Tips for Food Shopping on a Budget

Hi Guys!

I'm currently trying to save as much money as possible and one way of doing that is making cut backs and making smarter choices! 

I have made cutbacks on various things in my day to day life, e.g. my phone, travel, cosmetics, Etc.
But today I'm just going to focus on our food shop!

I just want to give a disclaimer that this may not seem like budget shopping to everyone, Aaron and I are fortunate that we both have good, decent paying jobs and we are not in a situation that requires us to spend £10 a week on food (although a few months in early 2018 I would make £15 worth of food last me two weeks, living on Tesco value and having meals that require very few ingredients)

I love to cook, I love trying different meals, and I always cook a home cooked meal every night (I even make my own sauces) which means I do buy a lot of ingredients and I have no interest in changing that.
I would order our food from Ocado, which is a really good online supermarket with excellent customer service but they're pricy, especially since they stock Waitrose food, small independent brands and your typical everyday brands but with higher prices and whenever we needed anything after ordering the big shop we would go to Asda, Tesco, even M&S and always pick up and spend more than intended, this quickly added up, which would cause problems for our savings. 

I downloaded an app called Yolt, I genuinely recommend this app to everyone, it's a real eye opener, it's so extremely helpful, it makes keeping track of you finances so much easier and puts them into categories so you know where your money is going, e.g. travel, bills, food, eating out, drinks, shopping. 
April was the month when I realised we had a problem, we'd began to focus more on saving money and that's when I downloaded Yolt, to find out that in the month of April I'd spent £232 on groceries and £245 on eating out, that doesn't even include the transactions made on Aaron's card, wtf, I was so embarrassed, we honestly didn't realise how bad it was, so in May we cracked down and stuck to the monthly food budget of £140, this month we're trying to see if we could bring that figure down even further and invest in food to make the following months cheaper (I'll explain what I mean by this)

How we're trying to save money:

We changed supermarkets, we no longer shop at Ocado or M&S, we now shop at Aldi and Lidl, so far I have no complaints, the food is really nice, they have quirky items there too, they stock so many dupes which is comical because you can really tell who they're trying to copy and they do a pretty good job copying too! You can really treat yourself in Aldi and Lidl, I don't hesitate to put stuff in the trolly whilst I'm there because I know it's cheap and isn't going to affect the price of the shop that much! I compared the items I bought in our previous Aldi shop to Ocado and Ocado was actually DOUBLE the price, that's CRAZY! 
If there is a branded item of food that you really don't want to make the switch with then go to shops like Home Bargains (Quality Save if you're in Barnsley) and B&M they have so many branded items for a fraction of the price! 

Shopping local for our meat and fish has saved us so much money, this is what I mean by investing in food, at Doncaster Market we bought 5KG of chicken breast for £20 (which is cheaper than Lidl and Aldi) although £20 sounds like a lot of money just to spend on chicken breast, I can be assured that this will last us until the end of July, maybe even the beginning of August, despite buying it at the beginning of June, it's the 7th of June today and we've had chicken once this week and have no plans to have chicken for the rest of the week. As this chicken is going to last us months, this means we have no real reason to buy any meat next month which will decrease the amount spent on food next month! And we're still in budget for this month too! 
We also bought our prawns from the fish market, every seller on the fish market sold 1kg of raw king prawns with different prices from £9.50-£13, we bought the prawns for £9.50 as they also looked the biggest, this is going to last us so many meals! and if you were to buy 1kg of raw king prawns from Tesco that would cost you £18.18 (Tesco raw king prawns cost £3 per 165g) so that's almost double the price! Shopping locally is also great for helping local businesses too, the food is typically fresher, a better quality, and there's always a great atmosphere at the market too! 
Defiantly a win win situation and something that'll continue to do even when we've finished saving.

Being more strict, not fun but has to be done, ordering that takeaway after a 12 hour shift is extremely tempting, but you just have to say no (we do have budget each month of money that we can spend on whatever we want, but we prefer to spend that wisely) Saying no to yourself and making cost affective decisions is another great way to save money. When we go to the supermarket to pick up two things that we'd ran out of or needed to buy fresh or forgot to buy in the big food shop, we try to keep it to those two items, yes if something's a real bargain then we'll make exceptions but we generally try to stick to the items that we went in for and avoid picking up anything that we don't really need, we used to be terrible for this, we'd go in for one item and come out with a full bag of shopping, a huge waste of money and it all quickly added up, in fact this was one of the reasons why April's food bill was so high! 

Meal plan, I've been meal planning for awhile, so this isn't new for me but it's still a great way to save money as it avoids food waste, it's so annoying when you have to throw away unopened food because it's gone off, it's so wasteful! Throwing away food is almost the same as throwing away money, I know the intentions were there to eat the food, but you didn't and now you're throwing it away, meal planning allows you to make sure that the food you have gets eaten before it goes out of date! It also helps you decide in advance on what you want to eat during that week (some times we switch the days around but we generally stick to plan) and prevents that 'ooo what shall we have for tea?' which ends up taking ages to come to a decision and you end up ordering food instead, we've all been there. 

Meal prep, meal prepping is new to me, I have began to meal prep for work during the week and it has made things so much easier, I would often forget to make my lunch the night before and not have time to make it during the morning as I rush out of the house for work, which mean I end up buying food at work or from the CO-OP, which is not cheap and defiantly adds up to a large sum of money over time, with meal prep I no longer have to worry about this as I'll make 4 days worth of food  for work on a Sunday or Monday night and then I won't have to worry or think about it for the rest of the week (on Friday's I don't take a pack lunch and treat myself) I just grab the tub and go! I've gone from spending £3-£4 on lunch per day to 50p!

I hope this helps you make some changes and save money! I will make a blog post in the future about other ways I've saved money, some of them are tiny changes I've made that have helped me save a lot of money over time.
I know coupons are popular, I think more so in America than the UK, so I don't think that would be helpful for myself personally, however, I would love to hear your tips to save money and budget! 

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