On Saturday I was a guest on Share Radio’s Women and Money Programme, talking about ways we can all cut down on our grocery bill.
Together with Annie O’Leary from NetMums and Helen White from Love Food Hate Waste, and presented by my very dear friend, Sarah Pennells, founder of SavvyWoman.co.uk, it was fascinating to hear how creative we’d all become in finding ways to trim the weekly shopping bill.
From smart tips for reducing food waste, to easy meal planning, and why it’s important to ignore those tempting supermarket deals, you can listen to the podcast by clicking on the link below, or read on for quick tips to get you started on saving money on your weekly food shop.
How much are you really spending? It sounds obvious, but in order to start saving money on your weekly shop you have to know exactly how much you’re currently spending. Don’t just look at that one big weekly shop, but include all those little “top-up” shops throughout the week. Add in those quick trips to the local cafe for a coffee for you and juice and a muffin for the kids, and it’s surprising how it all starts to add up. Once you know how much you’re actually spending, work out a sensible budget that you can easily stick to, based on how much you think you should be spending and of course, how much you can afford.
Make a list and stick to it I think we’ve all done it: popped to the shops for a pint of milk and half an hour later walked out with a trolley full of things we just “had to buy”, or were tempted into buying because of all those supermarket offers and deals (see point 3). If you make a list you’re more likely to stick to it.
Ignore those deals Unless you absolutely need the item on offer, those supermarket deals will end up costing you more in the long run. Research from the Money Advice Service says we spend an extra £11.14 on average per shop on supermarket offers – deals like like Buy Two, Get the Third Free, for example. With the average family doing two shops a week, according to the Money Advice Service, that adds up to £1,274 over the course of a year.
Food waste = money in the bin LoveFoodHateWaste says the average family of four throws around £700 worth of groceries away every year, either because they bought too much, cooked too much or didn’t get round to eating or cooking it before the use-by date. Read our 5 Steps to Reduce Food Waste and Save Money here.
Cheaper options Are there items on your shopping list that you can swap for cheaper versions? Cheaper cuts of meat often have more flavour and do better in stews and casseroles than the more expensive cuts. I used chicken thighs instead of breasts in this Easy Chicken Tray Bake, and cheaper pork chops in this Slow Cooker Pork Chop recipe.
Another really easy way to cut the food bill is to ditch the junk. Sugary snacks and drinks can cost far more than other healthier options and are an unnecessary addition to our shopping bills. A quick look at the breakfast cereal aisle of my local supermarket for example and I saw a box of chocolate breakfast cereal cost around £2.60. The same amount of porridge oats cost around £1. Nutritionists will tell you that porridge is one of the healthiest breakfasts you can have as it’s high in protein and fibre and low in sugar.
I know a lot of kids might turn their noses up at porridge and that might not work in your family but try dressing it up with fresh fruit and nuts or swirl a small amount of syrup in for sweeter tooths. Similarly, juices and squash are expensive items and our kids don’t really need them (no matter how much they try to convince us). If your children are hooked on apple juice or sugary drinks, try diluting them increasingly over time with water until you can make the switch to plain water.
Even if you don’t feel ready to cut all the sugary snacks, drinks and cereals, just being aware of how much more you spend on them and how they add to your weekly shop is a good exercise.
Learn to love your leftovers – there’s lots you can do with leftovers besides throwing them straight in the bin. Leftover roast chicken or pork can be turned into lunch or dinner the next day – wrap in a lettuce leaves for a healthy roll, or try our recipe for Crispy Baked Chicken Spring Rolls.
Tired looking fruit and veg can be put to good use in soups, smoothies and bakes. Slightly wilted carrots are great in carrot cake or Apple and Carrot Muffins; mushy strawberries are perfect in smoothies and ice cream, and over-ripe bananas take on a deliciously creamy texture when frozen and then used in smoothies and ice cream, or this delicious banana bread. Vegetables past their first flush of youth can be whizzed in a blender to make soup or can make surprisingly good desserts; beetroot chocolate cake is really delicious, as are these Butternut Squash Brownies.
Cutting your weekly grocery bill might feel like a daunting task but it can just be down to making a few simple tweaks here and there. Even if you just take one of the tips above you will see a difference to how much you spend on food each week.
For even more tips and advice from me, Annie O’Leary from NetMums and Helen White at Love Food Hate Waste listen to the Share Radio Women and Money podcast, presented by Sarah Pennells, of SavvyWoman.co.uk.