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Today I’m really happy to share a guest post from the lovely Melissa over at Skinny Spending. Melissa blogs about living a full fat lifestyle on a low cal budget and today she’s sharing her top 5 tips for saving money on food shopping.
How I save money on my food shopping
Firstly, I’m so excited to be doing a guest post for Miss Manypennies! For those of you who don’t know my story, going part time and changing jobs meant a significant drop in earnings for me. However, even when I was on a lot more money, I was amazed how much other people seemed to spend on their food shop! Most of these tips I have been using for many years so hopefully you will find something to help you save.
1. Do one “big shop” a month
I cannot stress how much this helps to save your overall costs! This is something we have always done as a family, I think it was for time saving rather than money initially but it has always worked really well for us. Yes, I do need to do a top up shop in the middle of the month for fresh produce but I would undoubtedly spend more if I went every week. Even being budget conscious it can be hard to resist special offers for products you don’t particularly need, so limiting the number of visits definitely helps. I also do my “top up” shop at Aldi, which tends to be cheaper for certain items than Asda so I stock up on those while I’m there.
2. Plan, plan, plan!
Meal planning and writing a shopping list might seem like a bit of a faff, but not as much of a pain as standing in the middle of Tesco’s not being able to remember what you need, or realising when you get home you’ve forgotten the vital ingredient for tonight’s tea. A few months ago I decided I was fed up of scribbling down a list only to forget something, so I developed my own master grocery shopping list on the computer. Saving it as a Word file means that it can easily be amended before printing out each month. I then go through the cupboards and cross off what we don’t need to buy that month, and circle what we do.
I then developed a similar idea for my meal planning – I wrote down a list of all the meals we eat on a regular basis (e.g. spaghetti bolognese, chicken fajitas etc) and use this as a reference for the shopping list deciding which meals we might buy the ingredients in for that month. Each week I then scribble down on a piece of paper stuck to the fridge what we might eat that week. It’s not set in stone but it helps to get meat defrosted for the following night instead of suddenly realising at 5 pm it will have to be beans on toast for tea!
3.Batch cook and freeze portions
A freezer is obviously essential for this one, but it saves so much time and money. It really doesn’t take much more effort to cook 3 portions of chilli for a family of 4 instead of one – and although you might use more pans you will save on the washing up next time! Buying larger bulk packs of meat often works out cheaper too, and on a day when you are too busy to cook, a homemade meal can be heated and ready very quickly with minimal effort.
I try and batch cook meals that will use up perishable vegetables such as mushrooms at the beginning of the month so there is no waste. This also helps the vegetables to last until the “top up” shop 2 weeks later.
4. Shop online
There is a small part of me that can’t believe I am recommending this as I swore off it for so long! It was only after having my daughter and trying to wheel her round in a trolley that I realised it was the lesser evil when you are buying a month’s worth of stuff.
I think the reason I was against it for so long is that I am a bit of a control freak and was put off by other people’s substitution stories and short dates on items. However I soon learned that you can refuse the substitutions if they are not wanted, and also they can work in your favour. If a cheaper product is out of stock then you can often be substituted a more expensive replacement at no extra cost. The short date issue I have experienced a few times, and although you can complain and get a refund this can be a bit of a hassle going back to the shop for the sake of 1 item so I do try and avoid buying certain items online if I can.
Despite these issues though it is a much easier way to stick to your budget, especially if you have a list in front of you. You can also automatically add favourite items to your trolley making it a much quicker process, and obviously having a running total of what you are spending means there are no nasty surprises at the checkout. If you plan ahead, you can avoid costly delivery charges by booking a cheaper slot (these tend to get booked up first for obvious reasons), or even choose to click & collect at the store for free.
5. Cook from scratch as much as possible
I’m not going to pretend there isn’t the occasional frozen pie or fish finger in my online trolley, but if you check out my master shopping list on my blog, you will see that there are minimal ready prepared foods on there. This includes cooking sauces, ready meals and cook at home meal kits. Tinned tomatoes are my go-to ingredient for making a variety of sauces – they can be the basis for a spag bol, chilli, curry or stew and work out far cheaper (and probably much healthier too). I never buy ready made desserts as part of my monthly shop either. This is not to say we don’t have them but they would be bought as a one-off – along with alcohol! By removing these items from the monthly shop (but still budgeting for them) it means they will only be bought as an occasional weekend treat along with a takeaway or shop bought meal.
Enjoy this article? Please pop over to Skinny Spending to find more great money saving tips and advice!