I mentioned our food budget in my last post. At the time of starting this blog I was able to feed both Husband and I for around £30-35 a week. Only two years have passed and yet I would find that so, so difficult now. There are probably three reasons for that: 1. Prices have gone up, 2. There are three of us to feed, not just two and 3. I’m not quite as careful as I was when I started out (due to being time/sleep deprived!). I’d say we’re averaging about £50 a week at the moment which also includes non-food, household items like loo roll, tin foil, cleaning products etc.
Our budget is going to be really tight from now on. I still don’t know what my exact take home pay will be but I do know that HM Revenue & Customs have sent me a delightful letter informing me that (through no fault of my own) I didn’t pay enough tax in 2007-8. I tried to appeal it (there is a clause) but no dice. They are going to take extra tax from me over the next financial year to make up for it. Cheers HMR&C. I earned plenty then – I really can’t afford it now. But there you go. So I’m going to be earning even less from my part-time wages than originally anticipated…
This, and other financial commitments/needs, means that we are going to have to be really, really careful with the food budget. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘me’ because I’m the one in charge of the food shopping and planning. As from now, our food budget is going to be £200 per calendar month. If we go over that it will have to come out of one of our other saving funds and since they are all pretty important I really don’t want to have to resort to that. This should be fine on 4 week months but more difficult on 5 week months. I’m going to try to get better at reporting here on how I’m doing with this to keep me focused. I’ve had to abaondon the diet I was doing – due to amount of meat, fish, nuts and cheeses I was eating, it was just getting too expensive. Here’s hoping I might be able to be sensible now I’m let loose again.
Here’s my plan for keeping in budget:
- More batch cooking. A big time and money saver.
- Rethinking my storecupboard and bulk buying. We only have a small amount of storage space for food and I’d like to deplete my current stocks and start again, only stocking up and buying items that we are really going to use. There are random things lurking that I have no recollection of buying (like a packet of onion sauce that I know to be revolting). It all needs to be used up so I can clear the decks and start again.
- Reorganising my freezer. We have 4 drawers which are actually pretty good, space wise. One of them is entirely allocated to food I’ve made for Baby so I really only have 3 drawers to work with for everything else. I need to make the most of this remaining space so I can stock up on meat and fish when they are on offer and also so I have somewhere to put the results of my batch cooking sessions!
- Being a bit more organised. I need to remember to take things out of the freezer the night before and stick to the meal plan.
- Going off plan when it makes sense. Due to my previous spending habits I’m generally very strict about sticking to what is on the shopping list. However, this does mean that I don’t get to take advantage of any deals (like BOGOFs) if the item wasn’t already on my list for that week. Once I’ve created a bit more room I should be able to stock up on things I know we like when I see them on offer.
- Trying out more ‘Value’ items. Like most people, I feel the pressure to buy ‘quality’ food but I need to experiment a bit more and see if if there are any switches I could make.
That’s all I can think of right now but if anyone has any other ideas that could be added to my list then let me know!