The importance of frugal food shopping


My bank doesn’t like me. There. I said it. After getting myself through university, a two week shoe-string trip around the Balkans last year and moving house last summer, I am well and truly skint. All my expendable income is being given to my bank in a bid to make them like me again. That teamed with a fiance who started a business in tandem with the recession – we’re not quite there yet. It’s a sorry state of affairs (so much so that we’re even considering cancelling my birthday trip in March… weeep 😦 ) but it must be done and I’ll be thanking myself for it in 12 months time.

We’re not the only ones living life just above the breadline. I know lots of young professionals who seek to find the balance between having fun, eating well and not breaking the bank. The one thing I’d hate to compromise is food… so we shop sensibly and on a budget. AND we stick to it. I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t shop like this…

  • We love own brand and we’re not ashamed to say it! Why pay an extra 30P per can on chopped tomatos or beans for the sake of a label – it just doesn’t make sense. Last week we bought some reduced rice pudding in Tesco for 9p… 9-fricken-p! Let’s be honest – they’re probably made in the same factory anyway. Buying own brand can save you pounds on your weekly shop.
  • Expensive fruit and veg is off limits. We check the price of everything we put in our trolly/basket and avoid anything we see as a luxury. Asparagus, for example, is a luxury and can be very expensive. I’d love to buy fresh summer berries every week, but at £3 a punnet, I refuse to pay it. Instead I buy canned strawberries, cherries and raspberries where possible for a sixth of the price.
  • Shopping local is a great way to save money. Rather than buying pre-packed veg at supermarkets, you can take as much as you need at a local veg shop, usually for a fraction of the price. Castle market is brilliant for this. For example, Lychees are usually pricey in supermarkets, right? You can get a snack size bag for 50p. No rip off there.
  • We don’t buy what we don’t need. When we first moved in together, food got thrown away every week because we thought we might use it, but didn’t. After living together for nearly a year and a half, we’ve learnt to pay attention to what we throw away and vow never to buy it again unless we promise to eat it up.
  • Vegetarian meals are cheap. Don’t be scared to cut some meat out of our your diet. We eat meat in a main meal around twice a week, and maybe one night we’ll have fish too. I refuse to eat processed meats and if I’m cooking from scratch, well chicken, beef and lamb are pricey these days, even if you do buy the cheaper cuts. (Oh and for the record I don’t like pork or turkey… blreghh). Also, buying Quorn meat is cheaper versus real meat (and it’s much better for you), should you want an alternative.
  • We don’t eat crap. Unless it’s for baking treats, we don’t buy chocolate, biscuits, crisps (except the ones Dan has for his lunch) or anything else along those lines. What’s the point? If you have a good enough main meal, you shouldn’t get hungry before bed. We learnt not to snack too much and waste money on being big fat greedy guts… it seems silly and pointless. If I want to indulge – I’ll bake!

Each month we budget about £120 on two big food shops and fresh fruit and veg in-between, that’s approx. £15-20 each a week which isn’t bad going, considering I used to spend £25 on myself when I lived on my own. Oh, that also includes lunches for work. The only extra food I buy out of my own pocket is fruit for my desk at work.

When the going gets tough, you gotta compromise and save dollars where you can. Funny thing is… we’d still shop frugal if we were rich!

What tips do you have for frugal shoppers above and beyond my tips? Let me know…

Hayley Jayne xx


9 Responses to “The importance of frugal food shopping”

  1. Jem

    I love this blog! I’ve been looking at ways to cut down pennies on food, as we have the same problem of throwing things away! I will using some of your tips and have already looked at a local milk delivery etc, because lets face it everyone needs a helping hand these days and I’d rather it went to good honest grafters than the “greedy-guts” cash rich supermarkets!

    It also reminds me of the film Julie & Julia, which was fab!

    Good Luck!

    • hayleyjaynefood

      Ah thanks Jem! We must spend half as much as we used to now we look at how much we eat… Defo look around and even plan meals in advance so you know what you need!

      Thanks for the luck – I was inspired my Julie and Julia on NYE – I took it as a sign that I needed to start my own foodie blog 🙂 xx

  2. Neil Cake

    we plan our meals every fortnight. It ensures we get in only what we need, and saves us having to decide what to cook every night when we get in from work.

  3. Joanna

    One of my best ever decisions was to order a weekly organic veg box. Organic veg sounds like an expensive option but I find that if you start your meal planning with a vegetable, it works out loads cheaper than my previous default position, which was to think of some meat and then decide what veg to have with it. The planning is time consuming but really worth it for healthier, cheaper food.

      • Joanna

        Yes – it is always in season although sometimes it includes veg from mainland Europe (not air freighted). I don’t buy more, although we do grow a bit of our own. I’d definitely recommend it!

  4. judilyn

    My favorite “trick” for frugal, yet healthy, eating is to “serial cook”. We have a meat, starch, veggies every night, but I seldom start totally from scratch. No need to limit meat meals if you would rather not; just eat less of it at each meal. I make a good-sized hunk o’ meat, and then serve it in different ways in the subsequent days’ meals. I usually make a cup of dry grains or legumes of some kind at a time, which serves each of us at least two servings. Some of these grains/legumes can be “cooked” in a vacuum bottle for either all or part of the time. This saves fuel and time. The first use can be with a meal, and then the remains put into soup with your own homemade broth and veggies. Much healthier than the canned variety, and just as quickly prepared, assuming you have a container of broth available. I’m doing split green peas at the moment. It was Chana Dal in yesterday’s soup, and barley with dinner – Great Northern beans before that, and Louisiana red beans and rice prior. See my blog entry for yesterday to view the barley. It cooked entirely in the Nissan-Thermos vacuum bottle. 

    Virtual hugs,


  5. One month down, eleven to go… Hello February! | My Food Challenge

    […] Well, what can I say? My ‘little blog project’ and food challenge has turned into something far beyond what ever I thought it could be and I’m having so much fun! In 31 days I’ve written 38 posts, either about or relating to food. I’ve tested and blogged 16 recipes, told you all about the wonders of tea in a crisis and how myself and Dan achieve foodie heaven with a frugal shopping budget. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: