Nicki from Curly and Candid shares her top tips on stretching the family food budget.
I promise I don’t actually feed my family on rubber, I do however know how to make my budget stretch. I give myself a budget of £80 a week for shopping for four of us (and can usually stick to it). This includes any cleaning materials, toiletries etc. Some people who are savvy shoppers and used to a tight budget will be nodding and know this is perfectly achievable. Others may be shaking their head and wondering how on earth they could manage on such a measly sum. Each to their own, but it is most definitely possible. And this is how...
Plan- I do a weekly menu. This doesn’t have to be stuck to rigidly but having seven meals I know everyone will eat does make shopping easier. Do you have packed lunched five days out of seven? Write this down. Does everyone eat breakfast... write it down! Knowing what you need for a whole week makes shopping look expensive but if you have everything in, you don’t do the deadly top up.
Also I freeze bread and milk -We all know a loaf and a bottle of milk can magically cost £25 when we “pop” to Tesco!
Write a list, including every single thing you need for the week, and stick to it!
Go down a brand. I am a Tesco Value lover. I use many of their own brand items, though don’t get me wrong, some of them are awful, but this is a case of trial and error. My biggest budget savers are these:
Tesco Value Shower Gel -10p. There really is nothing wrong with this stuff, and is perfectly fine for a quick shower. Sometime I use this, sometimes I have one for me that smells a bit more perfume-y, but Roy & Kieran use it all the time. The one fault with this is that it comes out very quickly (which is a waste!) so I tip it them into old Radox shower-gel bottles that also have a the hook so they can also be hung up! If I buy 2 a week of the next product up, also a Tesco brand but not Value, this will set me back £2. 20p or £2? There is a £1.80 saving already.
Tesco Value Chicken Portions 2kg - £2.79. This bag does us 3-4meals (seriously). There is a generous amount of meat and I just take out and defrost the pieces I need. Putting a couple of thighs and legs in the steamer cooks them beautifully; the meat is moist, flavoursome and falls off the bone. I can then stirfry it, use it in pasta bake, use it as a roast meat, curries, sandwiches.... anything you’d normally use chicken for, at a fraction of the price of buying higher branded chicken. They can also be done in the oven. Just because it says “Value”, does not mean it’s poor quality.
Pasta, rice, tinned goods.... you name it, our cupboards sport the Tesco Value label! Don’t pay more for a name if you don’t have to.
Shop Wisely. I do my weekly shop online. I can see Tesco if I walk five minutes down the road but I still pay to have it delivered. This sounds like false economy but trust me, it’s worth it. I save a lot more shopping online than I spend in delivery. I do one weekly shop, I put in everything for my meals, for our drinks and snacks..... everything. We still have treats and what not, but it stays within budget. I’m not tempted by special offer aisles, new products etc. I don’t have to listen to “But Muuuuumy” or “Can I have”.
Online shopping is not for everyone however so if you prefer going to a store be prepared. Take your list, stick to it, try and choose a time when the store won’t be as busy and never go when hungry.
Just a few things for you to consider. Why not try for a week or two? Shop online, drop a brand and plan, I think you’d be surprised how much you can save!