This is about to get personal:
When we first moved to London we were so not prepared to be students again. Life in Provo had been great. We were living off of three pay checks (Trent had two part time jobs and I had one); we were comfortable and not very aware of our spending. We just had money when we needed it, so we didn’t pay much more attention to it than that. Suddenly we were living off student loans in one of the most expensive cities in the world and had a baby in the mix. With the cost of child care, we deemed it pointless for me to start working (it would have eaten up most if not all of my income). We didn’t have all of our belongings (there were being literally shipped over [like on a ship] so it took a loooong time for them to get here), thus cooking was somewhat of a challenge. I began spending way too much on groceries and a decent chunk of that was on chocolate (it became my coping method for being away from family and friends).
Due to a mix up with our student housing, we suddenly had to pay twice as much as what we expected (for some crazy reason they split the cost of the family flat between Trent and I, sending two separate invoices, and Trent was not aware of this for some time). That day our bank account plummeted to a mere £50! Yikes! With neither of us working, we had to make a pathetic phone call to my parents asking for help. It was a real wake up call for us. We looked into our spending habits and realised we needed to make some changes. Other than rent, food is our biggest spending item. So that was where we needed to find a way to cut back. Since then I have learned a lot. We now spend £80 a week on groceries. That’s for one man who has an insane metabolism, a nursing mother, and a toddler who eats more than any other toddler I’ve seen.
Here is how we save on our grocery bill:
Meal Plan. This is the biggest way that we’ve been able to save money. That way I’m not running to the store every other day to pick up what we need for dinner that night. When you are constantly going to the store, you end up buying items not on your list, items that you don’t need and then there goes your budget. I will go more in depth to how I meal plan in a later post.
If you can, and the delivery fee isn’t too much, get your groceries delivered. This will kill your impulse buys. If you have to type it in, or click a few times to get to it, you’re far less likely to buy something on a whim than by casually walking past it in the store. What is in your cart will be only what you need and that saves you money. We get our groceries delivered from tesco. We are signed up for their delivery saver, so I pay £3 a month to have groceries delivered. And it saves us so much by doing so.
Make it from scratch. As a lately with the new baby I haven’t been doing this one as well, but for a long time I made all of our bread. Yes, it’s not a huge money saver to make a loaf of bread versus buying it, but with some things it really can be. I never buy pasta sauce. I make my own using canned tomatoes. Making what you can instead of buying ready made items usually tastes better and is healthier for you too. It just takes a little more planning. Remember how I said when we first moved to London how I was spending way to much on chocolate? When I started making more desserts from scratch I still got my sugar fix, but was saving loads.
Join Meatless Mondays. Trent and I discovered that we don’t usually like eating meat that often. I started making vegetarian meals for the most part, only eating meat 2-3 times a week. And when we do eat meat, we eat a lot less of it. I’ll use only one chicken breast in a meal that feeds 4-6 people. Meat can be a side dish, not a main. We fill up with grains, beans, eggs and lentils. I (usually) don’t miss it at all.
Utilise that freezer. I know if you’re living in a city this may not be possible. Our first year in London we lived in a tiny flat with a dorm sized refrigerator/freezer. We could fit one pint of ice cream and a small ice cube tray in it. In our new flat we have a much bigger freezer. Now when I make soups, fillings for enchiladas, chicken broth, or anything else that freezes well, I will throw extras in the freezer. That way I have saved money and have a quick meal ready in the future. Win win.
Go for frozen veggies. This one was hard for me to swallow even though I grew up eating frozen veg. I love me some fresh vegetables, but those frozen bags are cheaper. You can still make them tasty and delicious. Save the fresh veg for when you have a little left over in the budget.
Look at value not cheapest price. Check the price per gram/ounce. This is usually the store brand, but occasionally it will be the name brand. I found that the name brand bread crumbs were cheaper per gram than the tesco ones. Who knew?
Become savvy with pasta, rice and potato dishes. Pinterest makes this incredibly easy to do. Pasta, rice and potatoes are cheap and there are a plethora of ways to turn these basic ingredients into meals.
Eat seasonally. Usually what’s in season will run cheaper. It will usually taste better too.
That’s how we save on our groceries. What have you found helps save you money?