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Money saving

Feed your family for less this year

Posted 12 January 2017

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Get your food budget under control for 2017.

The post-Christmas period can always be a little tricky when it comes to managing money. You might still have some bills after the festive season and if you get a monthly paycheque, you’ll have to wait until the end of January to get your wages.

With this in mind, you’re probably looking to cut back wherever possible. You might try and save money on your utility bills, see if you can get any refunds and try and spend less on your grocery shopping each week. Don’t worry – we’ll take you through how you could feed your family for less this year to free some money up from your budget.

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Plan your meals

The very best way to save money when you’re feeding your family is planning what you’ll eat in advance. So before you do your supermarket shop, make a list of meals for the week and write down everything you’ll need to make them.

It might take a little longer making a list this way, especially if you, your partner and kids all need packed lunches. But by doing this, you’ll really make the most out of everything you buy – you won’t waste anything. You can also plan a couple of different meals around one product – for example, if you buy a big pack of mince, you could make lasagne one night and chilli another night.

Keep an eye out for offers

If you’re always used to buying the same products every week, you could be missing out if you’re not looking out for deals. Most people know that the supermarket own-brand goods are usually the cheapest option but this isn’t always true. If there’s a really great deal on one week on a branded product, this might work out as the cheapest option.

Budget supermarket shoppers can really benefit from this as Aldi and Lidl do weekly deals on fruit, vegetables and fresh meat. Aldi’s Super 6 deals sees six fruit and veg products cut to 59p, with Lidl offering four Pick of the Week buys at the same price. And it’s a similar offer at both supermarkets when it comes to meat – Aldi has six fresh meat and fish products with 20% off while Lidl has four cut by up to 20%.

But don’t just go for the deal

Having said that, you shouldn’t automatically just buy whatever product is on offer. Sometimes the deals aren’t always the cheapest way to shop. For example, if a 500ml bottle of orange juice is buy-one-get-one-free for £1 but a 1l bottle is 80p, the second is actually the best value.

If you look closely at the supermarket shelves, you can see the price of the product per item, weight or volume. You can use this to work out whether one product is cheaper than another one of a different size. But with some products, it’s not always easy to tell. For example, if you can see the price per ml for one tin of tomatoes but the price per g for another, you can’t compare these.

Time your shopping trip

Night owls can sometimes get the best deals on their supermarket shopping. This is because supermarkets can only sell certain fresh products on the same day and if they’re still on the shelves by the end of the day, they’ll cut their prices.

If you can, try doing your supermarket shop late in the evening, an hour or so before the shop shuts. You might see some fresh fruit and vegetables or meat products heavily reduced if they go out of date on the same day. They’re still safe to use though – just use them in a meal that night or stick them in the freezer for when you want them.

Cook big meals

When you’re looking to see the cheapest product per weight or volume, you’ll often see that the bigger sizes are better value. So a pack of 12 pork chops will be cheaper per weight than a pack of eight, for example. But if you buy the bigger pack, you could end up wasting some or eating the same thing every night that week.

This doesn’t need to be the case though – just cook bigger meals and freeze some in portions. By doing this, not only will you save money but you’ll also save time when you want to feed your family after work one night – win-win!

Looking for some more ways to cut back in 2017? Check out our blog for more money-saving tips.

by Emily Bancroft

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.