I nearly didn’t write this blog.
I was worried that I might sound a bit preachy about shopping on a budget. I also felt that with my food recycling brimming over this week and my meal planning a little thin on the ground, whether I was the best person to be giving such advice!!
Putting together this list has been a great reminder to me to get organised with my food budgeting.
It is so hard when life is busy to pay attention to the supermarket shop. Lets face it, it’s boring. But, speaking from experience, just doing a couple of things on the list will make a huge difference to your weekly spend.
So here goes…….
1) Plan your meals:
Choose 7 dinners and 7 lunches that you are going to eat that week and write your weekly shopping list around them. It’s difficult to plan more than a week ahead and you’ll end up spending more money doing ‘top up shops.’ I use a blackboard in my kitchen to write my plan and any ingredients we’re running out of. You can buy Cheap, simple meal planners online Get the whole family involved, my kids regularly remind me of great dinners that I’d forgotten about!
2) Switch supermarkets
If you’re not already doing it, switch to a discount supermarket. The savings in Aldi and Lidl are huge and there are less promotions and less product variety – so less temptation! Changing supermarkets can be a bit daunting at first. It takes a while to get used to where everything is. What it does do is break us of our shopping habits. It forces us to look at prices as well as what’s going in our trolley, rather than shopping on autopilot.
3) Buy frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables:
They cost less and are just as good for you. They won’t go off as quickly, and with frozen vegetables, you can just take out as much as you need. Make sure that if you’re buying tinned fruit, that it’s in juice and not syrup.
4) Make your own lunch:
It’s really hard to find affordable food on the go and often it’s pretty uninspiring! Bring in your own.Packed lunches are usually cheaper, healthier and a good way to use up leftovers. It doesn’t have to always be sandwiches. Think about using leftover pasta and rice to make salads. Jacket potatoes are great if you have a microwave at work. Bring in soups and noodles from home. I invested in a large Thermos cup about a year ago. It’s bigger than a lot of the flasks, so perfect for carrying food from home, without spillage. You can also use it for hot drinks on the go. This is the mug I’ve got and it’s half price at the moment Thermos Travel Mug
5) Make extra portions of food
That way, you can freeze portions, so you aren’t tempted to buy expensive ready meals, on nights when you’re too busy to cook. Invest in some Tupperware that can hold individual portions, rather than freezing it all in one.
6) Go vegetarian:
Veggie meals are usually significantly cheaper than cuts of meat. Try going meat free at least one night a week.
7) Switch brands:
It sounds obvious, but we get very used to buying the same brands every week. Try swapping some of your branded items for ‘own’ brands. Some of the savings are huge! If you or your family are a bit hesitant to try unbranded items, just try a couple of products each week, rather than doing a full swap.
8) Pay attention to prices:
We are so accustomed to our regular supermarket that we often don’t check the prices. Check the cost of everything you put in your trolley – you may change your mind about some items!
9) Set a budget and try to stick to it:
I know that it’s easier said than done but when you focus on a maximum spend,it’s amazing how much we realise we don’t need!
10) Grow your own
Buying packets of fresh herbs every week can be expensive and they often get thrown away as they don’t keep very long once opened. Try planting some herbs either on a window sill, or hardier herbs can be planted outside. You can use supermarket bought potted herbs and repot them to give the roots a bit more space. You’ll have the right herbs whenever you need them, at no extra cost!
11) Make extra portions of of food
My cookbook and blog isn’t just about saving money, it’s about saving time. If a frugal recipe is quick to make, we’re much more likely to keep on cooking it. Make extra portions of food to freeze, so that you can get dinner on the table quickly on busy nights. Cook extra mashed potato to use later in the week on cottage pie and in fish cakes and make extra rice and pasta to turn into salads for a more exciting lunch!
12) Keep a note of the food you’re throwing away each week.
It’s easy to buy things out of habit without noticing that it’s never used.If you’re throwing away the same things – stop buying it!
13) Look at your bank account
We all think we know how much we’re spending on food, but it’s very hard to keep track of all of the supermarket and top up shops over the month. Go through your bank statement with a highlighter and find out what you’re really spending on food every month. Only then will you be able to set a realistic budget and change your shopping habits.
14) Think tinned!
Tinned salmon, tuna, mackerel and pulses like chickpeas and lentils are a great, cheap source of protein. Keep them in the cupboard (they last for ages) and use them to bulk out pasta and stews in the run up to pay day!
15) Have a plan for everything you buy.
Don’t buy food just because it’s on offer. Stick to your shopping list. When you write your meal plan, try to think about ingredients that might be left over and what meal would use them up.
If you’re looking for simple, money saving recipes, why not have a look at my cookbook? All of the ingredients for all of the recipes can be bought from Aldi and Lidl and none of them are on the blog! Even better, the book is only £4.99 on Amazon at the moment (rather than £14.99)…..how’s that for savvy! Go to The Savvy Shopper’s Cookbook to have a look!