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With the current coronavirus pandemic affecting a lot of people's finances, it's more important than ever to make savings when you can.
And savvy shopper Billie Hoey discovered a nifty trick which helped her save £40 on her weekly food shop.
The 25-year-old from Nuneaton said she used a lolly stick trick in order to cut down her supermarket bill and save her money.
The redhead said her and fiancé Adam, 30, were stuck in a rut when it came to deciding what to eat.
They wanted to find a way to build-in more variety without hurting their bank balance.
She said: “We always ended up having spaghetti bolognese for dinner and if Adam couldn't think of anything else he would pick fajitas without fail.
The Service Assurance Specialist said her goal was to use meal planning to avoid expensive impulse buys at the supermarket.
She found that she often threw these away before they were being eaten.
The couple didn't want to feel too restricted so hit upon a simple trick that helped them to stay flexible and save them up to £40 off their weekly shopping bill.
Billie decided to use a simple lolly stick trick, which she found saved them on average £40 a week.
Explaining the trick, she said: “During lockdown I started looking on Pinterest for ways to organise the home to keep myself busy and came across an idea for encouraging kids to do their chores by writing each one down on a lolly stick and getting them to pick one for the day.
"I thought that it would work really well as a tool for planning and picking meals."
The couple wrote down all their favourite, budget-friendly meals on the lolly sticks and selected seven at random in order to plan ahead for their weekly shop.
They also wrote down ingredients needed for each meal on the backs of the sticks to make it even easier to plan our weekly meals.
She added: “We have around 40 now and we keep on adding ideas. I keep the sticks in a mug in the kitchen cupboard, but you could get creative and create a wall display so the whole family can see what the plan is for the week ahead.”
“Before we discovered the idea, I was spending around £50-70 a week on food shopping and afterwards it reduced to £30-50.
“The amount we save can depend on the meals we pick, as those featuring red meat, such as steak, tend to be more expensive.”
Billie said the trick is a flexible way to approach meal planning and avoid impulse buys.
“We both love to cook and try new recipes, but we work long hours in our full-time jobs so we can’t spend ages cooking during the week," she added.
"Having the lolly sticks takes the decision-making element out of the mix. Plus, it reminds us of some of the meals we had enjoyed in the past but forgotten about."
Billie also said those with kids could involve them by adding their favourite meals and getting them to pick weekly from the sticks to encourage them to plan also.
So what are you waiting for, get in some ice creams and start saving those lolly sticks.
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