A MUM has revealed how she feeds her whole family for just £200 a month, and has shared her secrets for savvy shopping so that you can too.
Nicole Dean, 25, a freelance CV writer and mum of twin two-year-old girls, has got saving money during the lockdown down to a fine art.
Nicole, who lives in Staffordshire, told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk: “I know some people easily spend £500 per month on shopping as they buy more than they need and throw lots away.
"I was brought up by my mum who had a very tight budget and it just made me budget for everything!
"Here are some of my top tips for saving money.
"As you run out of something or notice you open the last packet, then pop the item on your phone to buy – for example, when opening the last toothpaste it should be on your list to buy.
“Buy two non-perishable items at a time or more to take advantage of offers. You will be able to afford this as not everything will need to be replaced at the same time. For example, buy two lots of shampoo at a time.
“Don't always go for the special meats on offer. Look and compare prices per kg.
“Cook what you need for the next 24 hours once the oven is already on. For example, when cooking dinner, cook tomorrow's sausage rolls for lunch too. It saves energy!
“Write a list of 30 meals (or less if you wish to repeat meals). Write down the ingredients needed for each meal, that you don't already have. This is your shopping list.
“When unpacking the shopping, put the items with the earliest use by date in the freezer.
“Always have lots of frozen or tinned veg available to bulk out meals.
“Utilise leftovers! A leftover sausage can be chopped and added to tomorrow's pasta dish. Leftover roasted meat can be made into a pie or meatloaf.
“Limit snacks too – only buy one multipack of crisps each shop. Once it's gone it doesn't get replaced until the next one.
"Choose fuller fat snacks to stay fuller for longer between meals, such as nuts, spreads, cheese, and fruit and vegetables.
“Buy bigger packs of meat and freeze in individual portions. For example, eight large chicken breasts from Aldi are £8.99. You can get five meals out of this which is cheaper than five single packs of chicken.
“I’d also recommend that you butterfly chicken before freezing, as it will defrost faster.
"We tend to eat differently depending on the weather. For example, if it's warmer, then we usually have lighter meals and more picky items where in winter will be more gravy dishes using the slow cooker for casseroles and roast dinners.
"My children eat pretty much everything! I've always given them everything to try and offer it multiple times to get them used to textures and colours.”
Nicole sets herself food challenges, such as posting 28 days of meals on social media to show what her family eats on a £200 monthly food budget, and enjoys saving money where she can.
For example, she recently made a homemade chocolate cheesecake for just £3.50 using Aldi ingredients for her daughters’ birthday, rather than splurging on a shop-bought birthday cake.
“I prefer not to waste money so we have extra for days out and so on,” Nicole adds.
“I've actually noticed a lot of food increase in price during lockdown so it's been really helpful keeping to a budget as it means I've been able to cover the unexpected price hike without worry.
“Also, where cheaper items had been sold out we have been having to buy the more expensive branded alternatives. It also means if there's a special purchase I want to make for a nice dinner, such as steaks. we can do that too.”
Tom Church, co-founder of LatestDeals.co.uk, comments: “The price of the monthly food shop has skyrocketed for families across the UK.
“Nicole’s tips are all simple, easy and actionable for all families: for example, cooking tomorrow’s meal while the oven is already on to save on energy costs.
“Every small bit of saving adds up, and will pay dividends for your monthly outgoings in the long run!"
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