Last week, I wrote about getting back to business in September. I think every few months, say every quarter, it is a good idea to have a look at where your money is going. With inflation making food prices escalate and the heavy energy hikes, it is vital to keep an eye on where it is all going.
Last week, I suggested that you make sure you are with the cheapest energy supplier for your needs. That is one of the most painless ways of saving money. In truth, there are not too many places in your budget that you can cut if you are already seriously watching the pennies.
One place that you can make a big difference is your food budget. Food is probably the only part of your budget that you can control completely. Do you remember eating all those ramen (Pot noodle) in college?
If you visit this site regularly you probably know that I put up a weekly menu every Monday. Planning what you are going to cook saves time in having to think about what you have in the fridge and needing to run out for that missing ingredient. It also gives you a sense of control. The question ‘what’s for dinner’ is so much less annoying when you can say look at the menu.
For ingredient ideas, I go to Eat the Seasons, this a super informative website that lists what is in season to eat this week. It also give links to recipes. Eating seasonally, is cheaper, more flavourful as the food is not flown in from all around the world and better for the environment. This week we had lovely Pasta al forno with pumpkin and pancetta using butternut squash so it was seasonal, frugal and so yummy.
When you do more cooking at home then you can feed the freezer with your own ready meals. I find chili works brilliantly for this as the flavours get better after storage and you are not eating bland beans on toast. Curries are great for the same reason.
The other tool I use to save on my food shopping is MySupermarket. When you use My Supermarket, the website will help you to compare the prices of what you have in your cart with four of the major supermarkets. It also makes suggestions for cheaper substitutions and how to reduce the calories in your shopping cart. And one of my favourite features, it remembers all your favourites so it makes shopping super quick and easy.
Before I hit MySupermarket, I always take a little inventory of what I have in the freezer, fridge and cupboards. It is very easy to just repeat shop and end up with five packages of pasta when you already have several from the last couple of shops. I also try to keep abreast of the stores sale cycles. They seem to have a three sale cycle so if I hit it right, I never buy toilet paper, butter or pasta at full price.
I hope this will inspire you to start meal planning. I found that I felt more in control of my week on a Sunday when I sit down to make my menu after hitting the market on Saturday. It is as if you can see your week ahead of you and you can make super easy meals for the evenings you will have less time. You can also make extra of some dinners to bring for lunch the next day.
Happy meal planning!