How to reduce monthly spend on food?(32 Posts)
Just been looking through my bank statement and I have spent £550 at supermarkets in the last month - this includes all food, cleaning products, toiletries and a few bits of clothing for my daughter. Its just me, hubby and 4yr old daughter living here full-time. About half the time, my father-in-law is here (he lives with us but works away a lot) but we dont know when, he comes and goes as he pleases and often turns up for a few days with only 6hrs notice.
We also have a very free-flowing social life where 'our door is always open' so friends and family often turn up at short notice- which we all enjoy, but it often means I'm then nipping out to get extra food items to cover the extra people. This sometimes makes it hard to meal-plan, which I would like to do more of. We never drink alcohol, but hubby is anti-veg and daughter is really picky so we eat meat for dinner nearly every day ... I've tried to include more veg-focused meals but they both just leave it and eat cereal instead, so there's not much point.
Ive recently left my part-time job so I have plenty of time to really sort this stuff out! Aside from putting much firmer boundaries down on my social life, and my father-in-law, how else can I reduce my food spending? Does it even need reducing or does £550/month sound about right for 3 adults and a child? I'm definitely going to start meal-planning. Any other tips or advice welcome! Thank you!
You are spending way more than I would.
Shop at Aldi or Lidl if you aren't already. It will save you at lot. You can always go elsewhere to top up if they don't have everything you need.
Cook from scratch instead of getting convenience foods.
Make a plan and a list and stick to it.
If gets loads of par baked bread from Aldi to bulk out meals with unexpected guests.
Add a ton of lentils to meat dishes.
Downgrade your cleaning stuff a bit.
It sounds like you're hosting too much to me. Your food bill will be expensive if you're running a restaurant with no income. Lock the doors!
It’s not too bad if you like to eat well
Buy mince and chicken
Make chilli spaghetti Bol and curries
If you usually buy top name brands, change to supermarket own brands, do that for your cleaning materials as well.
Try to limit what you spend on casual visitors, do you have to feed them whenever they visit? Why? Bulk out meals for them with bread, extra potatoes, soup.
As your having meat every day, buy cheaper cuts, now you've got time to cook you can make use of the cheaper cuts which often need longer cooking times, not so easy in the summer I know, but Winter Is Coming!
Why is a 4 year old deciding not to eat veg and eat cereal instead? This is not good at all.
Yes to Aldi. Have a few things in the freezer/cupboard as extras to meals when more people arrive
definitely go to aldi. I have saved so much there! We used to go Tesco or Morrison's and cost an absolute fortune. Aldi has everything we need and really good quality meat and fresh fruit and vegetables. If I need something that aldi don't sell then I go Morrison's but I only go there for that specific item only! You must have willpower not to overspend elsewhere. Also, take cash instead of your card as I find that helps me not overspend as well.
I don't think aldi are cheapest for everything so be careful but there are big savings to be made there. Good idea about keeping par-baked bread, also suggest keeping some garlic bread in the freezer. In fact I would use the freezer as a way of catering for extra people for dinner, rather than going to the shop. I think the key is having ideas to pad out what you are already cooking, e.g. add some savoury rice, chickpeas, etc.
1. Yes to Aldi/Lidl
2. Meal plan so you are not throwing items away
3. Use what's in your freezer, we used to have a terrible habit of stocking up our freezer with meat/vegetables but only ever cooling with fresh
4. On top-up shops like bread/milk resist purchasing lots of additional items
5. Only cook for your family or guests on a pre-planned basis. If people pop round then offer them a frozen pizza or something cheap and cheerful if you feel you need to feed them
6. Stock up bulk-buy items when on offer. So I love certain cleaning brands I can't get in Aldi. I stock up when they are on offer in Tesco or B&M so that I only need to buy them about once every 2 months
I dont think lidl is cheaper. Perhaps for some things
Buy supermarket own brand.
Cook in bulk and freeze.
I really noticed the savings when we went for a more veggie based diet. It needn't be rabbit food. It took a while to convince my carnivorous DS and DH but they now enjoy vegetarian meals equally as much as meat-based meals. However, don't fall into the trap of getting meat substitutes (Linda McCartney etc..) because they're not actually cheaper. Think lentils, beans, chickpeas, eggs etc... Sometimes we just have jacket potatoes with beans and cheese, or scrambled egg on toast; it doesn't have to be fancy.
