Family Life · Food

Feeding The Family Frugally

I’m always out for a bargain and hate waste! With a family of five, food shopping isn’t cheap, plus I’m rubbish at meal planning in advance. So here are my top tips for frugal food-shopping and limiting waste without the need of in-depth organisation:

  • Check other areas of the supermarket for the same products, as they are sometimes cheaper! I only discovered this while shopping online as the products were displayed together on the page. If you buy dried fruit and nuts in the ‘snacking’ section, it is usually more expensive than the ‘baking’ section even for the same sized packs. Plain tortilla wraps are smaller and more expensive when bought in the ‘Mexican food’ section and cheaper and larger in the bread aisle. The products are the same but in different packaging!
  • Avoid snack packs. They may be convenient but are hugely expensive per kilo of product. From the weaning stage, we’ve all got loads of little pots floating around the cupboard, USE THEM!! It takes seconds to put a few raisins, a spoon full of hummus or a biscuit in a pot- it will save a lot of money, I promise!
  • Switch from raisins to sultanas. Mine didn’t even notice the swap and sultanas are so much cheaper!
  • Try frozen fruit and veg, they are cheap, quick to use and keep (in the freezer!) well. You can just use a little at a time without wasting with large fruits like pineapple, melon and mango, which are generally quite expensive when bought fresh. Also, frozen berries are much cheaper too and again, if you only shop once a week, these keep much longer than fresh. Check out my post for breakfast ideas using frozen fruit. All frozen fruit and veg hold their nutritional content well. Peas, sweet corn, corn on the cob and soya beans are all fab. Frozen spinach is my latest, great find, it’s blanched before freezing so once defrosted, it’s ready to use (or hide!), and saves you having to steam and prep.
  • Bake your own ham. When you compare the price of sliced ham per kilo to a gammon joint, it’s staggering and, with a large family, we were going through packets of the stuff! Sainsbury’s gammon joints have recently been on offer for £3/kg (half price) but even £6/kg is fab compared with £8-£12+/kg for packet ham (they usually price per 100g instead of per kilo to make it look cheaper). Plus, by baking your own, you know that it is just meat and not all the added stuff they put into sliced ham. I have to admit, the kids took a time to get used to the baked ham in their sandwiches but we got there in the end with improved knife skills for thin slices, and making sure any sinews were cut out.
  • I rarely buy the branded products. All our breakfast cereals are the supermarkets ‘own brand’ and they taste the same. However, we did try the budget versions and that was a step too far! Some budget products are great, like biscuits, chopped tomatoes and flour. Budget mild cheddar was good in Sainsbury’s but not in Tesco, so I guess it’s down to personal taste and shopping around to find the cheapest version that you are happy with. There are odd products like tomato ketchup and baked beans where, I’m afraid, ‘it has to be Heinz’ 😉 but again, personal taste!

Buzymum - Feeding The Family Frugally

Top tip: Decant branded products into Tupperware or jars so they don’t see the box/ packet and make their decision before even tasting the product (this also improves shelf life). I do this mainly for breakfast cereal (it even worked on the husband!!), cheese, sweet and savory biscuits and pasta. I managed to swap them to wholemeal pasta with this trick!

  • If you are rubbish at meal planning like me, just make sure you know what you’ve got and when it needs to be used by. Plan the day’s meals around what’s going to go off first.
  • Never throw away leftovers! Use for tomorrows lunch, freeze or reincarnate into a new meal- I always over-cater so I can do exactly that. It saves time the next day if my lunch is already made or next week if I’ve got a few Bolognese portions in the freezer for a ‘healthy in a hurry’ dinner!!
  • Use your senses rather than just abiding by the ‘use by’ dates. Don’t throw out a punnet of raspberries because there are a few squishy ones with a little something extra growing on them, pick them out and wash and use the rest. Smell meat but if in doubt, chuck it out. If you buy from a butcher or green grocer or grow your own, you wont get ‘use by’ dates anyway.
  • If fruit is getting over-ripe, smoothie, cook or freeze it. Bananas freeze really well, if you peel first, you can whizz them up from frozen into instant ice-cream or add to other ingredients for a chilled smoothie. Freeze them in their skin and then once de-frosted can be added to cakes or batters, any cooked recipe requiring banana. Over ripe pears or apples can be stewed and frozen. Plums, peaches and nectarines can be brought back to life with 30 seconds in the microwave and a drizzle of honey, served with yoghurt for breakfast or desert. Any fruit or veg can be whizzed into a smoothie, I love our Nutribullet, which is great for this! Spinach that is no good for a salad anymore is still ok for a smoothie for another couple of days.
  • Ooh and don’t forget your shopping bags!!


