With the cost of living rising, we’ve probaby noticed an increase in the cost of our weekly shopping.
While so much feels out of our control right now, carers in the Mobilise community have been sharing their tips for making meals go further, and getting bargains on everything from food to cleaning products to incontinence supplies.
Top tips for saving money on the weekly shop
We asked carers in the Mobilise community what tips helped them save on their weekly shop. Here’s what they said:
1. Make meals stretch
Many of us are already “chefs in the making”, coming up with different (and yummy) ways to make our meals go further. Here are some top tips:
Using vegetables (such as grated carrots) or adding green lentils into mince, to make the mince go further.
Increasing the portion size of veggies on the side as meat tends to be more expensive.
If possible, go vegetarian for a couple of nights a week - or try Meatless Monday recipes!
Buying a whole chicken is cheaper than buying breast, thighs etc separately.
Likewise, buying whole vegetables that aren’t already cut up, saves us money too..
It’s cheaper to cook from scratch, than to buy ready meals.
“Buy the cheaper seasonal vegetables and look back in time to traditional simple cooking and recipes”
2. Meal plan, batch cook and freeze
Meal planning around our shopping list can make life a little easier (and cheaper). And, if we own a freezer, chances are we are naturally already familiar with batch cooking and freezing meals. But how about taking it to the next level?
“When batch cooking, freeze portions in zip-up type bags and label! Lay flat & remove all the air! You can fit more into the freezer than using containers.”
The great part about batch cooking is not only that it’s cheaper. But we’ll also be less tempted to order a takeaway knowing that we have great food available in the freezer.
Some more tips from carers include:
“Make your own sauces and freeze in silicone muffin trays. Once frozen store in bags.”
“I use a sharpie to write the date I opened a jar of pasta sauce and put it in the fridge so I use it 'in seven days' or whatever it says”
“I keep a freezer content record on my IPad. And I add or delete as necessary”
For more tips on how we can both save money and time on meal planning, take a look at our article on ‘Meal planning for busy carers’.
3. Consider energy-efficient cooking appliances
Take a look at some of the more frequent cooking appliances being used in the kitchen. Can we swap them out for more energy-efficient alternatives? We’ve listed some carer favourites below.
Slow cooker or pressure cookers
One of the popular cooking appliances amongst carers in the Mobilise community is a slow cooker.
It’s also much more energy efficient as it is essentially simmering food at lower temperatures than when using an oven or hob. And if we can invest in a big slow cooker, then we can also double up the benefits by using it to batch cook meals.
“Chicken, dried green lentils and a cheap tin of chopped tomatoes and a bit of spice is yummy in the slow cooker!
Another carer's favourite was a soup maker:
“I recently bought a soup maker (Tefal easy soup) and it’s brilliant. Easy to make soups, smoothies and compotes with it. It’s quick and easy to use, with a self-clean programme too. I’m enjoying experimenting with different soups and it’s a great way of not wasting food by using up leftovers. It’s also a good way to eat more vegetables too and the soup can easily be frozen.”
It’s faster to make soup with a soup maker, than over a hob making them more energy efficient than conventional cooking methods. We also save a lot more time with little cleaning afterwards!
We may also be able to find good second-hand deals on marketplaces such as Facebook and eBay. Some charity shops also sell electrical goods and we can find a hardly used bargain in there too. All charity shops that sell electrical goods have to PAT test items by law before selling, so no need to worry about safety.
Not only are air fryers a healthier option, but it also means we can save less on cooking oil. Plus, it’s easier to clean which is a bonus! They’re also cheap to run and take less than half of the time as conventional cookers.
“Save up for an air fryer, they are excellent value, and you can buy them really cheap. Cooking in them is a fraction of the cost of using an oven. Don't forget the good old microwave either, a lot of different foods can be cooked in them.”
As microwaves heat up food quicker, it uses much less energy than conventional cooking ovens.
In addition to these appliances, carers also suggested using a non-stick pan which tends to last longer:
“I invested in a really good non stick frying pan (half price) from Tesco. And I’ve been doing more dry pan frying on the gas hob, than electric oven and grill.”
Aside from the kitchen, there are many other ways we can cut costs around the home. Our article on ‘Carers’ tips to spiralling living costs’, includes over 20 tips on how we can reduce our energy bills.
4. Stick to a shopping list
Write down the shopping list and only get what’s needed. This can be a tricky one - especially if we’re tempted by items with sale stickers that are not on our list. But if we stick to a list, we’re more mindful of how much we should be spending during our trip.
Another tip is to not shop when we’re hungry! Have a snack before we head out so we’ll be less tempted to buy extra treats or too much food.
