to think that eating healthily is too expensive?

(190 Posts)

I need to lose weight. Lots of it.

I have degenerative disc disease so have restricted mobility. I don't eat dairy or soya (my BF son is intolerant to both).

I have a budget of £40 a week to feed me, DH, a 3yo and a 1yo. I make sure the children eat well and healthily but just don't have the money to buy all the fruit and veg I'd like to. DH and I end up eating carb-based meals because they're cheap - sandwiches, pasta, rice, potatoes etc.

Am I missing a trick somewhere? How do others manage?

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Thu 03-Jan-13 08:33:02

I think eating healthily is expensive, although there are shortcuts. Frozen veg has all the nutrients etc.

I'm very impressed you feed everyone for 40 a week. I haven't managed that.

onetiredmummy Thu 03-Jan-13 08:36:17

Carbs are fine but watch your portion sizes. An adult serving of pasta is a tennis ball size. Also perhaps buy the wholewheat version instead of white.

Is there a cheaper place to get your veg rather than a supermarket? A market stall say, where the stuff isn't pretty to look at or waxed but is still perfectly decent?

If I need to do a cheap shop one week I have a vegetarian week, just carbs & veg as meat is so expensive.

cory Thu 03-Jan-13 08:38:09

Boiled potatoes are actually quite healthy as long as you avoid fatty sauces: it's the fat they're cooked in that adds to the calorie count. Also carrots, leeks, onions, lentils.

Afrodizzywonders Thu 03-Jan-13 08:40:19

Soups....make big batches of soups, lentil is cheap as chips and a staple here is chorizo and chickpea. We make our own bread,mworks out 50p a loaf, could do it cheaper but we buy the mixes from Lidl.

I also make big batches of meals and freeze, see what's on offer and base meals around that. Veggie chilli is a good healthy meal, we have it with rice, or tex mex on homemade potato wedges.

I know Lidl gets lots of threads on here but I think their veg is great, you have to go with what's in season but that's good I think.

EllieArroway Thu 03-Jan-13 08:40:53

Yes - I agree. But don't underestimate how good for you value tins of fruit & frozen veg is. Much as I would love to buy all fresh stuff, I can't afford it.

Dead impressed that you have managed to get it down to £40 a week. Wish I could (and there's only 2 of us!).

invicta Thu 03-Jan-13 08:41:02

Definitely agree. Apples cost a lot more then a packet of biscuits, plus they go off a lot sooner.

One tip,is to go shopping in the evening and look in the reduced sections. I often buy meat and bread cheaper then, and freeze it up. Batch cooking is another method to save money.

Veg from markets is often cheaper than supermarkets, especially if you get stuff in season.
Tinned tomatoes make cheap healthy sauces (we're dairy free too)
Bacon trimmings are cheaper than rashers, and a few of those can flavour a meal nicely.
Potatoes are good cheap carbs, and lentils can pad out meat dishes so you need less meat in them.
Adding a stock cube can make rice and peas into a meal.
We spend around £40 p/w in supermarkets for 4 of us, buying healthy food, including wine/beer, it can be done.
Snacks can be expensive, encourage eating of oat cakes, or better still make your own flapjacks from value oats, raisins and apple purée.
Grow your own veg, fruit and herbs as much as possible, it saves a lot of money.

Yes, I'm looking at portion sizes as I know that's a problem area for me. I do most of the shopping at Lidl (unless one of the supermarkets has a really good deal) and top up at the local grocer.

I'm starting to make soups - how do you make veggie chilli?

AltinkumATEalltheTurkey Thu 03-Jan-13 08:47:49

I find it the opposite way tbh.

I done my food shop yesterday (well last night)

I brought, green gabbage, dozen carrots, parsnips, cauli, courgettes, butternut squash, tatties, corn on the cob, spinach, kg of tatties, all for £8

I then brought meat for £10 mince, ham and a chicken, and then a extra £5 on sausages and bacon.

The rest was for tomatoes, beans, lentils, chickpeas, eggs, flour, cereal etc...

With that we will get quiche, lasagne, chilli, chicken soup, roast chicken dinner, ham in coke, and also ham in marmalade (big joint) sausage sandwich etc

I make my own pasta (for lasagne etc) own bread etc...

That will be for about a 7-9 days worth of food.

AltinkumATEalltheTurkey Thu 03-Jan-13 08:49:38

Sorry I should say also, I get my fruit and veg from tr farmers markets, fruit is coming today and will be around £10.

That will be for strawberries, blueberries, apples, bananas, oranges and raspberries.

crescentmoon Thu 03-Jan-13 08:50:55

Can you make it to ethnic food shops for pulses and beans? They are far cheaper than supermarkets. Also vegetables and fruit. NOT farmers markets- I can't believe how expensive veg can be in those posh weekend markets compared to the cheap Asian street market I'd go to for fresh ingredients when I was a student.

Vege chilli:
Fry off an onion, add chopped carrot, courgette, aubergine, whatever bulky veg is in season, with a teaspoon full of chilli powder, a veg stock cube and half a teaspoon of turmeric (if you have it).
Add a tin of tomatoes, a couple of crushed garlic cloves and a tin of kidney beans, seasoning, cook down for a while and add another tin of tomatoes if you want it really nice.

Pilfette Thu 03-Jan-13 08:53:15

Veggie chilli for me entails a packet of quorn mince (or even cheaper, dried soya mince from Holland and Barrett or similar, like this that makes kilos of the stuff when rehydrated), a tin of value chopped tomatoes, chopped fresh chilli or a few tsps of lazy chilli from a jar, chopped peppers (2 or 3), plus any other veg, beans, cauli, mushrooms, carrots etc, a tin of value red kidney beans, a chopped onion or two, and if I'm feeling wild some cheap red wine then 8 hours in the slow cooker on low, or 4 hrs on high. It makes a ton - I freeze about 5 portions in plastic take away containers then defrost when I CBA to cook of an evening. We have our with a baked potato or over rice, but that's not great if you are watching your carb intake. Also, I find, if I make it quite hot, I feel fuller. That might just be me though.

crescentmoon Thu 03-Jan-13 08:53:40

Lol cross posted.well maybe iv not been to enough farmers markets- I always thought they were very expensive based on the ones iv been to.

Where do you shop, Altinkum? Please tell me, I want to go there grin

I shop at the cheapest of the "big" supermarkets (no choice, live in the middle of nowhere and can't drive so have to get delivery) and find that meat in particular is very expensive. I'd never manage to get several different types of meat for under a tenner!


Meat is expensive though. Lentils and beans are dirt cheap, try cutting out the meat from meals and replaceing with lentils.

carovioletfizz Thu 03-Jan-13 08:56:17

How about a stir fry with rice noodles - should feed you all for under £2?

whois Thu 03-Jan-13 08:57:12

I disagree OP. its much cheaper to cook from scratch veggie healthy meals than meat based.

As others have said: use pulses, frozen veg, cheap types of veg, veg from the market etc

I find spending a bit of money on having herbs and spices in the house plus some tasty ingredients e.g. Capers, anchovies, jar of rosters peppers etc means I can make something quite boring into something special.

Pilfette Thu 03-Jan-13 08:59:28

Also, if you have a well stocked spice rack, veggie indian from scratch is bloody cheap and very tasty. I just google Madhur Jaffrey vegetarian recipes (or the veg I want to use) as I can't justify paying £20 for her cookbook at the moment. I've linked to this before, but some of the stuff on The PPK website is good for low cost bulk cooking. It's vegan so by default contains a lot of pulse based stuff. Some of it it weird (I still don't know what seitan is) and you have to translate from american cooking measures but the lentil stew style recipes are cheap, tasty and filling.

If you don't have a suitable 'ethnic' supermarket (deepest Sussex here, I expect my nearest one is Brighton, i.e. too damn far) dried pulses etc can be bought in bulk online. The world foods aisle at tesco is also waaay cheaper for lentils, chickpeas etc than the wholefoods section...

I grate courgette and carrot into every sauce I make too. Bulks things very cheaply.

TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 03-Jan-13 09:02:55

Farmers markets ludicrous around here too! Regular market in poorer/more mixed area is much cheaper.

If you do go to the supermarket watch how they price things, loose fruit + veg is generally, but not always cheaper than prepacked. You will probably find that you eat a lot of carrots and bananas because they're so cheap - but it's still good for you!

Also if you're not buying any crisp//chocolate/biscuits at all you'll have more money to play with.

Good luck! I know it's hard. Eggs are cheap and a brilliant source of protein if you're saving money by cutting down on meat.

Sirzy Thu 03-Jan-13 09:03:29

I think if you plan meals then it can be much cheaper.

Do a roast on a sunday, use the left overs to make a soup.

Things like spag bol are pretty cheap to make.

Make big hot pots/casseroles and freeze some of it.

Asda do 3 for £10 for packs of meat which you could probably get 2 meals out of if bulked up well.

Sirzy I love those 3 packs for £10 deals, I usually get 2 large packs of mince and a whole chicken, then I can batch cook and do chicken soup and eke it all out over the week.

I'm starting to cook with lentils etc (mainly chucking a handful into soup etc) but I never quite know what to do with them otherwise.

Thanks for all the tips. smile

1stMrsFalalalalalalalala Thu 03-Jan-13 09:15:43

Even Ocado does 3 packs of meat for £10 as a regular offer. The best trick I learned from MN is to make spag bol, chilli etc with same amount of meat as usual, but with extra veg, tomatoes and lentils to bulk up to twice the amount. Can also do the same with slow cook casseroles - adding soup mix, pearl barley or lentils, chickpeas/beans etc and extra veg. And buy seasonally - broccoli has been cheap just before Christmas and blueberries just don't feature in my shopping except the height of summer!

ByTheWay1 Thu 03-Jan-13 09:20:42

Lentils/beans etc bulk out any dish - for instance we put them in "spicy mince"..... mince/onions/peppers/spices/stock and a tin of baked beans/any beans/lentils makes it go for 6 instead of 4.....

AltinkumATEalltheTurkey Thu 03-Jan-13 09:24:12

Yesterday I got the meat from Asda, 3 for £10.

Normally just get stables from Asda, and everything else, like meat, veg and fruit from the markets which are loads round here.

Didn't get meat this week from him, as we have hardly want freezer room due to Xmas leftovers.

Back2Two Thu 03-Jan-13 09:24:28

Stews with veg and beans or lentils.
Buy bulk brown rice etc.
If you eat meat you can make a stew taste lovely with a tiny bit of bacon/lardons or even chorizo (can buy in tiny packs or get big chorizo two for one offers) So the meat is not healthy but it is cheaper and adds lots of taste.

AltinkumATEalltheTurkey Thu 03-Jan-13 09:26:00

The bacon and sausage ingot in sainsbury's (didn't go in for them, went in for something else)

But they has 24 lean smoke bacon for 2.50 (half price) and also 12 beef sausages half price for £2.25.

I find it cheaper to buy healthy food too.

You can make up a bulk batch of pasta in tomato veg sauce and eat for lunch everyday.

Or a jacket potato tuna and salad. I make a lot of soups. Cut meat out 2 or 3 times a week too. Vegetable risottos are also another tasty cheap meal. A small amount of risotto rice goes a long way.

Each morning I have bircher muesli, 1oz of oats soaked overnight in semi skimmed milk, grated apple and frozen berries added, then mix in a fruit yogurt before you eat. It makes a huge bowl and goes a long way. I buy boxes or bags of frozen fruits of the forest from Aldi do I only defrost a handful at a time. I also buy the tetrapak cartons of long life skimmed milk from Aldi. They are very cheap and you don't have to worry about using up the unopened cartons.

I don't waste any fruit, as I meal plan and write down exactly how many apples I will eat in a week as snacks etc. If there are left overs you could always bake them. If i have a change of plan in work (sometimes have all day meetings etc) I use leftover fruit up by making a crumble topping using half the usual sugar, and swap half the flour for porridge oats, much healthier and a nice Sunday treat.

It can be done, it just needs initial planning. Then once you are in the swing of things it does get easier.

mamamibbo Thu 03-Jan-13 09:36:47

op, ive just been told i have degenerative disk disease aswell, crap isnt it? but better than the cauda equina they thought i had

but... my weekly budget is £70 a week max for 2 adults, 11 year old,3 year old,2 year old and 10 month old, i make everything from scratch tho

Purple2012 Thu 03-Jan-13 09:38:56

I agree. It would be a lot cheaper to buy a family pack of pies and frozen chips than it is is buy fruit and veg.

totally agree - think this is why obesity is more common amongst the poor. we eat too much pasta really but it is such a cheap way to eat and saw me through student years too.

if i was rich i would live on sushi and seafood and be a size 8.

Crinkle77 Thu 03-Jan-13 09:43:40

Healthy eating is not expensive at all. In Morrisons you can get bags of apples, satsumas, pears etc... for £1. If you can afford to buy in bulk you can get a sack of spuds from your local farmers market/farm shop for only a few quid and that will last you ages. You can buy reduced price veggies like toms, peppers, etc... and use them in spag bol, chilli etc... and you will never know the difference once they are cooked

AltinkumATEalltheTurkey Thu 03-Jan-13 09:45:34

I disagree purple, chips can be made for 50p, pies depending on filling can also be made for around 70p per person, add a handful of frozen veg, and you have a more nutritious and less salt content meal.

I agree with everyone who has said plan your meals! I know its boring, but it can save so much money, and stops you buying stuff you don't really need. Also, again, I know it's boring, but take a list to the supermarket with you and stick to it! Don't go food shopping when your hungry either, your always more likely to buy rubbish. We batch cook as well, so make a 4 person meal, and split in half and freeze half of it.

the most successful way i've lost weight personally is when i've lived mainly on jacket potatoes, fish (canned fish is cheap and fine) and eggs for protein plus veg.

that's actually healthy and cheap but i appreciate for people cooking 'meals' for whole families it's different. i can't really cook 'meals' as ds only likes separate ingredients re: sausages and veg is fine, sausage casserole is deeply suspicious.

donteatthefiggypudding Thu 03-Jan-13 10:06:21

with the cost of fresh fruit & veg, often people suggest buying at the end of the day, when there are reductions. also, try to buy seasonal veg. it makes sense that in Britain strawberries, aubergines, peppers and such like are going to be expensive. i'm not going as far as to say munch on a turnip, but root vegetables and indigenous ones will be far cheaper.

with lentils, yes, throw into any casseroley type thing you are cooking (they are a good source of iron as well as being filling), but lentil dahl is a nice, cheap meal, bulked out with rice.

I never see the issue with pasta tbh. It's one of the key ingredients for success at Slimming world. As long as only 1/3 of your plate is pasta and the sauces aren't oily or creamy it's a great ingredient. Especially whole meal - keeps you full for ages.

TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 03-Jan-13 10:11:26

At Asda wholemeal spaghetti costs the same as white and tastes really nice.

Bonsoir Thu 03-Jan-13 10:14:28

Yes, eating healthily can be very expensive. But it doesn't have to be. Lentils, dried beans, rice, root and leaf vegetables grown in the country you live in are all cheap and tasty. There are plenty of cheap cuts of meat that are delicious if you cook them long and slow.

CloudsAndTrees Thu 03-Jan-13 10:19:08

I think eating to diet is expensive. When I want to lose weight I have found the easiest way is by eating high protein, as in my own Dukan diet, which involves lots of meat. I don't eat fish, so when I'm doing it I basically live on steak, chicken, eggs and cottage cheese for a week, and it's not cheap! It works though.

<scribbles notes furiously>

tigerdriverII Thu 03-Jan-13 10:19:54

Tins of baked beans or mushy peas are a great way to bulk out cottage pie, curry, etc. Co-op mushy peas 16p for a small tin. Also use root veg, eg parsnips, swede to bulk out mince based meals. And frozen veg are fine, especially broccoli and cauli, you can't tell the difference and there's no wastage.

Maria33 Thu 03-Jan-13 10:20:25

I agree that eating healthily can be cheap. About 7 years ago, when I was a SAHM my DH went on a diet which meant we all changed how we ate as we didn't want to start cooking 2 meals. As I was home and we were skint, I had time to shop around and find the best bargains...
We get all our veg from a market - 2 carrier bag fulls for under a tenner. Fruit also cheaper from markets. I used to bulk buy pulses and spices from whole food or ethnic shops. We were given a bread maker and make our own bread. I treat meat and fish as a luxury, only buy from butchers and only in teeny quantities. I used to make loads of smoothies for the kids using frozen fruit. Also, porridge for breakfast made with 1/2 water 1/2 rice milk is delish and v filling.
Good food can be can be cheap in money though tends to be heavier on time - especially to start with.
Good luck!

sarahtigh Thu 03-Jan-13 10:22:17

some cuts of meat are cheaper liver, shoulder, breast of lamb (though that is quite fatty) etc often much cheaper per pound than cheese

SaraBellumHertz Thu 03-Jan-13 10:22:29

I find low carb-ing expensive but I am also quite fussy and don't for example like tinned tuna but would be more than happy with a tuna steak.

Afrodizzywonders Thu 03-Jan-13 10:24:05

Here's a great healthy veggie chilli recipe, my DH prefers this to a meaty one

janey68 Thu 03-Jan-13 10:26:54

I disagree op. we went through a phase as a family about a year ago of having a lot of processed/ ready meals (in our defence FIL was very ill and we had a few months of lengthy hospital trips). It was a hugely expensive time. Normally we eat a lot of veggie food (though we're not actually vegetarian). I buy fruit and veg on a sat morning at a market or sometimes pop into the supermarket on my way home from work to see what's been marked down. We do loads of soups and stews in winter - dead simple, you can bung in practically anything, and salads in summer. Some of the most expensive foods around are meat or ready meals, or sweets/ chocolate/ crisps. Healthy food is often much cheaper

You can buy really reasonable vacuum packed frozen tuna steaks in Aldi or Lidl. Just check the freezer section.

janey68 Thu 03-Jan-13 10:31:14

Ps just to add we both work full time and manage this, often the evening is a good time to pop into the shops to see what's been marked down. Sometimes people use full time work as a 'reason' for not being able to shop carefully but it doesn't need to be. Also, soups and stews can be made in large batches and frozen

greeneyed Thu 03-Jan-13 10:33:24

Substitute your rice and pasta for brown rice and pasta, lower GI and will help with weightloss same with bread of course. You can get very cheap chickens from butchers (if you are not fussed about freerange/freedom food) - stick in roasting tin with carrots, parsnips and potatoes - cover whole thing in foil so veggies don't burn and roast with chicken - very cheap and easy meal, great comfort food, use any leftovers for soup.

samandi Thu 03-Jan-13 10:35:46

Nope, eating healthily isn’t expensive.

greeneyed Thu 03-Jan-13 10:36:29

Frozen stir fry veg is great and handy to make a quick meal with some garlic, ginger and soy.

lottiegarbanzo Thu 03-Jan-13 10:43:17

We're veggie and don't eat much dairy and we can cook very cheaply (can add more expensive things too of course). Protein comes from pulses, grains, nuts and seeds with some soya (you could use quorn, maybe not cheap). You need herbs and we use spices like cumin, mustard seeds, garam masala. We use a lot of garlic, chilli and ginger but we like spicy food.

Lentils - dahl, lentil and mushroom bake (fry each with onion and plenty of garlic, stock, herbs, layer, bake), I do a green lentil bolognaise.

Chickpeas, wonderful things - curry e.g. with spinach, add to dahl, stew with aubergine, courgette and tomato.

Haricot or cannellini beans - we use these a lot in tomato sauces for pasta, risotto etc.

Noodles - with various veg, can easily add seeds and some nuts for nutritional breadth.

Burgers - we make veggie burgers based on pulses and freeze them. Great convenience food for a 'meat and two veg' style dinner.

Grains - quinoa is very high protein, bulgar wheat more than couscous.

We also make bread and a lot of soup, frozen in portions and heated for lunch. You can do great soups with cheap market or leftover veg. Don't throw everything in one pot, get creative with flavours e.g. Beetroot soup is lovely, squash and ginger, cauliflower with coconut milk, carrot and coriander, curried parsnip.

I'd second the ppk as a good recipe source (seitan is wheat gluten protein, you can make it). Gillian McKeith is good at packing nutrition into healthy, lower calorie foods.

LittleMissFantabulous Thu 03-Jan-13 10:43:58

Generalising for the people I know, but I find that it is those who don't have the abilitiy to cook on a basic level who have the most issues with eating healthily on a budget. I have friends who are convinced that to make heathy meals is not only expensive, but hard. So they see eating healthily as buying ready made healthy foods, so stick to high fat\sugar pre-prepared foods.

I can cook, I have issues with portion size and comfort eating though. So I am a complete lardarse >_< Luckily the kids are not. Striking a balance and trying to improve. I've thrown out my dinner plates and am using a 'breakfast' plate instead now, can fit a lot less on it and I have told myself seconds are not permitted!

LadyClariceCannockMonty Thu 03-Jan-13 10:48:43

Fruit and veg from markets is incredibly cheap.

lottiegarbanzo Thu 03-Jan-13 10:50:14

Oh and veggie chilli can be very veg based, or very beany. I like the beany version, with kidney beans and two of black-eyed beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, green lentils, with onion, courgette, mushrooms, garlic, chilli, herbs, cumin, veg stock and tomato of course.

PlainoldWitchesTit Thu 03-Jan-13 10:57:17

Yellow split peas are my secret weapon. Boil with some garlic salt. You can use them mashed instead of potatoes to top shepherds (or veg in tinned toms) pie, instead of rice or pasta and as a hearty filler ( nicer than lentils) for stews and soups. Dead easy to cook and about 40p for 500g.

happybubblebrain Thu 03-Jan-13 11:08:06

Porridge is very cheap and filling.
Dahl made from lentils and rice is really yummy, healthy and cheap. You can cook rice in the microwave quickly and easily.

I only buy the veg that is on special offer each week in Aldis and get creative with what I can make.

Beans, rice and lentils are heathier than pasta, white bread and potatoes so think of them as your staples.

SaraBellumHertz Thu 03-Jan-13 11:10:33

binful thanks but I'm not in the UK sad cost of food is extortionate and no decent supermarket to speak of

AmberSocks Thu 03-Jan-13 11:14:17


theres nothing wrong with carbs,eat pasta and bread and rice if you want to,just have smaller portions and do some more excercise.

I spend 200+ per week on food,i love food and i like better quality stuff as i think it tastes nicer and i feel better when i eat well,there are 6 of us though and we eat meat 5 times a week or occasionally more,plusi have to buy nappies for 2 and formula for one,and cat food for 2!

I'm not in the UK either, but I'm surprised the tentacles of Aldi haven't reached every continent yet!! shock

So if you were me, with a budget of £40 a week to feed 2 adults and 2 children (1 adult and 1 child dairy and soya free, 1 child can't have tomatoes) what would you buy? Reading the posts here I think I've been doing it wrong! blush I do cook from scratch and buy frozen veg as well as some fresh, but could obviously do with some guidance.

KellyEllyChristmasBelly Thu 03-Jan-13 11:26:26

It really is. In fact just eating in general seems to be getting more and more expensive.

SaraBellumHertz Thu 03-Jan-13 11:45:05

binful we ate in the middle east and no UK supermarkets other than waitrose which is great but like boutique shopping!

Several French hypermarkets: Carrefour, lullu's and geant but they're a but grim. Don't know if they're also grim in France though.

We tend to buy all frozen veg, fresh veg just doesn't seem to last. Frozen mushrooms/peppers/spinach are great for omelettes/stews/chilis.

