One of our major monthly costs is our grocery bill and our grocery shop budget is something we have finely tweaked and managed until it works really well for us, and I can plan on a weekly amount based on what we eat and buy, and also plan for added expenses (special events, having people over for meals, taking meals to friends)
I am not a fan of supermarket shopping unless we are in France (supermarket shopping is a positive pleasure there) but food shopping has to be done because hungry children have to be fed so we have worked out a way of making supermarket shopping work for us.
We used to do a weekly shop at Sainsbury’s in person, but we realized that it was actually very expensive and to be honest, because we deal with food allergies, not that helpful, as we often find the Sainsbury’s “Free from” section is doesn’t offer that great a selection.
We stumbled upon Aldi, a long time ago for cheaper shopping for certain things and during the height of the Covid Pandemic when we were shielding and needed groceries delivered to us, ASDA was our only reasonable option (Ocado was available but as much as we love it, it’s very expensive and not budget-friendly at all) and we started having a weekly food delivery from them. I have to say out of all of the big supermarket chains I find in store and online that their Free From range works well and is best for us.
Our weekly shop generally looks like this:
I meal plan. We shop on a Friday morning. We order to collect groceries. I plan 7 days of meals and make sure we are covering lunches and any extras we might need (guests for dinner, lunch for the teen and husband at work and school, cooking classes, etc) and we have a master list we use for shopping. We order our main grocery shop and collect it.
Once a month bulk shop:
Once a month we do a big Aldi shop. We buy certain products there that fit our grocery shops budget like soya milk, cereal bars, certain longer life pantry items, and things like their razor blades (which are just as good quality as certain very big name brands but a third of the price) and we also like their wine and FairTrade coffee. Aldi doesn’t cater well to food allergies and I tend to cook a lot from scratch so we find combining a weekly Asda shop with a monthly Aldi one works well. We store bulk bought items and it lasts us a month and works out cheaper. We also find things like kids’ medicine, which are a lot cheaper there. We stock up on those too.
No more top-up shopping:
I used to do a lot of top-up shopping in the week and we used to eat a lot of pre-packaged foods and meals but we do that very rarely these days. Being stuck at home for almost 13 weeks reliant on a grocery shop once a week made me realize we can manage without lots of visits to the supermarket each week. It’s also saved us a lot of money.
Local fruit and veg:
My fruit and vegetables I try to buy at our local fresh food market, for quality and we are trying to buy more seasonal where we can. I also buy frozen fruit and veg which is just as good as fresh for cooking and eating.
Less food waste. Finish what we have:
I have also got very strict about finishing food and emptying the frdige and less food waste. Thursday nights in our house are now called “finish off Thursday” and we eat stuff that is leftover, or needs to be used that can’t be frozen, to reduce food waste. It’s a source of pride for me that our fridge is empty when I go to collect our week’s new food shop. My favourite trick is to make a masisve omlette and use veggies and salad with that, or jacket potatoes and fillings, or pasta and toss a sauce together. Our food waste and eating isn’t perfect but it’s much better.
What we don’t do anymore:
The one thing I do miss is picking up use by items on sale in the supermarket, which is a cheap way to add to your food budget. I mainly don’t do this any more because of the plastic component to that and also because I am at the supermarket less, but it can be a handy way to get food that is still perfectly good to use, for a lot less cost.
How I can improve?
I would love to do more bulk less plastic waste shopping. Rice, pasta, pulses and spices using fill your own containers. I am working on that. I would also like to reduce the amount of food packaging we bring into the house. We are also trying to grow our own a bit more.
It’s a work in progress. So far it works for us.
How do you food shop and what grocery shop budget works for you?