Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Before moving out budgeting for food wasn’t something I thought too often about, but since becoming more independent the food shop has become a staple of the week. Shopping for food is something I take a strange kind of pleasure in- not only because I love food but because I enjoy cooking and baking. One of the most important things for me has been learning to plan meals, and although I’m no expert I do feel its something I have become quite good at over the years, mostly because of my allergies.
I’m constantly forced to think about what I’m eating and what I’m going to be eating because I can’t just pick things up on a whim, a habit that has naturally enforced preparation from a young age. So, without further ado here is how I plan and budget for meals…
For context, I live with one other person and the majority of the meals made in our house will be for both of us. The majority of our food is bought either at our local East of England Co-op or online from Sainsburys.
How I plan and budget-
- After working out my general budget for the month I then work out how much I roughly expect to spend on food shops. I then divide this by four to come up with a weekly figure. When doing this be generous- we budget £50 for each week but we rarely use this. This way there is always spare change hanging around to either go back into savings, go towards a meal out or just to have for the next shop.
- Write out your week and divide each day into breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Plan your meals day by day before you go to the shops and check what is already in the kitchen. This means you are buying what you need rather than assuming you need something you already have. You don’t need to be strict with the days, but it helps to have an idea.
- When doing this remember to account for leftovers- you might want to cook something on a Tuesday that you could have for lunch on a Wednesday. This saves time and money!
- Similarly, to above- only write out a list once you have planned your meals for the week. This means the list you write isn’t guesswork and you won’t end up overspending at the store because you’ve bought the wrong things.
- All this being said some things are best to have in bulk or simply have all the time. I make sure to check the kitchen before each shop so that I can add any ‘staples’ on to my list that I might forget or assume I have.
- Although I find meal planning the easiest options having ‘staples’ is great for ensuring there is always something to make a meal, however simple that meal may be, around.
- Below are the staples I always have-
- The freezer is your friend. It can be used for leftovers, if you accidentally buy too much of something or if you find a special offer that would be too hard to let go.
- When you have time batch cook and freeze. You’ll thank yourself when you fancy a fresh meal but can’t be bothered to cook.
- Frozen fruit and veg is SO much cheaper.
- Learn to bake- it’s yummier and cheaper than buying snacks every single week.
- Be inventive with meals, is there something you could use for more than one dish? A pasta sauce that might be nice with chicken? A Bolognese that only needs a few tweaks to be chilli? Veg that could be stir-fried?
I hope this helps!