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.....

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 13:57:25

dreaming well quite. So make me a menu and cost it up. It doesn't need to feature smoked salmon....

Lentils tastier than shortbread! As if.

You loon.

No point me joining in. I only use free range chicken and it costs an effing fortune.

MrsOakenshield Tue 27-Aug-13 14:00:06

118 - but you're attaching a greater value to the variety of what you're eating, than to the nutrition of that food. You can make a cottage pie yourself, which would be far better in terms of nutrition than a ready-meal version, and have it with different veg for say, 2 or 3 days. To me, that would be better than buying ready meals, especially with a toddler to consider - the salt alone in a ready meal will be much higher, with zero value (in fact, a negative value) to your child, and indeed yourself.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Tue 27-Aug-13 14:01:37

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

Stop telling people what they can and can't post if they don't follow your instructions hmm

jammiedonut Tue 27-Aug-13 14:02:42

It will never be sorted out. If anyone does find something that meets all the above criteria that shows cooked from scratch is better someone else will come along and say 'but we're time poor' and not want to make the effort on that basis rather than price.

MrsOakenshield Tue 27-Aug-13 14:03:07

Exit - I would only buy what I consider to be ethical meat, which is expensive, so I rarely bother.

There was that programme on a few years back with Hugh F-W looking at cheap chickens - Tesco selling 2 whole chickens for a fiver or whatever. What I couldn't get my head around was the people who seemed to think the world would fall in if they didn't have meat Every Single Day. If a free-range chicken is twice as much - then eat it half as often!

EldritchCleavage Tue 27-Aug-13 14:04:24

Let's not forget the time investment needed to cook from scratch, especially if batch cooking. Depending on work patterns, that can be difficult for some people.

Plus the need for equipment like pans, knives etc. You need a whole set-up for home cooking. Not a massive one, and of course you kit yourself out cheaply at TK Maxx then don't need to buy it again for a long while, but it is a state of mind thing.

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 14:05:14

dreaming is right.

I feed a family of four, which includes a 2yo and a 5yo.

I buy a packet of 500g mince. I batch cook a big pot of spaghetti bol. Thats 2 onions, 2 carrots, herbs, 2 tins chopped toms. The following day, the leftovers are turned into lasagne with the addition of pasta sheets and a homemade white sauce. There is normally 2 child sized portions of lasagne left over which I freeze for the following week for the dc.

I do the same with Chilli. Make a pot of chilli using a 500g packet of mince. The following day I turn the chilli into enchiladas with just the addition of tortilla wraps, add some salad and its a meal.

So I couldn't cost a lasagne using a whole packet of mince as the mince stretches a lot further than one meal.

This wouldn't work for a family of four with teens who eat a lot. And dd1 has school dinners so doesn't always want a 'full' dinner. It's impossible to work out as all families are different.

MrsOakenshield Tue 27-Aug-13 14:06:46

jammie - time poor is, I think, what some of these people like JOliver are trying to address, and is very much a British thing, I think. Obviously many people work long hours, but not everyone, but other things are given priority over spending time preparing and cooking a good meal for (and with) the family. And it's not just to do with family finances either - parents rushing their DC round to gym club and ballet and judo and extra French after school, with no time to cook and enjoy food - it's something to be squeezed in, not important. Skewed choices, surely - nutrition is going to do your children just as much good, if not more good, than all this extra stuff?

bluesbaby Tue 27-Aug-13 14:06:59

Well, you have to be clever with meal planning and yes, you might have to have the same sort of meat two days in a row. Might be boring, but it's not wasteful.

1 whole chicken

1 roast for 2 people (with potatoes, rosemary, carrots, and parsnips - or whatever your choice of veg is, or whatever you've got leftover from previous week - all can potentially be grown at the right time of year).
1 curry for 2 people - (requires some spices to be bought, maybe cream depending on your choice of curry. once spices are bought will serve for a long time. can buy things like cinnamon pods for £2 a 500g in local asian shops - never been in a town where there isn't one!)
1 chicken pasta bake with leftovers from roast (that weren't used for curry - if you don't have cheese, this can be very cheap).
1 soup with 4 portions from the carcass (again - if you grow veg and herbs this could be very very cheap to make)

desserts like apple crumble and blackberry pie can be made very cheaply if you live rurally and can pick bushes and trees - you could trade for neighbours, pick apples for them if they give you a bag.

you need to be creative, but it's possible to eat well relatively cheaply - if you don't have a garden to grow things, you could have a windowsill box instead for herbs. Make friends with people who have plots and buy local fruit and veg.

