to try and settle the 'which is cheaper, junk or cooked from scratch' debate once and for all

(643 Posts)
IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 13:05:54

I have seen both sides of this recently on MN and on the box.

So. submit your meal plans here.

1. Choose junk or home cooked

2. Give a shopping list plus price for a weeks worth of food for a family of 4, assuming no reliance on a 'store cupboard' and no meal sharing.

3. Give an estimated weekly cooking time plus shopping time.

4. indicate if your plan relies on a local aldi/lidl etc.

Lets sort this the JEFF out please.....

AnneUulmelmahay Tue 27-Aug-13 13:06:59

You have left decent nutrition out

HeySoulSister Tue 27-Aug-13 13:09:36

this isn't going to work....who has the time to list out all that op?

and why a 'family of 4'??

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 13:09:39

Well that is the point isn't it? Is it possible to be in a position that you cannot afford decent nutrition?

So the Junk menu doesn't need nutrition....the home cooking does.

I would also like to add that calories from lentils are TWICE as expensive as calories from shortbread.....

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 13:10:15

I don't care if no one answers....but people need to stop asserting one or the other way if they can't be bothered to prove it!

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 13:11:19

family of 4 is meant to be representative...if we solve that case then we can move onto single people, or families of 10 etc.

SlowlorisIncognito Tue 27-Aug-13 13:17:26

I think it varies depending on your situation though.

If, for example, you are a single student (or 20 something on a low income), I think a lot of the time junk is cheaper- You don't have much space to store leftovers (or food in general) and so you can't buy in bulk, making ingredients more expensive. Therefore it can be quicker and more practical to buy cheap ready meals or "junk" sometimes. In this situation, the person also may not have a car, so be limited to what they can buy in the local area or carry on the bus.

For a larger family living in their own house, cooking from scratch is probably cheaper (especially if you don't take into account fuel costs). They can cook big batches of things and store leftovers in the freezer, meaning they can buy ingredients more cheaply (assuming they have the money to do this) and they probably have a car to transport them in (although that is another hidden cost).

So basically, even if you work this out for one specific group (the family of four), that doesn't mean it applies to all people, especially single people with limited space who can't/don't drive.

SmiteYouWithThunderbolts Tue 27-Aug-13 13:24:09

Iceland BIG (1.5kg) lasagne - £3, feeds four people quite comfortably and doesn't actually taste bad at all. Not a clue on the nutritional side of things.

Make my own lasagne - approx £6 just for the beef, £1 for a couple of cartons of passata, store cupboard basics for bechamel sauce (flour, milk, butter, cheese), a couple more quid for the lasagne sheets, 50p for a big onion. Additional veg (peppers, mushrooms, courgettes) optional.

It usually takes me about an hour to prep all the ingredients then 30 - 40 minutes to cook. Bound to be more nutritious than a frozen version but it had bloody better be for the prep time and considering that it costs easily 3 - 4 times as much.

Save money by swapping beef mince for quorn mince and save time by buying the sauces in jars (yak, imo, but each to their own).

We make a lot of pasta bakes. A 500g bag of wholemeal pasta is 95p in Tesco and makes enough to feed four with leftovers (handy for lunches the next day). Chop up an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic and fry lightly. Add two cartons of passata (about £1), whatever herbs and spices you fancy and cook for about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in two tbsps of cream cheese (I use quark) then mix through the cooked pasta, top with grated cheese and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Again, no idea on calorie content but it's very filling and much tastier than any microwave pasta bakes I've tried.

That hasn't answered the OP at all, has it. I dunno... it is possible to cook all your meals from scratch without spending a fortune but it depends how much meat you eat and whether you're prepared to stick with a handful of tried and tested recipes to batch cook and reheat when required. Variety and using lots of meat is what makes is expensive in my experience.

HeySoulSister Tue 27-Aug-13 13:27:50

well i'm juicing right now so I have no choice but to buy veg not junk!

also,we clean eat mostly. my teens have pocket money and wages so will eat my home cooked food and eat with friends/work/school/use their money

Fakebook Tue 27-Aug-13 13:28:44

I don't have time to write down all my shopping list but look at it like this:

Takeaway costs me on average £25 on the day I order it. That's ONE, meal in a day.

My food shopping costs me ~£60-£80 a week and I make 3 meals 7 days a week from that. Sometimes I don't do another food shop for about 9-10 days depending on what's been eaten.

Cooking from scratch is cheaper, obviously.

badbride Tue 27-Aug-13 13:29:36

Could I tentatively suggest a modification to this challenge, OP? Working out an entire week's meal plan for healthy homemade vs convenience junk, then researching all the prices etc is a lot to ask of folk. So you might not get many useful responses.

How about comparing individual meals?

Fakebook Tue 27-Aug-13 13:29:55

Sorry I just realised your OP is talking about junk food...ignore what I've written. Cooking from scratch is better nutritionally, I don't know about cost though.

HeySoulSister Tue 27-Aug-13 13:29:58

think you could make a same size lasagne as the Iceland one using basics lasagne sheets,mince,tinned toms,onion,white sauce and a bit of cheese......for £3. at a push.

orangepudding Tue 27-Aug-13 13:31:57

You can buy a family steak pie for £2 in Iceland - would be hard to make one from scratch cheaper.

If you want to make something from scratch cheaply you can buy spaghetti 500g (19p Aldi), tin of toms (34p), tin of sweetcorn (30p) tin of tuna (69p) and garlic and onion (20p). £1.71 - not that much cheaper than the Iceland pie!

DropYourSword Tue 27-Aug-13 13:32:01

Look up agirlcalledjack. Amazing and very eye opening.

118sbigmoustache Tue 27-Aug-13 13:39:43

I have to feed one adult and one toddler and there's no way cooking from scratch is cheaper for me. It would be if I had a massive freezer so could freeze the excess but I have a tiny one so would have to eat the same meal every day to make the costs work out better on home cooking. I'd rather have the variety for us both with ready meals for the main with veg on top than eat the same meal for a week. Oh, and I've assumed junk means the ready meal version. Like ready meal cottage pie versus home cooked.

squoosh Tue 27-Aug-13 13:45:02
Kendodd Tue 27-Aug-13 13:48:22

I think cheap ready made supermarket food costs less (fishfingers etc). This idea that you can save money cooking from scratch is nonsense if you ask me, it's much more expensive.

Also feeding your children 'crap' or as cheaply and with as little cooking skills as possible needn't be all bad. Frozen veg is very cheap, supposedly (I have heard) better for you than fresh and can be used to bulk up any crappy meal easily and cheaply.

BTW, I cook from scratch most days.

The problem is that people compare like for like. So a £3 ready made lasagna is cheaper than making lasagna from scratch.

But the real point is that for the £3 you may be able to make enough of an alternative pasta dish (see pasta bakes above) for 2 or 3 meals. Hence, cooking from scratch is cheaper.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 13:52:59

squoosh hmmm that list appears to imply that beige = cheap....unsurprisingly IMO.

ChunkyPickle Tue 27-Aug-13 13:54:19

I saw someone talking about fishfingers and chips, and whilst the fish fingers were cheaper than cod (not a great surprise there), chips are easily discounted as more expensive - 1.40/kilo for frozen tesco chips, but potatoes can be had for 70p/kilo (1.40 gets you tescos finest) - and gives you the option of mash or jacket as well as chips.

If you pick the right day, a lot of supermarkets are virtually giving away their veggies around here, so the sides are never a problem, it's the meat that costs the extra.

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 13:54:40

Lentils cost next to nothing! Much tastier than shortbread too.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 13:55:05

The problem with comparing individual meals is that the cheapest good food to cook isn't fish fingers or steak pie....this point is made often on such threads.

So I guess people could submit a tasty meal for 4 in either category and we could compare, but it is still a cheat as no one eats the cheapest home cooked or junk food meal ALL WEEK LONG.

Hence angling for a full week menu.....

Again if people can't be arsed to work it out then stop holding forth on the issue. Either you demonstrate your cheapest weekly menu or STFU.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 13:56:00

littlemog lentils are twice as expensive as shortbread...I am not going to bother pointing out that shortbread is tastier. You are mad, MAD I tell you grin

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 13:56:44

chunky okay so put me together what you could pay for veges assuming you can trawl the supermarkets at 11pm every day. Lets see the numbers!

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