Sunday, 27 April 2014


I haven't worked for seven years. I've been so lucky to have stayed at home with my children as my husband has always had a well paid secure job. Until last year that is. Last May, after working for the same company for 15 years, he was made redundant. An event we were shocked by but at the same time excited by. Firstly the package was fantastic, I mean if he got a job in three months we could buy our dreamed for VW campervan, go on a Spanish holiday, buy a new sofa etc...well almost a year in and the job hasn't surfaced and the money is dwindling. We have always been careful with money but now its time to really cut back and look at where we can reduce our costs. The most obvious and perhaps easiest is our food budget - I mean you can't buy a value mortgage can you?!

For the last 18 months I have been shopping with Ocado which was on a par with Sainsbury's in price. Our weekly shop can be anything from £80 to £110 but this cant go on. My other half told me today our supermarket bill comes to about £600 a month. That's £100 shy of our mortgage payments! I was rocked by this. I see myself as pretty frugal (stingy actually), cook everything from scratch apart from fish fingers, always go for own brand over big brands. Sadly, we aren't the only family this has happened to.  There are daily reports of families having to chose between "heating and eating", parents missing meals so that their children can eat, people eating dubious beef in a ready meal as it costs 70p.  I'm not knocking these people, don't get me wrong needs must in this desperate financial times. I'm guess I'm lucky that I have the culinary knowledge to scrape a nutritious meal together for little money but at the same time I'm frightened by the rising food prices and our uncertain future.

So I'm going to challenge (if I say challenge it's turned into a game and not an essential necessary task) myself to get my food spend down to £60 a week.

"How will you do this (you mad, previously financially comfortable like a pair of mufti slacks you put on after a big Chinese Takeaway naive) woman?"  
I hear you ask. Let me tell you my friend...  

  • Value ranges. I'm not shy of them. There are staples I always buy like Sainbury's value chopped tomatoes. But I'm going to branch out to fish, bakery items and other tinned products

  • Shop around. So Ocado is definitely out of the question now. In our town we have two Aldis and a Lidl. Its time to take the Germans seriously. I can often be found rummaging in Aldi but have only once been to Lidl. My brother took me about ten years ago when he mainly ate pasta with spicy chilli sauce his Neapolitan girlfriend taught him to make.  I must say the snob in me wasn't very taken with the shop so I'll be interested in seeing what it's like now especially after their recent glossy TV ads.

  • Market. We have a great market here and the veg is often a lot cheaper - although I do find it goes off quicker so I'll need to learn what's worth buying and what's worth left on the cabbage strewn floor on a wet Wednesday afternoon.

  • Poundshop. I love to bring home bargains I really don't need from a pound shop, but they have great staples like spices and herbs which are a lot cheaper

  • Plan plan plan and only buy what I need. I don't throw away much but its usually fruit and veg if I do. From now on I'll only buy a head of broccoli if I know I only have one more meal out of the one in the fridge. Will those apples get eaten when there are five in the fruit bowl already? I love to plan what dinners we'll have every week so apart from the occasional food apathy this should be ok.

The trouble is I will need help with this! This is where you come in. I'll keep you updated with my mishaps in Lidl, what I can do with an Aldi sausage, what basics I have bought that are fantastic and all this will be done with my wit and charisma but I want you to share! See the facebook like button on this page? Click on it and like us. Comment on our page and tell us - What are your best budget meals? How do you stretch the families coffers to last the week? What are your must buys at certain supermarkets? What should we avoid?

Hopefully it will be a matter of a month or two and THE job will be there, it's elusive this job. Like a temptress, it beckons you in and seduces you, lulls you into false VW dreams and then when you have already decided on the curtain patterns the naughty siren tells you you have too much experience and shuffles off to a graduate with acne and no experience. I'm not bitter. In any case, supermarkets are taking far too much of our money for very little in return. So its something I will definitely be continuing with.

Thank you
Siân x

1 comment:

  1. I'll be following your budget adventures closely! Really funny (umm, not sure if funny is the right word!) that you're doing this the same week we realised we need to reduce our bill. It's tough as I always buy value, plan meals and only buy what we need, but am trying even harder! We'll be going to Aldi or there's another cheap shop nearby, for toilet rolls, shampoo etc. I can't give up Tesco completely though as the Clubcard vouchers are fantastic for days out! Oh, if it makes you feel better, we might have the VW but our mortgage payments are much higher!! Good luck:) Vic x