Hello Dear Reader,
I had to have a good think about this one as I’m struggling to keep it down. I’m often in the supermarket queue and as I’m loading things onto my trolley, I can’t help but look at the shopping of person in front of me and I ask, where’s the food? I then look back at my shopping. I’ll have three of four meat products, margarine and baking products, a whole heap of fresh and season veg, tea, coffee, UHT milk, sugar free cordial, some fish, maybe a bottle of laundry liquid and some washing up liquid, but not much else. I don’t recognise much of what I see going into other people’s baskets. So, instead of any form of advice of how you might save money, here’s a round up of what I do.
Start off by checking every food item in the house. What do you have? What meals could you make from these? Some weeks, I don’t shop at all. I just make do with what I have. Most months, I shop twice, one big shop and one top up and other times, I don’t shop at all.
When I do shop, I’ve planned in advance (roughly) what we’re going to eat. Then I think about seven breakfasts and seven lunches and the hobbity snacking in between. I always make a list, after I’ve done a stock take and thought of what I can cook with what I already have.
I always take a list with me when I shop, but usually I shop for my ‘big shop’ (about £50 of staples to see me through the month) online with Tesco.com. I never shop, without a list before I shop, before I make a menu plan for the week ahead or a few weeks ahead. I might simply think or five meat meals, four fish meals, and ten veggie meals. We have one main meal a day and a packed lunch at work, usually porridge or toast for breakfast and a piece of cake or biscuit if we get peckish.
As a working person, I often come home frazzled and need to simply re-heat something or cook something easy and uncomplicated and I plan for that and have some thing in the freezer like a pie or a casserole, or some soup to just leave out to defrost and reheat when get home. I manage to do this by having bulk cooking days where I ‘get ahead’
I try to make something different for our lunch boxes and make soup, veggie curries with cous cous, quiche or falafels which are easily portable. I also make at least two cakes a week, we all want something sweet once in a while.
I keep costs down by making flapjacks or fruitcake from Tesco value dried fruit. I don’t make sponges or cakes that will go off quickly but purposefully make things that will last the week in an air tight tin.
We never take money to work, we always take a packed lunch. We both always take coffee and tea bags, a pack of value biscuits to keep in a desk drawer and we have back bone to stand up to peer pressure and stick to what we believe in.
This is not us! Just a ‘stock photo’. We cook a ‘proper’ meal every day………well I do! DB just eats it! and we entertain friends and family in this way. I’m so sick and tired of hearing people say they didn’t have time, when they found time to get in the car and go to the takeaway! We don’t ever just think, oh I’ve had a bad day I need to go to the pub for a dinner! Give me a break! Those poor bastards living in war zones and those who starve on a daily basis have hard days! Stop being precious and put some cheese on toast under the grill and no excuses!
I also use value products. I don’t care what people think when I buy them. I will not die if I don’t eat organic! I will not die if I don’t know the ‘provenance’ of where a pig comes from and whether a farmer sang it lullabies every night! I will not die if hasn’t come from a whole food cooperative where the staff have time off to grow under arm hair and have feckin’ therapy! I applaud those who raise their own meat and if my life were different, I would do so too. I equally admire those who grow a lot of what they eat, we grow some and we also buy some. When I’m eating my tuna and mayonaise sandwich in my lunch break, I don’t mind that I have Tesco value tuna in it.
Once a year, I have a good stock up from Approved Food. I buy long life products which are past their best by date. I also ignore any sell by, best by or even use by date. I do this because I have a brain in my head. If it doesn’t look off, if it doesn’t smell off and it doesn’t taste off, then I eat it. If bread or cheese has mould, then I cut it off and eat the rest. If cake gets a bit dry then I pour custard over it. If veggies get a bit limp and look a bit lifeless, then so what, we eat them any way. I know some people will turn their noses up but I’m 45 and I haven’t died yet of eating either old food or limp lettuce!
I shop in the cheapest supermarkets. I make it worth my while to drive to them by running down the stocks at home, using ‘mysupermarket’, Lidl and Aldi’s websites and I compare prices. Don’t forget, I only go into a supermarket about once a month so I make sure it’s worth me going. Vegetables and fruit are very cheap in Lidl. Flour, cheese, bread, milk are also very cheap. They are as cheap as Tesco Value but better quality. Half a dozen free range eggs are 85p in Lidl. Flour is 65p a bag for bread flour. So, I know my prices and do my research.
Where were we? I stock take, plan, home cook, never buy lunch, coffee or meals out, I buy the cheapest products, I research, stock up, and set and stick to a limited budget.. Food is really expensive. You can buy what you like, it’s your choice. We eat well because I home cook everything. How you do is up to you. I don’t suggest anyone does what I do, nor do I expect everyone wants to. This is just part of my financial plan to keep costs down. How do you keep food costs down?