Pocket Money: Buying in bulk gives me food for financial thought
Saturday 28 June 2008
False economies. For a financial dunderhead like me, it's difficult to spot them. I get seduced by the BOGOF signs, the three-for-twos, the interest-free periods, and so on. It's only later, when I'm chucking away uneaten food or studying the small print on a credit card bill with a giant interest charge attached that my foolishness occurs to me.
With a family to feed, I'm particularly suggestible to special offers, but there are only so many packets of Carman's fruit-free muesli bars two children can eat. My kitchen just isn't big enough to store all the food. If I had a larder, as my grandmother did, then it would be different. At the moment there are Hula Hoops squirreled away in the saucepan drawer, and tins of beans under the sink. It is – as everyone but me seems to know – a false economy to buy something because it's cheap, rather than because it's needed.
It's worse, inevitably, with perishables. I often get home to find "No more goujons" on the kitchen blackboard, when I've bought a slew of something that the children like (health-giving fish on that occasion), only to discover after one supper that they've gone off them in a major way. The freezer is crammed with such things – why foraging in the frosty depths for something then reheating it should make it more appealing is a mystery...
So I'm learning the hard way that food is just like clothing – never buy something that doesn't work with something you've already got. OK, it's not very catchy, but it's a slogan I must learn to love.
I'm sure I'm not alone in having an "interesting" patterned skirt that goes with precisely nothing in the wardrobe. Or some jazzy silver shoes that seemed so versatile in the shop, but now just look gaudy.
It's particularly pertinent at this time of year, with sale "bargains" everywhere. It's almost worth making a note of what you own that works, and duplicating it. Maybe Richard Gere was on to something with his American Gigolo wardrobe of a dozen identical shirts, suits and ties... No margin for error, nothing that doesn't "go".
This is the time to stock up on classics – it's time for me to take a leaf out of my husband's book (who is, incidentally, better looking than Gere any day). He has just bought 10 T-shirts from Gap to last him for the next year – and that's it. No impulse purchase of a pair of plaid shorts, just because they're down to £5. No wandering into the shop next door for a suit that's too long in the arm but, well, it's cheap.
I, on the other hand, recently bought two lovely nautical-style skirts from Laura Ashley online, because I'd seen them recommended in Easy Living magazine and they were very reasonable. The chic, sailor-buttoned clothes seduced me – and I couldn't decide between the navy and white. So naturally I bought both, one to keep once tried on. I'm currently wearing the white one, the navy one... well, that's on a clothes mountain in the bedroom. The receipt? Er, gone.
So, back to food. From now on I shall only buy mix'n'match separates when it comes to produce, and I won't buy more than one of anything unless it's an absolute classic, destined to be gobbled up. De Cecco pasta, for instance, a recent bulk buy and far better than any other brand in Britain. (Sadly, this also applies to Sainsbury's current "2 for £2" on Cadbury's Dairy Milk. A moment on the lips...)
I'll go back, ironically, to my grandmother's technique of menu planning – and buy accordingly. Courgettes, feta, peppers and eggs for a giant tortilla; chicken for roast, risotto and stew, in that order; sausages, lentils and broad beans (my supper one night, children's packed lunch the next day). I could get used to this. No more bags of ancient salad turned to slurry in the fridge. And my eyes averted from those tempting offers.
The 0-per cent card I've just applied for, however? Well, that's another story.
Bargain Hunter: Now's your chance to watch the best movies free of charge at home
How much lower will mortgage rates go?
The FTSE 100 is inching closer to its record high but can it maintain these levels?
Simon Read: Frozen in time - the expat British pensioners who deserve a better deal
How to start your own internet business
- 1 Liam Gallagher brands Kanye West 'utter s**t' during BRIT Awards performance
- 2 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 3 People who sleep more than eight hours are more likely to have a stroke, research shows
- 4 Kanye West climbs on table at Nando's to crowd chants of 'Yeezus' before Brit Awards 2015 performance of 'All Day'
- 5 Muslim women's rights campaigner writes heartfelt letter to girls thinking of joining Isis
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
Ukraine crisis: 'One miscalculation, and Britain faces an existential threat to our whole being...'
iJobs Money & Business
£17000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity to join this new...
£18000 - £21000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£36000 - £44000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Encouraging more businesses to ...
Day In a Page
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley