All the news of inflation (sitting at 5.2% as of yesterday) climbing, utilities companies earning huge profits through increased prices, and fuel costs spiralling, does make it seem as though the economy is conspiring against us as we try to cut costs.
Now, I don't want anyone to be under any impression that I can whittle up a meal from thin air or sew an entire outfit from curtains. Thrifty Mummy I may be - or at least aspire to be - but I need to work at it and one of my ways is by planning (incidentally, in my business planning is something that I constantly 'bleat on about' to clients so maybe it's genetic!).
There are 5 really easy ways to help reduce your shopping bills. I follow them myself and they work. They're not the only ways that I try to reduce my bills but they're a good place to start...
1. Always Plan your Weekly Menus That way, you know what you're going to eat and when and you can plan for it - only buying what you need and not chucking out so much at the end of the week either.
2. Write a Shopping List - this follows on from the point above, as you should draw up a list from your weekly menu, but I find if I don't have a list, I flit about from aisle to aisle buying what I fancy and spending a fortune as a result.
3. Don't Shop when You're Hungry - if I ever go for a run and then follow it up with a trip to Tesco's I spend much more than I need to (usually on chocolate).
4. Try Not to Shop with the Kids - now I know this isn't always easy, particularly if you've got little ones but it was the bigger/school age ones that I was thinking of excluding anyway. If I take Cheeky Boy (age 8) on a shopping expedition, he pesters the living daylights out of me to buy things that aren't on the list. I'm not saying that I always give in but even if I cave in on just a few of his 'special requests' to change items on the list for a brand that he's seen on TV instead and my bill has already gone up.
5. Play to Your Strengths & Be Realistic - if you like to cook everything from scratch every night that's grand but if you know you don't have the time or inclination then don't feel that you have to become a domestic goddess to save money. Of course, it makes sense to cook as much from scratch as you can as it will save you money (and be better for you) but if you know that's unrealistic or won't fit with your week, plan to have a few 'easy meals' in there or do a big cook at the weekend and freeze some of it for mid-week meals. Easy meals could be beans on toast, baked potato with tuna & cheese or French toast. Our busy day is a Tuesday and I try to make sure the kids have a cooked school lunch and plenty of snacks before swimming and badminton so a smaller tea is fine for them.
None of these are particularly difficult to implement and you don't need to be a fabulous cook either. Tuesday's are often fish finger days and I don't feel remotely guilty as I make sure the kids get loads of veg with them and fruit for pudding too. It also means that Tuesday's we have a grown up tea together later on (we try to eat with the kids every other night) so Thai curry or Mussels are on the menu for us on Tuesdays which the kids hate but we love!