Mmm I can shop in France, Switzerland or Germany. I have to admit my trips to Carrefour haven't really enthused me! Still they must do frozen brands?? <<hopeful>>

blackeyedsusan Thu 03-Jan-13 12:10:20

frozen veg is half the price per kilo than fresh.

try tins of beans... value kidney beans or looking in cheap shops for 3 for a pound etc.

and yeas brown rice/wholemeal pasta/noodles are more expensive. tis very annoying

lottiegarbanzo Thu 03-Jan-13 12:14:09

Well £40 is a really tight budget so I think you're doing well to manage on that at all. You're also managing the dietary requirements already, so your question is about healthier food isn't it?

To be healthier, you need to be packing protein, vitamins and minerals into everything and making the nutritious dishes tasty and filling, so you don't need to bulk out too much with carbs - though, there's nothing wrong with carbs as a major component of your diet. Potatoes are great. Just exercise portion control and don't eat empty calories, like white bread and crisps.

Ok, I'm used to cooking vegan food and have accommodated gluten free, nut free and mushroom dislikes with that. Does everyone like mushrooms? That would be a positive! (They're not cheap but sometimes you can get lots cheap from a market).

Vegan cooks and recipes will be helpful as dairy free is quite a different way of cooking and you can always use meat in place of soya etc. the Vegan Society could be helpful. Have a look at Vegan Dad's blog archive, he has a cookbook too. Look at who he, ppk etc like on Facebook, to find other good bloggers.

Do you use any sort of milk substitute, rice milk etc? Not cheap. You can do a cheese-type white sauce, with nutritional yeast flakes and a bit of mustard.

Lots of shepherd's pie variations are possible with pulses and veg. Lentils or haricots can be blended into quite creamy sauces for pasta, gnocchi (can make your own) etc.

Lots of variations on burgers / rissoles / croquettes are possible with pulses, veg, potatoes and most can be baked not fried.

greeneyed Thu 03-Jan-13 12:14:55

OP If I were you I would really struggle to feed a family of four on £40pw healthy or not healthy, if you are managing to keep everyone fed you are doing well!!

Back2Two Thu 03-Jan-13 12:15:04

I think it's good to have almost of easy/cheap/healthy meal ideas that can just be tweaked different ways. Other meals I can think off top of my head:

Eggs are great so one night a week is an egg based meal. Omelette, tortilla, frittata, scrambled eggs....with veg

Pasta- pesto with frozen peas and sweetcorn added

Bought or made soup with brown rice added for more of a meal

Stews - loads of veg, tin of beans (cannellini or borlotti etc) herbs and maybe some bacon in the basics

Casseroles- quite similar to above. You can get cheap and good quality meat such as lamb neck and it makes a delicious stew.

Risotto- start with onions, celery, rice and stock and basically do whatever you like. Doesn't have to have cheese or wine.

Nut/veg roast (still trying to get my boys to like it!) So easy, ground up nuts, grated veg, two eggs whisked up, maybe parsley? In tin for forty minutes.


Fish baked with small potatoes and peppers, onions, (with or without tomatoes), olives and capers (just a few of both I always have jars in the fridge) just shoe in oven and all bake together add fish on top 20mins before end serve with bread or rice

carovioletfizz Thu 03-Jan-13 12:15:21

It's much cheaper to eat veggie than not, but healthy fruit and veg is unfortunately more expensive than unhealthy food IMO. I was very skint as a single mum in my 20s and found fruit and veg expensive on my limited shopping budget.

Back2Two Thu 03-Jan-13 12:16:50

* A list of not*almost of

carovioletfizz Thu 03-Jan-13 12:17:53

Ps sorry that wasn't that helpful. Supermarket value chopped tomatoes are about 30p in cartons - make a nice ratatouille with some grilled veg then use as a pasta sauce or a filling for baked potatoes/sauce for risotto/filling for dairy free crepes (google recipe).

Sorry if someone's already linked but this is a great book - you can buy used on Amazon -

Lots of good ideas in it.

carovioletfizz Thu 03-Jan-13 12:20:43

Just remembered another great recipe - spaghetti nests - make a pesto spaghetti as normal (I am vegan so use cheese free pesto, you can get it in most supermarkets) - then twirl into nests on a fork and put in muffin trays and bake until crispy or fry until crispy. Lovely with veg on the side or a potato salad!

SamSmalaidh Thu 03-Jan-13 12:23:37

I usually spend about £30 on my weekly shop (mostly from Aldi) for 2 adults and a young child.

I buy very little meat
I get fresh fruit (apples and bananas) but very little fresh veg unless it is for a stirfry. Tinned and frozen is just as good and there is little/no waste.
I meal plan religiously and only go to the shops with a list
No snacks/crisps/biscuits - if you don't buy them you can't eat them.
Weigh pasta/rice etc to get the right amount - don't just guess
DH bakes bread - much cheaper, and with less salt than shop bought (and nicer)

Totally agree with samsmalaidh about weighing pasta/rice, it's so easy to do too much and overeat/waste it.

picketywick Thu 03-Jan-13 12:26:48

It can be expensive. But all food is getting dearer. Wet weather. Bad harvest

Back2 and lottie those are brilliant posts, thank you. smile

There are some really fantastic suggestions here, thank you so much!

cory Thu 03-Jan-13 12:30:14

If you can bring yourself to eat offal, liver and kidneys are very cheap and nutritious. Also tinned pilchard: I do a meal where I bung tinned pilchards in the oven and serve with boiled spuds and boiled chard or cabbage.

Fakebook Thu 03-Jan-13 12:32:18

I don't think it is expensive to buy healthy food. It's just the supermarkets making us think it is. I don't see the difference between an organic apple and a market value apple in tesco, so I buy bags of apples for 80p. I don't see the difference between buying fruit from Iceland or waitrose. It's fruit. It's the same everywhere. My dd is a fruit fanatic and we have to have the fruit bowl filled up all the time. Sometimes we buy fruit as veg from the market that costs us £15 for all our basics plus 50% more. It's cheap and good quality.

We buy lentils and exotic veg from our local Asian greengrocers that are very cheap. Our cupboards are stocked with different types of pulses in big boxes that can feed us for the next couple of months. We mix up the lentils with meat for nice fulfilling soups and curries.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 03-Jan-13 12:38:37

Puddle - see if you can get pig cheek. I've started using it for stews and casseroles and curries - it is about £4 a kilo and I make 4 meals from that if I use lentils/potatoes and other veg to bulk it out.

kandinskysgirl Thu 03-Jan-13 12:42:02

Would this help as a starting point to work from at all?

SmileyPenguin Thu 03-Jan-13 12:48:23

I agree that cutting out meat should solve your problem - bread, potatoes, veg etc are all relatively cheap. Onion and herbs are a good way of flavouring foods. Our local street market has deals like two aubergine for a pound, three peppers for a pound and four avocado for a pound. Last week I got a large box of mushrooms for a pound when it was nearing the end of the day smile

BigBoPeep Thu 03-Jan-13 12:50:28

agree its supermarkets making us think healthy eating is expensive

avoid them like the plague for fruit and veg. fruit is expensive though, and it's basically just sugar and water, which will not 'feed' you so no good to rely on as a snack. its nice to eat and you might get a few vitamins but it's not the be all and end all of healthy eating - you're better off eating more meat which will actually fuel you and keep you away from those cheap supermarket biscuits...which is what end up costing so much and piling on empty calories, not your main cooked meal, meat based or not!

i have binned bread, rice, pasta, anything in pastry, biscuits, crisps. the money's been diverted to quality meat and milk, which keeps me well fed and healthy. i do bolognaise on it's own, quiche without a crust. i've lost 2.5st in 6mo and saved a pile of cash. cooking is simpler too, which is great as i cook from scratch virtually every day - no second pan for spaghetti, no kneading bread etc

ethelb Thu 03-Jan-13 12:57:02

Does this help OP?

