The Big Shop Challenge
So, how did I get on doing the Big Shop Challenge…?
Not as tough as I thought it was going to be, in all honesty. There was a lot of repetitiveness, with breakfast being pretty much the same daily. I found the whole exercise a really good way of using up what we had in the freezer, and for having a proper dig around at the back of the cupboards to see what i’d bought on previous shops.
Did I stick to the £5 budget? Yes I did. I bought milk, bananas, eggs and bread. That was IT. No treats (depressingly!)
Here’s a couple of sample days from the week:
Tuesday (day 1)
Me – porridge
Freddie – peanut butter on toast, Cheerios, banana
Me – leftover salad (we had a salad yesterday and, well… this is what was left over. Yes, it was a depressing lunch!)
Freddie – cucumber, cheese, defrosted muffin, carrot sticks
Freddie – veggie pastry (I had some left over Jus Roll pastry in the fridge, and some veg left from lunch)
Me & Mr B – Bolognese (I made this a month ago, so we defrosted it). Spaghetti and cheese too (of course!)
Thursday (day 3)
Me – peanut butter on toast
Freddie – toast, Cheerios, banana
Me – Tuna Nicoise salad
Freddie – cream cheese sandwich, homemade oat biscuits, apple
Freddie – Defrosted muffin, veg, sweet potato fries
Me and Mr B – salmon and stir fried veg with rice, using spices from my Simply Cook box (Gochujang and Doenjang). The salmon was frozen (used the last 2 pieces…!), and so was the stir fry. The rice was a 2 mins in the microwave job.
Sunday (day 6)
Freddie – Rice Krispies, banana
Me – marmite on toast
Freddie – veggie omelette, crackers and cheese
Me – Fried egg on toast
Freddie – veggie spaghetti cakes
Me and Mr B – tuna pasta (ok, this is NO-ONES favourite meal, but it’s a quick and easy store cupboard meal and after a long day out and about, I didn’t fancy being particularly creative today!)
This was easier than I thought, and it certainly helped that I had some spices/pastes to make the most of what I already had. I do wonder if this is going to make future shops more expensive though, as I have used up a lot of the store-cupboard food and it will need to be replaced. I like to have full cupboards, so going through and actually using the last of something was a bit of a novelty!
I found myself grating less cheese, and cutting slices of certain things more thinly to make it go further. It made me re-evaluate how much food I waste on a more regular basis.
I’m definitely going to change my shopping habits on the back of this; I will be dropping a big shop once every 4 weeks. If I do this once every 4 weeks, I can save around £455 a year, which would be amazing! That would be Christmas effectively sorted!
Want to give this a go to see how much you can save? Check out my tips below on how to drop a big shop:
This is an easy one, I think. Make sure that you take advantage of the multipack offers on things that you already buy (like, why buy 1 tin of tuna weekly, when you can buy 4 tins once a month and save)
GET SOME FLAVOUR IN YOUR LIFE
We had a sample box from Simply Cook which meant that we could add some different flavours to our meals to keep things interesting. When I selected my box, I purposefully chose items that would be versatile and could work with a few different meals.
USE YOUR FREEZER
Got a banana that has seen better days but don’t fancy it today? Peel it, pop it into a freezer bag and put it in your freezer. You can add it to a smoothie somewhere down the line. If you have more than one banana then, by all means, make banana bread…
Frozen fish and frozen vegetables are a godsend if you’re dropping a big shop; it means that you have a healthy meal ready in under ten minutes (including one of those microwave rice bags, which are great! 50p a bag from Tesco at the moment, and perfect for 2 people).
I’m a big fan of batch cooking – i’ll buy a big pack of mince and make one huge bolognese, divide it up and freeze the portions. Do that once a month, and that’s dinners sorted. Adding lots of mushrooms and onions are good for making this go even further!
IGNORE BEST BEFORE
Best before is a recommendation, not a rule; food that is past it’s best before date is still perfectly edible (I’ve posted on this before!) Make the most of companies like Approved Food who sells food that is close to, or past its Best Before date. And don’t throw something away just because it says best before; it’s still fine to use, it’s just not at its optimum standard.
BE PREPARED FOR REPETITION
This week could be repetitive if you don’t plan ahead just a little bit. Yes, you could effectively live on pasta and sauce for a week; this would definitely work if you wanted to save some money. But try some of these tips too, so you don’t get bored and call for a takeaway (and thus defeating the whole point of this, which is to save money!)
Food is there to be enjoyed, not to be a chore. Chances are you will spices, packets and tins of food that you bought to try out a certain recipe. Well, now’s as good a time as any! And if you don’t have the ingredients; improvise!
(You would think that this post has been sponsored by Simply Cook. It hasn’t, I promise – I can’t deny that it’s been really useful to have in and for £1 for your trial box, you really can’t go wrong!)