Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Meal planning, it's actually better than it sounds!

If you are spending more than £30 per person per week on groceries (excluding booze) then in my opinion you are spending way too much.  Personally I strive for half of this and most weeks achieve it.

For those of you spending £100's per week, impossible, I hear you cry but it certainly is possible.  I have never had a huge grocery shopping bill but part of my saving plan was to reduce my weekly budget and waste less food.   Over the last year I have been trying to achieve this with limited success until I started meal planning in earnest.

I started doing it manually.  We all sat down as a family and made a list of our favourite meals.  We choose to only do main meals as we tend to just have the same breakfast cereals and packed lunch each day so factored that after the meal planning.

For the first few weeks we decided the meals for the following week on the Saturday, wrote a list of what we needed and added any staples we were running low of.  To be honest this was a great way of doing it but a little time consuming for my liking! As you know I like to simplify as much as possible!

I downloaded a few free food planning apps onto my iPad.  I looked at about 3 in depth then deleted the 2 I liked least! I choose to keep the food planner app for iOS.  The next bit did take me a couple of hours, I loaded all of the meals we had written down on our list into it then added the ingredients for each recipe in too.  Where the main part is served with veggies or salad, I just add 3 portions of veg or 3 portions is salad to the recipe and then choose the ones on offer.  Like many others I use Aldi and try is possible to pick at least a couple of their 6 items on offer.  Adding all of this into the app isn't essential but I spent a bit of time up front to save lots of effort in the long run.

Each Saturday we still pick the meals and then from the app we generate a shopping list which is printed.  Then I cross out what we already have and write in the end any staples we need.  We then only buy the items on the list.  Well that bits not always true!

Finally my last words of wisdom is shop around the different supermarkets and choose which one is best for you. Forget loyalty,  think price and quality.   I love Waitrose and Sainsbury but the food I buy is very expensive there.  Tesco and Asda are comparible on the type of items I purchase and I will go in one or another of them at least once a month.  My usual shop is done in Aldi as its close to where I live and it is good for the types of things I buy.  It can seem a little different at first and takes a bit of getting used to when you change supermarket but shop around and switch supermarket, start off checking alternatives out  once a month then before you know it you'll be converted to your new favourite.

Lastly (honest!) do pop into your local farmshop, not these fancy farmers markets where you will pay an arm and a leg but one on a real, actual farm.  I've found 2 local to me that I drive past on a regular basis.  One sells eggs, laid that day, large and free range (you can see the chooks) at £1 for 6 and a farm shop that has whatever's in season for half the price of the supermarkets (even Aldi and Lidl).  And then there's foraging but that's a whole other post!

Let me know how you save money and reduce food wastage by emailing ourcornercottage@yahoo.co.uk

Thanks for reading

J S and N

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