How I Spend Very Little on Groceries

Back in September, I published a blog post about living on £100 each month. For the past four months, I have been spending around £70-£80 on groceries each month and the rest on personal care and cleaning products. I received a few comments as well as emails from my readers asking how I managed to spend so little on food, and today I thought I would let you in on my secret (there’s more than one!). I make sure I have enough food in my fridge, and I am eating a healthy balanced diet.

If you are on a tight budget or simply want to save a few pennies here and there, reviewing your grocery list could do the trick. Here are some things that I do (and don’t do) to save on groceries.

I cook from scratch

I don’t buy any ready meals. If I want a pasta salad, I will not buy it from the store; I will make it myself. If someone else made it for me to buy, there is no reason I cannot make it at home myself.

I bring my own lunch to work

During the first four months of my “budgeting game”, I was bringing lunch to work every.single.day! If I can, I cook and freeze my lunch in small lunch boxes so that I don’t have to worry about cooking every day because this, my friends, is not fun.

I eat breakfast at home before I leave for work

I normally have a boiled egg and toast or oatcakes with hummus. If I am running late, I bring my breakfast with me and eat it at my desk before I start work.

I buy some food from the budget range (store own brand)

There is nothing wrong with downgrading to a cheaper brand. Try it – if you don’t like it, you can always go back to buying more expensive stuff.

I stick to my shopping list

I don’t meal plan as such; however, I’ve got a good idea what I will be making for lunch and dinner. I only buy the ingredients that I know I will use.

I don’t eat meat or fish

This stuff is expensive. These are the things that I wouldn’t recommend saving money on. Buy quality or don’t buy at all.

I don’t buy alcohol

At all. Not because it is expensive, but because I get headaches after two sips. This unfortunate situation saves me pennies which is definitely a bonus.

I never bin food; I freeze it if I can

I especially love doing this with mushroom risotto. I would make a big pot of this yumminess, pack in small lunch boxes and freeze. I also freeze bread which takes me to my next point.

I buy soon-to-expire products

I don’t see anything wrong with buying soon-to-expire items. I either eat them that very same day or freeze them. I eat toasts and most stores always have bread on sale for mere pennies, so I buy it and freeze it.

I buy on offer

I don’t buy in bulk a lot as I have limited storage space. But even an occasional purchase of something that is on offer (2-for-1, buy one get one free) saves some cash.

I don’t shop on an empty stomach

I mentioned this little trick in one of my old posts about grocery shopping. It doesn’t get old. An empty stomach is bad news when you’re shopping for groceries. It will make you want to buy everything in sight. If you find yourself hungry in a grocery store wanting to buy all sorts of crap, eat an energy bar. This will give you a “quick fix” while you’re shopping, and you can always pay for what you’ve eaten at the check-out. Yes, I’ve done that!

I shop around

If I know I can get something cheaper elsewhere, I will schedule an additional trip to a different grocery store. I may have been a Marks & Spencer girl who used to buy her food there religiously, but now I think this was not very smart of me (to say the least).

I shop at discount stores

Since I moved in with my sister, I discovered Lidl, which is a budget store not too far away from where she lives. I plan on visiting it at least once per month to buy staple foods that are much cheaper there than anywhere else.

I collect points

I scan my loyalty card every time I do my grocery shopping to accumulate points. I get vouchers or discount codes to use in store once I have collected enough points.

THIS WEEK’S GROCERY BILL

I went food shopping over the weekend, and this is what I bought (all the stores mentioned below are conveniently located next to each other in the area I live in now, so I am not limited to one store and can shop around) –

Tesco’s
Orange juice (Tesco own brand) £0.65
Greek Feta (Tesco own brand) £1.00

Lidl
Bananas x3 £0.33
Chestnut mushrooms £0.79
Iceberg Lettuce £0.45
Cucumber £0.45
Grapefruit x1 £0.35
Cherry Tomatoes £0.69
Mozzarella Light £0.44

Asda
Penne pasta x2 (Asda own brand) £0.58
A big jar of Olives £1.32
Frozen Vegetables (broccoli & cauliflower) £1.25
Oriental Mix Vegetables £1.11
Baked Beans (Asda own brand) £0.32

Total food: £9.73

I have some eggs, rice, baby potatoes, milk and bread at home. Other than that, I still need to get oatcakes (Nairns cheese ones are my absolute favourites) for my breakfast. It is not as hard to get good quality food (branded or not, it comes from the same place) and all nutrients you need for less. Try these little tricks and watch your grocery bill go down dramatically!

