My hubby and I are avid watchers of the Eat Well for Less series on BBC and they even have a book to accompany the TV Series. Although I love the program and always find a little tip here and there I can’t be the only one that finds it very frustrating when some of the people don’t really care about food wastage, the environment or the fact that they are just throwing stuff in the bin for no good reason. Plus they all seem to have a ridiculous amount of money to spend on food, £200+ a week for a family of 4 or 5.
We have just finished watching the second series there seem to be some consistent offenders that I see time and time again.
1 Use by Dates or Best Before
I loved the fact that even Greg Wallace said about the Fruit and Veg unless it’s mouldy or Slimy, it’s fine! Forget about dates! They are a supermarket thing, but don’t eat mouldy food obviously! But carrots stored in the fridge or a dark, cool place will last weeks longer than the date on the bag (if you brought them in a bag in the first place) and even when they are little limp and squidgy, chuck them in a casserole, curry or roast them with some oil or honey to crisp them up!
There should be no one just looking at the date on a packet of parsnips and then binning them! Or evening binning them before the date because you know you aren’t going to get to use them! USE THEM! Or freeze them!
2 Brand Loyalties
Although I do buy some branded items, its mainly because they are the ones I like the most, and I have already tried the supermarket own brand or even the value range, or if the Brand is on offer. I have set prices that I will spend, and I will not buy a branded box of Coco Pops unless they are on offer. I will not spend more than £1 for 6/8 bags of crisps
I use Muscle Foods for my the majority of our meat, they have some great hampers and often send out deals. Their Mince beef is great, very lean and they often have things that we might not have every brought in a supermarket, so makes us be a bit more inventive with our food. If you are a new customer you can use this to sign up for this great £75 Hamper Offer
Occasionally we get a delivery from Approved Foods for some cupboard items. This site varies, so you have to keep checking up to see the latest deals, or sign up for the email. Stock can change on a daily basis, so they might not always have what you want but its always worth a look.
We do our main shop online at Asda with a bit of Aldi too. It makes us more aware of the prices that fluctuate within the stores. Some weeks the Branded one will be cheaper than the Store own, sometimes the “Value pack” will be more expensive than buying 2 smaller packets!
Watch Those Prices!!!!!
3 Laziness/Not wanting to or not knowing how to cook
One of the main excuses the families on the show mainly use is “I don’t have time”
Which makes me incredibly sad, as I know that today most people are time poor (its why I’m here waffling on my blog) I don’t think it’s right that we live in a society that values time away from the home and family as more important that being at home, cooking, spending time together, eating a meal, chatting about the day etc. Obviously this is an unobtainable goal for everyone; otherwise there would be no shops, online delivery, or city bankers, Teachers and all those other jobs that make our society work as a whole.
But some meals are SO much quicker to cook from scratch than in a ready meal. My mum is a bit of a culprit on this as my mum loves a ready meal, or box curries as she calls them, but I can whip up a homemade red lentil dhal in 15 minutes courtesy of A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Rather than switching over 3 or 4 boxes out of the microwave. Which takes at least 30 mins of waiting, stirring, swapping!
Jacks penny pinching and time saving Recipe’s are a must have and this cookbook is fast becoming one of my favourites. I haven’t come across a recipe that we have cooked that wasn’t epic! and it costs pennies!
Go check out Jacks Blog Cooking on a Bootstrap its well worth a look around!
4 Not meal Planning
Now, some weeks I am really good at this and others I’m not, but I do try and stick to a sort of plan, even if its 3 meals that I’m using ingredients from the cupboards, or when I find some huge amount of something cheap, we try and use it up, as its irritating to have 20 bags of reduced pasta taking up space in our Small home.
I try and sit down on a Wednesday, as I normally get our main shop delivered on a Friday, go through Pinterest, see what we have left in the fridge that needs using up and start from there. We do have some go-to meals that use a fair amount of the same ingredients as we do like food and cuisine from around the world, and don’t eat much typical English food.
I also love a list, there are tonnes to meal planning planners out there,free printables and all sorts but I do love this GREAT Planner, and shopping list.
With a simple tear-off side part for your shopping list! But you can obviously just use a notebook you already have or one of the many free printables that are on the internet. Maybe I’ll do a run down of my top 5!
5 Not stock taking
Even now and then, I go through all my cupboards and do a stock take, it’s amazing how much food, you forget when its tucked up on the top shelf in a cupboard, or has been pushed to the back of the pantry, or hiding at the bottom of a drawer. Then look through that list and see, what meals you can use them in, Pinterest again is your friend here, I often just type in the ingredient I have, and up pops hundreds of recipes! Even better if you have the rest of the ingredients to hand, or only have to buy 1 thing to make a great cake or dish!
On the program the families always seem to have a super huge bulk of food in their cupboards, and although it’s great to be prepared and have some sort of stock pile that you can draw on, when money is tight or there’s a snowstorm (Super Rare in the UK) but that kind of thing. These cupboards full of food are actually just not even being looked at, they don’t think, Oh I have 5 Jars of Sweet and Sour chicken Sauce which I keep buying, we should really have Sweet and Sour chicken this week, and clear a space in the cupboard. They go and by more random jars of sauce for meals they have no intention of cooking!
6 Not Using Leftovers
I know families who won’t do left overs for some reason. I’m assuming its either not feeling safe about eating reheated food or a bit of snobbery that leftovers are what poor people eat. Which is totally not true because I know some very well off comfortable people that will stretch out food to the ultimate end! Good on them, that’s probably how they are doing so well in life!
In our house we have always kept and used the left overs, it wasn’t however until we watched the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall program on chicken farming a few years ago that I was shocked at how much chicken I was throwing away. So many hidden pockets of meat on that chicken I didn’t know about, I do use vinyl gloves for this job as it’s not my favourite job but then bang you have an extra meal, and some super tasty sandwiches for the lunch the next day!
Let me know if you use any of these ways of saving money, or if you are going to try and put some of these into practise!