Today is quite a big milestone for me. This day, an entire year ago marked the beginning of a whirlwind series of events that changed my life. There were times there when it seemed all of my immediate hopes for the future had been pulled […]
Now that I’m on maternity leave and about to take a bit of a cut on my income we have had to really cut down our outgoings ahead of our little one’s arrival and a big part of our budgeting consisted of reducing our food bill.
Between September and January we were spending on average £120(!) per week on groceries and takeaways / meals out, sometimes more and that alone is a big proportion of my monthly salary. With it being just the two of us and the dog, it’s safe to say our weekly food bill was excessive and we ended up wasting so much food.
We’ve taken the following steps to reduce the amount we spend on food over the last couple of months and have saved over £900 with our new weekly bill of around £35.00.
S H O P O N L I N E | I’ve made the change to online shopping rather than heading to our local Tesco super store. This has massively reduced the temptation to pick up things we don’t really need just because they’re on offer or look tasty. It also means we can track how much we are spending as we shop and that we don’t get distracted in the clothing & home aisles.
M E A L P L AN N I N G | By planning the dinners we are going to have each night, I know exactly what ingredients I need to buy and how much of each thing – no more just picking up things willy nilly. It also means that annoying ‘What shall we have for tea tonight?’ discussion no longer results in us cooking our favourite easy meals and leaving certain things in the freezer to be forgotten about.
S H O P P E R F O R T N I G H T | As a result of our meal planning, I’ve found it more cost effective to buy enough for two weeks at a time. For meals such as spaghetti bolognese and curries, I can cook four portions and freeze half ready for the following week. Also as most fresh meat comes in four person portions we are able to get two meals from one tray. For example last night we had lemon and garlic chicken pittas using two chicken breasts and the other two made fajitas on this Monday just gone, both were accompanied by we made home cooked jacket wedges each night using two large potatoes.
C O O K F R O M S C R A T C H | There’s no questioning that after a busy day, chucking a tray of oven chips in the cooker is by far easier than cooking from scratch, but we almost always end up cooking more than we need and either over eating or wasting them! We’ve swapped out oven chips for baked potato wedges which are a super easy alternative. Simply cut a large baking potato into eight wedges, top them with some dried herbs or seasoning and pop them in the oven for around 20 minutes. Not only are they more cost effective they are healthier too (Slimming World friendly!) There are all sorts of meals and accompaniments you can cook from scratch for much less than you’f pay in the shops – lasagne, burgers & sauces are just a few examples.
T H R E E P A R T P L A T E R U L E | One of the tips I found really useful when I was trying to lose weight back last year was to split my plate into 3 (thank you Charlotte). For each meal, you have 1/4 protein, 1/4 carbs, 1/2 vegetables or salad. I’ve returned to this mentality lately and bulking out meals with delicious fresh veg has really helped towards reducing the amount we spend on our food bill too as it makes our dinners feel just as big but also stops us picking later on in the evening.
T A K E P A C K E D L U N C H T O W O R K | We are all guilty of it, especially if like me you work in a town center, it’s so easy to just pop into Greggs or pick up a Boots meal deal at lunchtime. The thing is, it’s so not cost effective. On average the British worker spends £43 per week on takeaway lunches & drinks – that’s £86 per couple every week and I bet most of us don’t even realise how much we’re spending as we do it. Sean has started to take sandwiches to work each day and now that I am on maternity leave we’re reducing the amount we would have spent on bought lunches by around 75%, probably more.
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With Valentines day just a matter of days away, I’ve put together this last minute gift guide for those of you who are still looking for a little bit of inspiration when it comes to finding the perfect present for the lady in your life.
Red Shoe Photo Shoot or Gift Voucher | I really think that every woman should experience what it’s like to ‘Be A Red Shoe Girl’ and have a day and photo session dedicated solely to them. The confidence boost & sense of empowerment my own Red Shoe experience gave me is impossible to put into words & I don’t know anyone who’s been photographed by Sarah who hasn’t felt the same. If you’re not local to Chester where the Red Shoe studio is located, check out Sarah’s road show dates as she is touring the UK this Spring to bring her one of a kind photo shoots to more women.
Beautiful Flowers | Cliche? Maybe. But nobody can honestly say they don’t feel special when someone buys them flowers! Sean buys me a different bouquet from Bunches.com each year and I love the way they brighten up our home in an otherwise gloomy month. They have a whole range of Valentines flowers available but I’ve got my eye on these Fragrant Freesias – how beautiful are those colours?! They offer next day delivery so if you’ve left it a little late, you’ll have no problem ensuring they arrive in time.
Book a Spa Day | Wowcher & Groupon have some great deals for spa days and breaks at this time of year, and what better gift than a chance for her to spend a day being relaxing and pampered with you or a girl friend? I really enjoyed my own spa experience at our local Bannatyne’s spa last year.
A Date Night with a Difference | Left it a bit late to book a table at her favorite restaurant or missed the movie you know she wants to see? Why not cook up a meal for two at home, light a few candles, pop open the prosecco and wine and dine her? The BBC Good Food website has some fab recipes for two if you need some ‘dinspiration’.
Plan a weekend away | Why not book a few days stay in a city she’s always wanted to visit? You can book most places online now, and then you can print off the ticket and pop it in her card! Then spend the evening planning the things you’ll do while you’re there.
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