How we do it
First of all, eating healthily comes at a price, so don’t beat yourself up if your grocery bill is one of your highest expenses. We work hard to stick to our budget each month. There are some things you can do, however.
Although I’ve previously written about slow shopping (which I do enjoy), for this significant spending category, I shop online with my recipe book in front me.
Walk around the kitchen and look in the cupboards before ordering anything. You may have enough of a particular item or have forgotten that you’d stocked up.
I typically buy what I need to make 3 or 4 different recipes (plus one dessert or sweet snack such as energy bites). After that, I improvise with what I have around.
When your online basket is complete, check if you can substitute anything you have selected for a cheaper version. Maybe you don’t really need something at all? Keep an eye on the way the value of an item is listed (i.e. £ per 100g or £ per 1kg). These aren’t always comparable. Offers on things you normally buy are worth having, but don’t be tricked into buying something you don’t need if it’s going to end up wasted.
Next time you shop, check what you still have. That way, you can make new recipes with existing supplies just by supplementing existing food items with one or two fresh ingredients. You’ll save money and use up what you have.
Finally, if you can’t shop online, don’t go to the store when hungry. You will spend more.
Watch the quantity or size if you’re buying online
Online shopping can be deceptive. Make sure you’re ordering size you want – check the weight or size before you order.
Consider the delivery charges
We paid £60 for an annual delivery pass with Morrisons. It’s well worth it when you consider that a premium delivery slot could add £5 to your bill. We benefit from the logistics of Ocado* (Morrisons’ logistics supplier) but pay Morrisons prices for the food.
Learn about food
When the fridge looks empty, an experienced cook will identify possible combinations that will help feed the family until the next order comes.
Eggs left over with a chunk of cheese? Make a cheese soufflé (I can do this, so you can!). Mixed beans in a can and some red peppers in the fridge? Concoct a chilli. The BBC Good Food website has some simple and tasty recipes that you can reply upon when you only have some carrots and a bag of lentils to inspire you.
Really use your recipe books
I’m down to just five books now and tend to get my culinary inspiration from one of them each week. I place a sticky tab against the recipes for which I’ve ordered ingredients, so I can remember why I bought a particular food item when it arrives.
Also, because these favourite books use the same ingredients in lots of recipes (Tamari, for example), I often have the basics in my storecupboard.
Make two recipes out of one
I’ve just made red pepper relish to go with home-made falafel. When warm, the relish will make a yummy pasta sauce. So, provided we go steady with the sauce on the falafel, we’ll have tomorrow’s dinner from this meal, as well.
Beans on toast never hurt anyone
You don’t have to deliver a gourmet meal to the family every night. There’s no reason why you can’t have something super simple. Some friends of ours always make a pizza on a Friday. When our fresh food stocks are down, we’re more inclined to make an omelette or simply have beans on toast. Boiled eggs and soldiers are yummy! These dishes are filling, homely and will be kind to your budget.
How do you do it?
How do you combine a desire for healthy eating with keeping a check on the pennies? I’d love to know! Do get in touch.
*Ocado is the UK’s premium online grocery store. Morrisons has both a physical and online supermarket presence.
Next, we look forward to a guest blog post from Cheryl Magyar of Handcrafted Travellers who offers 8 tops tips on reducing everyday disposables.
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