2 Sainsbury's Pitted Black Olives 185g £0.90
1 Sainsbury's Houmous 230g £1.00
1 Sainsbury's Pickled Gherkins In Sour Vinegar 675g £0.95
6 Sainsbury's Chopped Tomatoes, Basics 400g £2.10
1 Heinz Reduced Sugar & Salt Baked Beans 4x415g £2.50
1 Sainsbury's Salted Butter, Basics 250g £1.19
1 Lurpak Spreadable, Lighter 500g £3.00
1 Sainsbury's Crunchy Peanut Butter, Basics 340g £0.62
1 Sainsbury's Chillies, Mixed 50g £0.58
1 Sainsbury's Chick Peas In Water 410g £0.69
3 Napolina Passata 500g £2.00
1 Sainsbury's Spaghetti 1kg £1.79
1 Sainsbury's Penne Rigate, Italian 1kg £1.79
1 Sainsbury's Lasagne Sheets 500g £0.95
1 Sainsbury's Medium Egg Noodles 375g £1.05
1 Amoy Soy Sauce, Dark 250ml £1.93
1 Sainsbury's Strong White Bread Flour, Unbleached 1.5kg £0.77
1 Sainsbury's 100% Wholemeal Flour, Strong, Stoneground 1.5kg £1.39
1 Sainsbury's Bread Yeast, Fast Action, Dried 56g £0.64
2 Sainsbury's British Mature Cheddar 400g £5.00
1 Sainsbury's Blue Cheese, Basics (approx. 230g) £1.29
1 Sainsbury's Chopped Spinach 1kg £1.49
1 Sainsbury's Grana Padano Cheese 200g £2.50
2 Sainsbury's Mozzarella, Basics 125g £0.88
2 Sainsbury's British 1% Fat Milk 2.27L ( 4pint ) £2.00

Plus 8.50 veg box.

You could have less cheese and add frozen fish for about the same price and to overcome your dairy problem.

It's not perfect and is slightly over your budget but its realistic for us!

Tanith Thu 03-Jan-13 12:58:31

Do watch the number of bananas you eat if you're overweight. DH loves them and was eating one every day. He had palpitations and chest pains and ended up in A&E with a suspected heart attack that they said was due to the bananas - they're high in potassium, I think they said. They recommended not more than 2 a week for him.

BigBoPeep Thu 03-Jan-13 13:01:53

argghh don't buy low fat milk - you pay the same as the good stuff, but they've taken the nutrition out of it! (and sold the cream back to you on top hmm ) full fat milk is still 96% fat free!? and it'd be better to drink some full fat milk and not be tempted by the biscuit because skimmed is basically white water...

CarlingBlackMabel Thu 03-Jan-13 13:03:15

Soups for you if you need to lose weight, easy to make home made soups.
Buy value range tinned pulses and make veg curries. Yesterday we had a lentil (dried lentils) and spinach with rice.

Look in places you wouldn't normally look . Like this week I noticed that large bags of Sainsbury's frozen green beans are only 40p. Look in the world food sections where dried pulses and tinned foods are often cheaper than on the main shelves.

Bananas are radioactive. Channel 5 told me that.

Ephiny Thu 03-Jan-13 13:03:28

To lose weight you don't necessarily need to eat 'healthily', you just need to eat less. If you ate the same diet as you do now, just smaller portions, you should lose weight and save money.

Obviously a healthy diet is a good idea regardless of your weight, of course. But it needn't be too expensive. For fruit and veg, buying frozen can be much cheaper than fresh, and usually just as good for cooking with. In-season produce is often on offer. Dried beans and pulses can be bought cheaply in bulk, same with rice. I make soups and stews in large batches which can be frozen, and they work out ridiculously cheap per portion (as well as being very convenient for reheating in the evening, we never cook on weekdays).

I know low-carb is the fashion these days, but personally I've never seen any need to stop eating bread, pasta, rice or potatoes. I eat them every day (they probably make up the bulk of my diet) and I am not anywhere near overweight.

Ephiny Thu 03-Jan-13 13:05:17

I wouldn't bother with low-fat stuff either. I'd rather have the 'whole' version and just eat/drink a bit less of it if gaining weight is an issue. That probably works out cheaper as well.

blackeyedsusan Thu 03-Jan-13 13:11:56

quinoa (or is it bulgar wheat?) is very expensive though

ethelb Thu 03-Jan-13 13:13:09

Quinoa is expensive (and a bit odd)
Bulgar wheat is cheap (ie 30p for 500g)

HelpOneAnother Thu 03-Jan-13 13:28:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Flatbread Thu 03-Jan-13 13:30:10

we buy meat from the butcher in bulk and freeze it. For example, we bought half a free-range lamb for 9 euros a kilo. Overall it cost 40 quid or so, but lasted dh well over three months, and he is a big meat eater.

Plus we buy fresh sardines from the supermarket, a little over two euros a kilo.

Veggies are either from the farmers market every Sunday or from the cheap Asian store, where I stock up on tofu as well

Except for the meat and tofu which we freeze, I don't freeze anything else. I find it tastier and healthier to eat fresh.

My slow-cooker in on every night, to prepare the meal for the next day. It takes practically no effort on our part to have fresh meals.

I find using spices and flavours really help me feel full, and I can cut down on portion size.

Carbs such as pasta makes me crave more food and don't really satisfy me, unless I have copious amounts of wine to accompany.

I like beans and lentils, but they can be quite, ahem, gas producing, so we have them in very limited quantities, usually no more than once a week.

As part of our new year resolution, we have decided to bake a cake(dates and walnut) and cookies once a week, so will cut down on buying junk food.

elizaregina Thu 03-Jan-13 13:31:58

totally agree- fish in particular is soo good for you much better than meat and yet even thouhg we are an island fish is hideously expensive ..

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 13:49:21

i agree op, i find fruit very expensive. well the fruit i like anyway!

food is our biggest expense - about £120 per week for just the 2 of us shock (although that does include baby milk/nappies/toiletries/cleaning stuff) i have been desperate to get it down but it would mean compromises. so i am reading thru this thread with interest.

DP works from home often, and very long hours/no breaks, so we both have breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner at home. i have a clingy 3mo, so can't spend time like i used to in the kitchen. DP wants meat everyday - preferably with every meal. DP and i are big (tall and broad and active) so eat big portions. I 'try' to buy ethically so don't like to buy cheap meat/eggs. DP wants a pudding every night (so a punnet each of strawbs & blueberries and greek yog costs £5! but a steamed pud and tinned custard is about 50p). If i am not available to make food DP just goes round the shop and buys sausage rolls and smarties cookies or oven pizza - he wont make anything other than toast or instant porridge. We have no markets near us and i can't drive so can only shop online.

there appears to be no way to cut down i feel so frustrated sad

good luck, you sound as tho you already do really well.

HelpOneAnother Thu 03-Jan-13 13:58:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MiniTheMinx Thu 03-Jan-13 14:07:51

I am in the south East, I have tried various ways of driving down the cost of shopping to no avail sad I agree with others who say fruit is expensive. One of our biggest expenses is keeping DS2 aged 8 in fruit, he likes berries, pears, pineapple and melon, all quite expensive. The other thing that drives up our bill is packed lunches.

Will follow thread with interest, not trying to lose weight but could improve my diet and need now to tackle the weekly spend.

Flatbread Thu 03-Jan-13 14:10:34

DP wants a pudding every night (so a punnet each of strawbs & blueberries and greek yog costs £5! but a steamed pud and tinned custard is about 50p)

What about a cheap seasonal fruit crumble? Or a dark chocolate mousse? Or a green tea panacotta? Can prepare in less than 10minutes (rest is baking or setting in the fridge) and cost a £1 or so in ingredients for four portions.

Buy frozen blueberries, frozen bags of fruit cocktail and mixed berries. They are only £1.99 in the budget supermarkets. You can even get melon pieces frozen.

I always boost a crumble with a handful of frozen blueberries.

I also used to buy one of those cheap big tins of pears in juice in Lidl and make a nice dessert. Put sponge mix or crumble mix on the top.

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 14:14:53

i know flatbread but i have no time to make these things and we are trying to be healthy. I only like apples cooked. I don't really eat fruit in the winter because i only like soft fruit.

BigShinyBaubles Thu 03-Jan-13 14:16:11

This thread is great, I've got to stick to a budget as well so I've seen some great tips.
Can anyone help me out with cheaper pack lunches for my 3 sons aged 13, 10 and 7? Any tips would be great smile

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 14:16:45

never bought frozen fruit tho, thanks for the tip binful - i could do smoothies.