5. Compare the unit sizes
The unit price is the cost per litre, or kilogram, usually in very small writing on the price tag. This is helpful to compare when we’re buying multi-packs to see if we’re really getting a good deal.
Most of the time, we can tell by just looking at the comparisons between two different prices. Another handy trick is to do a simple calculation:
unit price = total price / no. of units
6. Use reusable cleaning supplies
Keeping our house clean on a budget - where to start? The first helpful question may be to ask ourselves whether we need to cut down on some of the cleaning supplies.
For example, we can use kitchen cloths which can be washed and reused instead of kitchen rolls or wipes can save us money over time. Plus, it’s a much better alternative for the environment, so it’s a win-win!
“I buy almost no cleaning materials. If e-cloths and cold water doesn't do it, try bicarbonate and white vinegar, both of which I buy in bulk”
An even cheaper option would be to cut up old t-shirts, bedding, or towels. A great use for perfectly good fabric which may just have a small stain on or have faded or shrunk in the wash.
7. Join a membership rewards scheme
The most famous is the Tesco Clubcard. But pause and see whether other shops we frequently buy things at also offer rewards schemes.
For example, sometimes it may be that it’s not directly from the seller but through a third-party scheme.
Airtime rewards - if we shop at participating stores, we can collect “money” which is then deducted from our phone bill.
Nectar card - collect points from over 300 brands, including Sainsbury's (including when you will up at their petrol stations), Argos, Esso and eBay.
Lidl Plus app - available on both iOS and Android, we explore upcoming offers and coupons.
Superdrug Beauty card - this can be helpful if we’re planning to stock up on toiletries, earning points as we go. Superdrug are also known for their 3 for 2 offers which can make our earned points go further.
Boots Advantage card - earn points and receive exclusive offers (which is super handy during the holiday seasons)
Ikea Family Card - from free hot drinks to member discounts on selected items
“Asda have a great new app, I’ve got cash back on it already to use in vouchers”
Once we’ve set up our rewards accounts at various stores, we can store them all in one place on our phone with an app like Stocard. Available on both iOS and Android. That way, there’s no faffing needed to find all the accounts we have set up!
What are the best stores to save money?
We’re starting to see lots of price matches in today’s ads between different stores. On top of that, carers have also suggested:
Motatos - sells groceries and home essentials at a discounted price, which are close to their “Best Before” date.
Iceland - Iceland give 10% off shopping every Tuesday for those over 60. We just need to show a bus pass, driver's license, senior rail card or Freedom Pass.
Home bargains - Great place for discounted cleaning products, toiletries, and gardening essentials. We can also order online and get home delivery too.
“Home bargains is also really accessible and they have great staff who are super helpful”
Savers - sells a range of branded health, home, and beauty products at discounted prices.
“Try to shop in Aldi and Lidl or get the basic ranges at supermarkets.”
Shopmium - carers have also recommended this money saving app, where we can get exclusive discounts and offers on our everyday purchases both in local stores or online.
Too Good To Go - an app which allows us to search for unsold food near us, which we can then buy and collect for a great price
Amazon can also offer discounts if we’re happy to “bulk buy”. Remember to check the “per unit” price and any delivery fee before hitting “buy now”.
“Bulk packs of items on Amazon can be helpful. I get black beans for example in a tray of 12”
Tips for affordable incontinence products
1. Ask the GP to refer you to the NHS continence service
The person we care for may be able to receive free incontinence products, depending on our local area. More specifically, it depends on our local Integrated Care Board (ICB), which we can find out more about here.
“Just found out that we can get some incontinence products from the NHS continence service locally by asking for a referral from the GP. This will save us hundreds of pounds”
It’s also worth seeing if we can get in touch with the local continence nurse through the GP too.
“I had a lovely chat with my local continence nurse and we have been, very gratefully, granted free Tena pull-up pants for Dad. I feel so fortunate, and happy that this will save us so much money that I can spend on Dad's care. It is really worth a try to see if you can get them via the continence service.”
2. Consider reusable wet wipes
Swapping from disposable to reusable wipes such as those available from Cheeky wipes can save us more money in the long run.
If the person we’re looking after is more prone to accidents, it’s also helpful to keep a towel close by for quick clean-ups, rather than lots of disposable wet wipes or kitchen towels.
3. Browse the high street stores
High street stores such as Morrisons, Aldi, Tesco, or Asda sell incontinence products.
Sometimes, high street stores can be cheaper than getting them directly from organisations specialising in incontinence products. So it may be helpful to have a browse next time we’re in store.
“Aldi incontinence pants are the best value and are really good”
See our full guide to “Bladder and Bowel incontinence” which includes even more tips and hacks on incontinence.
We hope you were able to find some helpful tips, that you may have never thought of. And if we've missed out on any, let us know - we'd love to include your tips.
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