I joined Slimming World a year ago. In that time I have read many comments from people either thinking of doing Slimming World or currently a member concerned that doing the plan is too expensive, due to the cost of food.
You have probably all heard in the last 12 months about the rising cost of food and seen it at the checkout, however it is still possible to stick to plan and keep your food bill under control. I am going to try and help you overcome your worries and share some of my personal experiences and tips.
The key to ensuring you can stay on plan without breaking the bank is planning.
Look at everything you have already in your cupboards, fridge and freezer. You will be surprised what you have that is syn free or low syn already. Herbs, spices, Worcester and Soy sauce will be your new best friends. They will help you flavour your food without any syns. Baked beans, tinned tomatoes and tomato puree (oil free) are so versatile and classd,s as free food so you will see them in a whole new light!
Download the Slimming World App on your phone or tablet. You will find it extremely useful especially in the early months. A year on you will still see me in the supermarket looking up syn values.
If you have food that you are unsure of the value, check on the Slimming World app or web site. Write the syn value on them. Whilst they may not be’ free’ you may still be able to use them within your 5-15 syns per day.
If you have snacks around split them up into smaller bags to reduce the syn value.
Nothing has to be thrown away.
Sit down and write a list of all the meals you would usually cook during the week. Have a look on Slimming World’s web site for menus of your favourites. You will be amazed how many of your favourite meals can be made slimming world friendly.
I also think about where I will be for each meal. Will I be at home, work, in the car etc. When you are ready to experiment with new recipe ideas, this will play a key part. There is no point planning on making soup for lunch If you know you won’t be able to warm it up.
Write a menu plan of what you are going to cook during the week. I don’t think about what I’m going to cook on each day as I don’t know about you, but I don’t always fancy what I planned on that day. I usually plan how many of each type of meal I need for example, 5 lunches for work, 7 dinners, 4 breakfasts on the run etc. I then plan meals that fit each of them. This gives me flexibility as to what I will prepare on what day depending on how I’m feeling.
Where to shop?
I work full time with 2 border collies that also need 2 good walks a day so I don’t have much free time.
If you have ever watched ‘Eat Well For Less’ you would have noticed that whilst they have managed to slash the families food bills, the food they have given them is from numerous supermarkets for 1 weeks shop. I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t have time to go to numerous shops every week to find the best deal. I do however still want to save money on my weekly shop.
Over the last year I have managed to get into a nice routine that allows me to minimise the number of supermarkets I visit whilst still managing my food budget.
You will have supermarkets that are closer to you than others, possibly good markets and butchers. Think about all the places you buy food from and consider which shops offer the best value for money. You may be able to save 10p on a bag of carrots at another supermarket but how much will you spend in petrol or parking to save that?
I have 3 places I shop in. I split my monthly shopping over them but with careful planning, I only have to actually visit one of them per week.
I have Tesco where I put on a monthly on-line shop. This is great for the larger items such as dog food, and store cupboard food such as beans, tinned tomatoes, etc. By ordering on-line I save myself a good hour as I can be preparing dinner or housework whilst waiting for the delivery. I will also add other things like beans, tinned tomatoes etc which don’t vary much in price from store to store.
Lidl is my favourite for fresh fruit, veg and their quark is the tastiest by far! I’m always amazed at how much I get in my trolley versus the bill at the check out. Below you will see what I bought last week for the week ahead.
For my fresh meat I have an excellent butcher in the local garden centre near Stratford Upon Avon. Their meat is excellent value for money. People think that butchers are more expensive than supermarkets but this isn’t true. The packs I buy are bulk purchases. I buy enough for the month. I split it all up into portions so that I can ensure no waste and freeze it. On average I spend £50 a month which includes, chicken breasts, mince, pork chops and joints and beef.
How often do you walk into the supermarket and see ‘buy one get one free’ or half price offers? How often do you end up with them in your basket or trolley feeling very pleased with yourself that you have a bargain? Be truthful now, if you hadn’t seen the offer would you have bought it? No? So was it really a bargain?
Above I talked about the importance of planning ahead. You know what meals you want to cook for the week so think about what ingredients you need. Do you have any of them already in the kitchen? Can you bulk buy any of them? For example, if you are having chilli one night and lasagne another night (yes you can have lasagne on Slimming World) then buying a larger pack of mince will be cheaper.
Write a list of everything else you still need. Then consider where you think you are going to get the best value shop?