HelpOneAnother Thu 03-Jan-13 14:25:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MiniTheMinx Thu 03-Jan-13 14:25:51

oh, yes that's an idea, we all like crumble, I'll try frozen, I usually buy fresh and cook that. If it's cooked DS might not notice it isn't fresh. Good idea.

MiniTheMinx Thu 03-Jan-13 14:27:23


that's one of our major food spends. I am not very creative and rely on packets of fruit and cereal bars which are quite expensive pound for pound.

What do you make for packed lunch now, Bigshineybaubles?

Ephiny Thu 03-Jan-13 14:31:26

Baked apples (stuffed with dried fruit) can be a nice pudding. I think you can cook them in the microwave in a few minutes rather than baking in the oven (like baked potatoes really).

My mum used to make stewed apples like HelpOneAnother describes, we'd have it with custard and it was lovely. She did a similar one with rhubarb when that was in season, I guess you could do it with any fruit really. We also had tinned fruit sometimes, though I can't say I'd like that now, it was a bit 80s tbh (or maybe that was just the angel delight smile)

Yes the bags of frozen berries are great, and much cheaper than trying to buy fresh ones out of season (which cost a fortune and often don't taste good anyway).

Flatbread Thu 03-Jan-13 14:32:01

Spuds, smoothies sound great.

This mousse recipe is dead easy, and instead of the marshmallows you can put berries or marmalade or anything else, really

Fakebook Thu 03-Jan-13 14:33:59

I think buying fruit in season is cheaper too. Like in October-December pomegranates were in season so they were cheaper and we bought loads and loads from the supermarkets and market. If you buy strawberries in the winter they're ridiculously over priced and taste disgusting.

this site tells you what's in season these days and you'll find these products are cheaper if you go around supermarkets.

Flatbread Thu 03-Jan-13 14:34:26

Stewed apples are great in the slow-cooker as well. With dried fruit, cinnamon and oats. I love it for breakfast!

amicissimma Thu 03-Jan-13 14:35:54

Dried beans are w-a-a-y cheaper than tinned ones. Soak them overnight and give them a pre-boil (simmer) while you chop onions or prepare other ingredients.

Using a pressure cooker speeds up cooking time and saves fuel.

Oranges can be found cheaply at this time of year. Certainly considerably cheaper than strawberries!

Packed lunches:
Pitta bread and Homous
Homemade Falafel
Homemade Pancakes with honey and banana
Rice cakes spread with cottage cheese or jam (I'm assuming nut-free schools)
Cubes of cheese
Homemade apple cake
Homemade flapjacks
Pasta salad or potato salad
Homemade chapati or Roti
Rice-stuffed peppers
Crudités with mayonnaise

These are really easy to make, buttermilk can be replaced by plain yog, I always keep a cheap large carton of this in the fridge. I reduce the sugar personally, as I like them less sweet. They are delicious and could go into a lunch box.

You can easily knock up a batch of fairy cakes or muffins and add raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries in. Mix some porridge oats instead of 1oz of flour.

Freeze them, then just take enough out for lunch boxes in the morning, they will have defrosted by the time it's lunch.

If you have decent Tupperware, which is a good cheap investment, you could make up a big pan of rice pudding on the hob and dish it into little pots. Add berries, raisins and nutmeg, stewed fruit. 1oz of rice makes a good portion of pudding, and off you use long life milk it keeps the cost down but cooked it tastes fine.

You could also do the same with a big pot of yogurt which may be cheaper than smaller pots.

I do a small snack box with cherry tomatoes, carrot pieces, cucumber sticks, grapes and sometimes a squeeze of mayo to dip it in. I never buy cheese strings or small portions, I buy a large block of cheese and cut a matchbox size piece into cubes, if I want to give ds a protein snack, or a peeled hard boiled egg.

Yes I'd agree - tuna pasta salad goes down a treat in DS's lunch box too, just pasta, tinned tuna, Sweetcorn, peas and sometimes pepper chopped, mixed with a squeeze of mayo and pepper.

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 14:55:58

great ideas thanks smile

the other problem is dp is a fussy bugger and wont eat salad or 'cold' food (also hates baked apples which i love) so summer is difficult. he doesn't eat tuna or tinned stuff. No nuts - so coconut/thai curries and pesto are out. if it was just me it'd be easy!

Coconut is not a nut, it's high in energy though (makes good flapjacks too)

expatinscotland Thu 03-Jan-13 15:02:14

What are all these 'fussy' adult eaters - must have meat with every meal, must have a pud, don't eat tinned, don't eat fruit, etc. - going to do when this is just not a possibility anymore, because the way things are going, it probably won't be?

Explain "cold" food?
Is it pasta salad type things, green salad, food that has been hot and gone cold (such as sausages or boiled eggs)?

HelpOneAnother Thu 03-Jan-13 15:07:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 15:19:57

he doesn't like coconut and actually does always have the runs after - so that's fair enough.

cold is all those things InMySpare, nothing cold for dinner.

he has been brought up on stodgy meat, spuds & gravy type dinners - loads of bread too.

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 15:29:41

Cold sandwiches are also out really and he doesn't eat cheese - only grilled to almost buggery. It drives me round the bend.

HelpOneAnother Thu 03-Jan-13 15:32:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HelpOneAnother Thu 03-Jan-13 15:34:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Spuddy sad

He must have some amazing redeeming qualities - that would drive me mad!

When I met DH he had wouldn't eat courgettes, aubergines or Brussels.

Soon sorted that out. He made me a chicken, mushroom and courgettes risotto the other week! <<swoons>>

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 15:36:27

Yes Help. I cook with mince a lot and put in red lentils - he loves a chilli or mousaka but these are quite time consuming. He wont eat fatty meat (and we are trying to be healthy) so cheaper cuts tend to be out and also need a lot of prep. Neither of us eat offal.

He doesn't really like veg cooked in with stuff so if i do a casserole he only picks the meat out and wants veg on the side. Which is more time consuming and more washing up.

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 15:42:06

Ha! Binful - well yes i think so. He can't follow instructions or learn to cook. no matter how many times he has been shown how to boil pasta/rice he fucks it up. Not on purpose either, he really tries. If dinner is left to him it is oven pizza burned (he likes it that way).

Spuddybean DH is a bit like yours too - but with the added problem of him hating most vegetables and pulses.

Since we are broke he is getting used to the idea that if he wont eat what we have, he goes hungry.

He no longer complains at the lentils bulking out his meat dishes - I'm trying to get him used to beans in casseroles now too.

I still can't get him to eat most veggies though.

SaraBellumHertz Thu 03-Jan-13 15:45:04

This thread is really interesting smile

I'm fortunate in that cost isn't a massive issue but I would nonetheless like to try and reign in the seemingly out of control food budget I currently operate under.

Living in the ME it's not as easy as following some of the great plans ive seen on here due to the differences in what is comparatively cheap here and I have lost perspective of what food costs in the uk.

I probably need to focus on cirrus and dhals and try an move away from creating a lovely Caesar salad!

expatinscotland Thu 03-Jan-13 15:47:57

'He can't follow instructions or learn to cook. no matter how many times he has been shown how to boil pasta/rice he fucks it up. Not on purpose either, he really tries. If dinner is left to him it is oven pizza burned (he likes it that way).'

I'd say that's BS. My DH is dyspraxic and severely dyslexic and can manage these things.

And why are you doing all the washing up on top of cooking?

Won't eat this, won't eat that. Then he'd be cooking for himself entirely, that would keep the bills down.

SaraBellumHertz Thu 03-Jan-13 15:49:40

spuddy I sympathise - my DC are all reluctant when it comes to pulses but one of the things that works really well is green lentils in lamb mince for shepherds pie.

I started doing about an 80:20 ratio meat to lentils but have almost reversed that - the lentils balance the greassiness of the lamb and it works brilliantly.

expatinscotland Thu 03-Jan-13 15:51:10

Leave him to buy his crap to eat. You eat the cheaper but healthier stuff.

