Pocket Money: Buying in bulk gives me food for financial thought

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.

l.markwell@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

    Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

    Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

    Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

    Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect