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Monday, 24 March 2014

Make the most of your money.- food shopping/household

If you look around the net or talk to folk you will pick up lots of little tips to make your hard earned money go further. I'm not by any means brilliant at it, we have debts and i have weeks where im stressing about how I'm going to put the gas on or food on the table. We don't have much spare cash so the pennies we do have spare are important to us.

I've got 10 tips which i personally use. You may have heard them before, or possibly have your own genius ways to stretch your pennies. Most are common sense if I'm honest but hopefully they will be off use to someone :)

Make your own cleaning products.

Some brands are really expensive! I've tried abit of everything, from leading brands to own brand. Personally nothing beats abit of bleach but not everyone likes using chemicals. Homemade cleaners are cheaper and just as effective as shop brought. Mostly using items you will have to hand already or easy to get hold off, label some squirty bottles (reuse your shop brought when they run out) and store how you would your other cleaning solutions. I write a blog post a little while ago about making washing powder and fabric softner from home. You can check that out here. Here is some of my favourites.

  • White vinegar - brilliant at dissolving nasties and getting rid of smells. Its also brilliant for those with sensitive skin and can be used as a fabric softener substitute with the added bonus of giving the inside of your washing machine a good clean! The smell evaporates once dry so no nasty smell when you have finished cleaning. I use vinegar for cleaning my windows. 
  • Baking soda - Great deodorizer, and for tougher stains. Its most commonly used for keeping drains running freely. It can be made into a paste for scrubbing tough stains or sprinkle around for a natural carpet freshener. 
  • A small drop of olive oil is brilliant as a natural furniture polish. Mix with something strong smelling such as lemon juice. Dab a tiny amount onto a cloth, rag etc and gently rub over the wood. Using the dry side of the rag, give it a polish. 
Make your own bread/rolls

You wont need a fancy bread maker - although they are fantastic! I make rolls and bread with just my hands and the oven. Kept in an airtight container i can usually get them to go over the week and make up enough for the girls packed lunches. Adding cheese or any type of flavouring makes them more yummy. I made some rolls recently with my youngest which you can check out here

Freeze cheese. 

I learnt a valuable lesson when i first moved out of my parents.... cheese does not freeze well! It crumbles. I have a houseful of mice though and can easily go through £10 worth of cheese a week :O I put cheese in pasta, on jacket potatoes, on garlic bread. Its pretty much used in the majority of our cooking. I started to buy £5 blocks from Icelands and cut them in half. Half would be used for sandwiches, cheese on toast or jacket potatoes etc and the other half would be cubed to use in pasta bakes, baked beans, pizzas and so on. The reason being i find the frozen cheese just crumbles to the point of pointless. But being crumbly makes no difference if going in hot food or sauces. I then started using cheese triangles for that cheesy taste when my food budget was lowered but found i did not use a whole pack all the time and they would be left in the back of the fridge to go out of date. They do however freeze just as well and once frozen can be plonked in a saucepan of beans or grated just like you would a block of cheese. I now spend £2 a week on cheese. Big difference to £10! The kids dont notice that its a cheese triangle and not cheddar either... bonus. 

Spread meat over several meals. 

I've covered this one before and is a well known tip so i wont go into it too much. For a family of 4 a large chicken costing around £5-£6 is 3-4 meals for us. The same applies to a leg of lamb, a joint of beef, pork or turkey. Id love to slab a whole leg of lamb on my plate and just demolish it but my budget just don't stretch to £12 a person for a meal :D 

Mashed parsnips/swede/carrot are fantastic substitutes for Mashed potato. 

Potatoes are starting to work out pricey. There must be a spud shortage or something but they are going up in price. Any veg can be mashed up to sit alongside your food, but if you can not stomach mashed veg, try mixing it in with mashed potato. Its cheaper and you can sneak some veggies in for the kids. Its also freezable so worth batch cooking for future use. 
  • A tip for freezing potatoes - uncooked spuds do NOT freeze well. They turn black and will go mushy when defrosted. If you want to freeze potatoes, cook them first. These are how i portion a batched cook bag of potatoes - diced for soups, sliced for hot pots, wedges or chips (spice them and cook them before freezing) Mashed potato or jacket potatoes (undercook them slightly before cooling and freezing or they will turn mushy)

Bulk buy reduced bread, fruit and veg to freeze. 