Do you have any top tips on budget food shopping? How do you make use of your leftovers? Are you a planner or do you ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ when it comes to meal times (like me!)?!!

Diary of an imperfect mum
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

24 thoughts on “Feeding The Family Frugally

  1. Thanks for this I am totally rubbish at planning but hubby also likes to buy fresh and cook what he fancies. He is the main cook in our house. We do use some own brand stuff but not a lot if I’m honest. I’m going to give your Tupperware tip a try! Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉


  2. I bought 8 bananas from the supermarket last night for 40p – came home and straight away made some banana bread and muffins. they freeze well too. I hate waste too but am never normally this organised! xx


  3. I do that, put unbranded products into tupperware boxes, that way the family don’t know hehe! We are quite bad at planning though, as we live opposite a massive Tesco so can always pop in for whatever we feel like. I need to get better at planning our meals! x


  4. Great tips!I don’t meal plan but o try and get some idea of what we might eat during the week when we do a big shop. I very rarely by brands these days but tend to go for the own brands rather than the value. Good idea about freezing left overs and fruit, we always have a lot of waste so this is a great idea xx #blogginggoodtime


  5. These are really goof tips. The first one is so true. I’ve noticed this with baby snacks like dried fruit bars etc. You can get adult versions which are exactly the same and much cheaper. I’ve also started buying frozen veg. x


  6. Great idea about checking out other areas of the supermarket. You’re right about packaging. I notice that while online comparing prices for laundry detergent. Comparing 3 name brands, same price for what looked like the same size container the total amount of liquid and number of washes you get decreased depending on the color of the bottle (same detergent but different variety).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So many handy tips. After reviewing our weekly budget we are much more frugal now and it’s fine. Still lots of nice meals! I also love making our own snack packs by using the tiny tupperware containers. Raisins in the cookery baking aisle is much cheaper than in the snacks section! We’re a big fan of freezing and making smoothies too #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love this post!!! I did a how to reduce food waste post recently and learned lots of new tips. I consider myself to be good at being thrifty but you had some new things to tell me!! The bit about checking different sections as products are cheaper depending on section is really good.

    We bake our own ham and the kids call it ‘grandma ham’ because my mum started the tradition. I cant get them to have store bought watery slices now!

    Eldest made the best banana bread ever with some over ripe bananas instead of chucking them too.

    Happy to tweet these awesome tips… Pop across to my site and see my tips and links to some great info sites about reducing waste and meal planners if you want to add to your fab tips.

    Also, there are some great charities and not for profit orgs like Love Food Hate Waste @LFHW_UK you should tweet this valuable list to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jane! I will pop over and have a look at your post! There are so many little things that we can do that, put together, make a big difference. I’d really appreciate a share- thanks so much xx


  9. So many great tips in here! Supermarket brands are the best thing! All of our staples are shop brand (flours, pasta, oils) and have found some shop brands that are better than the name brand! The cheese we buy is supermarket brand, Australian, and tastes as good as any brand name I’ve ever had.
    I love looking at a docket after a shop and seeing nice big saving. Thanks for sharing #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good tips! I shop online which I find helps stop impulse buys – you can also compare best value of products more easily than under pressure in a supermarket aisle (especially if with kids!) and when you see the total at the end you can put things back (not so easy in a shop!)

    Liked by 1 person

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