Tips for reducing your food bill

Everyone knows that times are getting tougher, and most people are finding ways to reduce food bills as well as many other household costs. I wanted to share this particular shopping trip with you, and tips as to how I keep our weekly to shops down to around £30.

On a Monday morning I go through the fridge and the freezer and find what meals I can make with what we have. If I need a couple of ingredients then I make my list of ‘make up’ ingredients which turns what we already have into meals. Planning is a huge part of keeping your shopping costs down, and it’s not just about planning meals necessarily, but also knowing exactly what you have so you don’t duplicate or buy things you can’t use.

I leave pretty much as soon as the shops open, ensuring that I get the pick of reduced items. They are reduced more later on in the day, but a lot of the items are gone by then. Although it isn’t practical for most, I visit certain shops for certain items. For example, I go to Morrisons for reduced meat, but Aldi for fruit and vegetables  We live in a small town with lots of supermarkets. Even though I don’t drive, I have 5 supermarkets and several discount shops within walking distance of our house.

Even though I write a list for what I need, this doesn’t mean that the list is set in stone. The key to getting a cheaper shop is to be flexible with ingredients, and to have a large recipe repertoire (or to be handy on Google). If your recipe calls for chicken and £4 for a pack, but turkey or pork is reduced, then it makes sense to substitute.

This is the best Monday morning shop I’ve had

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Almost everything you see here was reduced or on offer. This shop came to a total of £28.34, which is a steal as there are multiple packs of branded items and large cuts of meat. The wraps were reduced to 29p a packet, and the hobnob flapjacks were 12p a packet. I didn’t go out planning to buy them, but they’re things we use everyday, so it makes sense to buy in bulk at that price. The packet food actually came from the discount store BnM. I used to work in a store like this before becoming a full time mum, so I know that the food they receive is usually food from supermarkets that is short dated and they wouldn’t be able to sell in time, or a product that isn’t selling very well at full price. The food is exactly the same quality as the supermarkets, just the price is often greatly reduced.

Of course, we do spend more than we should sometimes, and it’s taken us quite sometime to get in to a shopping habit that suits our budget, but this basic routine means that we always have at least a weeks worth of meals and other staples in the house on a modest budget.

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14 thoughts on “Tips for reducing your food bill

  1. We used to do this in France…as we lived out in the sticks we had to plan journeys anyway and would shop in whichever town our other errand took us to, so we got to know when and where the cheap market was on, where the ‘end of line’ shops were and after a while were given the highly unofficial ‘pensioners’ privileges’ at one of the major chains where the bakers packed up sacks of bread supposedly for animals which contained everything under the sun and the butchers put out specially priced meat packs….you had to be there when the store opened – but it was well worth it.
    Otherwise we did what you do – check what we had which could be used – and, of course, we had the garden.
    Now in Costa Rica shopping is much more limited but we are getting to know the best markets and the cut price supermarkets in the capital for when we have stuff to do there.
    And we still have the garden – but with different things in it!

    I very much enjoy your blog and so do my younger neighbours who come to practice their english and love seeing what you do.

    • Wow, thank you so much 🙂 It’s definitely all about getting to know the best deals in your area, and also shopping local. I know a few market sellers who we see regularly and put a little more in the bag than we pay for. It’s most definitely worth shopping around 🙂

  2. We live 50km from the city and shop fortnightly. We don’t have the same degree of competition in shops/supermarkets in Tasmania and so we don’t get a lot of discounted items and even when they are, they tend to be only slightly discounted. We grow veggies and I am vegan so that reduces the costs of groceries even further. We spend more on our dogs food than we do on our own! 😉 Excellent post full of good tips for those that can take advantage of them 🙂

  3. Working full time I find it too time consuming to get the very best deals but I do try to shop around, use vouchers/coupons and stock up on special offers. I aim for around £70 a week for the four of us, but that’s really 3 adults and a child. I’d like to get it down to £50 though.

  4. I am always looking for tips to reduce the shopping bill. I feel pride when I get it down to 40 for the two of us but I usually shop online as I hate going to the supermarket. I do check the cupboard though and establish what extra ingredients I need to get to make up meals. I also eat less meat as its expensive. What would you say is your favourite ‘cheap and filling’ meal?

    • If we are looking for a filling meal I usually make something in the slow cooker, oriental beef stew is one of our favourites. You can pick up beef skirt or shin beef very cheaply, and it’s full of flavour. Serve it with greens and rice and it’s very filling.
      We also like to substitute some meats for pulses. Mixed bean chilli and lentil bolognaise are very filling and cheaper than if you were using the equivalent weight of meat.

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