Truth be told, I’m not too good at managing my own money. I never have been, and whilst I am trying to get better, I’m definitely not there yet. One of the ways in which I’m trying to get better with money is to stop spending so much when we do our weekly food shop. I’ve found a few tips and tricks which mean that you can save money, but have so much more than just beans on toast!
Here are a few of the things that I do, to ensure that we’re not spending more than needed on our weekly shop.
Before you go on your food shop, plan ahead. Go through your cupboards and freezer and see what you have in-stock. Then, create a meal plan for the week. I often spend Sundays pouring over cookbooks, seeing what new things I can cook up that coming week. This means that you have varied new meals, which in it’s self, means that you don’t feel like you’re really cutting the budget.
By meal planning and coming up with a shopping list, it means that you’ll be much more focused once in the shop, and only buy what you NEED. This also results in much less wastage.
The Reduced Aisle
My friends and boyfriend all laugh at me for this, but become one of those vultures who seeks out the reduced aisle. You’ll often have a bit of a battle getting to the front (at least you do in my local store!) but some of the savings you make can be worth it. The food in the reduced aisle is typically there because it’s due to go out of date on that day (with this in mind, it is worth trying to go later on in the day as it gets added to), but I often find that most of the food can be frozen. Even if your meal plan doesn’t require said reduced product that week, you can factor it in to a meal for another week. I often find packs of mince where I can save a pound or two. The best offers are usually for the one tin meals that you pop in the oven. I’ve been able to get the roast chicken one of these from Sainsburys for £1 before, rather than the £5 that you would usually pay. As they say, every little helps.
It’s also good for finding a sneaky treat. Chocolate mousses and desserts are often in here for less than a pound, and if it’s reduced, then the calories don’t count right?!
Sometimes the Reduced Aisle will be a waste of time, but if you don’t look, then you’ll never know.
Frozen Fish and Meat
Fish and meat are often two of the things that contribute to a hefty shopping bill. If there’s nothing good in the reduced section, then check out the frozen section. Now, I know that lots of people will tell you to buy organic and from your local butcher, but let’s be realistic, that’s not possible or sustainable for all of us. What you do want to try and avoid is having food that’s been pumped with additives. I shop in Sainsbury’s and their frozen meat is 100% meat. No additives or bad stuff. And, the bonus is that it’s much cheaper. To just put this in to context:
Sainsbury’s British Mini Chicken Fillets 400g = £3
Frozen Sainsbury’s British Mini Chicken Fillets 500g = £3.30
If you look at the cost per unit, the frozen chicken is just £6.60 per kg, versus the chilled chicken which is £7.50 per kg.
I’ve found the case to be similar with the beef mince too. And the great thing is, that by having it in the freezer, it’s always there, ready to go. With the mince, you can even cook it from frozen, great for if your dinner plans fall through and you need a last minute meal.
The one other product that I’m going to mention here is the Sainsbury’s White Fish Fillets Basics. These are frozen Alaska Pollock fillets and are always in my freezer. They cost just £1.70 for 520g, which is normally about 7 fillets. Yes, they shrink when being cooked, but at that price you can justify having a couple if you want them. These can be cooked from frozen and are great to have on stand-by. You’ll see them featured in a number of my meals, such as White Fish with Lentils, Chorizo, Kale, Tomatoes and Spinach or Baked White Fish with Spanish Style Vegetable and Chorizo Stew.
Supermarket own brand, value ranges are great. Yes, the packaging isn’t as nice, but a majority of the time, you’re getting the same product for a fraction of the price. Here are a few things that I’ve found in Sainsbury’s that are just fine as ‘Basic’ products:
- Tuna chunks in brine
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Grated hard cheese
- Chopped tomatoes
- Mixed peppers
Get a Loyalty Card
Whether it’s a Nectar card or a Tesco Clubcard, loyalty cards are great for saving money. With the Nectar card, we often find ourselves with money off products that we buy regularly or get vouchers allowing us to get more points on our next shop. When I used to shop at Tesco, I also found the similar situation with the Clubcard. With these cards, you also often find yourself being sent vouchers. I frequently used to get £5 Tesco vouchers, and these can be used against everything in-store and even on petrol (great for when you’re running low just before payday!). You can also redeem your Nectar card points against your Sainsbury’s shop. We’re currently building ours up, but it’s good to have this as a back-up should you need it.
You can also trade in your points for other treats such as meals or days out. Each card has different benefits, but it’s definitely worth investigating if your local supermarket has such a scheme.
A lot of this stuff is probably stuff that you already know, but I feel that it’s things like this that people often forget or can’t be bothered with. It really doesn’t take very much effort, and for that, you’ll find yourself with a fuller fridge and a fuller bank account. Winner, right?!