAP says we throw away 9.5 tonnes of food each year.

Parsley Box meals last for six months in a store cupboard so won’t go off so are unlikely to be wasted.

And then there’s the washing up. Dishwashers are energy-hungry, too, because they have to heat water needed as well as run the cleaning mechanism. One run a week can cost £14 over a year – costs that can be saved with Parsley Box meals which can be eaten straight from the recyclable packing avoiding the need for washing up.

Want to start saving?

Do you want to save some money by eating more ready meals? Browse our menu now to make sure you are stocked up.