Save Money on Groceries: Living on £35 a month
Food Is Our Second Biggest Expense
Aside from rent, food is without a shadow of a doubt my biggest outgoing, whether it is all of the chocolate that I buy or getting a takeaway because I can't be bothered to cook, I spend way too much money on food each month. And as me and my wife are trying to pay our debts off, this is starting to cause a problem.
So we have both decided to live on as little as we possibly can each month until our combined debts of £12,000 are paid off. And we're starting with food, we have trimmed our budget down to include the things we need for the month and nothing more. No takeaways, no cakes or chocolates that weren't in the monthly shop, and if we run out of it, we wait until payday.
I wanted to document these things because I know that for some people, this isn't a fun challenge to save money, but it is a very real struggle to feed their families and to make ends meet. So if I have any good ideas (it has to happen eventually) then I hope they can help anyone who needs them.
Shop in the Right Place to Save Money
The first rule of saving money on groceries is shopping in the right place, there is a discount food store near us, a wonderful woman who gets given things supermarkets and shops would otherwise throw away and then she sells them at a massively reduced price. Not only is she helping to tackle food waste, she is also doing a wonderful thing for the community. She has encountered a lot of snobbery as some of the things she sells are past their "best before" date, but everything is still perfectly safe and edible.
If you don't have a discount supermarket near you, look for the best value one you know, Aldi and Lidl are always a popular choice as their produce is great quality and everything is an equally great price. Our monthly shop in Aldi costs around £56 including a few toiletries.
Shop at the Right Time to Save Money
Shopping at the right time is also important, supermarkets discount food at certain times to avoid wasting it and this means that you can pick up some brilliant deals. The stew I made above was made from discounted beef at £1.50 for the pack, the vegetables were discounted and totaled a measly sum of 30p! and a tin of potatoes at 19p bulked it out a little. So a delicious beef stew that fed 4 people cost a grand total of £1.99, that's 49p per portion!
Do you have a lot of takeaways?
Shop for the Right Things
Shopping for the right things is crucial if you want to save a loot of money, just because you have a lot of food, doesn't mean that it will go far. You need to make meals that can be stretched as far as possible, things like stew, chili, spaghetti etc can all be bulked out with oats, potatoes, pasta. Basically any cheaper ingredient that will make your meal go further.
Be sure you always have rice, pasta, oats and tinned tomatoes in, you will be amazed at what you can do with these basics, and how little you can do without them!
I was brought up by my mother who somehow managed to raise a family of 7 on her one wage, it was really remarkable and it taught me some valuable lessons. The most important of which was, waste not want not. Food was never wasted in our house and this is an ethos I still live by to this day. Leftovers are sealed and frozen and things about to turn are used.
For example, the crumble below, the apples were starting to get a little soft and I also had some cranberry sauce leftover from a dinner I had a few days before (blue cheese and crackers) so I added that in and apple and cranberry crumble was a huge hit!
Don't Throw Money Away!
My point is, you paid for that food, so don't waste it, you wouldn't throw the money directly into the bin would you? Well that is basically what you are doing when you waste food. If you're not sure about what to do with certain things, look online, I once found out how to make crisps from flour tortillas to stop them from being wasted, they are now a firm favorite when I make chili!
Learn to Cook to Save Money
Making things from scratch is another great way to save money, and if you don't know how to cook, learn. It's not hard and you don't have to take lessons, just look online, watch a few videos, read the odd tutorial and give it a go yourself. You will be amazed at what you can learn and the amount of money you save, you might even surprise yourself at your talents.
Forget About Brands
You can't save money on food unless you ditch the brand snobbery, yes you may think a certain brand is better quality, but you can't afford it. It is also probably not better quality at all! Supermarkets own brands have come a long way and due to their price, they often surpass their branded counterparts.
Shop Carefully for Meat
A lot of people will tell you to go vegetarian or cut down on meat to save money. But I don't think it's necessary, of course fresh meats and meat like lamb will be out of the question unless you find it on offer. But with the frozen meats available in supermarkets now, meat is actually reasonably priced.
Shop Smarter, not More
Saving money on food is not about shopping more, it's about shopping smarter, you can spend less money and get more food if you do it right!