When the children break up, the contents of my purse seem to just disappear! School holidays are expensive with childcare, entertainment, buying new uniform and now, according to recent reports, the average family food shop doubles over the six week break! Children love to snack and having them at home for every meal soon increases the food bill.
Having started my career in restaurants, I try to adopt the same principles in my own kitchen as I did in a professional one. Great food at the best price and with minimum waste. With four kids it is important to get the most out of every ingredient. A whole chicken is FAR cheaper than buying a pack of chicken breasts and once you've done your roast you can use leftovers for sandwiches, curries or in pasta dishes. I take the bones and add ginger and spring onion for a lovely eastern flavoured soup and I make stock to freeze too. I think you should expect to get three meals from one chicken for a family of four. It is SO cost effective! I spent a lot of this weekend cooking, ready for the week ahead!
Meat doesn't have to be expensive. You can look for the cheaper cuts of meat by comparing price per kilo. Supermarkets will stock a range of cuts but also try your local butcher. Pork or ox cheek, beef brisket and lamb shoulder are all cheaper options and great when cooked right. Your butcher will also have LOADS of advice about other cuts you could try and how to cook them. I did ox cheek in the slow cooker and it was divine!
I NEVER throw freshly cooked food away either. My freezer always has small tubs of mash, cauliflower cheese, stews, soup and similar that were left over - I take them to the office and have them for lunch or we eat them in the evening. Recent research showed that frozen food can be 34% better value than fresh and switching to frozen food could save a family £400 a year. I am a big advocate of frozen food and LOVE the FREE app from the British Frozen Food Federation providing consumers with recipes using frozen ingredients and tips on how best to use frozen food. To avoid having LOADS of waste in the first place, use the portion calculator at http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com. Rather than guessing how many potatoes to peel, you can be a little more scientific in your approach to saving time and money.
Supermarkets are sneaky and are always finding ways to get consumers to spend more money so parents have to get savvy and shop smarter this summer with these quick tips...
- Should you buy loose bananas or packed bananas? Which one will be better value? Have a look at the price per banana (unit) as there can sometimes be a huge difference
- Watch out for exactly the same items placed in different aisles with different prices - for example, cotton buds are often a quarter of the price in the baby aisle compared to the beauty one
- Don't forget to look up and down the shelves as supermarkets will often put the premium items at eye level but the better value stuff is often on the top or bottom shelf. Likewise, big brands pay a lot of money to get their offers on the end of aisle
- Never go shopping on an empty stomach (or with the kids ha ha) or you will impulse buy sweet treats!
- Don't be wedded to a brand as loyalty will never save you money
- Bulk buying isn't always cheaper - 2 for 1 on smaller packets can sometimes be more cost-effective
- Beat them at their own game and go shopping at night to take advantage of cut price offers
- Check your receipts to make sure discounts are taken off - this happens more than you might think!
For more tips on cutting grocery bills (and how to save money shopping online) have a look at