I think that every family out there can appreciate what a huge percentage of our outgoings can be taken up by food. We are a family of four and even though my boys are still very young (aged 5 & 3) they are constantly dwindling away the stock of food I have in the kitchen, I dread to think of what it will be like when they’re growing teenagers!
As much as I would love to tell you all an extremely well hidden secret of how to feed a family of four on next to nothing, I’m afraid that I still haven’t found that one out myself. However wherever there is a cloud there is a silver lining, savvy shopping can really save you money on your weekly food bills. 🙂
Here are a few tips on how to save money on food without changing the quality of your meals.
3 Ways to use a Whole Chicken
The Roast Dinner is a well-loved meal for most British families, but it can also be an expensive one. A great way to change this is to buy either a medium or large whole chicken for your roast dinner (depending on the size of your family), with 3 meals planned.
Obviously the first is the classic Sunday roast, use however much you think is needed and then cover and put the chicken to one side, once it has cooled take all the meat off the chicken and store it in an air tight container in the fridge, I prefer to do it this way because I have found that a cooked chicken in the fridge with only foil to cover it can be a bit smelly, lol.
The second meal that can be made is roast chicken sandwiches. I prefer to use any remaining breast for these as they are a nice section to eat cold. If you have any stuffing left over from your roast dinner then this is always great to save and use in the sandwiches the next day. You can always moisten the sandwiches with some mayonnaise or salad cream but I prefer it with just some salt and pepper. Yummy!
Finally, the third meal I like to make with the chicken is a homemade chicken and mushroom pie. The meat from the underside of the bird and the legs and wings are perfect for this. I must admit that I do cheat and buy pre-made puff pastry but I love the simplicity of the meal with this cheeky luxury. Even though I love a good old pie, an even quicker meal to make is chicken and pea risotto.
Don’t Eat Meat Every Day
Don’t get me wrong, I love meat. But I think that having a variation of meat based and meat free meals each week is both good for our health and our wallet. My husband wasn’t too keen on the idea at first because I think a lot of people view vegetarian meals as ultra- light and hardly filling. Once I started looking into it though there were a huge variety of non-meat meals that looked great. I decided to pick out a couple that were cheap and easy (my perfect kind of cooking). So we have a ‘Quick Chilli Bean Wrap’ which is a fajita type meal, everything else is the same as a ‘normal’ fajita wrap meal apart from buying 1 tin of mixed pulses instead of a pack of chicken breast or frying beef. Another winner in our family is a vegetarian curry, full of potato, cauliflower, butternut squash, green beans and the list goes on. Having meat free meals is a great way to stuff your family full of beans and vegetables, it’s always a great way to save money by missing the meat section out of your shopping trip and you feel great replacing it with a load of goodness. 🙂
Supermarkets nowadays are a world away from what they were like only 20 years ago. Not only can we buy all of our food and toiletries in one place but we can replace our broken vacuum cleaner or treat ourselves to a fancy steam cleaner while we are doing our food shop. This is the reason why I think that you can save money by doing an online shop.
From my own personal experience it is just too tempting to have a wander through the clothes section and the home isles while you are supposed to be shopping for food, picking up little (or big) bits as you go along. Then when you get to the checkout you realise that you have added a good chunk onto your already hefty shopping bill.
So if you’re not in need of some clothes or mugs why not make yourself a coffee, sit at your computer and do a food shop. You’re not going to be tempted by all the wonderful displays and you can focus on just buying food.
Look for Reduced Items
If you’re unable to do your food shop online for some reason or another, there is still a clever way to shop in the supermarkets.
Go shopping without a plan. This might seem highly unorganised but if you don’t have a meal in mind then you are free to peruse the isles and see what is on offer. Check the meat isle first as most of the time there will be a cut of meat on offer like a half price beef joint for example. You can then plan a couple of days-worth of meals around this offer. You should always check out the reduced sections too. The items in this section are usually running low on their shelf life so if you find something that you think you can use before its use by date then great. Sometimes there may be a day or 2 left on bacon or sausages, don’t just pass them by, why not take them home and put them in the freezer, they will last in there for up to a month.
Sometimes we don’t always have the time to shop around, but if you do then it is a great way to save money. In my town there is a good selection of supermarkets to pick from. Two are very close by and I will regularly go to one for my meat (I think that it is important to be happy with the quality of the meat you are feeding your family with). I then nip over to the other (cheaper) store for your everyday essentials, fruit and veg, pasta and rice, cheese and household goods. Doing it this way means that I get the best from each supermarket and I am saving money at the same time. I should mention that all of these supermarkets are within walking distance of each other. If I had to drive between them then the extra petrol involved might make shopping around a little counter-productive.
Also why not nip into town on farmer’s market day? If you can time your trip for when the stalls are starting to close then you will have a great time picking up bargains as the stall holders will want to sell as much as they can so that they don’t have to pack it up and take it away with them.