Feeding a family can be expensive. When that family is larger than average costs can quickly escalate! Because we have teenagers it means that I am now basically feeding five adults and two children at every single meal. I also try and make extra so there are leftovers for lunches etc too.
We have been trying to make our finances look a bit healthier this year and I am trying to be a bit more frugal. For the last month I have also been keeping a closer eye on our weekly budget.
At the moment, our weekly shop averages around £120. Which at first glance sounds a lot, but when you break it down it only equates to just over £17 per person for the week, so less than £2.50 each a day. I’m not usually one to toot my own horn, but when you take into consideration that our youngest has to have the more expensive gluten/wheat, dairy and soya free foods I’m actually quite impressed with myself!
From what I’ve seen online, lot’s of people seem to want to be trying to be frugal and save some money this year so I thought I would share some tips on how I shop to try and help save you some pennies too!
Frugal Tips for Feeding a Family on a Budget
Avoid the end of aisles
More often than not all the ‘best’ offers are placed right at the end of the aisles, they are there because the stores know most people will be lured into the fantastic deals on offer. However, if you venture down into the aisle you are very likely to find cheaper options are available.
Be brave, avoid the brands
Brands are safe and comfortable because we know and trust them. They come in pretty coloured packaging that everyone recognises from the adverts. But nine times out of ten you are better off being a bit brave and testing out the cheaper ‘own brand’ or value option. This is especially true of staples like red kidney beans, pasta, and milk for example. Due to the EU’s extremely strict food standards let’s be honest there can’t be even be much different between cheap pork than expensive pork.
Buy frozen vegetables
Carrots are about the only vegetable I refuse to buy frozen. I just can’t do it! But most other vegetables work out healthier and cheaper to buy from frozen. Healthier, because they are frozen within hours of being picked so haven’t lost all their nutrients sitting in the back of a lorry or on the shelf for three days. Cheaper, because you often get a lot more for you money, with no waste. Take broccoli and cauliflower for example, think about all the leaves and stalks you throw away when you buy fresh. Unless you are going to use them for something like soup, you are much better buying frozen as you only get the bit your want to eat and it still works out cheaper!
Pasta is pasta
It doesn’t matter what supermarket you shop in they all have a value range of pasta. Yes they are only ever penne or spaghetti but, unless you have an extremely picky small person in your house, do you really need a different shaped pasta at every meal to make your life complete? They are usually priced between 20p-30p (40p-60p per kg) for a 500g bag, which when you compare it to say, Tesco’s own brand pasta, which is 59p (£1.18/kg) for the same sized bag. But that is almost double the price for exactly the same product.
Keep an eye on the cost per unit (CPU)
Lets look back at the last point for a minute, notice the cost in the brackets? This is the cost per unit. Some say per 100g, some are per KG, more confusingly, others say per item. But essentially, it breaks down the cost to a standard amount so it’s easier to work out which is the cheaper product even when it may not be obvious at a glance. If you are lucky, the store will also give you the new CPU when the product is part of a deal, like in the picture below.
Look at the bottom shelf
Brands know that our eyes naturally fall on those shelves between waist and shoulder height. This means that more often than not, the more popular products are placed on these middle shelves. Brands pay a premium for their products to be placed here. The cheaper brands are more often than not found near the bottom or even right on the bottom shelf.
Make a list
Whether you have prepared a full list of ingredients for a meal plan or just a small list of basics that need replacing writing those items down and having the list at hand, and only purchasing the items on that list, is the best way to not spend more than your budget.
Eat before you shop
This one may seem strange but it is vitally important! Going into the supermarket hungry, even if you are armed with a list and the best will in the world, is just asking for trouble. Your brain will go into overdrive wanting All. The. Food! You are more likely to come out with a basket of random junk food than the making of that evening’s meal!
Don’t try it all at once
If shopping frugally is new to you, do it slowly. Start off with a list of the items you usually buy, but look around the shelves. Look at the prices and the CPU of the different brands. Try just one of two new products each week. You never know there may be another brand that tastes exactly the same, or even better, than your usual and could save you some pretty pennies!
So there you have it, just a few things to think about before you do your usual weekly shop. And remember, even shaving just a few pennies off your shop each week will soon add up. Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, as they say!
Do you have any frugal tips to shopping on a budget that you would add to this list?