Stop Getting Behind With Your Money- Simple Ways to Save Cash on Your Food Bill

Lots of us have trouble when it comes to money. One minute it's payday, and the next thing you know look in your purse and all that's left is cobwebs and dust! Money is hard earned but easily spent, and unless you are disciplined you can find yourself falling behind or even getting into debt. Managing money is something that all of us need to learn to do, and it's something that I personally think should be taught in schools. I don't know about you but I have had little use for Pythagoras theory from maths class in my day to day life, but lots of times that budgeting skills would have come in handy! There are many ways you can track your money these days, from fancy apps to pen and paper or even a simple Excel spread sheet. Personally, I use an Excel spread sheet, as I often get paid slightly different figures each month and the spreadsheet allows me to adjust my totals as the figures come through. When it's pay day, I put the figure in that I've been paid and it works out how much is left after bills, savings and food. Each month I know exactly where I am, what I need money for and how much extra is left. As well as tracking money we also need to be aware of what we're spending on, and food is one area that most of us can go overboard on. Check out my tips for keeping your grocery bill in check.

Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk is a sensible way to save some money. Even if it's food that goes off you have the option to freeze it. I buy dried foods such as rices, pastas, lentils, beans, flour and nuts/seeds. I use whole foods online stores, which also allows me to buy these items organic which is an extra bonus. Laundry items and cleaning items can be stored for a long time if you have room, a cupboard under the stairs or a pantry is a great place to put these kinds of things. It's always worth use a measuring cup when you're using products from big boxes, studies show that more you have and the bigger the box, the more your likely to use. I know, sneaky! Pre-portioning things can also be useful.

Batch cook and freeze
Instead of freezing ingredients to be defrosted and cooked later on, another thing you can do is batch cook big meals then freeze into individual portions. This allows everyone in the household to have convenient microwave meals, which often cost a fortune from the local supermarket. This saves you time, and also means you know exactly what's gone into the food. No hidden salts, sugars or oils that can often be used in convenience meals.

Stop buying convenience foods
Speaking of convenience meals, eliminating these from your shopping list can also save you money. It's not even just ready cooked dinners, things like chopped fruits, veggies, grated cheese and other portioned items means you're paying for the convenience of something you can easily do yourself. These may not even be as healthy as other foods as preservatives and chemicals are added to keep them fresh. Buy frozen veggies, which have been shown to be fresher than most fresh veggies. If you have fruits for smoothies, then frozen is a better option too. Of course, takeaways are another convenience food and these can be very expensive. Save them for the occasional treat, your bank balance and waistline will both thank you.

Stop buying the most expensive brands out of habit 
If you like the most expensive brand then great, but often people haven't given less expensive options a chance. Did you know that packaging can actually make us perceive food as tasting different? This was shown in a study where people were given the same wine with different labels- the cheaper looking brand label wine was voted as the least tasty. It shows how biased we are towards these things, but don't just play into marketers hands. Make the decision for yourself, often big brands are made with ingredients that are almost identical to that of the supermarket brand. If you’re unsure buy a few items of the same food and invite friends and family for a tasting night, without the packets. Get a friend to label the bottom of the plates with a letter assigning each brand to a letter, so you don’t know which is which.

Stop buying things you don’t need
We're all guilty of this from time to time, and impulsive buying is something that marketers have engineered us to be susceptible to. Don't be reeled in by deals, make a list and stick to it. Deals and discounts might look good, but they're designed to make you buy things you never intended on picking up. It's not a good deal if its something you don't really want! My method when shopping is “if you’re not on the list, you’re not coming in” it can be a struggle but once you've left the store you won't give that item a second thought, since you never needed it anyway.

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