As part of our Simplify September theme I’m going to run a series of Quick Tips on some of the ways we are moving towards a more frugal and low waste life… I’m going to start with one of my favourite subjects – Food!
We have a one week e-course on this topic where you will get all the printables and two videos you need – explaining how to meal plan and source your food. So, this is just a very basic and quick guide to what on earth everyone is talking about when they are on about meal planning. It’s like an idiots guide, but you’re not an idiot…
Meal Planning is a great way of being more conscious of what you spend on food. It can help to save money and also reduce food waste. I started simple and got more complicated as I got a feel for what worked for our family – you will probably need to try a few different ways to plan your shopping to find one that works for you. Meal Preparation is slightly different, this is making your meals in advance for the week, so batch cooking and putting everything into individual or family portions and keeping it.
Meal Planning Quick Tips:
- Do an audit of your cupboards and fridge/freezer. Pull out foods you will never use, or are too out of date to be safe and either bin, compost, donate or add to the Olio App.
- With what you have left, see if you can make a meal or two.
- With the ‘odds and ends’ think of a meal they could make with the least number of additional ingredients. Add those few extra items to your shopping list.
- Consider what you normally buy that you could go without just this once…
- Remember to factor in the activities planned for the week, when do you need a quick meal? when do you have less/more people to feed? what are the items you often forget?
As you get more efficient at only buying what you need, your stocks and stores will naturally reduce. If your currently lifestyle relies on always having a few tins of soup or freezer surprise for emergencies make sure you replace the minimum of these items so you don’t feel panicky about not having food in the house. Many of us hoard or over stock reserves of food as we have been raised by people for whom food shortages were a real issue or for extreme weather conditions etc. Try to introduce more conscious food shopping based on your actual needs and experiences, rather than on emotional or historical feelings towards food.
We are supposed to eat a rainbow everyday, and I have enjoyed meal planning to get us out of some food ‘ruts’ we had unconsciously created. Introduce a few new foods on occasion to keep things fun and challenge your taste buds x
We are so excited about this year here at Frugal HQ – we have been making lots of plans, some of which are too far fetched… but some are going to be actually real!! There is much more work to be done before we can share them, but to get us going for the year, if you are just starting out on your ethically frugal life, or want to up your game quickly – here are five really easy things you can do RIGHT NOW to get you into your frugal groove:
1. Check Your Utilities –
You should really make this part of your monthly or annual plan. More details are in our FREE e-book, but you should be shopping around to get the best deal on your gas and electricity (longer term you should be checking/changing all your regular household bills). We use Switchcraft as they do all the work for us! You just sign up, and then they email you before your current deal ends and give you the best choices to move to – no more forms after that initial sign up. You can specify if you only want to deal with the big energy suppliers, or just green or whatever you feel comfortable with. If you use this link we get a bit of a commission, and £5 of that we give to Charity: Water x.
2. List What You Need –
Grab a bit of paper or your phone, and start a list of what physical items you actually need in an average week or month. Then add in special or unusual things like birthday gifts. Then check in with the rest of the family and add their items. You can now have fun finding as many of these items as you can from:
- what you already have – make do and mend, repurpose, upcycle etc.
- what you can make for yourself – cards, gifts, washing powder?
- what you can get on free cycle sites, from friends, skips, schwooping etc.
- what you can actually do without when you think about it, or do less often
- what you can ask someone else to get for you – e.g. as a treat, favour, in exchange for babysitting…
- what you can find in a deal, coupon, voucher, special offer
You will then be left with the items you need to buy, at full price and can make that part of your budget (you have a budget right?). If you know what you are looking for to cover the year, you can make better use of deals and discounts.
3. Sell Unwanted Stuff –
After you have listed what you need, and had a good rummage in the cupboards and shed to find things, you are likely to have also come across lots of things you don’t need/want/like/fit and now is the time to get rid of them. You can sell them, give them away, or swap them but clutter isn’t good for ethically frugal living and it’s not good for your mental health either so start working through it gently. If you can re-gift things to cover some of the items from no. 2 above then do so – just remember to keep a list of who gave it to you before you give it to someone else, this can also be useful if you need to donate to school raffles and other events during the year.
4. Assess the Leftovers –
You can have a cheap food shop in much of January by being more aware of what you already have in the cupboards and freezer and odd tins around the house that you got in the mad dash for Christmas. By using up those leftovers carefully and only buying the additional things you need you should be back on track very quickly. You need to be willing to have a few ‘odd’ meals and we call them UFO’s (Unidentified Frozen Objects), but it’s all for a good cause – YOU!
5. Start Meal Planning –
If you don’t do this already, or stopped bothering for a bit get back in the habit of planning what you and the family are doing for the week and only buy what you need to cover those meals. Remember with back to school you may need to add in lunch box items or after school snacks. We find in the Winter we do eat differently, so get in lots of cheap veg and make up soups! Think about where and when you shop, and also moving ‘down’ towards the value brands on some items. January is a good month to start new habits and start as you mean to go on.
Our theme for this month is to Start Something – January is a great time to gather energy and ideas for the year ahead. Keep in touch using the form below to get inspiration delivered to your inbox throughout 2018 xx
Everything is more exciting when it’s made into a funny shape- I even got away with emergency ‘pizza’ made from a slice of bread because I cut them into Halloween spiders 🕷
How is it October already?
We are not big on the Halloween thing, so are going to a local Light Party (50p each) and then have some sweets to hand out to people that may knock on the door – luckily the kids have never asked to go Trick or Treating so not had to cross that bridge yet. I managed to get sweets on Approved Foods at a song, and we just use the same costumes year on year out of the ‘box’. I got a range of accessories one year for 25p each at a cheap shop on 1st November. So, all in all it doesn’t cost us a lot of money – with a few home crafts thrown in if required we then move forward to Bonfire Night…
Just to prove I’m not the only person banging on about reusing mugs, or using recycled products, here is The Guardian showcasing the argument for coffee shops (you know who I mean…) being more green. However, we can all make an individual difference too, but recycling our cups or taking our own – and yes, this is going to be another photo of my own re-using mug as I love it sooooo much.
Before ordering from Approved Foods, clear out your cupboards (and maybe the shed too!?!)
The school holidays are upon us, and we now have four kids eating us out of house and home… quick fixes are lots of home baking (double whammy of cheap AND entertainment) and Approved Foods, who sell off near to and out of date foods. We have just ordered enough food for snacks etc to last the whole of the holidays, all in date until the end of August for less than one lunch out for us all!
Halve your meal!
If you usually make enough for two adults then split it into four instead. Put two in the freezer for another time, and fill the rest of you plate with salad or veggies.
The benefits of this are not just financial – but great for your health too. Buy whichever veg are on sale to broaden your palate, or grow your own…