Saturday, 15 July 2017

6 ways to keep your food shop affordable



I’ve gone a bit crazy with my shopping budget of late (1950s housewife, anyone?). I think it’s because we have an extra mouth to feed and that mouth is attached to hands that love to throw food on the floor (oh the joys of baby led weaning). Also, snacks cost us a fortune because Ebony has a Nakd bar most days and they aren’t cheap, but they do contain nuts so I see it as a good investment for her health.

I’ve been thinking about how I can maintain affordable food costs without blowing my budget, and I’ve come up with the following ideas:

1. Meal plan
This is something I did religiously when Ebony was a baby. We were on a tight budget so I made sure I knew exactly what we were going to eat during the week. Every Sunday, I would sit down with a pad and a pile of recipe books and plan out our meals. I’ve fallen out of the habit now, in part because I like to let Ebony choose what she eats on a daily basis. Her school lunches often consist of baked beans (and other stuff, don’t panic) so I let her choose what she likes for dinner. I’m going to try and get into the habit of asking her to meal plan with me so we can choose nice food for the week. She loves choosing recipes and helping me cook them ( we have this kid-friendly sharp knife and peeler so she can help in the kitchen).

2. Bulk buy
I already do this, to an extent. At the start of each month, I do a huge Ocado shop and stock up on essentials like snacks, soya milks, yoghurts and freezer foods. I hate big shops, they are absolute hell so I prefer doing as much as I can online. My monthly Ocado shop uses a huge chunk of my budget, but I know it’ll last the month so it feels worth it. Ocado is the best supermarket for vegan options, they have so many different foods so I stock up.

3. Stop being lazy
There’s a Sainsbury’s local just down the road which is really convenient but crazily expensive. I end up spending way too much in there just because it’s convenient, but I should really try to be a little more organised with my food shopping. There’s an Aldi not far away and I like getting fruit and veg there, but it’s a little further to walk so I end up going to Sainsbury’s instead most days. I work when Ember sleeps, so the thought of her having an illegal nap in the sling while I’m walking down to Aldi puts me off making the trip. Also, they sell washable nappies so I’m pretty much incapable of doing my shopping there without adding a washable nappy or two to my trolley. Damn those Special Buys.

4. Be fruit wise
We either have a mountain of fruit overflowing from the fruitbowl or none at all. I don’t know why I haven’t mastered the art of fruit buying yet. Both the girls love fruit so it goes pretty fast, but I know that if I planned better I could be more money savvy with my fruit purchases. There is nothing worse than getting downstairs in the morning to discover an empty fruit bowl, it leaves me with a very angry 10 month old. They always have fruit for breakfast. When Ember wakes up at the crack of dawn (every day), Ebony runs down to the kitchen and grabs them an orange to share.

5. Look for deals
I hate spending time shopping. But, back in the day when we were living on a shoestring budget (and not many places accept shoestring as payment), we used to shop around to get the best deals on things like soya milks (weirdly expensive milk substitute). Laurie used to trek round different supermarkets to make sure we got the most for our money. Now, I feel like time is more important so I usually just buy things from Ocado even though they might be more expensive because it means we get more time to spend as a family. When the budget is running low, we could probably be a little more savvy about bulk items.

6. Use wholefoods
Another thing I’ve gotten lazy at, is using tins. I used to use dried beans for most dishes but these days I find it much more convenient to reach for a tin. I should probably try to find the time to use dried beans again because it’s much cheaper and it’s not actually much of a hassle once you get used to doing it.

What do you do to keep your food shop within budget?

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