As a mother I feel that the meals that I cook and the ingredients that I use are a very important part of our family life. I think that I am right in saying that most of us have strong memories of the meals we ate as children, whether they were delicious or disgusting. They have stuck with us all this time. So I want to try and make sure that the meals I make for my children are worth remembering, but only for the right reasons. 🙂
How then, can we make meals that will be both delicious and good for you without doubling the average shopping bill for a family of four?
A great way to shop wisely is to plan ahead. All you need to do is sit down for half an hour at the beginning of the week and decide on what meals you will be having for the entire week. It could be a good idea to have this up on a chalk board or something similar in the kitchen so that it is easily accessible and not forgotten about.
The reason for this is so that you always check what you have in your cupboards before heading out to the shops so that you don’t buy ingredients that you already have in. Also, if you have a long list with you it will make you less tempted to grab something from every deal at the end of every aisle. These are put there to make people spend more, so having a list should help you to resist the deals that you don’t need.
Plan where you will shop
Once you have decided on the meals you will be making, you can then decide where you will buy your ingredients from. Sometimes it only makes sense to do your full shop in just one supermarket. If this is true, how can you make savings on the yummy meals you have on your list?
Don’t let yourself be swayed by fancy packaging. There are some foods that you can buy where it really doesn’t make a difference what the cost is. For example, when you are shopping for tinned vegetables like chopped tomatoes or red kidney beans you have a range of prices from around £1.39 down to 30p per tin but there really isn’t that much of a difference in the taste, so why not save a few pennies and skip the branded veg and opt for the shops own range instead?
Another area that I have only recently felt comfortable swapping the branded for the basics is children’s yoghurts. My boys have yoghurts every day so I have always bought them the branded yoghurts, worrying that if I got them the cheaper ones that I would be filling their little bodies with a load of rubbish, but this isn’t necessarily true. Yes the more expensive yoghurts do taste that little bit better but this is purely down to the fact that there is more cream in them. The cheaper yoghurts usually have a more watery substance and this is because they have reduced the amount of cream going into the yoghurts. This is what is reflected in the price. The cheaper yoghurts are still made from real milk and there shouldn’t be any nasty surprises in them, they are just cheaper because there is less of the expensive cream in them. Even though I am comfortable that this is the case, it is always wise to read the ingredients and the nutritional information to double check that you’re happy with the product.
Reading the nutritional information on all of the food you buy and comparing the branded with the basics will really help you to decide where you are happy to choose the cheaper option and where you feel spending that little bit more is worth it.
Head down to your local butchers
This might sound like a very basic tip. And I suppose it is. But there are a lot of us that seem to have forgotten all about our local butchers. It seems as though we have been so swept away with the convenience of the supermarkets that we just don’t make the effort to buy our meat from the butchers anymore.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know that sometimes we just don’t have the time to make the trip over. But if you do it will be well worth your while. Not only do you get better quality meat, but the prices are usually much better than they are at the supermarkets. Plus, the butchers are more than happy to help you learn about the different cuts of meat that can give you a delicious meal for a small price. So why not give them a go and see what a difference it can make to your meals?
How about you, which areas of your food shop do you like to save on?