I have three teen- locusts living in my house. If I am really serious about saving money, I have to take a long hard look at my food bill.
My shopping habits are, I believe already quite good. By switching supermarkets, dropping brands, shopping with a list to make pre-planned meals, cooking from scratch and limiting the amount of non-essentials such as crisps and biscuits, my shop is now generally about £40 less per week than it used to be. Hoorah! But I would like to bring it down further.
A while ago, the govt launched a campaign to make us all aware of the fact that wasting food, costs the average household £470 per year. Not me, I remember thinking smugly at the time, I rarely throw anything uneaten from my fridge. I have even trained my other half NOT to throw things away just because of the sell by date! “SNIFF IT” I command. “If it smells okay – it IS okay!”. He has a very specific ‘uncomfortable face’ that he saves for moments such as these. I have even been known to take things from the bin, where he has thrown them when he thinks I’m not looking, rinse them off, and return them to the fridge (Shhh….don’t tell him!)
However, I have begun to realise that I do waste food; but I tend to cook it and offer it to my family as proof of my undying and enduring love for them, prior to throwing it away. At least a quarter of what I offer my children (other than the aforementioned crisps, and biscuits) is left uneaten. I am a FEEDER! I pile their plates with more than they really want or need, and then either throw the leftovers away, or piggily – eat them myself. In my FEEDER heart, an empty plate means that I gave them too little, I have failed to nourish them.
My challenge will be to recalibrate my inner portion monitor, and ditch the feeder mentality. I am beginning to offer the child-locusts more manageable portions, and to keep some back for seconds if they want them, and freeze or keep the remains for the following day’s lunch if they don’t.
A further Godsend is the brilliant blog by Jack Monroe http://agirlcalledjack.com. For those of you who are unaware, Jack Monroe began a food blog, detailing the cost-effective recipes she had developed while eeking out the meagre, and often intermittent benefits she was receiving. Her recipes are delicious. I am typing this while chomping away on some Bramley Soda Bread, with cheese. Using her search function, I have planned my menus around all the old tins of beans, lentils and droopy bits of veg that have been hanging around in my cupboard for months – as opposed to planning them around what I would quite like to eat that week. Not only did I knock a third off my food bill, but I got an extra 5 days out of the weekly shop. That point at which I would have looked at the cupboard and thought we had nothing in has been extended by five days!!! This is potentially MEGA!
However, I am also aware, that whilst I am scouring Jack’s blog to save some pennies for what is, essentially a nice family holiday, many of the people using it, will be doing so because they simply don’t have enough money to make ends meet. Three in ten people say that they are struggling to feed themselves and their families because of the rising cost of food. The Trussell Trust reports that there has been a 170 per cent rise in the number of people using food banks in the last 12 months.
You may have seen Jack Monroe on the Big Benefits Row – you know, the one where Edwina Curry said she was quite comfortable living in a Britain where people do not have enough money to buy food.
I’m not. I’m not happy about this at all!
So, a proportion of the savings I am making will be donated to my local food bank as foodstuff. If you want to do the same, you can find your nearest food bank project here.