Hello Dear Reader,
It really seems that food prices are rising every minute and it’s getting harder and harder to keep the costs down. That means we all have to keep our eyes open for every deal, for every offer and make sure that we don’t waste a single mouthful. Now that might seem extreme but it’s never the money you spend you need to worry about but the money you waste.
There are ways to make sure you only buy what you need and that you avoid impulse buying. I know some of you have big store cupboards, chest freezers and can make the most of offers but if you’re on a finite budget (I know I am, my budget is THE budget because there is no more!) or you haven’t got the storage facilities then you need to buy exactly what you need and nothing more.
My starting point is always a stock check or a quick count. How many tins? How many packets? What condiments do you have? How many jars of pickle? How many bags of flour? What’s in the freezer? If you have a chest freezer, make sure you empty it out really quickly with someone else writing down what’s in there as you just call out the contents one by one. How many stock cubes or pots do you have? Spices? Dried fruit?
Most people will have a sizeable list of food already in the house. Here’s the first way you save money and wastage.
Eat that food first! If you can, keep eating that food before you buy anything else. Use of the fridge today or tomorrow, then work your way through the freezer and then onto the store cupboard. If you have tins of beans such ask kidney beans, haricot or butter beans then look for beany burger recipes, for dip or vegan pate recipes and add them into the week’s menu.
Remember all the time, I’m talking about what I would do and I’m only making suggestions and no one has to do as I do.
- Stock take and use what you have.
Next, and I think this is the most essential thing to do is to make a menu plan for the week. If you can, do this with the family or in my case, I do it myself as neither of us really care what we eat so long as it’s tasty. There are lots of ways to do this: a chalkboard, a note pad in the kitchen, a spreadsheet, a write on board or you enter it into outlook on your phone. I just use a note pad by the kettle. In that menu plan, I plan three meals a day plus snacks. Our snacks are mainly apples and bananas as those fruit are always on offer or at least affordable.
2. Create a three meals a day meal plan.
Now you know what you have in the house and you’ve created a meal plan incorporating as much as you can from the stock you already have, you can write your shopping list. I make sure, I don’t rush this as it’s easy to forget something. I check the bathroom, do I have toiletries? I check the ‘utility room’ (my porch and downstairs loo where I keep all the cleaning and laundry supplies) to check for cleaning products. I also think, will that last another week?
3. Write a really good list of everything we need.
I’m a budget supermarket shopper. I shop in Lidl, Aldi, Farmfoods and Asda as I find them the cheapest. I also rarely buy brands unless there is not alternative such as stock pots. I’m not a food snob and I shop for nutrition and price. Most supermarkets have stopped doing their very bottom priced products and have just regular branded items. I now have to buy these instead. As I mainly cook from scratch, I don’t buy biscuits, cakes, pies, ready meals anyway so I don’t feel I’m missing out in any way.
4. Compare the unit price!
Whilst I’m in the supermarket, I don’t let them confuse me with baffling unit pricing! They try this all the time and I think it should be utterly illegal! They will try and sell you: each item, an example would be a swede or melon that they don’t sell by weight. If that’s the case, simply find the biggest and there’s the value for money. Some packets of cheese or cooked meat, they will try price on the shelf by 100g – if that’s the case, multiply they 100g unit price by 10 to get the price per kilo. Look at the cheese and find the price per kilo in your budget (in my case, I always go for the lowest price per kilo of mature cheddar – we don’t eat cheese on its own and add it to something as a flavour so I want a mature cheese with lots of flavour)
My issue with unit pricing is that supermarkets deliberately try and con you into thinking you have a bargain, with a multi buy and sometimes the unit price is higher. It’s important that you know what you’re paying for.
5. Stick to the list.
Don’t be duped by offers. They supermarkets use clever psychology to dupe you and convince you with: lighting, product placement, end of aisle offers and blatant bullshit to sell you stuff you don’t need! If you’ve already got some, if you can’t afford it, if it’s not on the list, if you’ve no room in the freezer, store cupboard, if it’s unhealthy, high fat, sugar filled rubbish then I just don’t need it. Remember again, I’m not telling you what to do, do what you like.
6. Rotate your stock.
Pull your old stock forward and place the new items behind. If you have a chest freezer, you could eat from left to right. If you have a small under counter freezer and could decant what you have into two of the three drawers and the new stuff goes into one drawer. Personally, I pull the food I already have to the front of the drawer and place the new behind that and then eat front to back.
7. Batch cook.
A whole chicken is often cheaper than buying chicken pieces so I’ll roast all of it and we’ll eat a roast meal two days in a row. A pack of beef mince will feed four if I was making cottage pie so I’ll make two pies and freeze one for another day.
8. Buy tinned and frozen.
We use frozen fish, tinned fish, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables so they don’t go off and there’s no waste. The price is often cheaper than fresh too.
We all have to extremely savvy shoppers as the prices in the supermarkets seem to be rising daily and it’s getting harder and harder for some families to even feed themselves at all and that’s why number nine is optional for anyone and not even possible for many families.
9. Pay it forward.
Shop, if you can, a couple of items a week for the local food bank. We have collection points at the back of the tills in our supermarkets. The food banks always need protein, fruit, veggies and something to fill up a child’s belly. They always need tinned meat or fish, rice pudding, tinned fruit or veg as there are families who no matter how hard they try just don’t have money enough to eat at all.
10. Stock up.
Protect yourself from that bill, that breakdown, that week of shorter hours and less pay. Try and have your own stock of tins, dried goods and expensive items such as tea and coffee. You can’t plan for every eventuality and help yourself by just having a little buffer to keep you going.
Love Froogs xx