The reason behind doing this post is that I've seen this question asked several times in Facebook groups. "How can you do Slimming World and feed a family and not spend a fortune?" or "How can I reduce my shopping bill when I'm on a diet but everyone else eats different things?"
This is what I do, it won't suit everyone. It probably won't suit people who like a lot of yogurt, because I don't, or it won't suit people who like expensive brands or who like to eat clean or organic. I don't eat white bread, the kids don't have a lot of it either (piece of toast every now & then). I make spelt bread so we eat that (it freezes well so I only make it once a fortnight, one small bag of spelt flour makes 2 loaves). I use cheese or whole milk for my Healthy Extra A, 175ml (skimmed milk has more sugar than full fat milk). I use Bagel Slims or Slimbos for my Healthy Extra B, or Ryvita or Weetabix. I change it up every few weeks and buy Brennan's Be Good bread instead.
This is just an idea of how to work out a shopping list to get the best value, no matter what Supermarket you use. I'm using Tesco because I find it easier to use on a budget, I can look up all the prices online before shopping so I'm prepared and I know exactly what I'll be spending. Plus, I get my Clubcard Points and I can top up for Christmas at the till.
I'm buying for myself (doing Slimming World), my husband (very much not doing Slimming World), my 11 year old (who has lunches provided for him at school), and two 2 year olds (still in nappies). And the cat.
Yes, it's time consuming and probably boring if you're not as obsessed with food shopping as I am. But it takes one hour a week, and it's worth it if you're saving money.
First, find out what you already have. I do this once a month - get a copy or a notebook and go through every food cupboard and press, fridge and freezer. Write down every single thing you have, throw away anything that's out of date. That way, you don't end up short on a certain spice while having 4 boxes of teabags. You won't need to buy the same things every week. Caitriona at Wholesome Ireland has some great stocktaking sheets that are really helpful if you've never done it before (you can also find a meal planner there).
This week, I don't need rice, spices, cereals, oats, detergent, tinned goods, tea, flour, coffee, sugar or ryvita, because I bought some last week and others only need to be bought every few weeks (eg I bought toothpaste and chorizo last week so I won't need them again for a while, I bought frozen prawns and green beans this week, so I won't need them next week). I don't need carrots every week. I stock up on toilet roll once a month when the big packs are on offer.
Breakfast: Everyone has porridge or cereal or overnight oats with berries.
Breakfast: Boiled eggs and homemade bread, fruit.
Breakfast: Egg, mushrooms, tomato, lean bacon, sausages.
Breakfast: Weetabix with berries.
Breakfast: Porridge, honey, banana.
Lunch: Husband has soup/sandwich. I have soup/bagel. Kids have soup/homemade bread. Fruit.
Lunch: Kids have wholemeal apple/carrot muffins, pineapple and a yogurt. Husband has sandwich/soup. I have bagel/salad/chopped pineapple.
Lunch: Cheese and ham toasties or beans and sausage on toast (White Bread for Husband, Spelt for the rest of us). Homemade wedges or chips.
Lunch: Cauliflower pizza. Salad.
Lunch: Omelette with ham, chorizo, veg. Salad or fruit.
Dinner: Everyone has turkey burgers and veg. Husband and Child 2 have potatoes. Myself and the child who hates spuds have rice or sweet potato fries.
Dinner: Lean mince beef fried with veg, potatoes and gravy.
Dinner: Slow cooked chicken with veg and potatoes.
Dinner: SW chips, leftover chicken, curry sauce, veg, rice.
Dinner: Lean gammon chops, cabbage, potatoes or extra veg.
Snacks: Banana, babybel, crackers.
Snacks: Homemade date flapjacks.
Snacks: Cold chicken, berries, raisins.
Snacks: Chopped apple, spelt bread, peanut butter.
Snacks: Rice pudding with raisins and cinnamon.
DECIDE ON A BUDGET THAT SUITS YOU
Next, decide your budget. Mine is €130 this week. Yours could be more, it could be less. Work with whatever you want to spend, whether it be €50 or €200. Decide on a limit and stick to it.
DIVIDE YOUR SHOPPING INTO GROUPS
Decide your main groups, and set a limit for each group (do this to suit your own needs). Check the website of the Supermarket you use to see what's on offer any particular week. Mine is:
Dry Goods: €10
WORK OUT WHAT YOU NEED IN EACH GROUPThis is my list for this week.
I get most of my meat from a local butcher. Most butchers will have a €20 offer that you can tailor to suit your own taste. I get 5 from the following: pack of extra lean gammon steaks, diced chicken pieces, diced turkey pieces, extra lean beef mince, extra lean beef strips, extra lean turkey burgers, extra lean beef burgers. I buy a certain amount in Tesco - sausages, ham, etc.
