SAVVY mums have revealed their top tips for feeding the family on a budget, from batch cooking to spend just £130-a-month, to how to find bargains for as little as 3p.
With inflation predicted to rise to 5 per cent next April, by the Bank of England, and interest rates staying at a record low of 0.1 per cent, the supermarket shop is set to get pricier.
But that doesn't mean you have to fork out hundreds every week. These mums share their top tips for filling up your trolley on a budget, so you're not left out of pocket…
1. Batch cook to spend £137 on three months of meals
One easy way to reduce your grocery spend is to select your meals wisely and batch cook them, using bargains from the yellow sticker section.
This tip comes with the added bonus of saving you time during the week, when you'll only need to microwave your meals.
Liane Greenly, 38, from Lincoln spent £137 at Aldi for a mega batch cook which lasted her and her partner for three months.
She told LatestDeals.co.uk: "I made meals which were all similar in their base ingredients and altered by the herbs.
"For example, spaghetti, lasagne and cottage pie are all similar until the last few ingredients. Batch cooking is easier than cooking each night.
"It saves money by making a large amount and freezing the rest. And if you are having a lazy day, you can have a home cooked meal straight from the freezer and into the microwave – much cheaper than a takeaway and healthier too."
2. Meal plan for £50 a week
Careful meal planning reduces spending as you won't be doubling up on ingredients, popping into a pricier local supermarket or deciding on a last-minute takeaway.
To get started, scan your cupboards and create a meal plan. Then you can shop for just the ingredients you’re missing.
Gemma Brooks, 32 from Hertfordshire, said: "I don’t spend more than £50 a week for all of our shopping needs.
"It’s easy if you plan your meals in advance – I write mine up on a whiteboard in the kitchen.
"If you plan ahead and get creative, you can make food stretch. I always know which meals I am buying ingredients for ahead of time so I can find the cheapest options."
3. Freeze for ease
Buy frozen whenever you can to reduce costs. Fruit and veg, as well as some meat and fish, are much cheaper in the freezer aisle. Plus you won't waste food as it won't go off.
Gemma added: "Frozen salmon is great on a budget. A pack of frozen fillets costs me £3.30 in Tesco – buying similar amounts in the chilled section easily costs a couple of pounds more."
Lauren Roddick, a 33-year-old elderly care assessment nurse from Glasgow, added: "I've got two fridge freezers so I freeze the majority of my items.
"In a Too Good To Go bag I recently got passion fruits, so I scooped out the pulp and put it in ice cube trays, then added them to cocktails which was lovely.
"I always freeze my bread so I will make sure it's sliced before it goes in the freezer."
4. Follow the seasons for 3p cucumbers
Fruit and vegetables are much cheaper when they’re in season. They'll also taste better and it’s better for the planet.
In the autumn and winter months, go for pepper, pumpkin, apples, rocket, tomatoes, squash, cranberries and mushrooms to save cash.
Laura Bailey, an NHS PA and mum-of-one from Leeds, said: "It is important to have good knowledge of food so you know what you can make with it.
"One summer I picked up several cucumbers at 3p each and lots of tomatoes. I made gazpacho and froze it in containers which I then took to work, and had the perfect chilled soup (as it defrosts during the day).
"Sometimes I just cook any vegetable I have to hand, chuck in some herbs with homemade stock and blend for a quick cheap hot soup in winter."
5. Grow your own for 5p
It’s easier than you may think to grow vegetables and herbs in your garden.
Kat Phoenix, 28, from Blaenau Gwent, shared how she started her vegetable crop on a budget.
She said: "Every three months or so, I get reduced potatoes, usually for 5-10p a pack. I put them in the back of the cupboard for a few weeks until they sprout and then plant them.
"I started growing vegetables like this a few years ago, planting garlic bulbs that didn't get used in time and had started to sprout.
"I then moved on to experiment with sprouting potatoes and onions, which I started putting into plastic trugs in the garden.
"The tips of leeks, spring onions, carrots and parsnips can be placed in soil of varying depths and go on to grow new produce. Spring onions are particularly useful as they can be placed on the windowsill in just a small amount of water."
6. Coupons & cashback to get £28 of food for £5.60
There are loads of voucher codes online which will help with saving money – if you're new to the shop or spending over a particular amount.
Jo Bohm, 36, from the Isle of Wight, has two kids aged nine and 12. She said: "I find discounts by going to money-saving websites for discount codes.
"It’s always worth checking if you can get cash back on a purchase from Quidco. By combining all of these tricks, I have saved loads of money over time."
Adam Attew, a 32-year-old retail sales assistant from Stratford, London, uses a similar method.
He said: "I am a regular bargain hunter and have saved thousands with cashback apps such as CheckoutSmart and ClickSnap on Quidco.
"I have picked up free food, drinks and supplies, and I also regularly get discounted clothes and homeware items."
Leia Winch, a 37-year-old careers adviser from Telford, added: ‘‘When I’m planning to shop, I make use of the Shopmium and CheckoutSmart apps whenever I can.
"For example, I got a haul for £5.67 instead of £28.30 by using both of these and a cashback offer.
"I managed to pick up a box of Cheerios, a box of Shreddies, two boxes of Shredded Wheat, six boxes of Off The Eaten Path sticks, two Chocolate Hazelnut Graze bars, two Salted Caramel Graze bars and two cans of San Pellegrino for just over a fiver."
7. Yellow sticker lover for 35p pork
The yellow sticker aisle includes heavily reduced food which is about to go out of date.
Karen Kirton, 59, a gran-of-four from Newbury, said: "I'll usually shop in Sainsbury's around 2pm on Wednesday or Thursday.
"Yellow stickers are being applied for the first time that day, so not the best bargain but still cheaper than if I'd shopped an hour earlier. I buy vegetables, meat and fish I can put straight in the freezer once I get home."
Abi Hallam, 29, from Gedling, Nottingham, added: "We usually go at around 6pm on a weekday and check all the reduced sections before doing our weekly shop.
"We then check back at the reduced sections before we go to the checkout. We have saved hundreds of pounds by buying reduced foods.
"At Morrisons, I often manage to rake in the deals. I got curried thigh fillets reduced from £3 to 75p, topside beef reduced from £4.68 to 94p, roast pork leg reduced from £3.49 to 35p and roast turkey breast reduced from £2.79 to 70p."
8. Shop around
Using a supermarket comparison tool before going to the shops means you can find out where the best prices for the items on your shopping list are – and don't be afraid to visit more than one shop.
Emma Wild, 33, from Greater Manchester, said: "I generally rotate between Asda, Tesco, Aldi, Food Warehouse and occasionally Lidl or Sainsbury’s.
"I shop at Tesco a couple of times a month as I get my pet food from there – and the Clubcard discounts are great, especially around Christmas.
"For my big shop each week, I go to Aldi as it tends to work out cheaper. I like their own brand products – they’re just as good as the bigger ones in my opinion."
Greta Smith, a 27-year-old nutritionist and health coach from Birmingham, added: "I like comparing several shops until I find the best deal.
"Some of my best bargains were frozen wild salmon from Aldi, where you get 550g Wild Salmon Fillets for only £3.99. You would pay around £12 for the same amount of fresh salmon fillets elsewhere."
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