A SAVVY mum has shared the simple meal planner she uses which she says has saved her a whopping £360 a month on the food shop.
Vickie Williams, 42, always wanted to create a family meal plan and shopping list, but never got around to it.
But Vickie, who lives with three of her and fiance Brian’s, 45, children, says lockdown finally gave her time to sit down and plan their dinners.
She told LatestDeals.co.uk: “We are a blended family and combined have eight children between the ages of 11 and 25.
“At home currently, we have Lenny, 11, Harry, 15, and Ethan, 19. We have three grandchildren too!
“Lockdown gave us as a family more time to spend together. To be honest, I have loved spending so much time with Bri and the children.
“It’s made such a nice change from the usual rushing about to and from work routine.”
Vickie, who co-owns a cleaning company, says she used to spend more than £100 a week on food, but would still find herself popping to the shops mid-week to top up.
After the UK was put in lockdown, Vickie wanted to minimise her trips to the supermarket, and finally had time to create a monthly meal plan.
She explained: "Devising a family meal plan with a corresponding shopping list is one of the jobs I had always wanted to get around to doing – but never seemed to have the time!
"Obviously being in lockdown meant I was able to reclaim that time and get around to doing it.
"In the past I have spent well over £100 per week on groceries with little to show for it, and I still had to top up on bits and pieces after a few days.
"I also found that we had a lot of food waste. Sticking to a shopping list and not wasting food feels like we’re doing our bit to help tackle the food waste problem.
"We did our best as a family to take the lockdown rules seriously. We did our best not to make non-essential trips out.
"Therefore, I knew that what I wanted out of our planner was to be able to do a bulk shop just once a month and then make a quick trip out once a week to get fresh vegetables, salad, fruit and dairy items.
"We sat down as a family and I asked everybody what their favourite meals were and made sure I included them in the plan.”
Vickie, who shops at ASDA and Aldi, wrote down all the essentials, meal ingredients, treats and extras – and their cost.
Dinners include sausage casserole, lamb chops, chicken wraps, vegetable curry, cottage pie and a roast dinner.
After planning ahead, she realised how cheaply she could feed her family.
She said: “I devised a shopping list including all the items needed.
“I’m lucky in the sense that I have a well stocked spice rack as that really helps, along with the fresh items that we grow in the garden – thyme, basil, coriander, parsley, mint and radishes.
“I prefer to cook from scratch so the majority of our family meals are just simple homemade meals that everybody enjoys.
"It wasn’t until I’d completed the first monthly shop that I realised just how little it had actually cost!”
Vickie now spends around £150 a month on food for the five on them, saving herself hundreds.
The mum added: "I used to spend in the region of £120-£140 a week, so the meal planner saves me over £360 a month.
“Now the monthly shop and the weekly shop combined is around £150 a month.
"Having a meal planner has saved me so much time. I know it’s going to be invaluable to us as a family when my business reopens in September and life returns to some kind of normal.
"For anybody contemplating creating a meal plan I would definitely recommend it. Not only does it save you time, it also saves a lot of money.”
She says that the kids still enjoy lots of treats, including homemade cakes and jam, and she enjoys teaching her youngest, Lenny, cooking skills.
Looking to the future, Vickie said: "I’m going to switch it up the meal plan as I go. I’m planning on keeping the staple meals but I’d like to come up with ten new recipes a month to keep things fresh and exciting for the children. I’ll look out for foods that are in season to make sure I get the best quality and value.
"I’m saving up what we have saved and am planning on an extra family holiday.”
Tom Church, co-founder of LatestDeals.co.uk, comments: “Lockdown has been a hugely expensive time for families with food shopping costing more than ever.
“Making a detailed meal plan and a shopping list of what you really need won’t just save you money, but will also mean you don’t get sucked into impulse purchases and will cut down on food waste too!”
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