A SAVVY mum has revealed how she saves hundreds on Christmas food by spreading the cost between now and December.
Stace Woods, 38, from Surrey says she budgets an extra £5 to £10 on her weekly food shop between now and December to pick-up items on offer with long shelf lives or that she can freeze.
"It seems a lot less painful and overwhelming when it’s only a fiver a week," Stace told The Sun.
"That way, I’m not hit with a big bill in one go in December and I don’t have to do a big Christmas shop which I find terrifying."
Stace, who is unable to work due to various medical conditions, including chronic pain syndrome fibromyalgia, a heart condition called postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), and a joint condition called ehlers-danlos syndrome, started spreading out Christmas spending eight years ago.
At the time, she says she was a struggling, single mum and had already been buying Christmas gifts in Boxing Day sales and throughout the year to save cash.
So she thought why not apply the same theory to her food shop too. Stace has kept up the tradition now she lives with her partner, 50, an IT worker and their six children aged 17, 14, 13, 12, 11, and six.
The mum of six, who shops in Aldi, Sainsbury's, and Tesco said: "First week of September I get a big cardboard box and decorate the outside with Christmas wrapping paper. I always have some leftover.
"Then I add one or two things – Pringles, pickles, Twiglets, chocolate, fizzy pop, and cranberry sauce.
"I also get my turkey around the beginning of September and put it in the chest freezer.
"That way, come Christmas week I just need to get veggies, cheese, and pâté."
One concern about buying now is items expiring, something Stace happened to her once with mince pies, but she's now extra careful to check use by dates.
She also makes sure she buys items when they're on special, for example, she recently bought tubs of chocolates from Tesco reduced to £3 down from £4, and Matchmakers for 75p down from £1 to £2 normally.
When it comes to turkey, Stace adds that if you have space it's usually only a couple of pounds more to get an entire turkey, as opposed to a crown, and you'll get more for your money with leftovers for Boxing Day and beyond.
Start doing this now, and the extra fiver each week would tot up to £75 come Christmas, while an extra tenner a week would set you back £150. Then you only need to budget for fresh items on top.
Stace reckons she spends around £200 to £250 in total on food over the festive season and the two-week school holiday for the family of eight.
How to cut the cost of your grocery shop
SAVING on your shop can make a big difference to your wallet. Here are some tips from comparison site Money.co.uk about how you can cut the cost of your shopping bills:
- Write yourself a list – Only buy items that you need. If it isn’t on your list, don’t put it in the trolley
- Create a budget – Work out a weekly budget for your food shopping
- Never shop hungry – you are far more likely to buy more food if your tummy is rumbling
- Don’t buy pre-chopped veggies or fruit – The extra they’ll charge for chopping can be eye watering
- Use social media – follow your favourite retailers to find out about the latest deals
- Be disloyal – You may want to go to different stores to find the best bargains
- Check the small print – It’s always worth checking the price per kg/lb/litre when comparing offers so you’re making a like for like decision as a bigger box won’t necessarily mean you get more
- Use your loyalty cards – Don’t be afraid to sign up to them all. They all work slightly differently – work out what bonus suits you better and remember to trade in your points for additional rewards
But she said the one year she didn't do this, when her daughter was born prematurely, she spent around £700 as she panic-bought items in the week before Christmas ending up with duplicates and dud deals.
Stace revealed her simple tips on the Reduce Your Supermarket Spend Facebook group, with her post wracking up 1,700 likes and hundreds of comments from shoppers keen to do the same.
One person wrote: "Very good idea if you have a large family or lots coming for lunch." While another said: "Great idea. We often have a few days of Christmas teas so these sorts of purchases would really help me."
If you fancy giving this budgeting trick a go, Stace has created a free printable spreadsheet on her blog to ensure you can keep track of your shopping – and spending.
Stace adds that she's never noticed freezing detracting from the taste or texture of food, and points out that the kids also know they're not allowed to help themselves to items in the box – as if they do they won't be replaced.
The savvy mum doesn't use Christmas savings schemes but she does save up Nectar points earned at Sainsbury's and uses its double points scheme to stock up on Christmas presents, such as toys, clothings, and gift sets.
The supermarket traditionally runs the annual event each November.
Home Bargains, B&M and Tesco are already selling Christmas decorations, presents and chocolate leaving shoppers gobsmacked.
And for those keen to stock up on presents, here's when Christmas toy sales for Asda, Sainsbury’s, Argos and Morrisons are predicted to start.
Boots is also bringing back its popular 3for2 Christmas gifts after shaking up the scheme last year.
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