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Cutting back the cost of your weekly food shop
Save, save, save
We all try to save money in one way or another. It could be using the car less to save on fuel, switching our gas suppliers to a cheaper alternative or cancelling that gym membership we hardly make use of.
One of our biggest bills must really be our food bill. It's something we can't avoid as food is pretty essential but the prices in supermarkets seem to be high. That together with a demanding family and the need for convenience. Food is such a cost.
Food for Thought
I am quite lucky in the way that I have a small family. There are two adults and one child and we don't have pets.
Even so, we try our best to save money on food or shop around for deals. Although the other week when the cupboards were bare, we decided to go and do a 'big' shop at a well known supermarket.
We needed quite a lot (for us) as condiments were running out, the fridge was bare and we needed stuff for meals and lunches.
After filling up the trolley on food stuff only (no alcohol or other household items), we manged to spend £120.00 (in English pounds).
During the week we bought an extra loaf of bread, four pints of milk, and my partner ate out twice at lunchtime with work colleagues.
To many, that is probably below average, but to us that was a lot.
Spending a lump sum all at once makes you more aware of what is being spent rather than when you go out shopping each day. Buying bits here and there distracts you from your outgoings.
Being more conscious of things will help you in the longrun. If you're able to take a little time to do it, you will notice the difference like we have.
This week, this is what we did differently...
We went along to a budget supermarket, rather than the large well known one. We stocked up on all we needed such as non-perishables (crackers, cereal, tins, pasta) and got a few bits of fruit which tends to be cheaper here.
We then went to the local supermarket to check for half price deals on meat, yogurts and fruit juices. Then we went to a frozen food outlet for cheaper frozen vegetables, fish and sausages.
Our total for all of this came to:
- £51.00 in the budget supermarket
- £15.00 in the usual supermarket on a few deals
- £18.00 in the frozen food shop
£84.00 on more food is already a saving. The fact that we bought a lot of non-perishable and frozen food means it'll last longer than the fresh food, which tends to go off.
How to cook on a budget
I am always trying to cook up a meal on what ever is left my cupboards. The fact that I buy a lot of meat and fish which is frozen, enables me to grab something out of the freezer and throw it in the pan.
If you can make pastry, you have a good base for any meal.
All you need is: 8 oz of flour (I like self-raising for a lighter texture), 2 oz butter and 2 oz of lard or a vegetable alternative, a pinch of salt and cold water to bind.
You then rub the fat into the flour and salt lightly to resemble breadcrumbs, then bind with water, a tablespoon at a time with a knife. Eventually work together to form the pastry. Keep in the refrigerator until needed.
You can then make pies, pizza (use a tablespoon of olive oil rather than butter and lard), quiche or scones (sweet or savoury).
Try this cheap recipe with your pastry:
Meat and Potato Pie
Chop up (into small cubes) an onion, peeled carrot, large peeled potato, half a small swede (or use frozen), a handful of peas and boil them in just enough water to cover.
Add an Oxo stock cube, a teaspoon of gravy granules, Worcester sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Next add a tin of mashed up corned beef and add more boiling water if need be.
Split your pastry into two and roll out. Line a greased flan dish with the pastry, add the filling, then place the second rolled out piece on top.
Seal the edges and trim. Brush with egg, make a hole for steam to escape in the top, then bake in a hot oven until browned.
You can also try making fillings with fish in parsley sauce, chicken and mushroom or cheese and onion.
Make cake, don't buy it
If you don't know how to bake then now is the time to learn! It works out so much cheaper in the long run and you know what's actually in it.
By keeping flour, baking powder, eggs, sugar and butter in the house, whipping up a cake takes no time at all. Do it when the oven is on cooking something else to save energy.
You can make sponge cakes, chocolate muffins or even make cookies. They are a great snack for when the kids come home from school, or an after dinner treat.
You can make many meals from eggs, and you can save yourself a fortune.
By making omelette's filled with cheese, ham or vegetables, you have a light lunch or breakfast. You can even shallow fry chipped potatoes and have them on the side.
Those who are good in the kitchen may try souffles, sweet or savoury. Or you have the option to scramble, fry, boil or poach and put virtually anything with them.
Otherwise known as 'Bubble and Squeak', this saves you from throwing away that extra veg from your Sunday roast.
Simply fry together cabbage, potatoes, carrots, sprouts or any other vegetables with some seasoning. Grate on some cheese and you have a tasty supper dish. Old fashioned, but still delicious!
Once bread has gone past its best there are one or two things to do with it. You can keep it for toasting only, or you can make a heartwarming bread and butter pudding with it.
Simply slice up and butter your bread. If you have croissants, panettone (left from Christmas) or brioche, these work well too. As do currant teacakes or hot cross buns.
Make up some custard. I personally cheat with powdered custard, but you can make it from scratch with egg yolks,milk, cream, vanilla, cornflour and sugar.
Assemble the bread in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with raisins and sultanas. Pour over the custard and bake until brown.
For a different bread and butter pudding, sprinkle chocolate buttons over the bread instead of raisins, or use chocolate custard instead of vanilla. Children love it.
Be self sufficient
Growing your own fruit and vegetables mean saving even more money on your food shop. Having veggies and herbs growing in your garden (or on an allotment) allows you to use the amount you need without waste.
You could even go a little further and invest in some pet chickens too! Fresh eggs everyday - if you are lucky.
Don't forget to shop around
By using farmer's markets and buying local produce, looking for 'buy one get one free's' in the supermarket, going to discount food stores and buying more non perishables and frozen food will save you money in the long run.
Stock up and buy fresh food as you need it. Keep a diary and tally up receipts. See if you notice the difference.