Stretching your budget - SHOP SMARTER & DECLARE WAR ON WASTE!
Whatever the weather, this winter looks to be a fairly bleak prospect for many families and spiraling fuel bills and cost of living mean that family incomes are stretched to virtually unprecedented levels.
This is undoubtedly an unpleasant wake up call but smarter domestic management can go a long way to making limited funds work harder and maybe many of us (me included) got a bit "fat and lazy" - or at least somewhat wasteful - in the better times so here are some of the tips I'll be using to make money go further.
Whether it's a burger, a pizza, chicken, curry or chinese take-away food rarely works out to be a cost-effective alternative and very few of them are nutritionally sound choices.
Add on the cost of your fuel in collection or the even greater overhead of delivered service and these are all pretty poor choices.
These meal alternatives should always be exceptions and anyway are available through your local supermarket if you only plan ahead and accept the minor overhead in time, convenience and cost of home-cooking.
Plan ahead but be flexible, shop around, buy bulk, buy fresh
Try to have a meal plan in mind before shopping and know how much you need to feed the family to avoid waste. Look online or in recipe books for a range of meal suggestions that provide good diet and meet your needs of convenience and budget.
But be flexible - the big supermarkets compete with their own attractive price-leaders so take note of the best offers around and be prepared to split shopping between supermarkets to get the best deals.
Brand-leaders tend to attract higher shelf prices but why not try own-brands and alternate brands that can often be significantly cheaper? It is a case of experimentation as I find some that I prefer, some as good but cheaper and some items where only the top brand works for me. The risk is minimal and even really unsatisfactory alternatives can usually be rescued rather than completely wasted.
When you know what works for you then look for bulk offers and if you rcapacity to invest is limited then choose the one(s) with greatest benefit.
Buy fresh! Avoid ready meals and go for fresh meat and vegetables. These offer the best price-performance AND the healthiest diet!!!
Most homes have a fridge and freezer so cooking in bulk can make effort and budgets go further with a cook and save plan!
Look after what you have and shop around for what you need!
Discount stores, online shopping, charity shops and boot fairs all have something to offer the careful shopper depending on what you need and when you need it.
This really IS a case of "look after the pennies" ... but it soon mounts up!
Fridges and Freezers run most economically when they are FULL!
It's the rush of room-temperature air every time you popen the door that adds the the burden so less space, less air !
Try not to waste ANY food. Keep extras in the cool for next time.
Fresh veggies will last a few days but can then be cooked and saved rather than wasted.
Fresh fruit wil last a while but then needs freezing before it goes off.
Plan: If the oven's working is it full or could something else use that heat too?
DeClutter: This could be a good time to turn some of your outgrown, unwanted or unused items into useful cash!
Don't forget that you can sell any such item for free on TellTrail!
Manage: Make sure heating and hot water settings are not excessive in temperature or duration. A hot house is unhealthy, it is normal and healthy to wear jumpers indoors during the colder months and to keep bedrooms cool. Avoid pushing living-room heat around the whole home - closed bedroom and bathroom doors will keep those rooms comfortably cool and help keep heat where it really is needed.
So these are really just a few ideas, I'm sure we'll all think of more as we go along
maybe the winter will be really tough, maybe it won't but I will only believe that the majority of us are really struggling when
the fast-food outlets are empty
and the deliver-to services are redundant