So feeding a family of 4 can be pretty expensive stuff....trust me I know!! And even though I like to keep my food shop as healthy and fresh as possible some times financially I feel I have to rein back once and a while and go budget. I have a few tips I thought I'd share with you when it comes to food shopping on a budget....now im no expert but these are a few things I've learnt along the way.
Meal planning - Is essential if you want to stick to a tight budget so you are not swayed by so called offers or temped by your grumbling tummy. I plan meals around affordable meats that I know I can bulk out and also throw in a couple of hearty vegetarian dishes too.
Use what you already have - Raid those cupboards and the back of your freezer, be inventive and use up what you already have. Has there been a lonely can of chick peas stuck in your cupboard for a few weeks unused? Well add a chickpea curry to your meal plan making sure things are not going to waste.
Swap fresh for frozen - Im not talking ready meals and bags of chips, you can do this and still be healthy. Frozen vegetable are just as good as fresh especially when steamed and you get a lot more for your money. This is also true to some frozen meats such as chicken breasts, whole chickens and mince meat. Frozen berries also work out a lot cheeper then fresh and at least you know they are not going to go off if you don't eat them straight away.
Money saving meals - Buy a whole chicken instead of just breasts, In our house I can make a whole small chicken last 3 meals for only £2.99! Mince meat is a great money saver....if you prefer something lean then go for turkey mince or quorn mince they are usually even cheaper. Use smaller portions of mince and bulk recipes out with extra vegetables....tricks I use include adding some grated carrot to spagbol or adding baked beans as well as kidney beans to a chilli con carne. Always try and have a few meat free meals these will bring your shopping bill down as meat is more expensive family favourites include cauliflower cheese, vegetable curry, and veggie pasta bake.
Your slow cooker is your best friend - Investing in a slow cooker not only makes cooking easier but it makes you food go a lot further and be a lot tastier. You can use the cheapest offcuts of meat and your meals will still taste amazing its also great for cooking meat on the bone as it makes it so tender that the meat just falls off creating no waste whatsoever. Good value meals that can be created in the slow cooker are any kind of stew of casserole using cheap meat and tons of vegetables, sausage casserole, chilli con carne or even a whole roast chicken.
Loyalty doesn't pay - Don't feel loyal to one supermarket if possible shop around, Aldi is amazing for great value foods including there 'special buy' fruit and veg for only 49p each and 99p shops and discount stores are usually good for household products. Sometimes supermarkets offer money off when your do your first online shop with them usually £20 off an £80 shop or something along those lines.
Don't buy brands - You are basically just funding their advertising, go for stores own brands or a store like Aldi that only has its own brands....just me most of them taste exactly the same!
Make it yourself - Don't buy a pizza make it! Buying the ingredients to make pizza dough will last you a lot longer having them in your store cupboard means you can make pizza very week and in the long run you will save money. Same with your favourite chinese take away and its a lot healthier making it yourself too.
I did a budget shop this week as my food shopping seemed to getting more expensive each week I managed to get it from £80 to £65 this was including nappies and baby essentials. I did a meal plan and thought I'd share my budget dinners for the week:
1 - Cauliflower cheese with mixed vegetables.
2 - Sausage and bean casserole served with mash potato.
3 - Slow cooked chicken breasts in pitta bread with salad and sweet potato wedges.
4 - Chicken pesto pasta salad.
5 - Quorn chilli con carne with rice.
6 - Mackerel and vegetable noodles.
7 - Quorn pasta bolognese.
Thank you for reading, I hope my tips are helpful!