Groceries Part II – Managing Your Food Budget
My first and foremost recommendation for managing how much you spend on groceries is that you set a specific amount of money that you can afford to pay each week on food. You may want to start at £40, but it is possible to live on a £20 budget (I know, because this is what I lived on last year, although now for economic reasons I’ve lowered it to £10/week, which is also quite doable). Your budget depends on how many funds you have available to you, be it through your personal/parent’s contribution, or government/university aid. Calculate how much you have available for ‘living costs’, and divide it by 52 weeks, and you will know how much you can afford to use each week.
If you have a lot of money to spend, I still recommend that you set your self a limited amount to spend each week, as it will teach you self-control, and it will mean you will have extra money for other areas.
My second recommendation is to make a shopping list every week. This might seem silly at first, but trust me, when you’re working with a limited budget, making a list stops you from buying more than you need or can afford.
When it comes to buying food, my personal philosophy is that a meal should not cost more than £2. I therefore seldom spend more than £1 or £2 pounds on any product if I can help it (with the notable exception of meat. The cheapest price I have been able to find for meat that doesn’t constitute starving oneself is £3).
The Affordable Shopping Cart:
Here follows a list of products and their prices as they can be currently found in Iceland, Aldi, Home-Bargains, Poundland, Always 99, and others.
– Milk (4 pints) – At Iceland, Aldi and Poundland you can find milk for just £1; other stores tend to charge more.
– Cereal – At Aldi, Poundland and Always 99p you can get a couple of cereals for only £1. Home-Bargains also carries one of two good cereals at £1 or less. Iceland occasionally will have cereal boxes at £1, but this is unlikely.
– Porridge (Oatmeal) – Poundland carries Quaker Oats porridge, even though it comes in very small quantities, and with a limited variety. Iceland is your best bet, although one box tends to cost over £2. They used to have a bargain of two boxes for £3, but it seems they have discontinued lately. Aldi, however, is probably your best bet. They sell a bad of oatmeal oats for about a £1, which can be eaten plain or with sugar/honey/fruit.
– Eggs (6 eggs) – Almost everywhere a carton of six eggs will cost less than a £1. In some places like Iceland or Aldi, a carton of 12 eggs can also be purchased for £1.
– Bread – typically costs just £1 or less. At Aldi’s it can cost under 50p, and even at TESCO’s it can be bought for as low as 55p.
– Pancakes (depends on which kind you want) – If you want good old American pancakes, my best solution is to make them yourself (recipe coming soon), but you can sometimes find frozen packs of 6 pancakes for a pound at Iceland, and sometimes even at TESCO. Personally, I do not recommend the ‘just add milk’ bottles. The pancakes are flat and tasteless in my opinion.
– Cheese – Aldi carries packets of 10 (light) and 8 (regular) slices for under £1, while Iceland carries packets of 16 for £1. Other kinds of cheese can be found of course, but the prices depend on the type.
– Peanut Butter – Sadly, peanut butter is a bit expensive, I have found thus far. A small jar will typically cost over £1.50
– Jelly/Jam/Marmalade – Same as with peanut butter, they are a bit outside of the ‘under £1 products’. Still, since many snacks, breakfasts and even lunches can be with these, they’re always a good investment.
– Fresh Fruit – So far my favorite places to buy fresh fruit are Aldi, Iceland (occasionally), and TESCO (surprisingly). Depending on the season, one can find good offers for bananas, apples, oranges and pears, as well as a variety of tropical fruits, for under £1.
That’s it for now. This list is based on the items I have personally bought at some point or another, so if anyone has any suggestions, they are more than welcome! Next post will be a continuation of the ‘Affordable Shopping Cart’, with ‘Lunch’ items. Catch you next time!