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Energy and money saving ideas

Cost of living support

Transforming Plymouth Together is a charity working with churches, faith communities, and support organisations to tackle poverty and inequality in Plymouth.

This energy and money saving guide has been created to help households with the cost of living increases, in particular food and energy prices.

With special thanks to Centrepoint, Food is Fun CIC, Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) and Plymouth Energy Community, who gave permission for their resources to be included in this leaflet.

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  • Plymouth Places of Welcome
  • Cooking tips
  • Recipe - Microwave Scrambled Egg
  • Recipe - Microwave Mash
  • Recipe - Kettle Pasta
  • Recipe - Kettle Couscous
  • Recipe - No Cook Tomato Mackerel
  • Recipe - No Cook Tuna Bean Salad
  • Recipe - No Cook Breakfast Yogurt Pot
  • Recipe - No Cook Overnight Oats
  • Shopping tips
  • Energy saving tips
  • Further support and advice from organisations you can call
  • Documents and downloads


Plymouth Places of Welcome

There are a growing number of churches and community groups in Plymouth opening up their buildings as Places of Welcome. Offering free hot drinks, snacks and company, you will always receive a very warm welcome. To discover out more, or find your nearest location, visit our website and search for Plymouth.

Cooking tips

Try to cook from scratch and avoid processed ready-cooked meals where possible, as this can offer a significant saving.

Slow cookers start from around £15 and are great for stews and soups, saving preparation time and fuel costs. They're also great for cooking cheaper cuts of meat, as slow cooking will help to increase the tenderness.

By planning meals and ingredients, you will have fewer leftover foods.

Taking turns cooking for a neighbour or friend is a good way to enjoy company whilst saving on energy costs.

Some of the tastiest and quickest dishes can be made from leftover foods. Don't be afraid to put odds and ends of leftover cooked vegetables into a pan with some olive oil and herbs to create a stir-fry. Serve with a cooked egg for some added protein.

Having days in the week without meat or fish is a great way to save money.

Pulses, beans, lentils, and peas are healthy and packed with protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Use it to bulk out meals.

Bread is the most wasted household food, so consider freezing whole loaves and just taking out the slices you need for the next day. Frozen bread can be easily toasted too.

There are lots of money-saving groups online, including Food Buddies South West and Jack Monroe's recipes on Cooking on a Bootstrap

Recipe - Microwave Scrambled Egg


  • Bowl or mug
  • Fork
  • Microwave

Ingredients for 1 portion

  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil for the dish
  • 2 eggs per person
  • 1 tablespoon milk (optional) or water per person
  • Seasoning of your choice


  1. Coat the cup or bowl with oil or butter so the eggs don't stick
  2. Crack in the eggs and mix with the fork to combine
  3. Add the milk or water and whisk lightly with the fork. Season accordingly to taste
  4. Microwave the eggs on high for 1 minute and then stir the eggs with a fork. If the egg is solid all the way through, then stop cooking
  5. If not, heat for another 30 seconds, then stir. Repeat this until they are ready

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Recipe - Microwave Mash


  • Bowl
  • Fork
  • Ti11 opener if not using ring pull tins

Ingredients for 1 portion:

  • ½ small tin of potatoes
  • A splash of milk (dairy or dairy-free)
  • Optional: splash of oil or butter
  • Seasoning of your choice e.g. salt, pepper, dried herbs


  1. Open the tin and pour the potatoes and water into a bowl
  2. Microwave on a high heat for 5 minutes
  3. Carefully take the bowl out of the microwave, and tip out the water
  4. Use a fork to mash the potatoes, then add a splash of milk and oil or butter if using
  5. Add seasoning of your choice and enjoy!
  6. Tip: goes well with baked beans

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Recipe - Kettle Pasta


  • Kettle
  • 1 mug per person
  • Spoon
  • Bowl
  • Small plate

Ingredients for 1 portion

  • ½ a large mug of dried pasta (regular or gluten free)
  • Toppings of your choice e.g. pasta sauce, pesto, sweet corn, tinned tomatoes, cheese, tuna.
  • Seasonings of your choice e.g. dried herbs, garlic chili paprika


  1. Put the pasta into the mug to fill it halfway
  2. Boil the kettle and pour the boiling water over the pasta in the mug and cover it with the small plate
  3. Leave for 20 - 22 minutes or until it has gone soft
  4. Drain away the water when pasta is soft, and pour the pasta into the bowl
  5. Add toppings and seasonings of your choice
  6. Eat as it is, or keep in the fridge to enjoy later

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Recipe - Kettle Couscous


  • Large bowl
  • Plate
  • Spoon
  • Mug

Ingredients for 4 portions

  • 2 mugs of couscous
  • 2 stock cubes or 4 tablespoons of soya sauce
  • 6 tablespoons of tinned vegetables e.g. sweet corn, olives
  • 2 handfuls of seeds or nuts
  • Lemon juice if available
  • Olive oil if available
  • Seasonings of your choice e.g. dried herbs, spices


