Friday, 24 August 2012

The great weekly food shop....

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:

  • Meal-Plan
  • 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.

1 comment:

  1. Go Kirstie! Have to admit, we do the takeaways too!- but by being really careful I have spare pocket money for treats like stopping for tea and cake when out at the park etc., makes the effort of being careful in supermarket worth it when can splash out on other things. LIDL and the like are good if you can handle the super fast tills (better practised now) - stuff cheaper cos overheads so low compared to standard supermarkets. I suggested we do a LIDL shop one week, M&S the next - will see how well I do at budgeting to try it one month! x