Looking back through our food bills over the last few months, most of the time we’ve managed to keep our weekly food shops costs down to around £60 a week for two people. We could probably get them lower still if we really wanted, but for a sustainable, healthy, varied diet with a fair few treats (and a fair bit of wine), it works for us doing one main shop, online, in one main supermarket every other week. I then usually buy meat separately from the butchers. SO much better quality, and usually no more expensive than the ‘better’ meat in the supermarket. Here’s what we do.
1. Planning planning planning. I’ve mentioned my love of planning before, but by planning your meals you’ll avoid waste from randomly chucking packets of meat, cheese, extra little naughty but nice bits and pieces in your trolley that you don’t need, or even want. So I make a list, first checking our toings and froings so that we can almost always eat together too which is nice. Ahhh 🙂
2. Plan a balanced week. We’re always being told to eat a variety of meals, but by adding a bit of balance in your week including veggie and vegan meals this can also really help to keep costs down. I usually do at least one meal where the main ingredient is lentils or beans, and this usually means the cost per portion is less than £1. Because I usually make a batch of this, then it means we have leftovers for the following day which brings me to…
3. Batch cook. This usually saves money – especially with the veggie options as you can then eat the same meal the following day. It certainly saves time, both in terms of planning and cooking. I expect it saves on fuel costs too, although I have to say I haven’t gone into such detail here.
4. Bulk buy. Although lots of frugal living tips will recommend you only buy what you need (this post included) it makes sense to bulk buy things you know you’ll always need as they’re often cheaper that way. I stash lentils, chickpeas, butter beans, cannellini beans, tinned tomatoes, pasta – and onions and carrots – in the cupboards. Then I can easily make a big batch of veggie chilli, or bean burgers when I need.
5. Look for the ‘world foods’ sections. Lentils, herbs, spices, chickpeas, flour etc are almost always cheaper here than supermarket brands. And I like the way they look a little bit exotic.
6. Make your own soup. Seriously – don’t buy cartons of carrot soup when you can make over 2 litres of the stuff for about 99p. And you will know exactly what’s in it.
7. Bake your own bread (for the same reasons as above).
8. Types of essentials where you can get away with the supermarket’s own brand: tinned tomatoes, tinned beans, dried herbs, mature cheddar cheese, stilton, most fresh fruit and vegetables. Essentials where I think you have to go a little step up (but maybe I’m being a food snob?): butter, frozen peas, bacon, tea and coffee, bread.
9. Always buy a whole chicken. Obviously, there being nothing better than Roast Chicken and a Country Walk, this means you can make at least 4 portions of a lovely roast chicken dinner, plus 4-6 portions of chicken pie, pasta, fajitas, pasties (etc etc etc) and then another 6 portions of soup from one chicken. I love that. To do that, you have to buy a large bird (around 1.8 kilos) and don’t be too greedy with the meat portions – bulk all the meals out with veggies.
10. Buy wine, chocolates etc on special offer. Where our bills tend to go up is because I love my wine, and he loves his chocolate. So I always make sure we bulk buy both, when certain brands are on offer. The only problem with that is that there is then always wine and chocolate in the house! But that’s a problem for another post 🙂
How do you shop frugally?