Money Monday

Budgeting has always been hard for me. Especially when it comes to food shopping, I end up getting drawn in by the two for £2 offers or the buy one get one free. It's so easy to get. Drawn in by the pesky yellow labels! I end up spending £40-£50, get home and realise I have nothing for tea, but lots of crisps, chocolate and fizzy pop.

Supermarkets are perfectly thought out marketing enviroments, they think of every way to draw you in and seduce you into buying things you don't actually need! For example placing the most brought items spread around the store, which in effect makes you walk the whole length of the store. While your walking you see all of the other things you wouldn't necassarily want or need. Including the so called bargains!

Meal planning
This is something I have always done, because I used to work 12 hour shifts (before maternity leave) 3 days a week it was easy to plan ahead for the days I was working. This way I had all the ingredients I needed, I just had to throw it all together! It also made me really think about what I was buying and if I actually needed it - which obviously cut the cost dramatically. I think it actually helps that I enjoy cooking and I think it helps when you know exactly what your putting into your meals. I really dislike all of the processed foods you can buy these days, but that's just a personal opinion. 

Food staples
I think it is important to have the 'basics' in your house for the days when you can't be bothered or don't have the time.  For me these include pasta, spaghetti, tinned vegetables, tomatoes, and beans, and also frozen chicken steaks. Also I always have fresh fruit, salad and vegetables to hand! 

Discount brands
I always make sure I try out the discount brands, smart price, everyday value, ect. Sometimes you can taste the difference, for example my other half will not eat a discount brand of baked beans, they have to be Heinz baked beans, and much to my suprise he will notice the difference. However, I will buy everyday value tinned carrots instead of paying 70p for a different brand. I only end up 19p, that's a 51p saving. Now you may be thinking it's only 51p, but all those pennies soon add up to pounds, and saving on something that you won't notice the difference on (taste wise) is definitely a bonus in my book!

Things to think about
Many people end up buying things then chucking them away because they've passed the best before date. Do you actually know the difference between use-by and best-before date?
Use-by date
Bin it if it has passed it, use-by means exactly what it says! Eating food that is passed it's useby date is risky, even if it looks/smells fine. It's not worth the risk. Typical foods include dairy, milk, fish and eggs.
Best-before date
The best before date labels usually have nothing to do with safety. They are a manufactures idea of when they think there product is at it's best! You can go by look, and taste with the best before date, the only downside is you may find it has lost some of it's flavour and texture.
Display until/sell-by 
A lot of people get sell-by mixed up with use-by! These dates are instructions to the shops staff to tell them when to take the product off the shelf. 

How I plan
I have always planned ahead, I use a A4 printed sheet to write my meals for the week, once I have decided what I am going to cook for the week, I work out the ingredients that I will need for the week. I know everyone plans different but this is just the way it works for me.

Top tip!
Don't shop when your hungry! Your likely to purchase more items that you don't normally buy, want or need. Just to satisfy those hunger pangs!

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