In January 2016 I decided to cut my groceries budget down to just £50 per month. One year on I look at how it has changed our spending habits and improved our finances.
As so many people do, last January my husband sat down and discussed what we could do to improve our finances in 2016. Although we are very good at saving money and living well within our means, one area we are a bit crap at is budgeting. Setting a monthly food budget seemed like the best place to start and so that’s what we did. An ambitious £50 groceries budget per month is what we decided to try. You can read the full post on how we do it here.
Was it worth the effort?
The first thing I will say is sticking a tight groceries budget does take a lot of effort and a bit of planning. I now do several small trips to the supermarket each week instead of one big shop. I pick up reduced items and I shop around too. It is very rare I pay full price for meat or vegetables. This means getting creative in the kitchen – picking up whatever is cheap and turning it into a tasty meal.
I also do planned coupon/app shops. Although I wouldn’t say my level of couponing is extreme, it does play a part in how little I spend. There have been loads of amazing freebies this year. So many in fact, I was able to make this hamper for under £3.
Over the course of the year I estimate we have saved around £1500. We were spending around £200 a month before we started the challenge. There have been some months when we have gone over budget, probably only by £10 at the most. In December we did spend quite a bit extra. This was because we wanted to treat ourselves to some specific foods for Christmas. We also bought some alcohol which isn’t something we normally buy during the year. Overall I think we have done really well at reducing this area of spending and our shopping habits have completely changed for the better.
Will we be continuing into 2017?
Yes, we will definitely be continuing into this year. It feels really good to set aside the money at the beginning of each month and I enjoy the challenge of sticking to our budget. There may be months we spend more, or less, but for us this is the best way to keep track of our spending.
There are areas we need to improve on too. While sticking to the budget hasn’t been too bad, we still waste a lot of food. And while it is food we have paid less for, it still money that is essentially going down the drain. Getting food out of the freezer and not eating it is probably the biggest thing we need to work on!
My top tips for reducing your grocery bills
- Put money for spending on shopping in a different purse or wallet. This will make it easier to keep track of and you will be able to see what you have left to spend.
- As well as buying reduced items, look out for deleted lines. My local co-op recently had a HUGE clear out and I got store cupboards essentials for next to nothing. This included litre bottles of napolina olive oil for £1.50 and foxes biscuits for reduced to 13p that then went through the till at buy one get one free.
- Be prepared – when buying lots of reduced food make sure you have the room to store it. I take a lot of food out of it’s bulky packaging and put in smaller containers before freezing.
- Make the most of your leftovers – even if you only have small amount of something left. It’s worth popping it in the freezer for another day. You can find some of my Sunday lunch leftover recipes in this post.
- Cut out the crap – since spending less we buy far less fizzy drinks, crisps and chocolate. We also try and stick to a base price for things. For example, we won’t pay more than £1 for a litre bottle of Pepsi Max.
Are you trying out a new groceries budget this year?