With James and I saving for a house deposit we have set ourselves a really strict budget for spending and that includes our grocery shopping. As we live across the road from a Sainsburys and we have to pass it if we are walking into town we were very bad at “just popping in” and would spend an extra £20-£30 a week on top of our usual food shops. We even worked out that one month we had spent an extra £250 between us on just popping into Sainsburys. Over the past several months we have really reigned in our spending and we are doing so much better and actually getting money into our savings pot! We now have a system that works for us and I would say we are eating much better than we were too.
Set A Realistic Budget
Depending on your financial goals, it is important to set yourself a budget from the start. How much on average do you spend a week or month at the moment? can you cut back on Take-away’s or sweet treats? We estimated a budget of £60 a week would be enough for us, 2 adults and a 1 year old and include cleaning products, loo roll, toothpaste etc as well as food. Most weeks we are spending much less so any money leftover can go into the following week. Any money left over at the end of the month could either be put straight into savings as a bonus or towards a treat of eating out or getting a takeaway.
Setting yourselves a meal plan can be so useful in ensuring there is no extra spending as you know exactly what you are eating for the week and are not tempted to order in a pizza. I like to plan for meals with similar ingredients so that if I am buying something that would go off quickly after being opened I can use it up over a couple of meals helping to reduce waste. It is also good to plan a couple of quick easy meals for the week so that if you don’t feel like cooking you can whip something up real quick. Our favourite is scrambled egg with lots of veg in a wrap.
Use Physical Cash
Last month we decided to take our food budget out in cash at the start of the month and kept it in a little wallet. I have always found it so much easier to budget with actual money rather than just popping it on card. That way we can see how much we have left and if we need to have a leaner week and use up freezer or cupboard contents.
Keep Receipts and Record Spending
Along with taking the money out in cash we have also been keeping our receipts in the wallet too and keeping a ledger of what we are spending. We have found this to be useful of looking to see what we are spending where and also what we are buying. We have been able to ask ourselves where we can cut back and if we really needed that particular item. Looking back at where we are spending our money has helped us think about future spending and learn for the future.
See What is in Your Cupboards and Freezer
If your running low on your budget towards the end of the month see what you have in the freezer and have a rummage in the cupboards. Sometimes it takes a bit of imagination and googleing but it can be a fun way of trying new things. I love a good old mish-mash of a meal. Pineterest is also fab for cheap and easy meal ideas too.
Look For Deals
Looking for deals is worthwhile but only if you were planning on buying the item in the first place. We try not to be tempted by some amazing deal for something we would never normally use as it just ends up being a waste of money no matter what you saved overall.
Shop Somewhere Cheaper
James and I have started shopping at Lidl recently and we are saving so much money. As the shop is relatively small we aren’t tempted by things we don’t need and we can also do our food shop really quickly. We get in, we get out. Of course we can’t always get everything we would like there so we do sometimes have to pop into Sainsburys or Tesco but we are much more focused when we go to get the last few bits and bobs.
Buy In Bulk
If there is a great offer on and it’s something you will use and is either non-perishable or can be frozen then we will stock up. Buying extra is super handy and also means it is to hand if you fancy something in particular.
Make Extra Meals to Freeze
If I am making something like Spaghetti Bolognese, curry or chilli then I make more portions than I would actually need and tub up the extras to freeze. This is super handy when we are running low on budget or don’t want to cook a big meal. Just defrost the day before and your set.
Something my friend Sophie does to stick to her budget is shop online, that way she only buys what is on her list and isn’t tempted like she would be if she was wandering around the shop. By shopping online you can also see exactly how much your spending to the penny before getting to the checkout.
Bulk Meals Out With Veg or lentils
We have been trying to eat less meat lately as it is so expensive. We have found that we can easily use half the amount of meat we would normally have by bulking out our meal with veg or lentils. So not only do you get a much bigger portion of veg you are also saving yourself money.
Eat Meatless Meals
Similar to above, why not cut the meat out of a dish altogether. I love having a vegetable curry with squash, carrot and sweet potato. I find these dishes last us a bit longer too and we can have a couple of days worth of meals.
Buy Non-Branded Items
Since swapping supermarkets we are no longer buying commonly branded items and it has made such a difference to our budget. So instead of buying Heinz Baked Beans we will buy supermarket own brand or whatever is on offer and cheapest. They taste no different!
Well there you have it, all my top tips for sticking to a food budget. Is there anything you could add? Leave a comment below and let me know.
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