Well why don't YOU "demonstrate your cheapest weekly menu or STFU". It's your thread.

Anyway it's a pointless exercise. People can put together perfectly decent menus but if someone doesn't like lentils or sardines or insists on having pudding every night then it won't be useful for them.

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 14:08:30

Bear and MrsO totally agree about the ethical meat thing. People think that they will die if they do not have meat at least once a day or more! Ludicrous.
I am a veggie but my husband eats ethically produced meat maybe once or twice a week. Eating less meat is better for us and cheaper.

Gracie990 Tue 27-Aug-13 14:13:54

It's difficult to prove this one way or the other but I would say cooking from scratch.
I always cook from scratch and use quality ingredients. Yesterday I made broccoli and Stilton soup using aldi super saver broccoli 39p. I made ten portions and costed it at 50p per portion.
I could buy tesco value soup much cheaper but the comparable tesco finest fresh soup would be £2.35.

Could I make a soup cheaper than a value soup? Maybe but I would have to use super cheap and inferior ingredients. It's cheap for a reason!

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 14:15:45

I can buy a free range chicken from Aldi cheap enough thanks.

Some people just don't understand that others couldn't give a stuff about 'ethically sourced meat'.

I couldn't give tow flying hoots if Pete the neighbour bred my chicken or someone in Europe.

Half of this 'local food' is just to keep small british businesses alive and to make people feel bad for using supermarkets

And as for 'swap a bag of apples' nonsense, do you really think that happens in urban areas?

Some of you are as delusional as Jamie Oliver.

Viviennemary Tue 27-Aug-13 14:18:13

The listing sounds even more complicated than the cooking from scratch. I think I'll stick to ready meals. grin

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 14:20:08

Okay so here is a stab at a day for a family of 4 calorie budget 7000.

breakfast bread with jam/lemon curd etc.
lunch bread with cheese and pickle+crisps + shortbread
dinner chips fish fingers and beans

price for the day for four people £3.81.

You would adapt this from day to day by switching sandwich fillings (cheese isn't the cheapest btw and switching jams in the morning and substituting beans for peas/hoops etc and the fish fingers for pies etc.)

I think you could easily switch around on these themes and average less than 4 quid a day which is 28 pounds a week.

Time invested in shopping = minimal - I made no effort to find the cheapest just assumed you shopped at tescos (not even aldi etc)

Time invested in cooking = switching on oven for 30 mins a day...oh and experience with a tin opener may be needed.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 14:22:14

mrsoaken please cost up your pie as part of a daily spend...

MrsOakenshield Tue 27-Aug-13 14:22:35

that's great that you can buy a free-range cheap in Aldi, Loopy - we haven't one near us and I didn't know that. Not quite sure what point you're making with the rest of your post, though? Do you really not care at all about the welfare of the animals who end up on your plate?

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 14:23:40

dreaming if you want to construct a daily menu including lentils and sardines then I will accept it as valid...go to it....just remember that lentils are quite expensive in the grand scheme of things...

jammiedonut Tue 27-Aug-13 14:23:50

mrsoakenshield I completely agree with you, I know what I think is an important use of my time, but many posters will disagree which is why I think this exercise is pointless. Until people stop using time as an excuse this will never be settled.

MrsOakenshield Tue 27-Aug-13 14:25:13

Ice - I've never made cottage pie, I don't cook with meat much at all, so I have no idea the cost. That wasn't the point I was addressing - someone was saying they'd rather have a ready meal every day with different veg than have the same thing several days in a row, and I was making a point about the nutritional value of ready versus homemade.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 14:25:25

There are no part buys in my list btw....you need one of everything (actually that is a lie - you only use half a large bag of chips...but I think in this scheme using the half a bag later in the week is almost an inevitability....

We only have chicken a couple of times a week.

My biggest gripe at the moment is the complete absence of soya mince in the shops.

Have never seen free range chicken in Aldi. But only been in a couple of times.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 14:26:50

You can pitch things that take time...just acknowledge it under the menu!

mrsoaken see this is the point I am making...lots of people say 'oh you can do X, I bet that is cheap and efficient but then can't actually come up with numbers.

Not good enough. If you know something can be done then you can prove it!

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