SaraBellumHertz Thu 03-Jan-13 15:52:07

I also sympathise with the being a crap cook - my DH is beyond awful. He tries really hard: buys e pensive ingredients, hides himself in the kitchen for hours having printed off reams of instructions and usually always produces something inedible.

Take note of this Spuddy eating burnt food is not only pointless (no nutrients) but can be dangerous. He needs to learn how to use the oven timer.

My friend had a similar husband who would only eat chicken breast, chips and pizza. Getting him onto a chilli was a major achievement.

What does he eat for lunch? Could he handle a soup? For example if you made a potato, brocolli and cheese one and blended it till it was smooth and impossible to pick the veg out of?

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 15:55:10

Manky - oh dear, DP does love veg which is at least something! But everything has caveats (not x with y, only cooked in a certain way etc). We aren't struggling fortunately but that means he doesn't have to make an effort to change and just buys crap which is unhealthy and means we hemorrhage money where we could use it much better on other things. Don't even get me started on how much he spends on coffee and food when out/working in London! He wont cut back or compromise at all. It means ALL our disposable income is spent on food. I asked him to live on £10 per day and he said he couldn't confused

Ephiny Thu 03-Jan-13 15:55:17

Is Spuddy's DP a child or a man? confused. Apparently can't cook even basic pasta or rice, moans about the food you cook him and picks out the vegetables and demands a pudding, chooses pizza for dinner every time it's up to him hmm.

If I were you, I'd just shop and cook for yourself and let him sort himself out. Because it sounds like he is your main problem here, rather than an issue with healthy eating in general. Sorry, I know you didn't ask for comments on your relationship, but seriously, I could not live like that.

flippinada Thu 03-Jan-13 15:56:17

I'm with expat on this one.

Adults with fussy food preferences that aren't down to genuine allergies/intolerances should cook their own meals or eat what they're given. I can't believe people pander to this sort of nonsense!

Ephiny Thu 03-Jan-13 15:56:20

And if you're not married (as I guess from 'DP' not 'H') surely there's no need for your finances to be linked. What do you care how he spends his money? I assume you're not financially dependent on him?

flippinada Thu 03-Jan-13 15:59:59

Oh and a tip for apples - they last much longer if you keep them in the fridge (and they taste nicer as well).

I second buying frozen veg and bulking out meals with veg/beans/pulses.

You can make a big pot of lentil soup (eg) which is filling, cheap and healthy for not very much at all.

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 16:00:55

Sadly expat i have tried and he just buys takeaway every night and spends a fortune.

Before i had the baby it wasn't a problem because i had hours to make nutritious soups etc but i just don't have the time now.

He works non stop because we need more money, but we only need more money because we spend so much mainly on food. he works all weekends, all over xmas etc.

He is also severely dyslexic and been told he is probably aspergers but no official diagnosis. No matter how many times he's been shown how to put pasta into boiling water he put it in cold and brings to the boils till it's mush - he can't see the difference.

shock £10 a day at work?

DH is actually ok at work - he will take sandwiches or a cup a soup and some bread, and leaves his cards here so he is not tempted by the hot food delivery man that comes round.

The only soups DH will eat are potato and leek, or a smooth chicken one - I make the first and freeze it, but the smooth chicken soup has been a disaster the few times I have tried making that. Vegetable soup, even blended beyond recognition, will not go past his lips.

He will eat salad though - if you can call Cos lettuce, and some cucumber salad. confused

He is slowly getting better though - it's taken years to get this far, and now as we are broke he is seeing the benefit of what I do with food to make it go further. Plus he has lost over a stone in weight!

JustAHolyFool Thu 03-Jan-13 16:02:14

Aldi do 6 fruit/veg offers every week, where each item is 39p. I buy whatever they have and make lots of different salads. If they have beetroot and new potatoes, you can make a nice salad with that with just a bit of vinegar and mustard and olive oil.

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 16:03:32

Yes i am Ephiny he is the breadwinner - i earn flap all and my Mat is stopping this month. We are getting married on sat!

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 16:07:35

Yes Manky - He buys bacon roll and coffee at the station, full hot lunch, coffee and muffin in the avo and maybe nibbles for the train home!

he would take lunch if i made it - but i have neither the time nor inclination!

Flatbread Thu 03-Jan-13 16:18:17

he will take sandwiches or a cup a soup and some bread

My dh couldn't last on that! He is slim and has a desk job, but I know he would be out buying chocolates and sweets to satisfy his hunger.

I use my trusted slow cooker <caresses the machine> Put it on at night with some butter, slow cook cuts of meat, wine, garlic, potatoes and carrots. I don't sear the meat or anything. So just five minutes to bung it all in.

He scoops it in a lunch box in the morning. I guess it smells nice, as he always seems so grateful and makes me a morning cuppa before he leaves smile

Plus he makes himself porridge for breakfast. Keeps him well-fed till dinner, which is usually an omelette or fish

Our food bills are not a lot and we feel quite healthy.

Flatbread Thu 03-Jan-13 16:21:06

He buys bacon roll and coffee at the station, full hot lunch, coffee and muffin in the avo and maybe nibbles for the train home

That sounds exactly like my dh in the past! smile

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 16:25:38

that's a good idea flatbread - i have a slow cooker somewhere <lurking at the back of a dusty cupboard>

i've started making banana muffins and freezing them for him to take to work, and he has started the quick porridge in the mornings. i do feel resentful tho but it's that or waste all that money.

i've said we should both take out £50 per week for spends and try not to use any cards, so we will see how that works out!

BeeBawBabbity Thu 03-Jan-13 16:29:25

Do you have a garden, OP? If so a few bean seeds will provide loads of green veg in the summer, a single courgette plant can yield up to 20 fruit, and thinking longer term, if you plant some strawberry plants, a couple of raspberry canes and a small blueberry bush now you'll be able to pick your berries for free in a few years. Compost your food waste to feed the plants and its all free.

TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 03-Jan-13 17:18:37

Blimey spuddy!

It might not come naturally but if you want to save money he will have to compromise. There aren't any other options left.

To help him see it can you go through accounts to show him how much you can feasible budget and then through supermarket website price checking all the things he insists on?

Can he take a packed lunch? We are 2 adults and 2 small children, I generally cook enough for 4 adults and then DH takes one portion to work with him the next day.

I wanted to come back and say that 40quid from a family of 4 is really impressive, we've always struggled at those sums.

I've been out for the afternoon so am just catching up. smile No garden sadly as we live in a flat, we did try growing strawberries and tomatoes on the windowsills in the summer but they just didn't fruit. hmm Will try again next summer.

Flatbread I love the sound of the stewed apple and oats and dried fruit - how do you do that in a slow cooker? I'm a bit of a novice and only use it for cheap cuts of meat or stews.

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 17:29:47

not really TeWi, he just doesn't understand money really at all. He can't work out how things which are 'only £2.50' add up or that we could save money on what he considers essentials (also it's partly because he feels entitled to spend what he wants because he does work hard and earns a good salary, so doesn't see why he should have to restrict himself - but we are still £300 in the hole every month). What he does understand is earning money tho. So his solution is to work harder and longer, but this leaves me alone and doing everything in the house and with the baby.

i'm hoping trying to live on cash will help. He seems to understand that concept, but not the forever putting things on the magic card adding up. He does try, but finds the world a bewildering place. poor fucker! smile

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 17:34:14

To those of you who use a slow cooker for puddings, do you use a different one for savoury? if you use the same one, do flavours remain?

BigBoPeep Thu 03-Jan-13 17:36:43

buy your meat in bulk - look online for mail order producers (does depend on freezer), so no traipsing to any shops, it just turns up on your doorstep. there are producers out there that can beat the cr*p out of supermarket prices - no middleman!

my 'cheat' ham recipe:

piece of pork + large strong food safe placky bag or tupperware tub. 50/50 mix of sugar and salt, enough to cover the whole joint. leave for three days. then boil for ages (if you want it falling off the bone, really ages) and if you feel like it, glaze and bake. tastes de-lish (although a good flavour, if you want slimy nothing stick to supermarket stuff...)

you can slice and freeze it to use later too.

