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.