The Big Budget Challenge

I’ve just been into Bath and, to my horror, discovered that the shops are already full for Christmas stuff AND the street Christmas lights have been installed.  Has the world gone bonkers? It’s the beginning of October for goodness sake!!  Is the commercial world on a mission to hijack Christmas?  Mmm that’s my suspicion… What do you think?      

December 25th shop
This shop is actually open all year round! Madness! (IMO)


However, seeing the Christmas lights did remind me that, in the next 3 months, I’ve got some fairly big expenses coming up… Lil’ L’s birthday at the end of this month; a potential trip to stay in Nottingham Forest during half term; M’s 40th in December and then, of course, Christmas.  So, when I spotted Laura’s Big Budget Challenge on Sarah’s blog, I jumped at the chance to join in.

The Big Budget Challenge is running for the months of October and November.  The idea is to set our own rules and keep track of our budgeting progress through our blogs. Laura will do a weekly round up of all budget-themed posts, so we can share ideas on how to save money.

Aside from mortgage and bills, food is our single largest expenditure, so this is where I’m going to try and make the most savings.  However, I’m not going to make any compromises on the quality of the food we eat.  We’re still going to eat organic as much as possible, lots of fresh fruit and veggies, and no junk. 

Here are the rules I’ve set myself:

  1. Avoid waste. I’m going to have a big sort out of the pantry, fridge and freezer and use up anything that has been languishing there for a long time. I’m also going to make sure that I use up all the fruit and veg before they’re ready to jump on the compost heap. 
  2. Shop around for the cheapest deals. A friend of mine used the site and saved £30 on her weekly shop by switching supermarket. I must give this a go!
  3. Make use of home-grown foods. We’ve got tons of apples at the moment, so I’m going to try and make lots of interesting desserts and snacks using the apples, rather than buying desserts or lots of other fruits. 
  4. Go foraging!  I love the idea of wrapping up in warm clothes and boots, going out for a brisk walk… and coming back laden with free goodies.  I can’t wait to see what I can find! There’s lots of useful info on foraging on the web.
  5. Make use of vouchers and deals.  On Friday nights, we usually go out for a meal.  It’s a great way to end the week and catch up with each other.  For the next couple of months, I’m going to make use of websites such as Martin Lewis’s Money Saving Expert to find money-off coupons and 2-4-1 deals on restaurants.  I’ll also make use of my Tesco vouchers by converting them into restaurant tokens (each £1 voucher is worth £3 in selected restaurants so it’s a great way to use them).

At the end of each month, I’ll check my credit card bill and see how much I’ve spent on groceries.  I’ll then compare it with previous months to see if I’ve made any savings. 

Can you think of any other ways I can save money on food (without compromising on quality)? If so, I’d love to hear them.

Also, I’d love to know what you think about the early onset of Christmas paraphernalia in town.  Do you think it’s right to start stocking the shops and hanging Christmas lights in October?  Perhaps it’s just me that’s all ‘bah hum bug’ 😉