Shocked by the true cost of family’s monthly food bill

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The bank and I have been at odds for the past few statements. Somehow, the financial powers-that-be have calculated I have spent way over what I thought I had.

As this has occurred for several months on the trot, I decided that it was finally time for me to investigate.

So I took the plunge, created a new spreadsheet, got out the statements and sat swimming in a pile of receipts wondering exactly where the bank had got it so wrong.

But, four hours and many numerical columns later, I had to conclude that the bank’s mathematical abilities were in fact spot on. It was my ‘spend it on the card and it doesn’t matter’ approach that had been letting me down.

But get this. In my effort to be more organised, I actually totted up my monthly spend on certain items.

Petrol was a cool £200. Miscellaneous (as in who knows why I bought what I did) was running at around £600.

Then there were all the direct debits and stuff for the dog (he got his own column in the spreadsheet as he’s my latest hobby).

The biggest surprise was that it wasn’t the spending of my husband (he of bought lunches fame) which was making a big hole in the bank balance.

No, it was the food shopping. To feed the five of us for a month has been costing just shy of £800 – and that’s not including daily cash top-up purchases of milk and bread. Shocking, eh?

Discovering these figures has caused me sleepless nights. I mean, it’s not like we’re wasteful – maybe one soggy pepper goes in the bin a week, while I make the children eat lentils at least twice a week.

We’ve also been on porridge portions for some time as, compared to the price of other cereals, it’s an absolute bargain (and not at all sloppy, whatever the youngest eater in our household claims).

Clearly, something has to change. We can’t go on spending like this. For one thing, the bank won’t let us.

So as much as all those supermarket signs say ‘roll back’, ‘price match’ or whatever it is, the phrase that should be tattooed on my forehead is ‘cut back’.

Trouble is, I don’t really know where to start.