Tuesday, 3 July 2012

How I've saved a third on our weekly food bill

Right off I should say I hate going to the supermarket.  I am not one of those people who is happy to trawl around several supermarkets just to find the best bargain.  I love watching Extreme Couponing (not that you can get such deals in the UK) but the notion of spending eight hours or more in a supermarket makes my blood run cold.  So just how do you go about cutting your food bill (without cutting quality).

1  Make a Menu  
The lovely Fluffrick and I have spent many a Friday night (we know how to live it up) wandering aimlessly around Sainsburys putting stuff in our trolley, getting to the checkout and having very little to make a meal from.  

If you know what you are going to eat, you can plan what you are going to buy.

2  Write a List
This may seem obvious, but it is something I have only started to do within the last year or so.  It means you will get all the ingredients for all the meals you have planned and if you happen to put Chocolate on the list then you will just have to buy it.  Having a list does not mean you will never make an impulse purchase, but it will mean you will buy what you need.

3  Cut Down on the Meat
I know not everyone will approve of this notion, but meat is expensive especially if you want to buy higher welfare meat (as I do).  Meat Free Mondays is a fantastic idea (although personally I don't find Mondays a good day as it is the only day we are likely to have leftover chicken).  Just one day a week will save you money, but we now have 3 or 4 days a week meat free (sorry Mum) and it has definitely had an impact on what we spend.  I have found that the more spice you have the less you miss the meat, try a mushroom curry and lovely dahl and gobi aloo with naan bread and see if you miss the meat.

4  Don't Waste Food
 If you have made a menu and written a list, you shouldn't end up with a fridge full of things going out of date or spoiling.   I like to buy apples and bananas, but invariably don't always get them eaten before they start to go a little sad, but don't bin them, make an Apple Cake or Banana Bread.  Love Food Hate Waste is a great resource for ideas to use up leftovers and to guide you about not making too much to begin with.

5  Make Your Own Lunch
Today (well everyday this week actually) the lovely Fluffrick will be having Spiced Couscous with Vegetables, last week he had Brie, Cranberry sauce, salad and a homemade bread roll, next week it might be spicey bean tortilla wraps.  It costs a whole lot less to make you own lunch than to buy a sandwich everyday.

There is nothing earth shattering here, but there is no doubt it is saving us money.  We could undoubtedly save even more money if I was willing to cut down on quality.  I don't really "do" brands, that doesn't say quality to me, shop own brands are fine with me. To me quality is buying high welfare meat, sustainable fish and organic or locally produced fruit and veg.  

It does pain me to say that the way to save money is to plan, a menu, a list and the eat what you buy.  The added bonus of using a shopping list is that I can get round the supermarket a whole lot quicker and that is always a plus to me.


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