I can’t believe that it’s November! It feels like this year is simultaneously whizzing by and crawling by. With the news that we’ll be heading into another 30 day lock down (this time without the long, sunny days to pep us up). I’m planning ahead to work out what the last 9 weeks of 2020 are going to look like for our little family. Under ordinary circumstances, I like to try and wind down towards the end of the year for a calm and cosy December. Ash and I work a lot, and Ash in particular is not very good at taking time off (a curse of being self-employed). This has been especially true this year, as we’ve been grateful for every little bit of work which has come our way so we’ve made sure we’ve been able to fit it all in.

Like most people, we’re keeping a closer-than-usual eye on our finances at the moment. We’re trying to be efficient and sensible with our resources. However, I feel like we’ve just haemorrhaged money during October. This is partly because I started our Christmas shopping. Also because we needed various bits and bobs for the house so had a higher than usual spend there too. It feels like we’ve depleted our accounts. So I’ve decided to participate in a no spend November to get us back on track. The rules I’m giving myself (because you get to set your own rules when you give yourself a challenge) are:

  1. No spending outside of regular bills and donations.
  2. The only exceptions are the grocery shop and two family birthdays we have in November.

We have lots of jobs to do around the house, and I have a plethora of projects I’m half way through (I can’t be the only one with loads of unfinished projects on the go at any one time?). We have craft supplies, toys and the garden (and, let’s be honest here, Netflix) for Arlo so we should have lots to keep us entertained.

Sticking to a Food Budget

One of the things that has helped keep us on track financially, this year especially, is sticking to a food budget. We’ve fallen off the wagon a bit with this, I’ve been chasing my tail with the food shopping. However, with lockdown looming, I’m getting back on it. The best trick I have found for sticking to a food budget is by having a weekly meal plan and going shopping with a list. I think we save up to £20-£30 a week shopping with a list compared with when we don’t. Nothing gets wasted, we eat more healthily, spend less, and importantly (now more than ever) visit the shops less frequently. I always know exactly what I’m going to cook and have the ingredients to hand.

Personally, I like using a paper and pen for meal planning and shopping lists rather than using an app or spreadsheet. I’m old school, and I find it easier to use while I’m in the shop. I’ve created a meal plan, with the format I use; it’s free and you can download below if it’s helpful to you!

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    Quick Meal Planning Tips

    1. Check the cupboards to see what you have left from the previous week. Is there anything you need to use up?
    2. Think about your time, which days you work, which days you’ll need quick meals and when you can spend a bit more time cooking.
    3. Think about what you can double up and batch cook. Can you put half in the freezer or eat the same thing two days in a row? (I’m all about halving the amount of time I spend cooking).
    4. I usually start with the carbs, so I split out the carbs we’re going to eat throughout the week and then chose a meal using each one. So we might have rice twice, sweet potato twice, pasta twice and potatoes once. Then I attribute a meal to each one.
    5. If you know you’ll end up ordering take out, leave space for this.

    I’d love to know if anyone else meal plans, or maybe plans to join me in an essentials only November. I’ll use Instagram to update you throughout the month and let you know how it goes.

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