Just a few years ago, our grocery bill used to be below the average spend for a family of our size. Gradually though, our grocery spends have crept up frighteningly fast.
Ok, some of the increase can be attributed to to the increase in the number of people we have in our household and the corresponding spends on nappies, fruit, snacks etc. But if I’m honest, we have become a bit lazy and allowed convenience foods to sneak into the trolley far more than they ever used to and those convenience foods obviously cost more. We don’t buy a ridiculous number of takeaways, but even these have been happening more frequently than they used to.
There’s no excuse for this really, other than perhaps for a few months when our youngest was a newborn and I was recovering from surgery. Bad habits snuck in and products that we bought as a one-off due to a promotional price became regular purchases at the standard price.
Anyway, it’s time to rectify the situation. Here are the steps I intend to follow:
Carry out a stock take
Our freezer is pretty full right now. I need to grab a pen and paper and jot down everything contained within the drawers of it. There is quite a bit of meat and fish I suspect, plus some Quorn (a meat substitute that is vegetarian but we like despite being omnivores ourselves).
Our cupboards also contain a fair amount of canned vegetables, beans, packets of couscous and rice.
I need to sit down and plan which meals can be put together from the freezer and cupboard ingredients. To be honest, I suspect there are quite a few! Hopefully this will have a positive effect on our grocery bill for the next month as we eat out of the freezer and cupboards so buy less new stuff.
Although I usually meal plan a whole week, the dinners for different days often get switched around depending on what we feel like eating or if unexpected events crop up.
Use the slow cooker (AKA crockpots)
I have been a fan of slow cookers ever since buying our first one in 2004, the year that I first moved in with my now-husband. They are wonderful for several reasons.
Firstly, you can bung in all your ingredients first thing in the morning, or even the night before if you like (just refrigerate the ceramic pot overnight to keep chilled if you do so). Switch it on before you leave the house, then return from work at the end of the day to the scent of a delicious, cooked meal ready to tuck into. What could be better?
Secondly, slow cookers are economical because they use a similar amount of energy to a light bulb. They can be used to cook cheaper cuts of meat which, due to the lengthy cooking time, turn from tough to tender and meat literally falls off the bone.
Lastly, the nature of one-pot cooking means less clearing up to do after dinner. That can only be a good thing in my book!
Try out new recipes
I have a ridiculous number of cookbooks. Yet we seem to eat the same meals over and over again. So, I intend to flick through some of the books and mark the most appealing recipes to try. There are lots I still intend to try in my newest purchase, 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver. It makes sense that if I use fewer ingredients in a recipe (as long as they aren’t ridiculously expensive ones, such as caviar and saffron ;)) the cost will hopefully be brought down, too.
Let’s hope that following these steps results in us saving money, eating more healthily and enjoying our food more.
How about you? Do you have any tips to share on reducing your grocery bill? I would love to hear them.