In this financial climate everyone is having to tighten their belts and my household is no exception. With a wedding to pay for on top of the mortgage, increasing household bills and spiralling grocery costs it’s a hot topic for us.
About 5 years ago we were regularly spending around £85 per week in supermarkets yet still never seemed to have any food in. On top of this we would regularly eat out and get takeaways which would have taken the total way over £125 per week. And we wondered why there was nothing left in our salaries at the end of the month. At this time we were looking into buying a house and were struggling to save for a deposit. Around this time I found the Money Saving Expert website and discovered through the great forums that this could be cut.
I started by understanding where the money was going each week. How much went on ready meals, treats, basics etc. I soon discovered that the majority was junk food and impulse buys. Using the tips below I managed to get this down to £50 per week and it stayed there for a few years.
Fast forward to 2008. Wedding planning (& saving) was in full swing and I was trying to trim my outgoings in every area. I decided to try and reduce my weekly spend to £30 per week and at the same time improve my diet. As it turned out, the two went hand in hand! As I started cooking healthier meals from scratch using fresh ingredients I found I was spending less. I managed on £30 for quite a while and have only recently decided to up this to £35-£40. I did this as I think it gives me a better range of food and allows me to by better quality foods (freedom foods meat, free range eggs etc). However I know that if needed I could reduce this back down
So here are my Top Tips for shopping on a budget:
- Understand how much you spend at the moment. Keep your food shopping receipts for a fortnight and see how much you actually spend. How do you feel about this? How much would you like to reduce this by? It’s a good idea to aim to gradually reduce your spending rather than halving it in one week
- Meal Plan and use this to create a shopping list. When you get to the store stick to this list. If you don’t need anything on the cake and biscuit aisle don’t walk down it!!
- Don’t get sucked in by special offers. If your favourite yogurts are on 3 for 2, check that you will really eat them all within the use by date before you buy. Be careful, some offers only give you pennies off and if you end up throwing the item away it won’t seem like such a bargain.
- Don’t throw food away. Throwing food away is the worst thing you can do if you are trying to save money. Check the dates on everything before you buy and make sure you can use it by this date. Get creative with leftovers. Some of the best meals are made up of the leftovers in the fridge.
- Batch cooking. This is a great tip. Items like minced beef can be much cheaper if bought in bulk. I buy large family packs of mince and cook the whole lot up into a chilli or bolognaise and freeze the rest in individual portions. That means I can take advantage of bulk savings, not waste any food and have some handy freezer meals for when I want a quick meal.
- Buy ‘real food’. Everytime a process is carried out on a product it adds to the cost. So a whole lettuce is cheaper than a prepared salad bag, potatoes are cheaper that the equivalent weight of fries.
Using these tips I have been able to get on top of my spendig and keep it at a level that is comfortable for me.
What are your top tips for keeping your shopping budget down?