Before she writes her shopping list, Bootstrap Cook Jack Monroe first compiles a savvy pre-shopping list to make a stocktake of what she already has in her kitchen.

‘I talked about this on Twitter and hundreds of people got in touch to say they had saved an absolute fortune on their food shop, been more creative in the kitchen, eaten better, and really enjoyed the sense of control it gave them in increasingly uncertain times,’ says Jack.

‘It may seem daunting but it takes just a few moments, gets quicker every time you do it and could save you hundreds of pounds a year – or even a month – on your food shopping.’

Here’s how she does it…

‘Take an A4 sheet of paper, divide it into four vertical columns and label each one: Protein, Carbohydrate, Fruit and Veg, and Snacks. With this in hand, I go through the fridge, freezer and kitchen cupboards, and note down every single thing that I have in stock and estimate how many portions there are.

‘Using a highlighter pen, highlight items that need using up – fresh produce nearing its use-by date, meats or other items that have been open for a couple of days in the fridge, any fruit or veg on the turn and, using bits from the other columns, start to plan meals around them to have over the next few days.

‘Start with the protein. I found that cooking on a really tight budget, my instinct was to fill up with cheap, starchy carbs because they make you feel full pretty much immediately. But that full feeling doesn’t last and we can’t live on white rice and pasta alone, as delicious as they are.

‘By starting with the protein element of a meal I’m nourishing my body, giving it a satisfied fullness that lasts a few hours rather than a quick-fix bloat and contributing to healthy muscle repair, hair and nails, and a balanced diet.

‘I work across the columns, picking a protein, a carb and a fruit or veg or sometimes both, to help create balanced and varied meals. This method quickly starts to identify where the “gaps” are.

‘I then take a second piece of paper, and make the four columns again – this is to be my Shopping List.

‘The purpose of the Shopping List is to fill the gaps in the Stocktake List, so use the Stocktake List as a guide and plan to use as much of what you have in already as possible for the upcoming week’s meals.’

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