I keep reading about how food prices are going through the roof, mainly due to the poor weather affecting the growing season, which has a knock on effect to everything we eat. Livestock has to be fed to produce meat and dairy, so when the fields are swamped and crops lost, alternative feed must be sourced, usually from another part of our country, or from another country. Transport costs have to be paid for, which will be added to the price we pay at the checkout.
Some people complain that their favourite food item has gone up in price, me included, but if you break it down into individual ingredients, you can see where the extra costs come in all along the production line. I try and eat as much basic veg as I can, and try and keep away from the processed stuff. Apart from the fact that a lot of nasties can creep into food during factory processing, it's bound to cost more because of all the price increases of the ingredients. Even my basic veg is going up in price at the moment, so I have to think of ideas to stretch it out that bit further.
I thought I would show you the contents of my freezer, so you can see how I buy and organise my meals. I need to stretch every penny I spend, and make the best meals I can. I have three drawers, which gives ample space for me. I don't need to stockpile loads of food in a bottomless pit called a chest freezer. Families that feed lots of mouths might need one of those, I can only speak for me as a single person household.
First, I have fourteen portions of salmon. I bought two bags of six a few weeks ago when Tesco had the double up promotion on vouchers. Then I had another voucher for £2.50 off, the salmon was already on offer at half price so I managed to get six for £2.50 plus voucher. So, there are fourteen meals there when added to veg, salad, rice, pasta, or bread.
I have one and a half loaves of reduced price wholemeal bread, and a single bun left from a pack of four. I know home made bread is better but it would not be cost effective for me to make it, given the price I pay for the yellow stickers. I don't want to spend more time in the kitchen than I have to, and I don't eat bread every day. It suits me to buy it cheap and freeze it.
Next I have half a bag of berry fruits. I'm not too keen on these as the pips annoy me. I shall put these in a smoothie and may not buy any more, except if the are on special offer, maybe. These is a pack of Staffordshire Oatcakes there. I like these as an alterative to bread. Make a filling and roll them up, or spread with a dab of marmite. They have a Christmas wrapper of so they were reduced.
The next drawer has nine portions of home made veg curry, stew, and soup, in different size pots. These can be eaten as a snack at lunch time, maybe with a slice of bread, or as a main meal with potatoes, pasta, or rice added. They cost very little to make, and are there as a convenient ready meal.
Third and last drawer. Three Value cauliflower cheese. I don't eat lots of these, I bought them as part of the double up Tesco voucher offer, so they basically cost me nothing. As I mentioned in a previous post, I cut these in half while they are still frozen, and add other veg to it, so six meals there. There is a big bag of Value mixed veg, to use as a standby when I have run out of fresh. Frozen is just as good as fresh, and it's convenient to dispense single portions as and when needed. I don't buy tinned veg, (except mushy peas), because a whole tin is too much for one meal. Also in this pic is half a bag of sweetcorn, a portion of home grown runner beans, one cheese and broccoli bake, and one small smoothie. I bought the smoothie as a pack of four at a greatly reduced price. They are very nice frozen, like a tastier and healthier version of that nasty slush stuff you see in the shop dispensers.
So you can see in my small freezer I have the basics for quite a lot of meals. My fresh veg is quite low at the moment, but I am not going to dash to the shops in a panic, I am going to eat some of what I already have.
When I was working full time I didn't have the time to be so well organised, I was too busy making enough money to live. Here's a thought, if you are running around like a headless chicken, trying to juggle family and work, and throwing anything willy nilly into a supermarket trolley, you are going to pay over the odds for your food. But if you can make time to sit down for an hour every night, and do a bit of forward thinking about what you are going to eat the next day, you could shave pounds off your food bill. A lot of people believe in meal planning, if it works for you then great. Personally I don't want to know what I am going to be eating next Thursday, I would find that quite boring. I like to eat what I fancy, so I buy cheap food which I really like, and which will keep a while. I keep a small stock in so I can dip in and out of it. Good luck with your meal planning and shopping. Investing a bit of thought and time into it is the only way to go.