Thursday, 12 March 2015

Feed your family for under £50 in February - Conclusion

If you're a regular reader of this blog you'll know that during the month of February I was attempting to reduce my weekly shopping bill for a family of four to £50 per week.

I started the challenge, and outlined a few ideas of how I might achieve it here.

I detailed progress in Week 1 here, Week 2 here and Week 3 here.

Now it's time for the conclusion.

It's safe to say that I didn't once achieve my £50 target.  Here's why:

  • my family likes meat, and meat is expensive.  If it isn't expensive, you start to wonder whether it's fair on the farmer or whether the animals were treated well.  Where possible I buy organic and free-range meat.  That makes it even more expensive, but I feel strongly about it so the only way to cut down on the meat bill is to cut down on meat eating.
  • We all have home-made lunches.  The cost of Hubby's lunches has dropped considerably since he started taking a packed lunch (although he's occasionally admitted to "topping up" at the canteen at work!).  C could be having a free school-dinner (all Foundation and KS1 in England are entitled) but for some reason prefers to have a home packed lunch.  Bug either eats at home or has a packed lunch, and I always eat at home.  The costs of packed lunch items probably adds about £10 to the weekly bill, if not more.
  • We're food snobs.  Lets face it, we like freshly made granary loaves, nice continental meat selections, artisan cheeses, real ales and local ciders, olives and balsamic vinegar.  I make home made casseroles, lasagnes, cakes and so on, and really enjoy cooking and trying new recipes.  I'm certain that we would spend a lot less on our shopping if I bought a cheap sliced white loaf, mild cheddar, value meat and chips and cheap packaged cakes... but we like it our way.
We did spend a lot less on food during February, and crucially we threw less away as well.  I went shopping more often but bought less, focusing on the next few meals and buying what we were actually going to eat.  In some ways that put the bill up, because using the village shop for things like milk and meat was more expensive than going to the supermarket, but it was also local meat and milk, so I didn't begrudge that at all.

I do think it's been a worth while exercise, because its shown me what is important to me when it comes to buying food - and it isn't the cost.  I do think I'll continue buying little and often, which allows me to pop to the local market and pick up a few things, to visit the butcher and to pick up a bargain when I spot one, without worrying that I'll end up chucking out excess. 

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