How to save money on your monthly food bill!

So, let's talk about food shopping. It's not something I have always been comfortable talking about due to the sheer amount of money we used to spend because like most people it was way too much!
So when we looked at booking our wedding we realised we needed to save money somewhere otherwise we would never be able to have the day we wanted and the first thing we wanted to look at was our food bill.
Sam and I do things differently to most people we know where we shop monthly rather than weekly, this is something we have always done probably because we have always been paid monthly and find that easier, but it used to be that we were paying our well over £200 a month on our main shop and then popping into the shops at least once a week to top up, which for two adults and a toddler is absolutely ridiculous! We now only spend on average £90 a month and only really top up with bread a milk as we need it! Heres my tips for how to save money on your food bill!

1.  Don't take your children shopping! We always used to take Harry shopping with us and I have always been terrible for buying him whatever he sees that he wants. If he saw something and asks for it which generally ends up in our trolley, which can cost a lot of money each shopping trip! Now we tend to go shopping when he is at nursery or when he is being looked after by one of his grandparents (THANK YOU!) because I then don't feel the need to buy him loads of stuff if he isn't there!

2. Think about changing where you shop. I know this isn't the easiest for everyone because you may not be able to shop around but this honestly for us was the biggest money saver! We have always shopped at Tesco, ever since we moved in together it was just what worked for us but it can work out quite expensive so we decided to give Aldi a try and honestly it has to have been the biggest money saver!

3. Ditch the brands! We haven't really been big brand shoppers but there are definitely things that we liked certain brands of, such as Hovis bread and Heinz mayo but we've learnt that those things can work out pricey and Aldi don't generally sell them which meant that we would have to shop at different shops, and who can really be bothered with that? so now we just buy whatever Aldi have and it is so much cheaper and easier!

4. Meal plan! I know, you are all rolling your eyes at me but seriously do it! I've lost count of the number of times I've had to go shopping for random meals because we hadn't brought enough to last the month. And always in these top-up shops will I buy things we don't need because I just fancy them. Now before we go shopping Sam and I will sit down and write out our meal plan for the month. I'm not saying that we stick to it religiously but we always now have enough food to last us and know exactly what we need.

5. Check what you've got in before you go! The number of times we have gone shopping and been convinced that we need beans (i don't know why but it's always beans) to get home to at least four tins! What a waste of money! So now before we go, after we have done our meal plan we look through our cupboards and freezer to see what we actually have in and how good it is. I also try to sort out our cupboards once a month, even though it doesn't always work out that way just so I know whats in there and we don't end up over buying anything. We also usually find we have enough to last a few meals, meaning we won't be spending as much in the shop!

6. Write a shopping list - and stick to it! I know, I can feel the eyes rolling again. Who hasn't given you that advice? But who actually follows it? Because honestly I am the worse person for impulse buys and it took us a good few months to get to the point of remembering our list every time and even longer to get me to stick to it! Sam has had to be very strict at this point but I think I'm finally there and we've definitely noticed a big difference!!

7. Bulk buy toiletries and dry food - Our biggest saving has been on pasta, rice and toilet rolls by buying in bulk. Last month we brought 24 toilet rolls and I believe it came to £5.24. We have barely made a dent in these in the month and a half and probably won't need to buy more in next months shopping either. Also, the 3kg bags of pasta and rice tend to last us up to two months. Definitely a great bargain for £3 a bag!

8. Use cheaper cuts of meat - This one was hard for me. I am seriously a fussy eater. I don't normally like chicken on the bone so would only eat chicken breasts, however, we have noticed that the price difference between breast and thighs so for meals like curry's we use thigh meat as we eat a curry at least once a week! We've also swapped our mince from beef mince to a mixture of beef and pork mince we found in Aldi. It's about £1 a kilo cheaper and honestly, once it's in a spag bol or chilli, I don't even notice it, and I HATE pork.

9. Bulk out your meals with veg - Every meal in our house now either has veg mixed in, like spag bol, chilli or pasta or comes with a side of veg. This means the meat stretches and can usually be used for a lunch for us or a quick meal if Sam is on a funny shift where it used to only last one meal. We have also noticed since doing this we snack less and are fuller for longer!

10. Avoid jars of sauce and ready-made food. It doesn't take that long to make a spag bol or chilli from scratch, it's cheaper and its better for you! Also when Harry gets a little older it will be something we can do together to help him get involved in the kitchen!

So those are my tips! Did I miss anything that you do to save money? Let me know!

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