I’ve recently been keeping close tabs on my expenses, and one rather shocking outcome has been just how much money I’ve been spending on food for the family – In all honesty, it’s been a real wake-up call, and so I’ve been making this October half-term a bit of a personal challenge to get back into some food shopping habits which will save me some dosh! I clearly had slipped into some bad habits, so I thought I’d share a few tips which may help you save some money too…
I think that frozen fruits & veg are totally underrated! They normally come pre-chopped and ready to use, which is a great time saver. The fact is that frozen vegetables are just as good for you because they are picked at their peak and frozen, which retains nutrients. It’s often far cheaper than buying fresh, and I like that I can use just what I need and put the rest back into the freezer. My favourite is to make a smoothie with frozen fruit and mix it with some milk – it’s super quick to do, healthy and a far cheaper alternative than buying bottled smoothies.
I’m writing a meal plan for the week – this enables me to use up what we’ve already got in the fridge, freezer and cupboards and write a shopping list for the things I need to complete the dishes. Of course, by doing this, it means that cupboard staples get used, rather than sitting there for months on end, and items in the freezer also get taken out and defrosted in plenty of time to be used.
I’ve been using my slow cooker a lot more too – it’s great to throw everything in and leave it cooking whilst we’re out of the house, and coming home to a lovely smelling meal is very welcoming on these cold, dark nights!
I’m loathed to admit it, but I had been known to throw away rather a lot of out of date items due to just not getting round to using them in time. I read somewhere that the average family in the UK throw away £60 of perfectly good food EACH MONTH!! Now, I certainly don’t fall into that category, but any waste like that can be avoided and that’s what I aim to do. I plan to do this by purchasing items I intend to use, and by freezing things that don’t get used before they go off – including things I wouldn’t have normally have frozen like vegetables, milk, cheese, fruit etc.
I’ve also been cooking bigger portions so that we can eat the excess the following day. It saves time and works out cheaper too. A great example of this was the spaghetti bolognaise I made this week. I bought a larger pack of mince than I would have normally done and filled it with loads of vegetables – It made 6 generous portions for us which covered my family of 3 for two days and worked out at around £1.60 a portion.
The biggest saving for us will be when I’ve planned a meal, it means I’ll be far less likely to pick up the phone and dial a takeaway. I’m embarrassed to admit, but we had fallen into the pattern of having this type of food twice a week or so and easily spending up to £50 in doing so.
Cutting down on ‘luxuries’
I’ll admit, we like to snack – a lot! I would have normally bought a lot of cans of pop, crisps, snack bars, biscuits etc. Whilst I try to keep to the low cal, low-fat options, I can’t get away from the fact that they aren’t actually necessary purchases. I have been drinking more water and adding a bit of squash in, instead of opening a tin, because this is far, far cheaper and better for us. Fruit as a snack is healthier and just as quick to eat – so we’ll all be doing this more too!
I’m often found in the supermarket in the evening hoping to find some items which have been reduced – I particularly like to find packaged meat so that I can freeze it and use it another day. There is nothing wrong with it at all – it’s just that the shop needs to sell it due to the sell by date on the packaging. It’s great because it saves quite a lot money, and often they can be frozen for months.
Beware of ‘Special Offers’
I was in Tesco yesterday – I had picked up a pack of KitKats which were on offer for 99p. As I rounded the corner, I was presented with a display which was 2 packs of KitKats and a ‘free’ mug for £3 all packaged up. I must admit, it was an attractive enough display for me to pay attention to it – but I soon realised it wasn’t a free mug at all! The KitKats themselves were only worth £1.98 so in fact, I’d have been paying £1.02 for the mug, had I have bought it. I decided I wasn’t going to buy it – but it made me smile that I had been canny enough to notice the promotion, and I wondered how many others would have done.
Have you got any tips for me? I’d be happy to hear them! Feel free to comment below!