Get spending savy to eat well
Eating food you have cooked or prepared at home is healthier for you. It is also considerably cheaper. The key to this is planning. You’ve probably heard the saying ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’. Without a weekly food plan, it will be pure luck if you end up with the right foods in the fridge or cupboard. And, without planning your time, you won’t always make the time to enjoy breakfast or make that lunch. You could be saving a LOT of money each and every week by following these tips.
HOW MUCH ARE YOU REALLY (OVER)SPENDING?
Honesty is the best policy! Be honest with yourself about your spending and shopping habits. That starts with looking into how much you spend each week on take-out coffee, croissants and other breakfasts; lunchtime salads, soups and sandwiches; snacks and other food treats; and ready meals, takeaways or last-minute meals out. Make a note every time you buy something (not the main food shop) to eat out of the house. Do this for a week, then multiply by 4 to give you an approximate monthly total.
Log into your banking app (or go online) and make a note of how much you spent over the last month on food.
Add the two figures together. This gives you your total for how much you are spending on food each month. I suspect you will be shocked. Most people are.
Commit to saving a certain amount each week or month. Decide what that is. Commit to it and write it down. What will you do with that extra money? Where can you economise?
PREPARE TO PLAN
Plan to succeed. The thing about planning is that you need to actually plan to plan. It can be so easy to get derailed by events, situations, relationships and tasks that insert themselves into our already busy lives.
Choose a time when you know you will be free every week to plan your meals – breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I often plan at the end of one week for the next. It may help to put a reminder alarm on your phone. If this planning job doesn’t get done, you will have end up having to shop on a day-to-day basis, which is much more expensive.
LISTS MADE EASY
Turn these meal plans into a shopping list.
Also create a master list of what you already have in your freezer, fridge and cupboards.
Cross anything you already have off your shopping list.
SHOP YOUR PLAN
As an experiment, spend at least one week only allowing yourself to buy what is on your shopping list. No extras! The planning and shopping discipline may take a little time to get used to, but it is worth persevering.
Off-list shopping and impulse buys are the biggest enemy for anyone wanting to keep to a budget.
DON'T GO TO THE SUPERMARKET HUNGRY
We've all done and I can guarantee you will come out with much more than you planned to. You are more likely to shop off-list when you do and doing this repeatedly soon adds up.
CREATIVITY IS KEY
Food waste is increasingly common. Each week a huge amount of food is thrown away because we’re not sure what to do with leftovers. Make a commitment to using yours and prepare to save money. There are so many resources online to help you find easy recipe suggestions for pretty much anything you may have lurking in the fridge. This might make you feel uncomfortable at first but give it a go and you might surprise yourself. You will be making some meals you have definitely not tried before!
Some really useful tools are:
BBC Good Food (https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes)
Tesco Meal Planner Left Over Tool (https://realfood.tesco.com/meal-planner/leftover-tool.html)
All Recipes Lefts Overs Tool (https://realfood.tesco.com/meal-planner/leftover-tool.html)