I was recently asked for one of my biggest money saving tips, and I quickly realised that by shopping monthly we have reduced our shopping, essentially halved our shopping bill pretty much overnight, and we have been doing this for 18 months now. If you want to know how to save money on food shopping, read on…
Monthly and Online Shopping
First of all if you have kids (especially toddlers) shopping in the store is not easy is it? We stopped going into the store when Nate turned 18 months, it just got to be too much hard work, with the tantrums and the ‘I wants…’ and grabbing things and him disappearing, it is way too stressful. The good aspect of living in the age we do is that we have options now and therefore we opted to shop online, using either delivery or click and collect, that was the first step to making our shopping lives easier, and it is also the best way to shave a lot of money off your food shopping bill. Mostly because when you are in the store, you cannot easily keep a running total, and you get swept up by ‘deals’ and purchase things just because you see them.
Reduce your bill
How do you reduce your food shopping bill by 50%?
Step 1: Shop online
Step 2: Shop monthly
Since we used to shop every week my husband was reticent at first but we eased ourselves in and did bi-weekly shops to start with, then every 3 weeks, and finally started shopping just once per month, but how?
What you will need is….a very large freezer(s), a pantry or lots of cupboard space, will-power, organisation skills and a bit of creativity.
How do we do it? Even though I was inspired by a lovely american blogger, I didn’t want to spend as much time, visit as many stores as she did, and spend a whole day prepping the food – because I am inherently lazy, so this is our method which is very much adjusted for our family and I suggest you adjust to fit your needs:
- Before you do your first shop, you need to keep a list of all the essentials you run out of, we have a list we keep on the fridge and add to it as we throw it away. This is very important, so that you don’t purchase items you already have in stock.
- Set a budget and stick to it (although to start with you may have to adjust to it to get it just right), this is very easy to do when shopping online as you know your total all the way through the process. Our budget is £170 per month, but we allow £10 per week for incidentals, which I use to purchase fresh fruit and yoghurts for Nate’s lunches, I think it is very important to have fresh fruit every week, so this is my non-negotiable. That brings our monthly total to £200, which is half of what we used to pay (by purchasing weekly in the store).
- During the first week of the month we start putting our list together by using the list on the fridge, by checking all the cupboards and fridge and freezer to see what is remaining, then we shop online with Tesco, adding all the items to the list that we need. We do this over the space of a week because we are only shopping once a month, and you don’t want to forget anything! Although we are much quicker at this now that we have a long list of favourites stored with Tesco. We mostly compile the list using the Tesco shopping app, I use the one on my Iphone and hubby uses the Ipad, so we can simultaneously add to the shopping list wherever we are.
- Think carefully about your quantities. We usually go through a loaf of bread per week (for example) so we knew to buy 4 to last a month, but of course you will need the freezer space for these hefty loaves too.
- Meal planning. You will need to plan your meals, at least a little, so that you have enough food to last the month.
- Think about what freezes and especially what doesn’t freeze so you can have back-ups in mind. Some examples of items that do not freeze well: fruit, eggs, cream, tomatoes.
- Place your order only once you are happy with your total and that you are within budget, although don’t be hard on yourself if you are new to this process, it will take a few months to get the perfect monthly shop and to work out what is the budget your family can stick to without feeling like you are missing out on any food. We don’t actually have less food in the house, it’s just we don’t have all those superfluous items on our shopping bill that we used to have such as: that magazine that had your favourite celeb on the front cover, a chocolate bar to keep the toddler happy, that fabulous chocolate dessert that just looked amazing… or wow those crisps are buy 3 packets get 1 free…
I think you see what I mean. If you have gone over budget it is very easy to review your basket, have another look, make sure you and the hubby haven’t bought the same item twice (that has happened to us a couple of times), do you need everything on the list? Are the quantities right? If you are going over budget every month this is a sign that your budget is not realistic.
8. Click ‘order now’ use any vouchers you have and then wait for your delivery…it will be a shock at first…putting away a month’s worth of food can take some time, you will have to freeze a lot more items than usual, you may have to break open some items and divide them into four to last you through the weeks. We do this with ham for example, we divide the slices into four and freeze them in small freezer bags, then take one out a week, that is how we have fresh ham (and other items) every week.
That’s it! By shopping online and shopping only once per month, you will significantly reduce your food shopping bill, which will save you a lot of money, we save £2,400 per year by doing this, which pays for our family holiday! It also saves us time, energy and no supermarket tantrums.
We used to spend £400 per month on our food shopping, what does your family spend? What do you think you could reduce it to, using this method?