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When I started budgeting I realised I was spending, on average, around £650 per month on food alone! That’s a hell of a lot of money and we couldn’t afford it. I honestly thought my average food shop bill was around £450 per month. How could I have been so wrong? No wonder we never had any money in the bank! This is the problem with not having a budget in place. We don’t really have any idea where our money is going or how much money we are spending in which areas.

By implementing a few changes I have been able to cut our grocery bill from £650 per month to just £280 per month. Yes, that’s right! £280 per month on food for 2 adults, 2 kiddies and 2 cats. That’s incredible, right? All of that extra money that I used to spend on food is now able to be put to better use elsewhere.

Carry on reading to see exactly how you can make huge savings on your grocery bill too.

MEAL PLANNING

A lot of my friends plan their meals for the week, or even the month, ahead. I’ve always known about meal planning but it seemed like a huge hassle to me and I never seemed to be organised enough or able to find enough time to do it. But when I started to budget I began to realise that a meal plan was EXACTLY what I needed and I was just going to have to get my arse into gear and get a plan sorted! And do you know what? I actually found that it was so simple to do and I kicked myself for not doing it sooner. You can purchase the same planner I use here.

Here’s how to do yours….

  • Decide if you are going to make a weekly or monthly meal plan
  • Have a look in your cupboards and freezer. Take note of what you have.
  • Make a list of all of the meals that your family like. Make sure to include enough meals for the amount of days needed. If you are doing a weekly meal plan then choose 7 meals. If you are doing a monthly meal plan then choose 30 (or however many days are in that particular month). If you’re doing a monthly plan then you will be able to rotate some of the same meals across the weeks.
  • Try to include meals that will utilise some of the items you already have in your cupboards/freezer as this will help to lower your shopping bill.
  • Make a list of all of the ingredients that you’ll need for the meals you have planned.
  • Go shopping and buy ONLY the items on your shopping list!

BENEFITS OF MEAL PLANNING

  • It cuts costs
  • You know exactly what you’re having on a particular day so there’s no stressing about what to cook
  • You know how much you will be spending on food so you can budget more efficiently
  • No more running to the shops because you’ve got ‘nothing to eat’
  • Saves a huge amount of time
  • Healthier if you are able to plan healthy meals
  • Reduced risk of eating out/ordering takeaways

OWN BRAND SHOPPING

Now, I’ve never been a snob of any sort. I’m not into designer items, I don’t judge others and the choices they make, I’m not one to say ‘ooooh I’d never use that as it’s made by so-and-so’. But I am a creature of habit and I have always bought Heinz, PG Tips, Nescafe, Fairy etc etc. No one ever told me that was the right thing to do and I don’t know how it started. I guess I must have just picked up that habit from my mum. I always shopped in Sainsbury’s or Tesco’s and would always reach for the branded items. I’m not even sure I realised that non-branded items existed!

When I started on the journey of tackling our debt I joined lots of various Facebook groups that focused on spending less and getting more for your money. In these groups I’d often read about people buying non-branded items and saving a small fortune. I was intrigued and looked into it further and what I found absolutely astounded me. The difference in price between some branded and non-branded items was unbelievable. I couldn’t believe I had been ripped-off for so many years! I vowed to swap as many branded items as I could in my weekly shop. Fast-forward to now and 95% of the items I buy are non-branded. Most swaps were so easy and you’d never even notice the difference unless you were told. Others took a bit of getting used to. And then there are the items that you just can’t say good-bye to. These will be different for everyone but mine are Fairy washing-up liquid and Bisto gravy. I tried to get used to various other washing up liquids but I found that I was using twice as much as I would with Fairy just to get the dishes clean and I wasn’t really saving money in the long-run. And don’t even get me started on the gravy!

WHY SHOULD I BUY NON-BRANDED ITEMS

  • You will save a lot of money!
  • Many of the non-branded foods are a lot healthier and contain less sugar and salt
  • Some own-brand goods are identical to their counterparts in all but price

SHOP AT ALDI OR LIDL

As I mentioned above, I had always shopped at Tesco and Saisbury’s. They were the closest supermarkets to me and I could even get my shopping delivered if I wanted to! I didn’t give it a second thought until I realised how much I was spending on food shopping each month. An Aldi had just opened 20 minutes away from me and I decided to do a trial weekly shop in there. At this stage I was already buying mostly non-branded items so I didn’t mind that Aldi didn’t sell many of the well-known brands.

Off I went with list in hand fully expecting it to be a disaster and having to go back to Tesco to finish off my shopping. But wow! I was hooked. I loved it from the minute I walked in. It was less busy. The queues at the tills moved quickly. The staff had all of the tills open so that they could get the customers through quickly, unlike Tesco where you have to queue for 40 minutes because there are only three tills open. I didn’t feel overwhelmed like I do in the big supermarkets as Aldi only stock one or two brands of an item instead of 5 or 6 different varieties of something. It was very easy to stick to my list and I was in and out in 20 minutes.

It is much more convenient for me to shop at Tesco. I’m a busy mum. I run my own business. I have a side-hustle. The kids have after school activities. I barely find time in the week to pee. Tesco is 5 minutes from my front door and Aldi is 20 minutes away. But I have to make the effort otherwise I know my food bill will be so much higher each month. I save around 35-40% by shopping at Aldi. When I’m in Tesco I get lured into buying pretty stationary or clothes for the kids etc. I go in to buy bread and I will come out having spent £60 on stuff I don’t need. So I try not to put myself in that situation any more.

BENEFITS OF SHOPPING AT ALDI OR LIDL OVER THE BIG SUPERMARKETS

  • You will save around 30%
  • There’s less variety so you’re not tempted to overspend
  • No difference in quality of items (I actually prefer the fruit and veg from Aldi)
  • Healthier non-branded items
  • You can buy organic without breaking the bank
  • They usually have all of the tills open, meaning that you get through checkout more quickly