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Cooking For a Family of Four – on a Budget!

When you have a family to look after, there’s always something. School trips, after school activities, and constantly growing feet all require costs and these eat into our finances. So savings need to be made wherever you can. And making cost-effective choices when the grocery shopping is a relatively easy, and efficient, way of saving money.

It’s easy to fall into bad habits when feeding your family, with frozen and pre-prepared meals being so much easier and quicker to use. But these are often more expensive as well. Have a ready through the below tips, and start making changes today.

Meal plan

Start off by making a meal plan for the week, and list what you will cook for every evening meal. Discuss options with the whole family to get them all on board, but stick with the same meal for everyone. Some people may have to make compromises, but try to cater to individual tastes at least once a week.

Try different meals each week and don’t repeat them too often. Experiment with new dishes, and try to expose kids to different tastes and textures.

Stick to lists

With a meal plan, you can write a list of what ingredients you’ll need for each meal, making shopping much more efficient. Last minute, mid-week dashes to the shops often mean buying extra things and adding up over the time, so making sure you have everything ready will avoid this.

Stick to the list when you are out, and don’t buy any extras unless you need them. Try to avoid shopping when you are hungry, as this can affect your judgment, and leave the children at home if they always demand extra treats and snacks.

Make the most out of deals

Check the deals and offers available in shops, and buy these cheaper products. Be aware that some deals are aimed at making you buy things you wouldn’t have normally purchased, though; so if it’s not on the list, don’t buy it!

Cook in bulk

Cooking from scratch is the most effective way of saving money. While pre-prepared food may seem quicker, the taste and quality of a homemade meal cannot be replicated. With a little preparation and organisation, it is easy to make healthy and nutritious meals every night. Some meals, such as casseroles and chilli, can be made in bulk and frozen for later use. Make sure food has defrosted fully before reheating though.

Shop in different places

Shopping around will show the price difference on some products. Visit markets for fresh fruit and veg, and shop at online butchers for various meat offers. Spices and condiments are always much cheaper in foreign stores as well, so visit your local Chinese supermarket to check out what they have available.

Don’t stick to brands

Don’t be afraid to try unknown and home brands in supermarkets. Most of these taste identical to the more well-known brand but are a fraction of the cost. But smaller versions and try them, don’t tell the kids and see if they recognise the difference!

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