Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Time to get organised... Food

Well living in a new area, adjusting to new finances and schedules has put all my usual weekly organisation out the window, as I am learning to do life here. With 2 children at school, 1 child to be home-schooled alongside looking after a toddler and trying to carve out a new life, it can all seem a bit daunting.  When life throws lots of things at you once, then the best way I get through it, is writing it all out, choosing one thing off the list and starting there.
I am starting with food! Food shopping takes up lots of time.  Planning the meals (healthy and on budget) and buying the food.  My eldest child does not cope with supermarkets (ASD) and as he is with me all the time, my choices are to get up super early before him (4.30-5am yuck) or go in the evening (equally yuck as tired and the shops normally empty). Therefore we go online.  I'd rather spend an evening doing my shopping online in the comfort of my own home. 
I plan out my weekly meals this is because a) saves money, as you just buy what you need b) saves time. It also stops that - what shall I have to eat tonight? thought or me raiding the biscuit jar whilst I think about what to eat, only to find we don't have the ingredients and succumb to a takeaway and c) helps me to plan healthy eating.   It can be time consuming to plan the meals, so I do a 2 week menu which I repeat twice for the month.  I use different menus per month so we are not constantly eating the same dinners.  I menu plan everything - breakfast, lunch, dinner, pudding and snacks.  As I know what we're going to eat I buy our food shopping monthly.  That means we have one massive delivery (only pay one delivery charge) and every area of our fridge/freezer and kitchen cupboards are full.  I'm the only one who cooks in house and the children are not of an age where they can help themselves so I don't have to worry about our tea disappearing.
To aid with monthly deliveries and space, we have our milk delivered to our doorstep.  This does cost a little extra but if I'm really honest before we went to milkman, if we ran out of milk (being a family of 6 this happened quite frequently) we'd always pick up other stuff and so inevitably spent more money - so we are probably saving more now than before.  Milk can be frozen so if you're lucky enough to have the freezer space then you can store it up this way.  We freeze the yogurts, cheese and butter until needed too.  Lots of things can be frozen, we use pancakes, scones, crumpets and malt loaf for afterschool snacks (depending what is on offer) so if they are delivered with a short shelf life we freeze these too.  We were very fortunate to be given a breadmaker from a dear friend and so we always have fresh bread each day.  It is easy to do and you get a premium loaf which is enough for all of us for about 50p.  Also saves us precious space in the freezer.
Fruit is something we go through a lot.  The children have at least 2 portions a day.  I used to get a box delivered from Able and Co for 11.99 a week with the 4th week being free.  However it is quite expensive when compared to fruit in Lidls.  I have JML fruit and vegetable storage bags which can keep fruit fresh upto 3 weeks - they need to be stored either somewhere dark or in the fridge.  This can save popping out again but the fruit must be really dry before they go in the bags and I would check on them weekly to make sure they are not going too soft.
I'll post some more on what we eat and some more money saving tips next time...

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