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I love saving money on food and keeping my monthly food budget low – here is an update for 2018 – all about what we’ll be spending and where
January is always seen as a time for new beginnings and fresh starts and is always a good time to take stock of things and change and improve them where we can. One of my most popular posts is one that I wrote all the way back in 2016 – about how I cut my groceries bill down to just £50 a month (I also wrote an update at the end of year which you can read here.) And so I though it was time for a bit of an update on our monthly food budget – whether it’s changed and we’re going to be doing this year.
A lot has changed since I wrote that initial post (it was one of first ones I wrote when I started blogging) and since then both my husband I have changed jobs, we got married, we travelled to the United States twice and we are now expecting our first child, a baby girl due in May.
The economy has also changed somewhat – food prices have gone up, whether or not I agree with it brexit is happening and food poverty is still rife in the U.K.
As I mentioned above there have been some huge changes in our lives in the last two years which have contributed to us wanting to rethink our monthly food budget. The first is my husband’s new job. A big part of us being able to save so much money on food before was that my husband actually got a free hot cooked meal at work everyday. Now he has to take packed lunches and while we do keep these on fairly tight budget, it has meant that we need to spend more each week to keep him fed at work. My fellow money bloggers had some fantastic thrifty suggestions when it came to what put in his lunch everyday. He also likes to takes a 2 liter bottle of mineral water each day – keeping hydrated is important while out in the elements and would rather he drank this than fizzy so I’m more than happy to wrangle it into our monthly food budget.
I now work from home full time which means spending a little bit more on things like tea and coffee as I’m home all day. However, as I no longer work such unsociable hours I have become much better at cooking dinner every night – so while this means spending more in our monthly food budget, it also means we are spending much less money on takeaways and eating out.
My husbands change in job also means I have less access to our car. We’ve always car shared which was easy since we worked at the same place. Now he uses the car during the day for work and is at college two evenings a week meaning it’s more difficult for me to go out and buy reduced food (I often used to go on my way home from work – now I’m usually in my PJS by 6pm!) That said we are saving substantially on petrol as we’re doing much less back and forth as I no longer work split shifts so it’s definite swings and roundabouts.
Our New Monthly Food Budget
So with all of the above in mind, our new monthly shopping budget is going to be £100. I will take this amount out of my bank account each month and put it into my separate shopping money purse to help me keep track of it.
As many of you will have noticed the cost of food has gone up substantially in the last two years. In particular butter and cream have gone up by almost 40% and some meats increased as much as 20% between December 2016 and March 2017. There is also the continuing growing trend of shrinkflation – where brands charge the same for a product but the there is actually less contents than there was previously. You can read more about Shrinkflation and the products it’s been affecting here.
Where I’ll be Shopping
Due to all the changes in our lifestyle and working hours, we’ve also changed where and how we shop each week too. I was extremely unwell for the first 3 months of pregnancy and actually ate very little, usually sending the husband out once a week to grab essentials and stuff for his lunchbox and relying on my Mum to bring me round an endless supply of Pringles, Yoghurts and cheese strings, the only things I could stomach. Pete liked to stick to the familiar and did this weekly shop in Sainsbury’s. I actually really like Sainsbury’s for both quality and choice, but at the end of the day it’s not the most budget friendly option
After taking a look at our spending for November and being ever so slightly horrified, we decided on a change of tact. We now do our main weekly shop at Lidl and top up at Sainsbury’s with anything we were unable to get (Pete likes a particular brand of rolls for his lunchbox and they actually keep really well so I don’t mind). There are a lot of Lidl’s own brand products which we have swapped to and which do actually save us a lot of money. We usually spend around £15 here and less than a fiver in Sainsbury’s unless they have some good reduced items. Top ups during the week are usually from Morrison’s as it’s closest to our house and easy walking distance for me.
One thing I do miss is shopping at Co-op. I used to pass a large one on my way home from work everyday and it’s on the other side of town it’s not somewhere I now pass very often. However, a new Co-op store has just been built less than a minutes walk from my house and I’m waiting with baited breath for it to open after months of delays. Once open I can see the majority of my Top Up shops being from here as well as (hopefully) plenty of reduced bargains as it’s close enough for me to walk to even in the evenings.
New things I plan to try
Something I have always found a bit of a struggle is meal planning, but I do slowly feel like I am getting to grips with it. We make a list on a Sunday before we go shopping of the meals we’d like to eat each week based on what’s in the freezer and then buy any top up items needed with our weekly shop. We then pick a meal each morning to have that night – I’m one of those people that has to be in the mood to eat certain foods so I like the flexibility doing it this way gives us. We never have set days for certain meals and we do also change it as we go along if there’s something else we’d prefer to eat that day.
Another thing I’m thinking of giving a try is a Muscle food Meat hamper.(affliate) I’ve seen lots of other people using them and they seem to offer both quality and value for money. The biggest issue at the moment is me not having enough space in my freezer to store it all! It definitely something I’ll be considering closer to when my baby is due though as I think not needing to worry about shopping in the first few weeks will be really helpful. I could also order it a little bit before and use the meat to batch cook meals for the freezer for when little one arrives.
Overall I feel happy with our new monthly food budget – I just hope we can stick to it!