If I need a big shop with the dog food, I will tend to buy most of my weekly shop with Tesco as it saves me traipsing around numerous shops. I find shopping on line is great for keeping to a budget as you are less tempted to buy those special offers that you don’t really need.
Check sell by dates on everything you buy. The last thing you want is to start throwing food away because its gone off before you could use it. I always make sure I have at least 5 days left on the date. That’s not to say you can’t buy food with short dates if you know you are going to use it in time or it can be frozen.
If you are going to the actual shop, take your list with you and a pen. Tick off as you put it into your trolley and don’t start picking anything that isn’t on your list. Its amazing how much the odd extra item you weren’t expecting to buy can add up.
So how much can you do a Slimming World friendly shop for?
Ok, I can’t tell you exactly how much you will spend as it will change weekly depending on what you are cooking, what you have in your kitchen already and where you shop.
What I can do is show you my weekly shop this week to give you some good ideas.
This week my supermarket of choice was Lidl.
So how much do you think this table full of food cost? Would it surprise you if I told you it came to less than £40 for 2 people? In fact it was actually £36.45. And some of the items will be carried over into next week!
Remember earlier when I said Worcester Sauce and Soy sauce will be your new best friend! I also make sure I have rice, pasta and oats in as they can be used to make many different menu ideas.
I cannot live without eggs and its always good to have a pack of frozen fruit in the fridge for my overnight oats for breakfast. I will share some of my meal ideas and recipes in later blogs.
You will notice that 5 of my yoghurts have 30% reduced labels on them. I love these yoghurts from Lidl as they are creamier than Muller Lights and still ‘free’. These one still had 5 days left on the sell by date. I knew I would have 1 a day so I was confident to buy them and save money.
I would normally buy my meat from my butchers but I know that not everyone has a good value one near them so I wanted to show you its still possible to have meat and fish on a budget. A whole chicken is a great money saver. This one was only £2.35. It provided Sunday roast, a dinner the following night and also a lunch for 2 people. Now that is what I call a bargain.
You may be wondering where the potatoes are to go with the Sunday Roast! Tesco were selling 2.5kg bags for 29p before Christmas. I bought 3 bags. Some to use over the festive period. The remainder I peeled and roasted. Then I froze them to use later. They are even crispier baked again.
We all know that fresh fruit and vegetables are key to successful weight loss with Slimming world and many of them are classed as ‘speed food’. Lidl I feel offer a great selection at really reasonable prices. Each week they have great offers. If you are flexible about what vegetables you will eat with your meals, you can make even further savings. This week it was Kale. I note that next week its spinach. Both can be used in the same way so I would pick the one on offer that particular week.
I find onions, carrots, peppers and tomatoes are really good staples to create many different types of meals. Again I will share some of my recipe ideas in later blogs.
These are my favourite items that I can never live without. Tinned tomatoes, Passata and baked beans are so versatile and cheap. Quark is something that if you have never tried you must. It makes a great sauce for your lasagne, perfect for overnight oats or on jacket potatoes etc. Yes I do have 6 pots here but the sell buy date will take me into the following week so I stocked up just in case they were sold out next week.
Other top tips
Never throw left overs out without considering what you could use them for. I keep left over roasted vegetables and meat in particular. They make great quick and easy Slimming World pasties, casseroles etc. You could chop them up to make frittatas. With a bit of imagination you can come up with lots of different ideas.
If you can’t think what you can use if for tomorrow, put it in the freezer for one of those days when time is against you.
Try and avoid ready sauces or meals. You can make much healthier and cheaper versions yourself.
As I said earlier I don’t have a lot of time so my slow cooker is the most used gadget in my kitchen. They are not expensive. Tesco sell one for £12. Mine is 10 years old and still going strong. On this basis it’s a very good investment. I make bulk chillis, currys and casseroles. I freeze the left overs for future meals.
Another good idea is to put the whole chicken in it. It comes out so moist. I use what I need that night then the rest of the meat I ether use for other meals or freeze.
If you find you have vegetables that are coming to the end of their sell by date, chop them all up, put in your slow cooker with a tin of tomatoes and any herbs and spices you fancy. Leave it to cook. You now have a great base for a sauce which you can spice up and vary in any way you want. Freeze it, and pull it out when you need it. I vary it depending on if I’m serving it with fish, chicken, pasta etc. As I said, the more you experiment the more tasty cost effective meals you will come up with.
I hope you have found this useful and it helps you on your weight loss journey.