Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Food Shop

How to save on your food bill:

One of the biggest outgoings is the food shop, it's a nightmare. It's so easy to over spend, it's hard when you are working to a tight budget. I've been trying to get it manageable for ages, but am slowly getting some where. First I tried to work out, what our basics are, what things I need to buy each week. Once i started to work out the basics, I started meal planning. Now to really save, it takes time, meal planning. Working out a set meal plan for the week and not buying over what you need for those meals. Will save you lots of money, and save on wasted food. Meal planning takes time, but once you get used to it, and work out which meals work for your family, it does get quicker. 

So the basics, first there is nothing wrong with buying basics, smart price etc. I have big glass jars, so no one would know anyway. 

We have 3 kids 5 and under, and two come home hungry from school. So I work it out that the children eat a meal at 4.30-5 Monday to Thursday. (They go to bed for 6pm.) On a Friday, we all eat together at 6, when my husband is home, and the children go to bed a little later. This means Friday's meal is a meal which works for all of us like toad in the hole, spaghetti Bolognese or Mac&Butternut.

This way, I can plan meals for the children and meals for my husband and I.  

Most of the meals I make for my husband and I, are batched cooked meals. So I cook double and freeze down for later in the week or the next. This saves time and also money. 


When you are really struggling or that last week of the month when you have run down pretty much everything, this is the basics. I've always thought, if I have bread and porridge, we will be fed. Making your own bread can be a scary thought but it will save you money and is much better for you. We used to go through loads and it really adds up! Now I bake most days, and I do have a bread maker. But you don't need a bread maker to make yummy bread for your family with ease. 

This is a very, very basic shop:

Loo roll £1
Oil 99p
Bread Flour 95p
Yeast 99p buy the pot not satchels, works out much cheaper.
Potatoes £1.29
Jam 25p (once you have eaten the jam, wash and keep the jar.)
Soya Milk 59p
Porridge Oats 75p 
Vegetable Grills £1 
Baked Beans 24p X2
Bananas (always buy the ones which you need to weigh, not the packaged ones, as cheaper.) Min one per day (it would be per person but depends on how much you have.) 

= £8.29

The loose bananas where £1.19, this very very basic shop was under £10.

(These are the current prices, so they may change. Tesco is my local shop, but you can apply the ideas to any shop. I find that even to much cheaper shops, it works out about the same price. Always compare the size and price, it maybe cheaper else where but a smaller packet. By the time you have worked in the extra petrol/bus costs to get to lots of different shops you may not have saved anything at all.)

When you are trying to make sure you can stretch your money and feed mini people, it can be hard to think about what meals you can make.

This is a mega basic shop, this shop means everyone will have porridge for breakfast (with a banana and a little jam.) Homemade sandwich rolls with jam for lunch. Home made chips, beans and a veg grill for dinner. Like I said basic but still filling. So this should cover 


Mon-sat porridge with jam for breakfast. (With a banana sliced up and shared, saving one for Sunday.) For the perfect porrage, half water/half milk, cook till almost at boiling. (Stiring too.) Then turn right down till thicken, make sure you keep stiring. (I love it with golden syrup, bananas and raisins.)

Sunday 'good morning dumplings.' Waiting a little later, around brunch time, can make sure they all eat and feels more like an early lunch. I try and do a roast around 3pm and a brunch is the way to go if a big early dinner is on the cards (this basic shop is not allowing for a roast.)


Mon-sat Jam sandwiches 
(If you can go blackberry picking for an afternoon snack.) 

Lovely Buns  These are mega easy to make, cheap, good for you and great fun to make with the mini people. 


Mon-Friday Homemade chips, a veg grill (there are 6 in a pack, so depending on how many children you have and how much they want to eat. As to how long these will last.) Beans (not throwing away any uneaten and saving in the fridge.) 

This should get you through at least 5 days, with yeast, loo roll and maybe potatoes and porridge oats left over. 

This is a mega basic shop, it's not got all the nutritional and vitamins but if you are really stuck at least you know they will be fed. 

You can build on this very minimum shop, add tins of smart price tomatoes. Add some porridge to the tomatoes a little veg and you have a basic pasta sauce. What about a can of chickpeas to make my Mega Cheap Chilli perfect with Rice or a few of the Lovely Buns. Add a can of coconut and a butternut squash (about 95p for coconut and £1 for butternut) and you can make 1-2 meals of Mac&Butternut or a Simple Curry. Veg fingers are £1.50 from Tesco are fun and cheap for the children. I know frozen chips look cheap, but get into making your own, you will save money this way. It really doesn't take much more time at all. Like me, you can mix up a few potatoes with a few parsnips cut the same way, some sweet potatoes and carrots. Great way of getting them eating veg, thinking their just chips! You can add seeds to them when cooking, for extra goodness too! You can make different sort of chips too, one night plain chips, other homemade wedges (just cut as wedge shapes and add over Homemade Breadcrumbs from any left over bread.)

