Food prices seem to be increasing all the time and rising so much that it’s becoming more and more expensive to feed the family. Food poverty is at the highest it has ever been. Not only is food expensive but it takes a lot energy thinking about feeding a family from; needing to find endless new recipes taking into consideration everyone’s dietary requirements and personal dislikes, sourcing locally produced food and making room in our minds to remember everything that you already have in the kitchen cupboards or fridge.
All these things result in impulse food buying, stockpiling what you already have and taking up BOGOFF offers that actually don’t save us any money at all. (Just writing this my brain is hurting from all we have to think about and I can see my money not going very far)
Blimey, all this wasted energy and expense can be saved just by spending an hour out of the week pre-planning all our meals and writing a shopping list. As a child I watched my mother plan all our meals a month ahead of time, she also carried a notebook around with her noting down everything she bought during the week to make sure she kept the housekeeping within budget.
I know the housekeeping budget can seem a bit of an old fashion thing to say, but the way we organize our family budget, we call it our housekeeping budget which is £100 (A week)
- Food for the week
- Electricity for the week (we are on a key meter)
- Fuel for the cars
- Days out and treats (if there is anything left in the pot at the end of the week, it goes on the ice cream when we go out for a family day)
So our housekeeping budget has to go along way and this is only possible if I plan ahead.
Not only do I need to keep a close rein on the amount of money I spend, I also need a simple way to food for shop and reduce the time I spend shopping for food and use the time I save with the family, doing house work or catching up with friends etc..
- Organize the fridge – Keep leftovers in your line of sight! Remember out of sight out of mind, for example place your leftovers on the top shelf of your fridge near the front or write a list of the leftovers on a whiteboard stuck to your fridge. These valuable leftovers are easily forgotten when pushed to the back of the fridge or placed on the bottom shelf.
- Organize the cupboards – I only have one food cupboard with all the baking ingredients together and tins stacked together, cooking essentials (salt, pepper, dried herbs etc..) Right a list and pin to the inside of your cupboard of all the things you need stocked in this cupboard in order to create fantastic meals. For example of my list look at the next bullet point.
- Shopping list – Put a shopping list on your fridge door or pinned somewhere near your fridge so that it is easily accessible. Then as you use up a particular staple food like pasta, herbs, sugar etc.. add this item straight to your list. Therefore you never run out of any of the staple foods we need to create meals.
- The regularity of shopping – Decide how often you would like to shop. For example I shop weekly and my mum used to shop monthly when we were all little.
- Plan – There are some fantastic web sites that provide bright colourful free print outs to help you plan your meals, personally I just like a scrap piece of paper and pen. In your plan you need to include all your meals including, breakfast, pack lunches, as well as any baking and stocks you are going to make, similarly any basic sauces you are going to make in advance that week. Don’t forget to look at your fridge list under leftovers and add them into your meal plan, this way you will not forget anything.
- Write a shopping list – Take an A4 piece of paper and write the following headings well-spaced out and underline. Fruit & Veg, Tins, Frozen, Fridge, Baking, House etc.. Then going through your plan one meal at a time fill the ingredients you need to buy for each of these meals. This way nothing is going to be forgotten! Also remember to check your list for things you have run out off.
- Shopping App – I love apps as they make my life simpler and I have found a great app called mySuperList. I type in my shopping list and it compares all the supermarkets from Tesco, Asda to Alidi and tells me which supermarket is going to be the cheapest one to buy my whole list. Then when I go shopping (to the suggested supermarket) and tick off my list on the app as I fill up my trolley. By using this app some weeks I have saved myself an extra £20 on a week’s shop, just by changing the supermarket I am going to go to.
- Eat Up – Always eat before you go shopping, then you are not tempted to buy something on the impulse just because you are hungry. I used to be really bad at this, so I started shopping first thing in the morning straight after I had dropped the children off at school and since I would have had recently had my breakfast, my tummy was still full. Just by making this simple change I saved myself at least £5 on our shopping bill.
- Money – Leave the credit or debit card at home and only take cash with you to the amount you are willing to spend. This way there is no way you are going to go over budget.
By following these few simple tasks you will notice your food bill being reduced significantly. I know it seems like I am teaching you how to suck eggs and everyone knows this. But last year I stopped doing all these things and our food bill ended up being £100 which left me no money in the pot for electric or fuel for the car to get me home from shopping. Our food bill for the 5 of us is between £40 to £50 a week now and yes that includes all our bread and milk for the week!
- Its ok to repeat family favourite meals we love regularly, we have a meal called Bacon, Pasta & Onions (not sure of its real name but its tasty, quick to cook and cheap). We have this meal at least every other week, if not every week sometimes. It is also a great meal to throw together if we have unexpected guests for tea.
- To make life simple each week is organized using with a basic plan with dishes outlined to fit in with after school activities, clubs and work commitments, for example;
- Sunday – Roast
- Monday – Rice dish
- Tuesday – Pasta dish
- Wednesday – Slow cooker meal
- Thursday – leftover meal
- Friday – Vegetable dish (usually bubble and squeak type meal)
- Saturday – Homemade pizza (because we have family film night on a Saturday)
- My children have packed lunches at school and sometimes come home from school hungry and are looking for a snack before tea. So I bake a few extra buns, flapjacks, granola bars etc.. and place them in the freezer, so I know if I run out in the week I have a backup supply in the freezer. In an average week we need 12 cup cakes so I just bake 18 and freeze 6 of them. If you love baking and can spare a whole day, once a month make this day your baking day (my mum use to do this) spend the whole day baking all the cakes etc… you are going to need to the month plus a bit extra, freeze and just take out the amount you need for each week. I must say, when I was little my Mums baking day was always my favourite day because there were lots of bowls to lick out and the house smelled so yummy.
Just by doing these few simple things you will save money off your shopping bill, giving you extra money to put towards your bills or to save towards your family holiday. You will also save time shopping in the supermarket which, could be spent doing something else much more interesting. I use to spend an hour of my time in the supermarket, now by following these few simple tips I spend between 15 minutes to 20 minutes in the supermarket depending on how busy the checkout is. This gives me a fantastic 40 minutes extra I can spend doing other more interesting things than food shopping.
What fantastic tips do you use for reducing your food bill and time spent in the supermarket?