How much is your monthly grocery bill on average? Do you use any of these tricks? Share your own too!

Related posts:
How to Live on £100 per Month
10 Ways to Cut Your Food Bill in Half
12 Easy Things You Can Do Today to Save Money

 

How I Spend Very Little on Groceries - Girl Counting Pennies

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30 Comments

  1. Wow, that’s an impressive food budget! I don’t buy meat, but I do occasionally buy alcohol and sweets. My going out budget is much worse, so I am willing to spend a little more on groceries, if it means I go out less and the bill is still less than going out. I eat a lot of beans, quinoa, veggies and fruits. I also bring my lunch every day and try to eat breakfast at home, or I don’t have one at all. Dinner is always my downfall and when I get lazy!
    Dear Debt recently posted…A letter to my debt from the futureMy Profile

  2. I like to shop around too. I buy most of my food at discount stores. The price usually 50% cheaper than traditional grocers. I usually skip breakfast, and sometimes skip lunch. That’s how I save money on food. I don’t eat a lot of meat or fish, but I would eat more if they were free because I’m not a vegetarian lol 🙂 I also pay around 100/month on groceries. I think food is one of those elastic budget items that consumers have the most control over. People can spend 500/month if they wish, but they can also get by with 1/5th of the cost if they did the things like you’re doing.
    Liquid recently posted…US Government ShutdownMy Profile

  3. That’s an incredible food budget and a lot of good tips. We try to shop similarly as we also have limited space (as our renter, my wife & I all share the same fridge). I’m going to start freezing more stuff, thanks to your tip…it’s a logical way to make use of the extras or good buys you find.
    Done by Forty recently posted…October Budget PornMy Profile

  4. Great tips to lower your food bill! Except for buying meat and alcohol, I follow most of these. Our food bill is still a bit high, but it doesn’t go to waste (which I hate) so I guess we’re just big eaters. 🙂 I agree, too, about the day old or so bread – they’re usually half the price and freeze well!
    anna recently posted…A Few Ways to Save on Room and Board During CollegeMy Profile

  5. J and I already follow these tips but our food budget is still much higher than I would like. We eat meat but I try to buy it in bulk so it’s cheaper. I’m going to challenge myself to lower our food budget next month. Thanks for the motivation Eva!
    Girl Meets Debt recently posted…I ♥ Autumn TagMy Profile

  6. The thing that I loved about this post in addition to the sheer amazingness of what you’re doing is that I’ve grocery shopped at all of those stores every time I’ve visited my best friend in London. I’m getting back into my extreme frugality, this post is a huge motivator.

      1. It depends. If my bff gets pregnant and has the baby on the schedule that I gave her-then in June for Wimbledon-LOL!! If not then a year after that.

  7. I’ve always been amazed at how good you are at saving money on groceries!

    Waves of nostalgia hit me when I read “Tesco”, “Lidl”, and “ASDA”… I shopped at all of those places when I lived in London!

    However, I went to Marks and Spencers more often than not…. that’s a hit on the wallet for food!
    Steve recently posted…Half Way to ZeroMy Profile

  8. Your strategy is eerily similar to mine… only that I do buy meat and fish, but, like you, I buy the stuff that’s going out of date at midnight – the ‘yellow sticker’ items at the end of the fresh meat aisle is Tesco/Sainsbury’s. I always look to the £/Kg price as it is often cheaper than cheese or tofu as a protein source. Then I just buy as much as I can carry and freeze it all, again… eerily similar to you as I refuse to waste/throw away food.
    M recently posted…Control Your Grocery BudgetMy Profile

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