I still do a roast once a week and eek out the left-over meat in curries and pasta bakes.
£550 a month is not horrendous, especially if you're not buying lunch at work. My SIL manages to shop on a lot less than that, but then her DC have school dinners and both she and my DB buy lunch at work. When your Dd starts school, she'll be entitled to free hot lunches and will be provided with a snack and milk. You might be able to give her something like cheese or beans on toast when she comes home.
Order online. It prevents impulse buying! Stop buying snacks and treats (benefits your waistline too). Choose items that are on offer (easier to do online).
My bill is around £400 per month and to get it for less I’d have to cut out everything I enjoy. You have to have a few nice things plus fresh food and meat for iron and vitamins!
How do you end up with the extra visitors?
It's great to have an open house but I would suggest that tea, coffee and a special supply of custard creams (maybe kept in a separate box) with beans on (frozen) toast would be perfectly fine as food options?
I would also be careful about clothes at the supermarket. They are often great value but buying clothes frequently really adds up even though it's a bargain at the time. Be a bit more strict about what she really needs and try to buy clothes quarterly at most.
We spend quite a bit more than that. My biggest failing which I am starting to recognise is overbuying/over serving and then binning the excess. Or buying things because we might want them so they then go off and get thrown out too.
I'm trying my best to understand "cook's brain" and only cook what I know we will eat. It is a struggle!
My DH is also anti veg, but will eat salad veg. I just stopped buying expensive meat. So he gets bacon (one streaky rasher in a BLT), mince (Aldi) and free range chicken (Aldi). Odd bit of frozen fish.
Bowel cancer in both sides of our family. I keep the meat portions small and the veg and fruit portions big.
@bluetrampolines my husband's family is enormous and even after 12 years together they still don't listen when hubby and I ask for firmer boundaries (he does back me up on this most of the time) ...on Monday, we had 12 in-laws (including 5 under 5's) descend with about 4hrs notice for a 2 day long stay in our 3 bed house... thank God we have a decent sized garden. I bought stuff from Morrisons for ham rolls and a chocolate mini-roll for lunch (plus 6 pints of milk and extra marg as they had used it all) on the second day and it cost me £17!
Its not normally that many people coming round, normally 3-6 people at a time turning up for 3-6 hours up to 3 days a week, but it all adds up and my kitchen is not massive.
The tip about buying lots of part-baked bread is a really good idea because that stuff usually has quite a good shelf life, doesn't it? I'm definitely going to be buying tinned lentils to add to all things mince-based.
It sounds fantastic peaceful - you are clearly lovely people. Seriously though, do they turn up arms-a-swinging? I would expect them to bring quite a lot with them, or at least to do the shop for you, can you encourage this?
@ballyhoo ... ONE slice of streaky bacon in a sandwich? What?!?!
Dried lentils would probably be cheaper than tinned and would be v easy to add to stews/curries etc.
I imagine your family are wondering what to spend all the spare money on, that they save by eating you out of house & home.
They must spend £40 a week on food, as they eat out at 'Peaceful Cafe' so much.
OP you are doing better than me - I added up all July costs and it was an eye watering £730!!!! 2 adults, 3 kids, no visitors!!!! That's food, toiletries, cleaning stuff, and some booze. But I know that doesn't include all booze as I haven't included cash payments
I am going to try my best to stick to £100 a week from now on.
You have got to stop that many family members visiting you 3 times a week. That would drive me insane! Do you think they do it because you provide them with lovely free meals? I reckon if you stop or even halve the number of visitors your food bill will reduce dramatically.
Agree that Aldi/Lidl are not that cheap. They used to be. I have tried to get our usual shop in either and hate I can't get a whole shop. And many items are definitely more expensive than Tesco/Sainsburys. We are a family of 4 and our weekly spend is around £70 and you can shop savvy in any supermarket.
Yup, sheep. It's good quality dry cure bacon so it doesn't shrink much, and quite small slices of bread. Two sandwiches, one rasher in each. Cut in half it covers most of the bread. He has bacon sandwiches nearly everyday, so if he had a lot of bacon in them it would be quite unhealthy I think. If he had one sandwich once a week it would be different.
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