The dreaded food shop: tips for managing on a budget

With reports that food prices are going to increase massively over the next few years, here’s some advice on how to stick to a budget that’s healthy for your wallet and healthy for your waist.

A report by Oxfam has estimated that food prices are going to rise 120-180% within the next 20 years, which would mean even tougher times for those of us who are already struggling to manage a food budget.

In days gone by, I was told my grandpa would go out to work, earn the money and then give my grandma an allowance which he believed would be enough to provide for the family outgoings. Well…if only he could see us all now.

In my household, although we both work full time, I manage the funds – I work out what we need each month to get by and what is a “reasonable” amount to spend in each of our budgeted areas.

Managing the food budget

The most debated “budgeted” area of our spending is food. My husband has a hearty appetite and although I’m constantly dieting, he’s not agreeable to salad every night. Despite my disappointment, it seems I’m not the only woman to experience this. A friend of mine recently confessed she also struggles to do the weekly shop, forever buying more than she should, only to find stocks of food go uneaten whilst they opt for something else and yet another trip to the supermarket is needed before the week is out.

What is the key to keeping a healthy budget and diet?

Well, summer is almost here and it’s finally time to take this task in hand and address it once and for all. Shopping on a budget is achievable and once you set out and conquer the challenge, you’ll finally be able to shop without worrying about the checkout bill.

See here my five quick steps (which I follow on a weekly basis) for a healthy, budget friendly shopping list and food cupboard.

  1. Sunday night is menu night
    Work out 7 meals for the week.
  2. Make a list
    Once you know what you want to make for the week, work out the ingredients and make a list.
  3. Stick to your list
    If temptation is too hard for you when going in store, why not order online – that way you only search for what you actually need.
  4. Cut out the rubbish
    You’d be amazed at how much you spend on crisps, sweets, cakes and chocolate – stop buying it!! Be good to your body as well as your purse and you’ll be pleased to see how many pounds you save.
  5. Never succumb to the takeaway
    I recently gave in after a long day at work and agreed with my husband we could have a take away pizza – I was too tired to cook and had forgotten to take anything out of the freezer to defrost. An hour later, our pizzas arrived costing a whopping £24! That’s 50% of my food budget for my weekly supermarket shop! What a fool I was. I could have bought them for just over £1 if I’d have bothered to get in the car and buy them from Tesco! Please – don’t waste your money.

Ideas for healthy family meals

If you’re stuck for inspiration on what to make, why not look online for recipes. At the moment Sainsbury’s are offering help with meal planning on a budget with their “feed your family for £50” campaign. Visit their dedicated website here to view their recipes and ideas.

We’d love to know how you manage your food shop and what your favourite budget recipes are, so leave a comment!

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