Friday, 24 June 2011

Grocery Shopping - Advance Planning

Image by Ian Britton, used under Creative Commons licence
 Money is going to be tight when I go back to university. I already know that, and I've got a rough idea of how much I'm going to have - not anything like as much as in previous years, so I need to make some big savings!

Most of the savings will be through not buying clothes, not going on foreign holidays, not eating out as much or visiting the cinema as often; all the usual things that get cut back when the budget has shrunk.

But I'm really hoping that I'll be able to make big savings by being canny with my groceries.
The plan at the moment is that I will in some way acquire a fridge and a freezer of my very own, which will immediately cut out waste and spoilage. I'm looking forwards to being able to keep leftovers and cook in bulk, which will save me some time as well as money! Having a freezer will also be hugely helpful for cutting the costs of what I actually buy.

I've spent an hour or so on the Sainsbury's website, scoping out the prices for various items which I use a lot. I've drawn up a rough shopping list for the big, start-of-the-year supermarket shop (it's a bit early, but I've got the time now and I might not have closer to the day) which includes quite a few bags of frozen fruits and vegetables. I was astounded at how much cheaper it is to buy a bag of frozen mixed fruits instead of buying the fruits fresh - even when you factor in the growing seasons the difference seems huge. I'll still buy fresh fruit and veg, of course, but if I'm making bolognese or soup, then frozen broccoli and carrots will be just as tasty and much less expensive.

My list at the moment contains 36 items, some of which will only have to be bought once in the year and many which will only be bought once a term. Fourteen are things which either need to be frozen, like the frozen fruit and veg, or can be split into more sensible portion sizes and the spares frozen, like the enormous loaves of bread that go mouldy if they aren't eaten within a week.

I probably won't stick exactly to this list when the time comes, but I enjoyed thinking about what I liked eating and hunting for the most economical way to buy it. Hopefully the time I've spent now will pay off in the future, so that I don't forget anything vital or spend far more than I need to. I think it makes much more sense to make a list of what I need, find the best prices, and set a budget accordingly, rather than work out how much I can afford to spend and just buy things until I hit that price. As long as the first number is smaller than the second, and it will be, then I'll actually be much better off than I thought.

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