Meal Plan as much as possible. I know it’s not always easy, days out last longer than intended, plans change or sometimes you just don’t fancy cottage pie on a Thursday, but meal planning is the absolute number 1 thing you can do to save money on your weekly food shop. If you have your weeks worth of meals bought and planned out then you’re less likely to drop £20 in your local Tesco Express because you’ve got nothing organised for dinner. Here’s an example of my weekday meals:
Monday. Chicken Pie & Mash.
Tuesday. Jacket Potatoes with Ham and Salad.
Wednesday. Chicken Noodles.
Thursday. Spaghetti Carbonara.
Friday. Vegetable Chilli.
Find meals that use the same ingredients. For example, if you are making Chilli Con Carne one night then split your packet of mince and use the other half to make spaghetti bolognaise or a cottage pie another night. In the meal plan above I’ve used a roast chicken for two meals, and a joint of gammon for two meals. Which leads me on to my next tip.
Cut down on meat and use more vegetables. I always split my packets of meat and bulk up with veg, and even my carnivore husband is happy with the results. In my Chilli I’d use 250g of mince and then add in grated courgette, aubergine and a tin of cannelloni beans. It’s a win win because you get more veg in your life, more meat in your freezer and more money in your wallet.
Use cheaper cuts of meat. Chicken thighs and drumsticks in Aldi are pretty cheap and they make a tasty tray bake. A pork shoulder joint will make an absolute mountain of pulled pork for only a few pounds. If you shop smart you can make some real savings without compromising on variety and taste.
Make use of a slow cooker or pressure cooker. These are especially helpful on busy days and if you’ve got young children. I used my slow cooker for everything over the winter when Florence was a newborn. If it couldn’t be cooked in a slow cooker then it couldn’t be cooked at all while she was tiny. It’s a huge help to be able to throw something together in the morning and not have to worry about dinner all day. My pressure cooker is brilliant for things like risotto that would normally take a lot of tending to. It’s cooked and on the table in about 25 minutes, with minimal intervention. What’s not to like?
Don’t be brand loyal. If you’re willing to buy supermarket brand items, especially higher priced items like washing powder then you’re going to save a fair bit. Usually the products are just as good and much much cheaper.
Shop in Aldi or Lidl. I do my weekly shop in Aldi and I have done for a few years now. It took a bit of adjusting to at first, your options are limited and there are next to no brands. It didn’t take long before I was singing the praises of Aldi to everyone on the street though. It more than halved my shopping bill and over the last couple of years they’ve increased their range of products and now I find I only have to venture to a different shop for more ‘exotic’ foods… like risotto rice. However, this lack of choice also means a lack of spending. There’s no enticing stationary section, or books, or clothes. If you can avoid the middle aisles of mystery then you’re very unlikely to stray from your list because the temptation just isn’t there.
Don’t go shopping while you’re hungry. You will buy the whole shop, and it’s not worth it. Go in with your list and a full belly and shop with your head rather than your tum.
Think about what you actually need. Grabbing a variety of snacky bits and then just eating them for the sake of it will really bump the cost of your weekly shop up. It’s easy for me to say though, my children are small. I’ve heard rumours that teenagers can sink food faster than you can buy it, so this tip might not be too much of a long term one!
How do you manage your food budget? Do you find it easy to keep the cost down or are you more carefree with your spending? Let me know in the comments below!