August 15, 2022

Sticking to my food budget

We have a food budget of £700 a year for two of us. We have managed to stick to this budget for nearly 6 years now. It is coming to mid year and I am slightly over it. I am determined not to panic as I have more food stored than usual as I haven’t run my cupboards down and done my normal ‘no spend’ months. It doesn’t seem sensible to do so when I am seeing prices rise every week (or products shrink). My garden has also started to provide fresh food that we can eat every day and so a lot of what I buy over the summer will be stored. I am going to buy things like mixed fruit for the Christmas cake and I am freezing butter and cheese to use later in the year to save money then.

Some of the things I do to stay within my budget when shopping are :-

  1. Look at the lower shelves in the supermarket as that is where the cheaper products are.
  2. Shop around and compare prices.
  3. Look for discounted food and visit at the time it is usually reduced.
  4. Use Olio and my local food waste community pantry (or you can use food banks if referred or on benefits).
  5. Always shop from my cupboards,freezer, and garden first, and plan my meals around them. I make a meal plan for at least 2 weeks, but it is flexible and so I don’t waste food if I don’t feel like a certain meal on a particular day.
  6. Cook with what is in season.
  7. Look for alternatives eg. I have started using barley instead of rice as I can often buy it cheaper and it works well with chilli dishes. I am also buying milk powder when I see it on offer and I use it to make sauces or custard.
  8. I have planned my garden and what I grow around what is expensive or what I eat most. I won’t buy salad leaves for months and the fruit I picked last year I am still using now.
  9. Not buying any convenience food (eg we made a few batches of wraps last week, and I bake my own bread and chapatis). I cook everything from scratch besides an odd chicken strip.
  10. Foraging. I have made various cordials and added to my salads. Later I will be picking fruit from the wild. I use the blackberries right through the winter.
  11. Preserving when I find things discounted or I grow them, eg I have made butter and cheese from reduced milk, jams from fruit and lemon curd from lemons from the community shop. I dry mixed herbs, or freeze fruit and vegetables that I have a glut of.
  12. I am bartering. I have swopped strawberry and tomato plants for ground almonds, and cakes or bread for fish.
  13. Not being too proud to ask for left overs when I see people are going to throw them away. Family and friends now save me left overs. I have had ends of joints, cereal people didn’t like and my daughter always brings me a carrier bag full of things when she goes on a diet.
  14. Making simple meals with few ingredients like my Gran used to make.. I am looking at war time or recipes from the depression era.
  15. I am shopping in markets and going just before they close.
  16. I am buying loss leaders (items supermarkets don’t make a profit on in order to tempt you in) and buying my food from lots of different supermarkets and discount stores like Home Bargains.
  17. Shop from a list and only buy things that are a bargain or essentials.
  18. Serving bread and butter with some meals as my grandparents used to do to fill us up.
  19. Eating more vegetarian meals.
  20. padding meat meals out with pulses, vegetables, oats or bread crumbs.

How are you adapting to try to keep your food budget from escalating? The picture is of my food shop this week. I also bought a pack of bacon off cuts from B&M and some milk.

Sticking to my food budget.

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