Inspired by many discussions amongst my Mummy friends, all along the line of “My weekly food shop is out of control!” and by Anna’s fabulous post here.
While I am not as frugal as Anna, (OMG how does she do it!) I recognise that our weekly shop is indeed “out of control” and the bill is FAR bigger than it needs to be!
So I decided to take control….
I have taken inventory of my pantry and my freezer, and made a “stock-list” this means I only shop for what we NEED and not what I think we need (4 bottles of HP sauce anyone?) This also means I can meal-plan taking into account what we already HAVE.
I do a monthly meal plan – I KNOW this is boring, and I KNOW we all need a bit of spontanaeity now and again for nights when only take-out will do or romantic meals out with Crummy Hubby (HA!), but I have found that where plans change I just freeze the meal for that day, or move it around with no issue..
Now, here are a few caveats…. Crummy Hubby and I both work, and we choose to spend some of our disposable income on “treats” such a nice cuts of steak, a few bottles of wine and a wee bit of food shopping in M&S each week! Also I am following the Slimming World plan, and fresh fruit, salad and vegetables are more expensive than junk food (go figure!), but also because we do eat a lot of fresh food I still need to do a weekly shop. Armed with my monthly meal plan, I buy meat in bulk to take advantage of multibuy offers, and also yellow-sticker offers (where food is right on its sell-by and I can shove it straight in the freezer!).
I also shop at Sainsbury’s and M&S simply because I find that the fresh fruit and veg keeps longer from these stores. With Sainsbury’s Brand Match, and M&S new Simply range, they really aren’t more expensive than Tesco or Asda as legend would have it.
I also found that because Sainsbury’s (and other leading supermarkets) have become a bit of a one stop shop for everything from clothes to household with a bit of food throw in, I was often buying other things at the same time as my weekly shop. Things like Wellies for the kids, a sneaky top for me, Lego Olympic figures, photo frames, childrens birthday presents, magazines, papers etc etc. Now I haven’t stopped picking up these items, I simply deduct them from my total at the end, to get the true value of my food shop. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so scary when you work out that the £200 bill from Sainsbury’s included, school uniform items, 3 birthday cards, a birthday pressie, a new top for me, and clothes for the Wilburbeast!
I have now gotten my weekly food shop into the realms of between £80-£100 a week, some weeks it’s a bit more, others less. This is fine for us, considering I take a packed lunch to work and we rarely have take out (Slimming World again!), so our “extra” spend on food over the week is nothing (apart from a top-up shop to get bananas or bread)! I am always dubious of these people that say they can spend £20 a week to feed a family of four, but then it transpires they have 3 take-aways a week and do a top-up shop of another £40, and they get their lunches at work!
All that considered; here are my tips for reining in that spending:
- Take advantage of multi-buy offers (meat 3 for £10 etc) but ONLY if they fit with your plans, and you have room to freeze/store them or you will use them before they go bad.
- Down-brand – if you normally buy a brand-name, try the shop’s own brand. If you normally buy own-brand, try the value range. 9 times out of 10 you won’t notice the difference, and if you do – you can always switch back.
- Only buy baby-wipes if they are on offer
- Shop with a LIST and stick to it!
- Shop WITHOUT the kids! (or failing that ignore their pleas for things you don’t want or need, and you know they don’t either!)
- Home-cooking – great if you are doing Slimming World, and making your own lasagne/Spag Bol/Chilli etc is far more satisfying and nutritious and cheaper than buying a ready meal.
- Buy fruit and veg loose, rather than pre-packed, you can choose the quality and quantity and it’s usually cheaper.
- Buy meat (steak, chicken breasts) from the deli counter – it’s usually cheaper.
- When doing a top-up shop, get in and out of the supermarket like a ninja! Only buy what you came for! Failing that send your hubby/other half!
- When shops like Tesco give vouchers such as spend £40 and get £5 off – that £5 is like free money – as LONG as you only spend the £40 (ish). I usually take advantage of these by buying nappies, cleaning products and other non-perishables that I would have bought ANYWAY, but now I get the £5 off.