Budgetting and saving money are both more important and more difficult when you have young children. More expenses, less free time.
Families come in all shapes and sizes and are all different. There’s no one size fits all with budgetting, and no where is this more true than the food budget. That’s why I decided to ask lots of different families what works for them.
Everyone I spoke to did things differently and had various tricks up their sleeves to help them keep control of their food budget. Whilst one family swore by one tip, another completely disagreed.
Check out some of these tips to see if any will work for you. Perhaps some won’t, but hopefully some will! The answers come from families with 1 child, families with more than 1, families with babies, families with school age children, and single parent families to (a special salute if that’s you!) A lot of their tips are relevant to people without kids too!
Food saving tips for families… from families
Money saving on baby food;
I’ve rarely used (baby) jars, I’ve always made a bit more of what we’re eating and frozen smaller portions, so there’s always something in for the toddler. I’m not Mary Poppins though, sometimes you have to pay the price of convenience!
Making the food shop a
little lot less painful!
I shop online (especially if I’ve got both the girls). You can’t get yellow sticker offers, but it saves throwing a load of random stuff in the trolley whilst dealing with a toddler tantrum. Also, a delivery slot when they’re in bed is normally cheaper- think later on Sunday evening- and means I can unpack without little fingers going after the strawberries as soon as they arrive.
Making the most of free school dinners;
My daughter gets free school dinners, so if I know I won’t feel like cooking, I’ll have a cooked meal at lunch and just put together a light supper. It’s cheaper than getting a takeaway in the evening.
Cooking together (for the brave!);
We sometimes cook together at the weekend. By making a homemade pizza or burgers together, it’s an activity we can do without spending money (other than what you’d spend on dinner anyway) and its cheaper than a takeaway.
We’ve got a milkman! I got fed up of constantly popping to the shops for the basics. I’d always end up with a kinder egg or frozen breakfast cereal or something else in the basket. The price is a bit higher but I save more just by avoiding the extra shopping trips
Food saving tips for families… and everyone else
Not falling for “deals” (and how organised is this??);
When I write my shopping list, I write the maximum I want to pay for items alongside them. For example, I might say 50p for biscuits. It means when chocolate hobnobs are on offer for £1, my list reminds me I only want to spend 50p.
We withdraw cash – £200 per month- and put it in our food purse. Watching what we spend and what we have left keeps us in budget every month. It’s a good deterrent from buying too many Kinder eggs 😉
Anyone else noticed a kinder egg theme?
Meal plan and shop once:
I come up with a meal plan for the week and go shopping once… I take a list and make sure I’ve eaten. Shopping hungry, especially without list, is always a bad idea.
Making homemade hobnobs or fairy cakes is a way to keep costs down on sweet treats, as long as you don’t fall for all the fancy looking decorations!
Chicken breast meat is the easiest to cook with and easiest to eat, but you get so much more value from buying a whole bird or chicken thighs.
And another smart choice (one of my favourites):
I make life easy with frozen veg- it also means less goes to waste when a last minute schedule change means we have less time to put dinner together or have to switch round the meals on our plan.
Know how to cook
It’s difficult to control what you spend on food if you can’t cook, but you won’t become an accomplished chef overnight. It’s ok that you’re not perfect as soon as you start. Following a recipe to the letter is not a guarantee of success (I have a lot of personal experience of this) . But practice, practice, practice. If your first homecooked food is pasta tossed in passatta with grated cheese, it’s step one. Omelettes are another easy and cheap meal. Keep taking those steps. Don’t be too ambitious.
One step at a time
You don’t have to make lots a changes in one go. Like I said, every family is different. Some of these tips might suit one family, but be completely unworkable for another.
Try one or two at a time and see what works for you. Over time, new habits will form and saving money on food shopping (even when you’re super busy) will start to become automatic.
Do you have any other tips that help you and your family save money on food shopping?