As you all know by now I’m not naturally frugal, unlike some of the other frugal bloggers I’m friends with. I have to actively try to be frugal, not because I need to but because I want to. I want to be able to spend the money I save on things that are more fun than bread or apples. So when Contact Numbers UK asked me to be part of their #CNUKFrugalFoodie campaign I was happy to accept.
Summoning The Inner Frugality
I’m always on the look out for new ideas for ways to save money on my food shopping while not denying my favourite things. I love my food, I love to eat out and I love to experience new things. So if I can save money on my everyday eating as well as making that food stretch then I will.
My biggest frugal tip is to hit the reduced section last thing on an evening; I like to see if there is anything I can make a meal, or two, out of. This teamed up with saving my Nectar points from Sainsbury’s helps my shopping go a little further.
Yellow Sticker Meals
Unfortunately there is no guide to yellow sticker meals. I could sit here and feed you recipe upon recipe of food I’ve made with yellow stickers but at the end of the day you just don’t know what you’re going to get. I like to wing it. I go in, look what there is and then think “Can I I make something with this?”, “Can I freeze it?” or “Will it last longer than tomorrow?”.
If I answer yes to any of those questions then I buy it and reorganise my weekly meals, if necessary.
The other day I popped in to Asda for some weekend tipple via the reduced veg section. There I found two packs of mushrooms going for 10p each. They wouldn’t last longer than that day so I changed our planned meal of leek and potato soup to mushroom soup instead; the leeks and potatoes had a longer shelf life. This amount of mushrooms meant that there was then enough to freeze for a second meal. All I added was vegetable stock, onions, garlic and seasoning – cheapest meal ever!
Freeze It, Don’t Bin It
Food waste in the UK is ridiculous and most of it can be avoided by some clever thinking. Many of us will look at a date on the food and bin it if we know we’re not going to eat it before then – such a waste.
Instead, I look to see what I can make with it that can then be frozen. If I can’t freeze the food as it is then I’ll throw it in to something that can be frozen. Soup, stews, curries and quiches are all great ways to use up vegetables that are going limp. You can even blanch the vegetables on their own and then freeze them – so all they need is reheating when you need them.
I’d love to tell you that I’m super organised and each week I plan out what we’re going to be eating but I don’t. I’m just too lazy. The only list I make is of things that we NEED such as loo roll or cat food – things that we’d be stuck without if I forgot.
Meal planning is a great way to improve your frugal habits, if you can make the time. Instead we plan while we’re in there and what we fancy that week. I make a note of sell by dates if I need to, but we don’t eat meat and dairy so we don’t have to normally worry about that, and plan what meals we’ll be having and when after we’ve bought everything.
This makes mid-week trips to the reduced aisle easy because I can just shift meals around.
Swap Out The Meat
As I mentioned, we don’t eat meat and dairy. This alone saves us a fortune and means our shopping stretches out further. A £1 bag of lentils will easily do us 5-6 meals and it’s so easy to use beans to pad out a stew into 2 meals.
Dried legumes (beans, peas, pulses) have a much longer shelf life than meat so you’ve not got to worry about it going off or taking up freezer space. No yogurt going furry or milk curdling.
Even if you swap out half the meat in a meal you’ll see a huge saving. Half a pack on mince teamed with a some red lentils for a lasange will cost a lot less, be more filling and will allow you to make that meal again at a later date.
I Love My Nectar Card
Even though we have an Asda at the end of our road, Sainsbury’s is my favourite supermarket. Not only do I prefer their quality, own brand and prices but I make use of their Nectar card quite a lot.
We tend to save points either for Christmas so it pays for all the treats, veg and drinks or wait until there is a double event. Last year I got my winter coat for nothing thanks to the doubled up points event. If I know I have Christmas covered with points then I’ll convert some of them during the double event so I can make a start on the Christmas gifts.
I hope my frugal tips have helped you. What are your top tips for saving on the cost of food?
Contact Numbers UK have the customer services phone numbers available for a variety of companies so you can check your savings; including Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s. You can visit their site or follow them on Twitter for more information.
In collaboration with Contact Numbers UK.