There are very few people that every week, without fail, do their food shop and don’t have to worry about a single penny. I mean, some of us have weeks where we think ‘ah chuck it in the trolley., BUT it is far and few between for a lot of us.
With the price of things going up, even the slightly more comfortable, are having to watch what they buy a little. Sometimes, yes, it is so they can afford their fifth holiday of the year but they are also, now more than ever, having to keep an eye on their bank balance.
I would class myself as an average citizen of middle class earning a reasonable wage, however, that doesn’t mean that every week is an ok food budget week. Some weeks the branded stuff doesn’t get bought and some weeks there are 4 bottles of wine in my trolley. It all depends on life.
Last month we had the two kids birthdays and the month before Evelyn had to be bought a specialised car seat. It all adds up.
We used to shop at Tescos on a weekly basis but since having Evelyn we have switched over to Aldi and really rate some of their items. Such as nappies and wine (priorities lol). We had packs and packs of pampers ready when Evelyn was born but they’re just not as absorbent as the Aldi ones and quite frankly a lot cheaper. That’s just an example.
So I thought I would put together some tips and things we do to make those weeks when you feel the squeeze that much easier.
It goes without saying if you’re shopping at Waitrose and ‘feeling the pinch’ maybe it’s time to step it down a notch and try Tesco, but I have a funny feeling if you are a Waitrose shopper you probably aren’t reading this post.
Firstly, make a list and stick to it. I always always make a food shopping list. I hate food shopping so I want to get in and out as quick as I can and one way is having a list. This is a great way of saving money if you have the determination to stick to the list and steer clear from the naughty isles.
Quite a few of the Supermarkets, Aldi and Tesco to name just two, have a weekly fruit and veg offer. Aldi call it the Super 6 where 6 fruit and veg are heavily discount. The downside is it is all wrapped in plastic, so if this is one of your concerns then maybe this isn’t such a good money saving tip for you. However, basing a couple of meals around that can save quite a lot of money. Details on the super 6 here. As an example, this week the Super 6 is Beetroot, Mushrooms, Shredded Kale, Green Beans, Sweetheart Cabbage and Asparagus Bundles. Tesco’s do one similar I believe.
On the very tight weeks write down a list of everything you have left in the cupboards, fridge and freezer and try and use up the frozen mixed veg and the old rice at the back of the cupboards. It can be quite satisfying using up those left over bags of stuff. For example, we had a tonne of frozen veg, some risotto rice and some Philadelphia that needed using and bam there are two Risotto dinners right there. Doing one on a Saturday and a Wednesday breaks them up meaning you don’t get bored of them too. We also have 2 cans of mixed beans and 2 cans of chopped tomatoes and in a slower cooker with herbs and spices it makes a great bean curry. There’s another dinner that cost £0 for the week just by using up the old tins.
Drop a brand bracket. You have the premium brands, branded brands, own brand and then value ranges. Even if it is temporary consider dropping down a bracket. I understand there are some things you much much prefer to eat branded such as Ketchup! Heinz all the way, no compromise for us. The other stuff we find watery and yuck. But bread… bread is bread… you cant really make it differently so own brand bread goes in our basket. This can be the difference of £1 a loaf. For larger families that can be a really big saving. It is ok to buy value stuff. Don’t be embarrassed. Everyone’s situation is different and have different priorities.
It is all well and good cutting your supermarket spending but if you don’t use the food wisely you are just throwing money away. If you have portions left over just freeze it, it will do for a lunch or a quick dinner later on. Also buying larger packs to cover more dinners. For example, if you need 200g of mince for 2 different dinners then buy 1 400g pack as nine times out of ten it is cheaper. When you get home separate how much you need for each meal into freezer bags and store in the fridge or freezer appropriately.
Also use up food that’s going off. Have some black banana’s? They can be perfect for a banana cake or a smoothie. Alternatively reading this guide to making fruit and veg last longer is a great preventative. Also remember a lot of stuff can be frozen!
Here are also some really really cheap meal ideas too;
– Filled Tortellini Pasta and sauce. Aldi have the filled pasta at £1.15 a pack. A pack serves 2. They also do a Tomato and Mascapone sauce for £0.89p. Top that off with an Everyday Essentials 30p garlic bread you have dinner for 2 at £1.17 per head or £1.02 without the garlic bread. I often stir in some precooked frozen veg too such as broccoli to get that extra nutrition.
– Soup. We sometimes by own brand soup and thicken it up with our own veg as we prefer thicker soup but taste wise they’re pretty good. Tesco Tomato soup for 1 is 45p per can compared to Heinz which is 95p per can.
– Classic Carbonara. Now dried pasta is dried pasta. The cheaper brands can be a little more starchy but that’s nothing a run under the tap after draining can’t sort. Tesco Hearty Food Co Dried Spaghetti Pasta is 20p per pack! Depending how greedy you are we can get a whole pack to do 2 meals for 2 adults and 1 child for each. We use Bisto cheese granuals as we can use them for lots of different meals. At £1.50 for a pot we probably use a 1/4 each time. And lastly smoked pancetta at £1.50. That totals £1.98 per meal or 66p per serving. We also stir on some spinach which can range from 60p – £1 per pack but if you have some anyway then it’s cost you no extra.
– Battered Fish, Chips and peas. Tesco own 4 Battered Cod pieces are only £2.75 but quite often Youngs and Birds Eye have theirs on offer bringing it down to that sort of price. Chips are a hard one, some people prefer fries and some people prefer homemade. If you have potatoes to use up then great! If not Aldi to great Rustic Homestyle Chips and are only 99p for 1kg so that’ll do a min of 2 meals depending how many of you there are. Tesco Growers Harvest 900g peas are only 62p and will do quite a few meals too. But for maths lets say 2 meals… This total meal will be effectively £3.56 or 96p per head!
– Pasta in a stir in veg sauce. I can’t rate Dolmio Hidden Veg sauce highly enough. They are 2 of you 5 a day and taste great. Usually they are on offer at £1.50 a packet but if not they are £2 each here’s the link. And then a pack of pasta in Tesco from their Hearty Food range is 29p a bag. A bag normally goes for 3-4 adults and the sauce will do 3-4 portions. So if on offer it is 45p per head or £1.79 for the meal.
There are just 5 meals I hope will get you through the week that I hope will help.
An extra way to save money when doing the food shop is to do it ALONE. Kids and husbands/ partners etc will also see something they want, especially kids and a lot of the time to save arguments or disappointment we let them have it.
Ordering food on line is a really good way when you have a list to stick to. Always google vouchers for free delivery codes.
One INCREDIBLE way to save money (not just on food) is download Honey on your laptop. Honey trawls the internet to find discount codes for you and automatically applies the best one with the most saving for you at the checkout!!! It is life changing and I use it daily!!! Just last week I saved £11 on a £21.00 dress from Boohoo and got free next day delivery. It works on a whole array of websites and is completely safe. Download it here.