Sticking to a grocery budget – top ten bloggers tips

So one of our biggest problems as a family of five is balancing the books. What comes in doesn’t quite go far enough every month leaving us short and the credit card takes the strain. Sound familiar? What do you do? Well…you either earn more or spend less or do a combination of both.

For us, we’ve already looked at all our fixed bills like rent, electricity, car insurance etc. and we’ve got everything as low as possible bar moving into a yurt! (…and don’t laugh – I’ve even looked into this!). So apart from earning more working around the children (which I am exploring) all that is left now is to save cash on the family food bill.

I’m a child of the seventies who grew up in a working class family in the north east (UK) so I am used to ‘making do’ and can use those skills from childhood. But there are also literally thousands of blogs out there on living the frugal life and how to save on your grocery budget so we’ll tap into those later on. I guess if I’m honest though, I do get a bit fed up with the rising cost of living. Anyway that’s enough moaning, it is what it is, unfortunately we’re in the same boat as so many families in Britain today. We’re earning but ‘just about managing’. Well not even that really – we’re NOT just about managing, we cannot make ends meet.

So…for this April I’ve set myself a strict budget for food for us all and I intend to stick to it. Doing this will in theory mean we break even by the next pay day and not run out of cash as usual.

I feel like I need to focus on a few key solutions that will help me stick to my budget over the next 4 weeks and here’s where all those amazing money saving bloggers can help. I regularly read a lot of financial advice blogs and I’ve compiled a list of top ten tips from money saving blogs on how to save cash on grocery shopping. Thank you so much to all the awesome bloggers who responded to my plea for advice to share with you. Hope it helps you too, here you go:

Meal Plan like Katy Kicker does. Katy says “Meal planning is a fantastic way to save time, money and effort. Best of all you get the smug satisfaction of having a meal on hand anytime”. I have read other bloggers talk about not meal planning and just picking up whatever offers are in the supermarket when you go and making a meal around those but I just don’t think that’s viable for my vegan family so I’m sticking with Katy and having 7 meals planned using whatever is left in the cupboards and my essential weekly shopping list. I also have a 15 month old so I need to shop quickly and have a plan ahead of our ‘mission’ to the shops – and a tub of rice cakes for little one when he gets bored of helping!

Buy value products which I normally do anyway but I know I could do more if I focus on having a budget to stick to. One of my regular larder staples is longlife value soya milk (1 litre) at just 59p from Morrisons (pictured below). As a vegan family we get through about six of these a week. Laura from Savings 4 Savvy Mums says “Downshift your brands. Start at the bottom and work your way up. You’ll be surprised at how nice a value product tastes. If you don’t like it, then go up one and try that.”

Buy Yellow Labels like Emma Drew does. This is bargain food nearing the buy before date. I try to do this with bread if I get to the supermarket at the right time (usually quite late or after 3pm on a Sunday). Then pop it all in the freezer.

Using apps like Receipt Hog and Shopmium can save you money on your supermarket shop. Thanks to Francesca who blogs on From Pennies to Pounds for advice on more apps I could try (and wombling which I’m tentatively trying out mainly because it gives me a sense of danger and excitement at the otherwise boring supermarket !!!)

Growing your own food is something I do already (like growing herbs like mine below) but I could make more effort like Jasmine at Money Magpie explains. I am very lucky to have my own allotment here in Exeter but Money Magpie talks through how to grow pretty much everything on your windowsill – amazing!

The Power of Frozen is going to help me stick to the budget next month thanks to the Shoestring Cottage blog. I already love my freezer picked up from Facebook Marketplace last year for just a fiver but I could make more use of it. According to Shoestring Cottage “Frozen vegetables are cheaper than fresh; you can use just what you need and they come ready chopped! It is also claimed that they are frozen very quickly after cropping so therefore contain more nutrients than fresh vegetables.” I already buy frozen peas and sweetcorn but I’m going to try out mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower and red peppers this month to see if I can save some money and not be left with any veggies going squidgy in the bottom of the fridge!

Avoid temptation when shopping, Nicola from The Frugal Cottage says “have a list and stick to it” and “do not be swayed by offers when you’re there (unless it’s something you buy regularly).”

Use coupons to save cash. This is something I’ve just never really got the hang of so hoping Tightwad Mama may be able to help. She says “Keep an eye for coupons online, in supermarket magazines such as Tesco and Asda, in newspapers and on packaging of products you already buy. Try to use them when products are already on offer to get them mega cheap or even free.”

Holland & Barrett do some great offers on buy one get one half price and the penny sale and items which are close to their use by date – which Fiona reminded me of on her blog Savvy in Somerset. Fiona has written a whole post on ‘How to Spend less on Groceries when you’re Vegan’ check it out!

And finally, probably the very hardest one but I have to get my grocery budget sorted as I’m trying to save for a mortgage deposit so YES I can do this – follow Melissa’s advice on her fabulous blog At Home and Online and STOP SPENDING !!! Melissa quit her job in February 2017 to work from home and writes “This is easier than it sounds. The first few days are difficult if you’re used to buying whatever you want without a second thought. But stop and think….do you need that can of Diet Coke from the vending machine when there’s a free water fountain at work? Can you bring your own lunch in? This one saves me a small fortune each week.”

So there you go, a veritable cornucopia of wisdom from the experts in the money saving blogosphere….I’ll stop overspending each month and get that mortgage deposit saved up in no time. Looking forward to hearing your comments on this too, especially love to hear any more fab tips.

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