4 rules to live by for feeding a family on a budget

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Before you set out to create a food budget, understand why it’s so important to have a financial constraint on your food buying. As families grow in number and children grow in number, you’ll start to require more and more food to fuel everybody. It’s also not just about food consumption, but whether you are eating the right amount. In actuality, you may realise that you’re spending too much on food and drink when your family doesn’t even need to consume as much as you are. Who knows, once you start to carefully budget your grocery shopping, you’ll be alarmed at how many needless things you buy.

A simple food budget can save you a lot of money over the course of a year. That money can be spent on holidays or other things the family might enjoy.

Always plan by meal

The weekly shopping is something many parents do just when the time comes. This is usually at the weekend. But you’re already taking the wrong approach because you’re not planning ahead. Grocery shopping for a family isn’t cheap, you could save a fistful of dollars by only going to the store when you’re ready. So, take a long run-up to the weekend and look over the receipts of things you buy. Every parent should have a list of essentials that the household needs. These things will be, bread, milk, eggs, pasta, rice, and tinned foods. These are the items that you need to have as they form a large part of many different meals. 

You should plan your purchases by order of breakfast, lunch, dinner and then treats. Breakfast should be the easiest. Cereals, bread, eggs, bacon and other food products like Greek yogurt, fruits such as bananas, strawberries and apples all fall under this category. Lunch is where you can begin to think about kid’s snacks like pots of yogurt, rice pudding, fruit bowls and sandwich filler like cheese and onion coleslaw. To go with this, some kind of chocolate treat is thoughtful such as smarties, m&ms or chocolate covered raisins. Protein should be stretched as far as it can go, so dinner is where you can consider buying whole chickens, fresh fish and pork belly etc. When you have a plan by category of a meal, then you can be more accurate in buying foods you need rather than want.

Be the savvy saver

Grocery store brands are finding new and creative ways to gain a loyal customer base. These are not without benefits for the shopper as it’s very common that brands will offer discounts and vouchers to those that have a membership with them. These loyalty programs are very simple to join. For the majority, you can join any major brand online on their website. You’ll be sent a membership card through the post or they will ask you to download their app onto your smartphone. Every week you’ll have access to lots of different discounts and sales. Many brands also have a points-based system whereby the more money you spend the more points you earn. Points can then be spent on vouchers and other discounts to your liking. 

Nevertheless, always look elsewhere if you intend to be the savvy saver. Voucher websites are so helpful to parents as they are an amazing database of discount codes, vouchers and sales knowledge of hundreds of brands. Go onto NetVoucherCodes.co.uk and click on the category that interests you most. The food and drink category is full of excellent discount codes and vouchers which you can use for your next grocery store visit. Iceland, ASDA and Waitrose are just some of the brands that have unused voucher codes. Families spend a lot on their groceries so you may wish to use vouchers that off a certain percentage off your shopping if you are above a threshold.

Before you arrive at the grocery store, you should also look for vouches in your daily newspaper and also in magazines that the brand itself publishes. These are normally delivered with newspapers through the post but can also be stacked in the corner of the entrance of the store.

Get creative with ingredients

Parents don’t have the time to experiment with dishes and flavors, sometimes you have to cope with whatever’s left in the fridge. Chances are that you’ll create something odd with a mixture of different flavors and not all of them will collaborate with each other.

Vegetables are a lot more forgiving to your taste buds when they’re mixed and matched though. Odd vegetable dishes are something you can fix-up in very little time and they can a great side dish to almost any meal. Children also react positively to bright vibrant colors, so mixing up a bowl of red bell peppers, green broccoli, yellow sweetcorn, orange carrots and white onions will usually go down well. Even bland dishes can be made delicious with a pinch of salt and a palm-full of seasoning. 

Set a financial limit

Sitting down with your spouse and carefully considering how much you’re willing to spend on the weekly shop is going to help you reign in on wasteful spending. Factoring in your monthly income and calculating your essentials together with your weekly meal plans, you can accurately estimate how much money you need to spend. Anything over that amount will be a ‘want’ instead of a need. 

On average you may only need to spend between £3-4 on each person in a family of four. In fact, this family spends just £50 a week on their groceries and have managed to make a clear plan for anyone else to follow. On an odd week you may find it reaching up to £60 but keeping a nice whole round number like £50 will mentally slow you down from exceeding it. 

Feeding a family can be complex budgetarily speaking, but if you can plan all of your meals per day until the next shop, you have a reliable plan to save money. Equally important is being creative with whatever ingredients you may have in the fridge when supplies are getting low.

We hope that you found this a useful look at budgeting meals for a family – do take a look at some of the other articles we have on budgeting and meal planning too:

We also recommend that you pop along to some of the other amazing blogger sites out there for some more money saving ideas for feeding the kids on a budget too:

Don’t forget to pop along to our Pinterest for more fantastic ideas, as well as subscribe to our newsletter. We have AT LEAST one new printable a week, alongside some other great ideas and thoughts on parenting. As well as some fantastic giveaways too.

See you again soon I hope,

Helen

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