5 for €20 deal in Butchers - Turkey Breasts x4, Turkey Burgers x4, Extra Lean Mince 1lb, Extra Lean Beef Burgers x4, Extra Lean Gammon Steaks x5. Frozen Prawns, €4.50. Whole Chicken, €3.50. Sliced Ham, €1.19 (2 Packs). Sliced Roast Beef, €2.29. Reduced Fat Gluten Free Sausages, €1.49. Sausages, €1.59. Back Bacon Rashers 400g, €1.99.
Total Meat/Fish: €38.93
Bunch of Bananas, €1.50. Whole Pineapple, €1.29. Bag of 10 Apples, €1. 5 x Conference Pears, €2. Bag of Easy Peelers, €1.50. 2 Punnets of Strawberries, €4.58. 2 Punnets of Blueberries, €3.58. 2 Punnets of Raspberries, €3.58. Pack of Mixed Peppers, €1.39. 6 Pack Tomatoes, €0.99. 2kg bag of Rooster Potatoes, €2. 2 x Little Gem Lettuce, €0.89. Green Cabbage, €0.59. Cauliflower, €1.29. Large head of Broccoli, €1.50. 2 Punnets of Mushrooms, €1.90, Frozen Green Beans, €1.19.
Total Fruit & Veg: €30.77
Tesco Nappies Size 5+. €4.99 (2 packs). Tesco Baby Wipes, €0.95 each (3 packs).
Total Baby: €12.83
Go Cat Dry Food (on offer), €2.87. Nicky Toilet Tissue (4 Rolls), €1.49. Toilet Wipes, €1.45. Handwash, €0.69. Washing Up Liquid, €0.89. Kitchen Roll (4 Pack), €1.76.
Total Household/Cat: €9.15
Munch Bunch Reduced Sugar Yogurts (on offer), €1.50 (2 packs). Babybel Light Cheddar 12 Pack €3.59. Charleville Sliced Cheddar, €2.00. Dairygold Light, €2.69. Full Fat Milk €1.49 (2 Cartons). Unsalted Butter (on offer), €1.50. 18 Eggs, €2.85.
Total Dairy/Eggs: €18.61
Orange Juice (on offer), €2. Mi Wadi Zero (on offer), €2. Apple Juice (for a recipe, I'll freeze leftovers in ice cube trays), €1.09.
Total Drinks: €5.09
White Sliced Pan, €1.75. Wholemeal Protein Slims, €1.69
Total Bread: €3.44
Garlic Powder, €0.45. Wholemeal Fusilli, €0.99. Wholemeal Spaghetti, €0.99. Biscuits, €0.59. Tuc Snack Pack (on offer), €1. Cream Crackers, €0.26. Stevia Sweetner, €2.35, Dates, Pitted, €3.89
Total Dry Goods: €8.17
We'll usually need milk and fruit again later in the week, so that comes to around €10 extra.
My husband isn't usually here during the day (apart from lunch) nor is my eldest son. I'm not a big snacker, I try to fill up at mealtimes and have water/fruit in between. I don't buy fizzy drinks or crisps or sweets with the big shop because I have zero willpower and prefer not to have that stuff in the house, I also don't eat muller lights, or mugshots, but they're on offer fairly frequently. I like Glenisk yogurt but will only buy if it's on offer.
The biggest tip I can give anyone when food shopping for a family is:
ONLY BUY WHAT YOU NEED.
If you don't need it, don't buy it. I used to spend over €180 on the weekly shop, and I'd come home and struggle to find something to eat for dinner. If you plan meals and lunches, you can get great value from food. I used to also buy things on a whim and end up throwing them out - there's no melon on my list this week because I'm sick of it, I'll have pineapple instead. Mix your food up, don't stick to the same thing all the time.
I didn't allow for wine or beer because I don't use it, if my husband wants a drink he buys that himself. Same with crisps, etc.
As I said - this won't suit everyone. But it's just a general guideline on how to be more aware of what you're buying and spending. The Tesco website (www.tesco.ie) has the price of every single item in the store, you need to register an account with them to use the shopping feature (they don't even deliver to my area so I just put in an address near me, fill my basket and then write it down on a list and go in-store). So even if you don't have a Tesco nearby - you can get an idea of prices. Check www.lidl.ie and www.aldi.ie every week for the special buys.
Hopefully this will help someone - I saved €50 a week on my bill by planning ahead every week, that's €200 a month. I'm able to follow Slimming World successfully and the rest of the family are well fed too. I really hope this doesn't come off preachy - this WILL NOT suit everyone, it's just my own way of doing things!
I post my meals on my Slimming World Instagram account, which you can find here.