We stopped eating meat about a year ago now and we have saved a lot on our shopping bill. The children have a multivitamin and am very hot on making sure they are getting everything they need. Since changing our diet we are eating much better, healthier food and cheaper. So don't be scared to try different things. 

When you are low on money, and you have managed to get a meal together and you child just pushes it away....it can be heartbreaking. So horrible explaining there are no yogurts today. It can easily make meal times very stressful and put added pressure on them and you. So I try and included them. They love making bread with me (youngest tries to eat the flour, middle son loves throwing it about but my eldest is getting really good!) they are much more likely to eat a meal they have helped to make. 

Basic spices etc to have are - chilli powder, Rosemary, thyme, mint and black pepper. Grow what you can as this will save you money but allow you to make cheap sauces. 


Not only making your own bread will save you money, but things like Jams too. Check out how to make my Wild Blackberry Jam. Its great fun to go out with the mini people and pick free food, and nothing tastes better than you have cooked your self! (Make sure you read Blackberry Picking before you head out to pick berries.)

Make your own pastry. It sounds scary if you haven't before, but you can then make pies, pizzas and things like sausage rolls mega cheap. Use left over veg and a veg stock cube and you have a pie! half and onion and some tomato sauce and a pizza! Short Crust Pastry This is my mega easy pastry recipe, without eggs it brings the cost down even more. Today I had run out of butter so used some oil in its place, was still yummy. You can also wrap a nut roast in this to make it extra special. 

If you can, shop later. Most shops mark down things around 7pm, and you can get some bargains.

Don't throw away stale bread, make your own breadcrumbs

Porridge in your pasta sources, so good for you and thickens up a source. Also adding a teaspoon of marmite will beef up a pasta source. 

Always go to the reduced sections first when you go shopping. You will be surprised how much you can freeze, from herbs and spinage to onions! 

Check out your local farm shops, some things can be cheaper as you can buy in a bigger bulk. 

Look for bootsales, often the regular ones have a vegetable stall. Which is from a local producer, it's often much cheaper. 

When you go shopping, go to a big shop as many now give free fruit to children while your shopping. This not only makes the shop much easier but it's also a snack you haven't had to pay for.  

For things like loo roll, don't buy the expensive stuff. It's not worth it ;) 

Washing powder, you can spend so much money just on powder! Soap nuts are amazing, they are great for your skin, save you loads and loads and good for our planet! You can use them for assorts of things, from washing your clothes to your hair! Click here for my review on Soap Nuts!

Nappies, after trying almost every nappy out there, I like Tesco smart price nappies £1.41! They are fab but 90% of the time I cloth bum! Cloth nappies, am going to do a blog just about them, as well there are so many. They are well worth it and will save you money. 

You can make your own baby wipes, ladies monthly products and washing items. It's well worth thinking about what you can make or buy which will help you save money but also help the planet by you using. So many people spend a 3rd of their shopping budget on cleaning products. You really don't need too. I clean my kitchen sink with half a lemon, it's amazing! I will getting writing a few blogs about things you can make which will save, so keep an eye out :) 

Save all your jars, so you can make your own jams and chutneys. I will be sharing some Christmas ideas for old jars soon too. 

Don't throw away all your peelings! 

So many plants regrow from peelings! These are spring onions, just chop off the roots, pop them in water and watch them regrow. Once they have found their feet plant them! Same with potatoes peelings, they are fab at braking up hard ground too. I will be sharing soon how I made my veg patch, while your waiting, pop your potato peelings in a brown paper bag in the dark, watch them grow or just throw them on a patch of ground you want to grow beg in or in a big tub.

Make sure you check out my Family Budgeting blog too!

For a family of five, we spend between £60-100 a week on food. If I have meal planned to the letter it's closer to £55-60.  Meal planning is the way forward and the best way to save money. Click here for my blog about meal planning.

Learning how to make your own breadPastry and Pancakes will really bring your spending down. Ok it takes a little longer to make, but before you know it you will be quick. Also the kids love to help, making the batter for pancakes or kneeing the bread. You can make so many meals from one bag of flour (a few other bits and bobs but you get my meaning.) I buy the smart price flour, its fine, its cheap and the pancakes taste just as good.  

Best way to save money in the long term is to meal plan - click here for my blog about how I meal plan

Am adding to this blog, so make sure you save the link :) and if you have any tips please share :)

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