Savvy saver Emma Stretton has shared her tips to help a family reduce their food bills by more than £200 a month. Top tips include using meal prep boxes and changing what she gives her children for breakfast.
Mum-of-two Emma, from Manchester, has partnered with CashLady.com to provide these tips, which can save a family £209.35 a month:
Buy the food shop online – save £15
Emma works full time so she struggles to get to the budget supermarkets such as Aldi or Lidl, so she prefers to buy her groceries online.
She explained: “I plan out what we will eat for the whole week, including weekends, then write a list.
“The bonus of online shopping is that I find it easier to stick to the list. I’m not tempted by treats or offers on things I don’t need.
“I also have a [Tesco] Clubcard to make the most of Clubcard points; you’re pretty much throwing money away if you don’t.”
Emma is not loyal to any particular brand and will happily switch between different providers to find the cheapest.
She said her children sometimes complain about her buying unbranded items but this is an opportunity to teach them about budgeting, and that the money they can save can go towards treats and exciting things.
Buy a Delivery Saver pass – save £46
Emma paid for her Delivery Saver pass with her Clubcard points, which gives her free delivery any day of the week after 3pm.
Her family usually arranges for the shopping to be delivered on Thursdays, ready for the weekend.
The pass usually costs £30 for six months but Emma was able to trade in all her Clubcard points to get it for free.
Bring in the ‘Restaurant Rule’ – save £5.30
This is a rule for the children when the family goes out for a meal at a pub or restaurant. They get one drink of their choice, such as a Diet Coke, and if they want another one, they have water.
Emma said: “They don’t love it, but they’re used to it now and it stops them necking their drink and then immediately wanting another one.
“It’s not a huge saving but again, it just teaches them the value of money and means they can have a pudding instead.”
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Switch meal prep suppliers – save £85.05
Emma and her husband use meal prep boxes as they aren’t especially talented at cooking. They shop around for the best discount deals every few weeks.
A company will often send offers to try and retain the family as a customer so Emma takes advantage of these.
She said switching around for the best deal is “more of an effort” but is worth it for the sizeable savings.
Create a sweet bowl – save £8
Emma has a clever hack to cater to her children’s sweet tooth – she buys the store-brand packs of sweets that are four for £1 and mixes them up in a bowl with store-brand chocolate buttons.
The children always ask for a sweet bowl when they watch a film or for a lazy afternoon together.
The mum said this way is much cheaper than buying individual packs of expensive branded sweets and is “a lot more fun”.
Providing snack boxes – save £10
Emma makes these for her children each day during the school holidays. They contain all the snacks the children need for the day but if they choose to eat everything by 11am, they don’t get any more snacks.
The children often leave the fruit until last in the box, so it also forces them to eat their healthy snacks as well.
Her youngest child gets free fruit snacks at school so Emma doesn’t buy him snacks to take with him.
She explained: “I know some parents still send in their own snacks, but I don’t see the point when they can get something at school for free. It also encourages kids to try new things.”
Switching cereal for crumpets or fruit – save £12
With the rising prices for many foods, Emma has found it costs a lot less to buy crumpets, brioche rolls or potato cakes for breakfast.
This reduces the families spending on cereals and means they use much less milk. When they do have cereal, the children can choose between porridge or Weetabix, then a special cereal such as own-brand Coco Pops.
Emma said: “You really don’t need 15 different varieties and six pints of milk for breakfast. A couple of crumpets and some inexpensive fruit, like a banana or an apple, is plenty.”
Plate up old-fashioned dinners – save £28
Emma recommends classic meals such as spaghetti hoops and sausages on toast, or jacked potatoes and beans.
She said this can save a family a lot of time as well as money, as even items such as fish fingers are “super-expensive” now.
Her children really enjoy ravioli and frozen garlic bread, while pasta and pesto with some ham or bagel pizzas are also affordable and popular favourites.
She added: “We also buy a whole chicken on a Sunday, roast it and leave it in the fridge to quickly add into meals or sandwiches during the week. If you put half a lemon in, it helps keep it fresh and lasts a few days.”
Have your money saving hacks helped you save money? If you’d like to share your story, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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