Feed your family and your savings account. Here’s how to spend less on your food shop without going hungry…
When it comes to paying less for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven of our favourite food bloggers were chomping at the bit to share their tips on being frugal. From binning your meal plan to freezing your leftovers and avoiding new foods – feast your eyes on their common sense culinary know how.
1. Scrap your meal plan
It took three years for Gina Caro to get her weekly food bill for her family of four and a hound down to as little as £40. But the editor of Gypsy Soul and Mumsnet Devon has cracked it, simply by going with the flow. She creates meals around what she bought on offer in the supermarket, be it Tesco or Sainsbury’s, and she never plans meals in advance.
Gina explained, “If you meal plan you have a very rigid list of items that you require. So what happens if those particular items aren’t on offer that week? You end up paying more than you might another week.”
2. Get the facts straight
After three months on unpaid maternity leave, Lucy had budgeting down to a fine art, as she’s proven on her blog, Real Mum Review. Her best tip?
“If you are getting involved in some of the big food promotions such as Sainsburys 25% off wine deals, save yourself a wasted journey by ringing ahead to check that you have what you require.” She advised. “You can also check how long promotions are live, and when new ones are likely to arrive in store. You can find supermarket customer service numbers on Contact Numbers UK, including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Morrisons.”
3. Stick leftovers in the freezer, not the bin
Sainsbury’s may well be Chermaine’s favourite supermarket, but the frugal factoid she shared on her blog Chammyirl, knows no limits – this lady works wonders with food waste, giving you not just one, but more meals from your leftovers.
“If I can’t freeze the food as it is, then I’ll throw it in to something that can be frozen. Soup, stews, curries and quiches are all great ways to use up vegetables that are going limp,” Chermaine enthused. “You can even blanch the vegetables on their own and then freeze them – so all they need is reheating when you need them.”
Alternatively, take a leaf from Lindsey’s cookbook – London Mumma spends her Sainsbury’s Club Card reward points on the yogurt, blueberries and granola she needs to make the lollipops her three year old daughter Leanora loves. Remember, you can often win more reward points by simply logging into Sainsbury’s Nectar card app.
“Pour half of your yoghurt into your lollipop moulds, drop a few blueberries a sprinkle of granola and repeat until filled to the top then freeze,” Lindsey recommended. “That is it, how quick and simple is that? Little fuss, little mess, just what Mumma needed and the kitchen too. By making your own yoghurt lollipops, you will be saving yourself a whole lotta dosh, plus you know what is actually going into it.”
4. Make your own spice mixes and marinades
Frugal food shopping can be good for your wallet and your taste buds, because you don’t have to sacrifice seasonings for savings – says Carolin from Mummy Alarm. “Make your own spice mixes or marinades out of herbs and spices you already have at home,” the single mother told us. “Ready-made mixes are less elaborate than you think and you most likely have all the ingredients to hand. Mixing them yourself will easily save you a couple of pounds.”
A homemade lemon pepper rub is bound to impress your family – transform your chicken, for example, by mixing two tablespoons of lemon zest with three tablespoons of ground black pepper and one tablespoon of salt.
5. Bulk buy your booze
It’s not just food that you can be frugal with, but your beverages too, whether you’re partial to a lager with your curry or a glass of red with your pasta – as James is, from You Have to Laugh. When he’s not writing for the likes of the Huffington Post and Parent.co he’s alert for special offer deals.
“Recently there was 25% off if you purchased 6 bottles of wine from Sainsbury’s. Of course Tesco and Morrisons also run similar offers, but Sainsbury’s is literally a stone’s throw from my house, and pushing a pushchair with 6 bottles of wine jingling about is no picnic,” he joked. “You get some looks, I can tell you, but you’d have to be mad to turn down THAT offer. If you’re partial to a glass or two in the evening, then stocking up when it is on offer is the sensible, frugal choice – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
6. Check your cupboards before you shop
Meanwhile on Maries’ Beauties, Marie is full of frugal advice – from suggesting buy only the foods you know you like, to avoiding processed convenience foods you could cook from scratch for less.
“We love to buy in bulk. Just make sure you pay attention to expiration dates and rotate through your stock at home,” she reminded us. ““2-for-1 offers are always a good deal if you really love the two items and actually use them. Don’t buy anything you don’t need just because you think you’re making a bargain for yourself.”
Yoghurt lollipops image copyright London Mumma.