Managing a budget is never easy – especially not when you’ve got hungry mouths to feed. The cost of living has grown drastically since the recession with even basic items such as groceries costing more than ever before. In fact, they’ve risen so much that even political Ed Miliband was recently found guilty of underestimating his own family food bill by claiming they probably spent just £80 a week – if only!
For those of you who, like me, enjoy cooking frugal feasts then you’ll know that it is possible to live on less … but maybe not quite as little as Miliband would like to think! That said, mummy blogger Anneliese Giggins learnt how to survive on just £20 a week so maybe there’s hope for us yet! Here are some of the best money saving food tips Anneliese taught us.
Taste the difference – only sometimes
First things first, if you want to slash your food bill then you need to stop investing in those brand name products and switch to supermarket own products. You’ll rarely taste the difference and a little experimentation and trial and error will help you learn where you can afford to change down and where you’d rather stick with the brand you know and love.
Kids are known for being human waste disposal units capable of polishing off meals three times their size but sometimes you’ll still manage to cook too much for your brood. In these instances, get wise and freeze the extra for later. You can find disposable foil containers or plastic pots to store everything in at bargain shops and you’ll have a quick and convenient meal option on those nights when time just seems to run away with you!
Certain foodstuffs are more versatile than others and you’d be amazed at how many different dishes you can get out of a few simple ingredients – after all, variety is the spice of life and living frugally doesn’t mean being boring.
Pasta, hummus and rice are all staple ingredients of a number of dishes and are the sort of thing you should keep a good supply off in the house. You can make your own sauces with simple (and cheap) ingredients like chopped tomatoes, onion and a little seasoning and you can always serve up pasta salads or wraps with hummus as fun lunchtime alternatives to get even more bang for your buck.
Buy as you go
Buying in bulk can save you vital money but it’s not always the most practical option. Unless the goods you are buying have a long shelf life – such as sugar, pasta, rice, etc – then you’re better off buying what you need and topping up as you go. After all, buying two massive bags of carrots in one hit might save you a few pennies in the short-term but it’ll all be for nothing if you end up throwing half of the food away because it’s gone off!
In many ways, this element of cutting food costs is similar to that of buying a home. When buying a property you need to do your research and balance short-term gains against long-term implications to make the best decision. Sometimes, the house you see immediately available isn’t actually the best option in the long-run and you’d be better off waiting for another opportunity. This is exactly what you need to do when buying food – tomorrow’s bag of potatoes might just prove better than today’s!
It’s important you consult reputable resources to help you with your decisions too though. For food buys, that means reading real-life accounts of mums battling the bread line while for property purchases and bigger financial commitments it can mean turning to documents such as this McCarthy and Stone Guide to Buying.