With the worldwide economy still uncertain, wages stagnant and prices of basic food staples rising dramatically, it is important that we try to save money wherever we can. We think it is important for me to stay home with our children as long as I am able, and this means I have to be savvy and creative with money. My way of saying I’m frugal!
One of the biggest areas of spending, apart from the mortgage and car expenses are our groceries. The difference in our monthly grocery budget from the time it was just Phil and I 8 years ago to now with 2 healthy and hungry children, our budget has only increased £26.00 a month! This is far below the food inflation (which in was 9.1% in 2008 alone), and below the average UK household’s monthy grocery spend.
Here it is generally said that it’s a tight budget if you can manage to feed a family of 4 an evening meal for £5.00. This is more than our entire daily budget, but we manage it quite well. Our monthly grocery budget covers food of course, but it also includes baby wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, laundry soap, and all other cleaning supplies, which are more when I’m childminding.
These are some things I do year round to help save money on our food bill so that we can enjoy bigger celebrations now and again when Christmas and birthdays roll around. We can’t don’t like to feel ‘pinched’ when others are celebrating.
1) Set a realistic budget and stick to it. Try to keep a little money aside each month so you will have a little extra when purchasing celebratory food.
2) Make a meal plan so you can make sure you will have all of the ingredients ahead of time and not have to run back to the store – you’ll end up spending more than you had anticipated by making additional purchases.
3) Keep a little money in reserve for the times that great sales on staple food happen. It’s better to buy a lot of something when it is on sale than to wait and buy it at the regular price later. But be sure to keep shelf-life and storage space in mind. It isn’t a bargain if you won’t be able to store or use it before the applicable dates.
4) Don’t wait until the last minute to make those special purchases; plan ahead and buy one item a month leading up to the event. We’ve just purchased our Easter ham this month so that’s one less thing to buy in April.
5) Shop the sale isles! We often find some great deals on bread or meat this way on items that are about to meet their ‘best before’ or ‘use’ by’ dates. We have a chest freezer so we can bring these items home and put them in the freezer until we are ready to use them.
6) Sometimes your local convenience store can have the best deals. Really! The next time you’re there take a quick look at the meat or packaged veg and fruit and mentally note the expiry dates. Usually many will be about the same time. Return on this day and see if you can get some marked-down items.
7) Try to find out the best time of day for shopping the sale isles and if you can work it into your schedule (without making a special trip and spending money on transportation), do your shopping then.
8) Check different areas of your grocery store for the same food item. We go through a lot of lentils. I’ve found that it is MUCH better value to buy the 2kg bag of lentils from the foreign food aisle than it is to buy the 500 gram bag from the dried foods isle.
9) Check your prices. Buying a larger size package isn’t always the best option. Always compare price per 100grams or per 100ml.
10) Don’t buy baby food or snacks; make your own which will be healthier and will get your child into the habit of eating the same thing as the rest of the family.
11) Breastfeed. you will save hundreds! And don’t fall for the ‘follow-on’ formulas. They have only been developed as a marketing gimmick because companies cannot legally advertise formula for infants under the age of six months.
You’ve worked hard to earn and save money. Don’t squander it on unnecessary and unhealthy items. Track everything you buy for a month or two and see exactly where your cash is going. I know it can be tough the last week of the month so I put x amount in a separate envelope at the start of the month that is just for milk and eggs so that it’s available when we need it.
What are your go-to tricks and tips to help save money? I’d love to hear them and put them to use!