Eating real food doesn’t have to be expensive, I have learned to do it for a family of 6 on about £60-90 a week (including toiletries and other household goods). Since my husband was unemployed for a long time and I had to cut down my hours at work, we had to find a way to save money. During that time, I learned to more than half my spending at the grocery store. Just think of all the things you could do with the money you spend and you will feel great on top of that.
To begin, I’d like to share just a few essential rules to follow that will greatly reduce your grocery bill:
- Plan, Plan, Plan: Before you go to the store, plan out exactly what you will have for dinner each night and write down the ingredients you will need to buy. You can do this with breakfasts and snacks as well, but if you are just beginning start by at least planning your dinners for the whole week. This allows you to be able to just take one trip to the store a week because you know exactly what you will need for the whole week beforehand.
- Always plan to have leftovers and use them: I have at least one or two meals a week where we just use up leftovers. Some families don’t like leftovers and if that is the case, be creative with your meal planning and freeze any extra chicken and use it in a dish the next week. For example, I made chicken tacos last night. There was a huge bowl of shredded chicken left over so I put it in the freezer and next week I will pull it out and make chicken enchiladas. Two meals for the price of one and your family is none the wiser.
- Set a budget and stick to it: I’ve heard of people taking cash out for their food every week and putting them in envelopes. Personally, that’s too much effort for me. I just know I have £60 and as I’m loading up my trolley I count out each item and have a rough running tally in my head of how much everything will cost.
- Find a budget store near you: I live in the UK, so here one of the best budget stores I have found with fresh food is Aldi’s. Since getting most of my food there, my bills are probably about a third less than they were shopping at Asda and its so much less manic. There are some things I cook with regularly that I just can’t get there–coconut oil, quinoa, dried beans, green lentils, wholemeal bread, proper greek yogurt to name a few. So most weeks I do have to go to two different stores to get everything I need, but for the amount of money I save I feel it is worth it. Just do a little research to find a good budget store in your area, and try it out. Compare receipts for the same shop at two different stores. You can compare online first to save the trip.
- Take one trip to the store a week: This will take some getting used to. Now when I say take one trip to the store a week, it doesn’t mean you can’t go to two different stores to get your food. It just means do it all once a week. The more trips to the store you take the more money you will spend.
Don’t worry if applying all of these rules is just too much for you right now, even just picking one can get you started to saving lots of money!