Recently I have seen our weekly food bill double (if not more) and it didn’t feel like we had more food in the house. I know with the economy at the moment people have complained about the prices of food and household items going up but because I bought a lot of fresh, un packaged goods such as loose fruit and vegetables I thought I had escaped! I also put this increase in our food costs down to the fact that, due to reading so many health blogs, I have become very aware of the quality of food I was buying. Sure I can spend £25 a week on a food shop and we’ll live off basics tomato soup, pastas and casseroles but was I making everything nutritionally balanced? Was the cheapest product on the shelf, for example bread, actually full of sugar/ salt etc where as the loaf that is 50p more is much better for you.
So I’ve gone from being a cost scruteniser to a label reader and it may be costing us more but I feel like I am making a difference. I read a quote by Martin Lewis (Money Supermarket Expert) who said “Don’t ask “What’s the cheapest way to get all the goodies I want?”. Instead ask “On my £XYZ budget, what’s the best value I can get with it?”“. I really agree and I realised that when doing my food shop I have been buying some organic produce or better quality where it is important but now I need to assess if there is anything I am buying which I don’t need OR do I need to re-adjust my budget to make sure we are eating the best foods for our bodies.
I’ve also recently been very keen to add more variety to our diet and to take in as many different fruits and vegetables each day as possible. I’ve always had a good balanced lunch of salads or soups made from vegetables and grains etc so I haven’t changed this. For evening meals I have just been making sure to vary the dishes each day and use as many different coloured vegetables as I can each meal. It sounds strange but I used to be very anti variation, I felt it was a waste of time adding extra fruits to things like cereal when I could just chop up a banana which only cost me 10p. I thought an apple and a banana every day would do the trick, but the more I learn and the better I feel I think it’s safe to say that I now want as many fruits as I can afford chopped up on that cereal!
Saying that, breakfast was my weakest meal of the day (even though it was my favourite) so here is how I have been trying to change it –
Before – Porridge made with water and a handful of dried cranberries mixed in – cheap as chips but bland and not much variety, fibre from the oats though!
Now – Overnight porridge oats made with soya milk, bananas, strawberries, flax seeds and cinnamon – calcium, potassium, vitamin c, magnesium and more.
Before – Fruit Juice – vitamins (depending on the juice)
Now – Smoothie with coconut water, greens and berries – Iron, fiber, vitamins, calcium, riboflavin etc
Before – Fried Egg Sandwich with butter and ketchup
Now – Fried Egg wrap with mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach or scrambled eggs with various toppings
Even Scott has been changing his breakfasts as we both started to feel better for our healthier start to the day. Instead of having a few slices of toast and butter Scott now has a smoothie before work, then he has muesli with yoghurt later on in the morning.
It may physically be more food than we were eating before but it is better quality meals which are more exciting than before. Also I have noticed a big difference in my day from having a better breakfast, I’m not hungry untill much later in the day and I have more energy!
So now to look again at my food budget, I do not want to stop buying all of these lovely fruit and vegetables which are enhancing our diet so instead I have started shopping at the market on a weekly basis. I take along £5- £10 and see what I can get for my money. This is much cheaper than buying at the supermarket, also you get bigger quantities of the produce at the market so often what I buy will last us the whole week.
I have increased the amount I allow myself to spend at the super market on other items but I try to balance buying cheap items such as porridge oats with more expensive items like organic bread. That way your food shop is more under control and will not be too expensive. My weekly budget has gone from £25 to £40 and I have adjusted my “takeaway/ pub” budget accordingly! I know my priorities 😉
If you want to see more tips on cooking within a budget then why not check out the guest post I did over at Foodies 100 – “A Round up of 5 brilliant budget cooking blogs”.