At certain times a day supermarkets will reduce their fresh produce to next to nothing. I bulk buy loaves of bread to put in the freezer for the months use and will buy 3-4 loaves which i allow to go stale to make breadcrumbs (freezable) and bread pudding. I will now buy on average 8 loaves of reduced bread a month. (i have started to make my own fresh bread) at 10p each and never pop to the shops to buy more, reducing the temptation to spend more money. The same applies to vegetables and fruit. Fruit and veg have a couple more days shelf life than the bread cooked in store but i can usually spend around £6-£8 and get reduced carrots, parsnips, brussels, cabbage and bananas and apples. These are all cut up and cooked (seperatly of course) Then frozen for future use. Ill buy a bag of fresh carrots and a sack of potatoes for the month but in general fruit and veg maybe costs me £5-6 a week depending on if i need more spuds, including salad veggies. 

Portion your food before freezing

It sounds obvious but i don't always do it. I know a large pack of mince will go over 2 meals for my family. If i freeze the whole packet I'm forced to eat mince over 2 days. While this makes sense and i only do it if I'm making a chilli con carne, sloppy joes or bolognase, it gets boring having the same foods each week. 9 times out of ten they store better in your freezer giving you more room to fill up. I will chop a joint of meat into portions and bag them, writing the date it went in the freezer and what its to be used for. I do this because i use it for serveral meals. Ill use pork as an example because i personally hate ripping up uncooked chicken. 
A £8 quid lump of pork will make about 3 meals for us. I cut in half and bag one lump for a roast. I then halve the second half and dice it up. Half the diced meat is popped into a bag labelled curry or stirfry the other half is bagged and labelled as pork balls/kebab etc depending on what the meals are that month. It sounds like hard work but i buy boneless joints of meat so its surprisingly easy and quick to portion size one joint and freeze. I now do not need to cook that whole joint for 3 days worth of food. If i buy a joint on the bone i will cook up and use over 3 days. 

Mix own brand coffee with branded. 

Its more common sense this tip if im honest but can be applied to foods such as cereal or pasta/rice if you do not like own brand. Own brand coffee is blander than branded coffee but mixed with branded you honestly will not notice. A jar of own brand coffee from Tesco cost just 50p. I mix this with whatever branded coffee i buy (depending on offers- Gareth has no particular brand he likes) I can get 2 -3 weeks of coffee out of the small jar i buy him, saving myself at least £2 a week. 

Use comparison websites to find the cheapest place to buy from

I drive Gareth crazy around the end of the month, Its my food shop planning week. Every single recipe book i own is laid out for everyone to choose meals from. I then take these meals and tweak them to make them cheaper if possible. I then sit for hours and plan out exactly where i am doing my shopping. I gone back to doing an online shop from Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda if i can find a better deal.  I have always shopped with tesco and never had a bad experience when buying meat. As i know the rough sizes and prices of joints there i am happy to buy meat online. I do like to pick my own fruit and veg though. I use the well known site mysupermarket.co.uk but there is others.I will fill out my entire months shopping on this site then compare the cost with all supermarkets. It tells me if the best deal is in Asda, Tesco etc and i then go to that shop and place and online order. It does take me literally hours but i enjoy it. For some it may just be too much work.I save well over £80 a month though doing this. Many i have spoken to use approvedfoods, but personally i find its hit and miss with them and would just end up spending more money on stuff i don't need just because its cheap. For a top up shop though its well worth having a look. Its usually end of the line stock, items with a short date or overstock but defiantly massive savings to be had if you find what you want. 

Limit your wastage

Another obvious tip but again I'm guilty of this one. Most foods can be turned into something else. Tomatoes are my biggest problem. If they start to look abit soft they are chopped up and put into a pasta bake or on a pizza. Freeze what you can or use in another meal. Waste food - wasted money :/ 

1 comment:

  1. I love approved foods! It's genius. Though I agree I tend to buy far more nibbles and junk because it's so darn cheap and it all adds up. Like with all shopping just need to be strict.

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