One of last year’s goals was about food and budget. I wanted to see if I could set a budget of £15 a week for my food. That’s roughly £2.14 a day. There were some things that budget didn’t include, booze, coffee and entertaining. So family celebration meals and people coming over for dinner weren’t included in that £15 although feeding Ma when she stayed over (which is most weekends during the summer) was.
I did really well. I stuck mostly to within my limits and while I didn’t save the change, I still feel good about it.
Here are the things I learned:
You have to plan and prepare – I’ve always been a fan of food prep and menu planning and this is really important when you are sticking to a budget. You have to work out what you have, what you need and make sure that you have something that you like to eat, if you don’t plan it, it all goes wrong.
You have to find alternate sources of protein – I’m always going to be a meat eater, I like meat but I eat less meat than I did because meat is expensive. I’ve noticed that I eat more eggs and cheese than I used to but I also eat more beans and lentils than I used to.
I still make my own bread – with the exception of tortillas and french bread, it’s easier and cheaper for me to make my own bread. That’s rolls, bread, flatbread mostly. I appreciate that if you have children or make a lot of sandwiches, it might not be but it works for me.
On toast will save you when you’re too tired to cook. Mushrooms on toast, cheese on toast, hummus on toast. When you can’t be doing with making an effort, something on toast is the answer.
I know what costs what where – I have two Lidl’s near me but I generally go to the bigger one in Hanwell because it has the best deals but that doesn’t mean that everything is cheaper. I very rarely buy peppers from Lidl because they always have green ones in them, dried beans are cheaper in Waitrose than in Tescos. I’ve learnt to keep an eye on offers and check prices more.
I don’t waste food. I was always pretty good at this but I’m even better at it now, I also have a better appreciation for the effort that goes into food production whether that’s growing the vegetables or making dinner.
Of course things happen and one of the biggest impacts on my diet this year was the allotment. In the summer I was mostly trying to keep up with the produce and did less planning. Next year, we have plans to grow a lot more veg and to stretch out the season, so hopefully I should be getting some veg into October and November and start getting stuff off earlier than June, although you can never tell what the weather is going to do! I want to grow leeks and other winter vegetables. We’ll also grow some crops just for the freezer and work on preserving something other than courgettes!
We didn’t grow anything we wouldn’t have eaten but the quality of what we grew was so much better than anything I could buy. Ma became a fan of salad leaves, I ate raw tomatoes, there weren’t a lot of peas but they were amazing, I became a fan of beetroot!Overall, it was useful for me to look at the amount of money that I spent and the food I bought. I know people who spend less on food and people who spend much more but I feel that I have the balance right for me and I will continue to set a £15 a week budget, I won’t be updating you here though because it’s been really lovely not to take a photo of everything I eat!
This year I want to spend some time thinking (and posting) about how I do things, I may post menu plans too. Is there anything you want to know about any of this? I think one of the more interesting things for me is how my view of ‘what’s enough’ has changed. At the start £15 seemed a real challenge (and some weeks it really was!) but now it just seems normal and relatively easy to do. So if you are thinking about cutting back on food spending or changing how you cook and eat, don’t panic, it’s very doable!