The Battle of the Supermarkets

As part of my diet, I’m trying to go food shopping on a set day each week. I find that this enables me to plan meals more efficiently, and in turn helps me to eat more healthily as I have a meal plan to which I can stick. I don’t abide rigidly by my meal plan, substituting something if I find an offer in the supermarket for the base of another meal which I hadn’t considered. This fits in well with my mother as well, as she has done her food shopping on the same day of the week for several years now. Now that I don’t have a school run late morning, I can pick her up and we can do our food shopping together. This saves Dad taking a morning out, and has got to be better for the environment – car share! We are also trying out a new supermarket every week to see which we like the best in our area and which offers best value for money. Last week we went to Morrisons in Cardiff Bay and this week we went to Tesco in Maesglas Retail Park in Newport. It took all of my will power not to visit Hobbycraft while we were there!

However, I don’t know why but my food bill seems to have gone up since I started this latest diet. I am eating less, and not buying cakes and puddings, and yet we are spending more purely down to the increased amount of fruit and vegetables I am buying. It is intensely irritating to me that I am spending more to maintain a healthy diet than I was when I was snacking on processed foods all the time. I really look forward to when we have our own garden in which I can grow some of our own produce, as I’m sure I’ll be able to save some money this way. I had considered having an allotment, but have come to the conclusion that my children are too young to take there with me, and expect them to behave well for a couple of hours every few days, and I just don’t have the time outside of my childcare hours to maintain a plot. I blogged a while ago about my windowsill horticulture. I have really enjoyed having tomato and pepper plants on my windowsill, and fully intend to do the same next year, but a windowsill only has so much potential for crop yield! While it has been lovely having my own tomatoes in my sandwiches from time to time, and I really look forward to trying my pepper soon, I haven’t been able to cut out tomatoes and peppers from my weekly shop as a result!

Last week, my grocery bill came to £72. Admittedly there were a few things in there (like chicken on offer, fish on offer) that I was able to freeze for a later date. I also had to buy laundry liquids. However, this week I spent about £50 on food, despite having bought offers last week and not needing so much this week. I know that for a lot of people £50-70 per week isn’t a lot to spend on food, but when you’re on a budget, it seems a lot. And that was literally just food for the basic meals. I bought no alcohol, cakes, puddings, exotic fruit etc. I really think that the only way I’d save money would be for me to go around three or four supermarkets, pick up just the offers from each one and then see how I’m situated at the end.

Oh well, we’ve been warned for some time that food prices were rising, but there’s always a sense that ‘it won’t apply to me’. I guess that we’re all going to have to re-examine our priorities and see, financially, what is most important to us. Top of my list is definitely a healthy diet for myself and my family so I’m going to need to look at where else we are spending money unnecessarily and cut back.

*Update*

I’ve just read this article at Timesonline.co.uk about the rise in inflation causing food prices to rise. I wanted to clarify that I’ve not been entirely blind to the fiscal events in my country and the world and I realise that food prices in general are going up. I just didn’t expect my grocery bill to grow once I cut out all the processed food and wasteful snacking items.

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