  1. Boil the kettle
  2. Tip the couscous into the bowl
  3. Cover with 4 mugs of boiling water and crumble in the stock cube - stir in
  4. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave for about 5 minutes or until the couscous is soft and has absorbed all the water
  5. Drain the tinned vegetables and add to the couscous along with any seasonings and nuts/seeds
  6. Top with lemon and oil if available and enjoy

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Recipe - No Cook Tomato Mackerel


  • 4 plates or bowls
  • Fork

Ingredients for 4 portions

  • 3 tins of mackerel in tomato sauce
  • 2 pouches of microwave grains e.g. rice or quinoa
  • Optional: seasoning of your choice
  • 1 tin of vegetables e.g. sweet corn or spinach


  1. Open the pouches of grains and divide them between the plates or bowls. Break them up with the fork.
  2. Open the tins of mackerel and divide over the grains
  3. Add the tinned vegetables on the side and any other seasonings if using
  4. Enjoy it cold, or microwave on high for 2 minutes if you want it hot

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Recipe - No Cook Tuna Bean Salad


  • 1 bowl
  • 1 cup
  • 1 tablespoon

Ingredients for 4 portions

  • 4 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar (if available)
  • 1 tin of sweet corn
  • 1 tin of beans (any}
  • 2 x 160g cans of tuna
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: 4 tablespoons of mustard
  • Optional: any fresh or dried herbs e.g. parsley, coriander


  1. Drain the beans, sweet corn and tuna and mix together in the bowl
  2. Mix together the oil, lemon juice/vinegar, and mustard if using in a cup
  3. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to the cup
  4. Pour this over the sweet corn, beans and tuna and mix everything together
  5. If you have herbs, add these and mix in

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Recipe - No Cook Breakfast Yogurt Pot


  • Glass or jar per person
  • Spoon

Ingredients for 1 portion

  • 2 handfuls of muesli or granola
  • Plain low fat yoghurt (1 small pot or 4 tablespoon)
  • ½ tin of fruit e.g. berries or peaches
  • Optional: drizzle of honey


  1. Drain the juice out of the tin of fruit
  2. Layer the glass with yoghurt, muesli and tinned fruit
  3. If using honey add a drizzle ,on top
  4. Keep in the fridge or eat straightaway

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Recipe - No Cook Overnight Oats


  • Glass, mug or jar (1 per person)
  • Tablespoon

Ingredients for 1 portion

  • 5-6 tablespoons of oats
  • ½ glass ,of milk (dairy or dairy-free)
  • Small handful of raisins or other dried fruit
  • Optional: cinnamon
  • Top with tinned or fresh fruit


  • Tip the oats into the glass, add the milk and raisins and mix in. Add the cinnamon if using and mix in.
  • Put in the fridge and leave ,overnight or at least for 3 hours
  • Top with fresh or tinned fruit if available
  • Enjoy!

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Shopping tips

Get to know everything you already have in your cupboards. Try to get into the routine of using the oldest dates first. Herbs, spices, tinned pulses and a variety of stock cubes can all add flavour to simple meals.

Check before you write your list to ensure you don't double or triple up on larder goods.

Try to avoid shopping on an empty stomach, or you'll be tempted to buy food you don't need.

Don't be tempted by BOGOF offers unless it's on the list. It's only cheaper if you were planning on buying two of the items in the first place. Remember to check the sell-by dates, though.

Switch from branded foods to shop's own brands.

Buy fruit and vegetables sold by weight, in smaller quantities. This means you'll have fresher produce and less waste.

Try frozen fruit and vegetables. They come ready to use and are just as good for you as non-frozen food.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are usually much cheaper. Consider buying cheaper cuts of meat. These can take a little longer to cook, but using a slow cooker can help. Buying a whole chicken and cutting it into portions to freeze often works out cheaper than buying supermarket prepared smaller portions.

Supermarkets often reduce fresh items towards the end of the day. Shopping at the right time can often save money, so keep a look out for yellow stickers or designated areas for reduced food.

Energy saving tips

Further support and advice from organisations you can call

Age UK Plymouth
01752 256020

Citizens Advice
0808 2787910

Elder Tree Befriending Service
01752 227447

Energy & Fuel Help
01752 477117

Livewell Southwest First Response (24hr mental health service)

National Debt Line
0808 8084000

Plymouth Access To Housing
01752 255889

Plymouth City Council
01752 668000

Support with Illegal Money Lending
0300 555 2222

Documents and downloads

Energy and Money Saving Ideas (PDF) [6MB]

Find out what benefits and financial support you may be able to get

Use the government's online tool to find out what support you might be able to get to help with your living costs. You can get benefits and other financial support if you're eligible.

Check what benefits and financial support you can get

Continue reading

How to submit an organisation or community group to this website

If you are an organisation or community group and can help support people living in Plymouth, please complete our online form and we will add you to this directory.

Submit your offer of help and support 

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