Becoming a Frugal Foodie
What is the biggest expense in your household?
For us, it is without a doubt groceries.
Having spent the last 3 months of maternity leave on zero pay, we have found budgeting pretty tough. I recently reviewed my credit card statement for the last month and I was a little shocked and quite frankly disturbed at the amount of money we spend on food and drink. Despite me going back to work this week, I have taken the decision that something has got to change, as we are wasting not only much needed funds, but also over purchasing, wasting an obscene amount of produce and not planning ahead. With the return of busy mornings of nursery, school and work runs, combined with the darker nights and colder weather, it is time to get organised!
When Contact Numbers UK asked if I wanted to be involved with their #CNUKFrugalFoodie campaign, attempting to save money on food over the Winter, I seemed crazy not to get involved!
Here’s how I plan to be a frugal foodie!!!
- Meal Plan – I used to be really good at this, but lately my planning has fallen down the wayside. At the moment we are doing 3 or 4 smaller shops a week, and as a result, we end up coming back with lots of rubbish that we, and in particular my waistline, don’t need. By planning the meals for the week in advance, I can ensure that I only buy the items that we actually need for these meals, reducing the amount of waste and 9 times out of ten, resulting in better meal choices. We have a blackboard in our kitchen already – I just need to start using it!!!
- Shop around – whilst one shop is recommended – don’t be afraid to shop around. My Dad occasionally visits a second supermarket when they have high price items on promotion and this can save a fortune, particularly if you are lucky enough to be within close proximity of a number of supermarkets. My house is situated within walking distance of a Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsburys, Iceland and Aldi, so we are a little bit spoiled for choice.
- Get the facts – If you are getting involved in some of the big food promotions such as Sainsburys 25% off wine deals, save yourself a wasted journey by ringing ahead to check that you have what you require. You can also check how long promotions are live, and when new ones are likely to arrive in store. You can find supermarket customer service numbers on Contact Numbers UK including Sainsburys, Tescos, and Morrisons.
- Cook in bulk – consider batch cooking at the weekends – not only will this save time in the week when the evenings are precious and time is limited, but also saves money as you can use all the ingredients up in one go, before splitting and freezing in smaller portions. I am planning on rustling up some chilli and spaghetti bolognase at the weekend, as these are perfect winter warmers. I can get it out the freezer in the morning before work, leaving it to defrost in the fridge, meaning that when I get home it simply needs a heat through and some potato wedges or spaghetti to finish off the meal. A quick dinner prep reduced from 1 hour to 15 minutes is always going to be a positive too!
- Never go food shopping on an empty stomach!! You will ALWAYS buy more naughty food, and thus increase your food bill if you go shopping when you are hungry. A small lunch or snack before you go will stop everything from looking quite so appealing!!
- Consider home delivery – Living so close to so many supermarkets can make this feel incredibly lazy – however, I have found in the past that shopping online for home delivery or collection dramatically reduces the amount I purchase, as there are no visual temptations for impulse purchases. Even with the small delivery charge I find my shopping basket is around £15-20 cheaper. Many supermarkets now offer an annual delivery pass option now too – a one off annual fee that then means all deliveries to your home are free of charge. Even better, all you favourites are saved online, making the reordering process very quick and efficient.
- Take advantage of discounts, coupons and clubcards – I personally save my nectar card points for the double up events, meaning that I get twice the amount to spend in store at Christmas. I also have the Nectar app on my phone which has different items each week that qualify for double points or bonus points. I can also keep a track of my points total, and see the amount increasing with every shop.
- Packed Lunches – Are SOOOO much cheaper than buying lunch on the go. My plan is to make wraps or sandwiches at home to take in for work, rather than getting into the unhealthy cycle of spending £3.95 on a pre packed sandwich, which is considerably less healthy too!
- Consider a brand swap – there are some brands that I will simply not sacrifice – for example, beans HAVE to be Heinz and chocolate HAS to be Cadburys, but there are some cheaper supermarket own options which are just as good as the original. We tend to buy own brand washing up liquid, biscuits, dry pasta and cereals. We save a small amount on each purchase, and Erin can’t tell the difference. My biggest challenge here is that my partner is what I like to call a “food snob” and makes a judgement based on the packaging about whether he likes it or not. I can guarantee if he hadn’t seen the packet he wouldn’t bat an eyelid!!!
- Look out for the yellow sticker deals – if you do go to your local store, look out for the yellow sticker deals – particularly if you are visiting just before closing time. These reduced items need to be eaten on the day from fresh but can also be frozen – buying bread to pop in the freezer for half the price can save a fortune, particularly as the bread can be popped straight in the toaster from the freezer!
So that’s my challenge. Hopefully come December I can brag about how much I have cut my monthly food bills! Wish me luck!!!
How else do you save money on your food bills?
*This is a collaborative post*