If you’re in charge of managing the household budget, you’ll know that one of the main things your money goes on is feeding the family. This can get pretty pricey, especially when you have a house full of kids wanting to be fed the minute they get in from school!
If you’re not careful, you can easily spend £100 a week in Tesco, get home and realise you’ve not bought any of the basics – meaning you’ll have to pay over the odds and buy them from your corner shop. If this sounds familiar, don’t panic – we’ll look at how you can save money when you’re buying food.
Big shops vs little shops
You might think it’s easier just to go shopping every week so you can pick up whatever you’re out of and what you fancy for tea that week. However, this can mean you end up spending more on your groceries, especially if you don’t plan what you’re going to buy beforehand.
Doing one big shop once a month and then a couple of little top-up shops every week or so – with a strict plan in hand – is one way you could really save on your food shopping.
Planning it out
Let’s get this out of the way – to do the bulk of your food shopping once a month, you’re going to have to be organised and plan it properly. Set some time aside and plan all of your meals for a month, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try and think of some meal ideas you can make in bulk that will last you for a few nights, like chilli, hot pot, or casserole.
Write down everything you’ll need to make all of your meals – rest assured, it will be a long list! Separate it out into stuff you can buy that will last the month and stuff you’re going to have to buy every week (don’t worry, more on that below). It’s a good idea to put as many meals as possible with perishable ingredients in the first week, so you can eat them while they’re still fresh.
What to buy monthly
You can pretty much buy everything you need at the start of the month – just go to the frozen and tinned food aisles. Buy bags of frozen vegetables and herbs instead of fresh ones so they’ll last longer, and you can also get beans and sweetcorn in tins which last for months. If you’re buying meat, you can also get this now – just divide it up into meal size portions and stick it in your freezer.
Buy rice, pasta or lentils too, as they’ll last in your cupboard for ages. You can also get cereal, butter, coffee and tea, crisps, cheese and eggs.
What to buy weekly
The stuff you need to look at getting once a week are your perishables – things that just won’t last the whole month. You’ll need to get milk, bread, and fresh fruit and vegetables, but even some of these can be replaced with monthly alternatives. For example, get a bottle of long-life milk and keep it in the cupboard for emergencies. Next time you really need milk for your cuppa but don’t want to go into a shop just for that, you’ll be able to use the long-life milk instead!
Things to consider
If you’ve not got much freezer space, you’ll probably need to go shopping more often than once a month. However, whether you’re shopping every week, every two weeks or just monthly, the most important thing is to plan out what you’re going to buy. That’s how you’ll really save money – and avoid wasting food too.