BigBoPeep Thu 03-Jan-13 17:37:59

to clarify - tip the sugar/salt brine away before boiling - you only want to boil the meat!

Flatbread Thu 03-Jan-13 17:44:01

Joyful, here is the recipe. You can substitute the milk with water or almond milk or another liquid substitute

Flatbread Thu 03-Jan-13 17:47:36

Spuddy, as long as you wash it out, it is fine. Do the sniff test and if you don't smell anything, it should be ok wink

houseelfdobby Thu 03-Jan-13 17:50:02

I am approaching this slightly differently: how come you only have 40 pounds per week for food? Are you claiming all you are entitled to? Housing benefit, child benefit etc If you have 2 children you should be getting 33 pounds a week just for that. Do you have debts? If so, have you taken advice on reducing interest payments? Do you claim tax credits? Disability benefit? Sorry, but 40 pounds a week does NOT sound like enough money to buy food for four and perhaps you are better off addressing your finances first before trying to get by on that. Sorry if that is unrealistic but I am amazed. Does your DP work? If so, is he spending his money somewhere else and does he need a reality check?

Spuddybean Thu 03-Jan-13 17:50:33

cool. thanks Flatbread. dp loves rice pudding <boak> i may do one in there for his puddings.

dobby we are claiming everything we are entitled to (except the tax credits inexplicably got stopped a few months ago and they're bring slow about investigating why). DH is currently unemployed and I'm not entitled to DLA. We're both looking for work but there are very few jobs and lots of people applying for them (the same as everywhere else I suspect). We have no debts.

Thank you for the thought though. smile

BoPeep that ham sounds amazing! I have a couple of gammon joints in the freezer (they were on offer at my local butcher - I got almost 6lb of gammon for £10!).

Thanks Flatbread I'll give that a try. smile

Great tips on here already. One thing I do is look for reduced price white fish and use that in a stir fry - I don't like pollock on its own but I am fine with it in a stir fry with veg. Also you don't need much fish and stir fry is a great way of using up odds and ends. Frozen prawns are handy and again you don't need much in a stir fry.

ASDA do smoked salmon trimmings for about 90p and some of those chucked into an omlette or scrambled eggs is great. You can freeze them and you don't need a lot to make a difference.

Last night was a variation on saag aloo with chickpeas i.e. potato and spinach curry with chickpeas

Egg Fried rice for tea tonight - with some left over chicken.

Where did the rest of my post go? blush

Loads of veg through the rice too, and DH ate some of it - result!

houseelfdobby Thu 03-Jan-13 19:14:18

Gosh, that's tough. Good luck with the job hunting. I can't imagine having to provide meals for a family at a rate of less than 2 pounds per day per person. You are incredible to manage that.

thestylethatdecadesforgot Thu 03-Jan-13 19:38:46

Been lurking with interest!

BoPeep could you tell me more about which suppliers you would use please?

Also,what joint of pork for a ham?

I've recently swapped to using our local free range butcher and we have dramatically cut down the amount of meat we eat, it's now probably only around 20/30% of our meals which really helps food bills. I've actually managed to buy some crisps or biscuits for DH, which I could never afford before. Anyway, I digress, the butcher is more expensive than the supermarket and doesn't ever seem to have special offers on though so I wonder if I'm losing out. What does anyone else think? Do you get offers at your butchers? I think I'm sometimes getting a bit extra than I've asked for at the same price, the odd extra bacon rasher etc. but I don't know if its by accident or I've just paid extra for it! Because not everything is on display so you have to ask for it and you don't know how much per kg it is, which I find hard cz I need to budget in advance as I meal plan.

Re the OP, I think it is easier to eat healthily at cheaper prices than processed food but it takes so much time to get good. Well, it has for me! I've been meal planning for about 8 months now and I'm getting there. I also have invested in the Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall cookery books, RC every day and veg every day, which are fantastic and loads of ideas for meat free meals and using cheaper cuts of meat. I've tried quite a few of the cheaper cuts that we fancied and some have been repeated, others haven't! It's just trial and error. My biggest finds have been bulgar wheat and lentils (never been able to make them tasty before now!) and they really help make things go further and make cheap, filling meals. I agree with someone earlier, you need a good spice cupboard and that takes a while to build up. I bought one or two a week as I found them in the recipes I was trying.

MrsHoarder Thu 03-Jan-13 20:21:43

You need lots of root veg to bulk out stews at this time of year. It helps with the heating bills if you can get it on and then do craft/baking in the kitchen with the dcs, can turn the heading of fir a few hours then.

As for the person who complained about the cost of healthy puds, stewed (eating) apples with a few spices and a bit out sugar are cheap, warming and delicious. Or homemade flapjack/oakt biscuits. It doesn't have to be expensive. I buy frozen berries and mix them in ramekins of cheap pain yoghourt 12 hours before eating too.

Don't buy low fat, make the most of the money you do spend then bulk out with veg or water milk down yourself to reduce the overall fat content of each dish. Lean strewing streak didn't go nearly as far as the fattier stuff, and if itsthe quarters veg then the difference is negligible. Porridge is filling and cheap, use full fat milk and offer a spoonful of chocolate powder or golden syrup to make it more attractive than expensive light sugary cereals.

Flatbread Thu 03-Jan-13 20:36:24


Our butcher has a special price for buying meat in bulk. E.g., while lamp chops may be 25 euros a kilo, price for half or full lamb is 9 euros a kilo.

Same for veal or pork. And he cuts it up really nicely so it is simply a case of labelling the cuts as grilling, stewing and so on and popping in the deepfreeze.

Worth checking if your butcher does something similar?

I'm trying to find somewhere locally that will supply a whole lamb or half a pig or beef, the way my mum used to get when I was little - it used to last ages and was a really cost effective way of buying meat - there does not seem to be anyone local to me that does it.

Flatbread Thu 03-Jan-13 20:45:16

This place delivers, I think

Flatbread Thu 03-Jan-13 20:46:14

Disclaimer -never used it. But the price seems reasonable

ipswichwitch Thu 03-Jan-13 20:48:32

chaz I didn't know about asda doing salmon trimmings - thanks for the tip. I'll b stocking up next time I go
I'm busy looking at slow cookers ...

MummyDuckAndDuckling Thu 03-Jan-13 20:53:28

I made a huge pot of potato and leek soup for less than a few pounds. 4 pack of leeks reduced to 80p, 1 large baking potato at 70p ish, few garlic cloves and some stock. Made about 3 adult portions and a few kids ones. My tip, but fruit and veg in the evenings when reduced and be inventive

flatbreadthank you, I will look. smile

I've just checked online and Sainburys & Tescos also do the same. I usually have some in the freezer - I feel that the smoked salmon makes a simple meal feel like a luxury.

thestylethatdecadesforgot Thu 03-Jan-13 23:14:36

Thank you Flatbread, I'll have a look.

If you want to make soups I'd suggest getting a crock pot/slow cooker, you can use the cheapest cuts of meat (if you want meat) and slow cook the soups all day, they do a fantastic job.
I have been known to read the ingredients off a can or packet of stuff I like and improvise, It has made for some lovely dinners.

CoolaYuleA Fri 04-Jan-13 00:04:59

We feed three adults, a toddler and two dogs on around £50 a week, we could spend more, but having had to pull it in a LOT previously I actually like seeing how low we can go as it enables us to do other things.

I cook from scratch every day, when DD was a young baby I used to prep dinner during her morning nap, and just switch pans on later, we also use a slowcooker a lot, again prepping whilst she napped. Now she rockets around behind the baby gate whilst I cook. It's like anything, the more you do it the easier it gets. DH takes a packed lunch to work.

I meal plan, and try to factor in what we call "free meals" - so something made from leftovers of other meals, I boil bones for stock, use parmesan rinds in soup, use broccoli stalks to make soup etc. You can also use peelings - as long as they have been washed they are fine in soup - it's just another part of the vegetable, and actually contain more nutrients and fibre than the flesh of most veg.

I also shop a day later every week, so this week I shopped on Monday, next week I will go Tuesday, the following week Wednesday, the extra day is either a leftover day, using up the last bits of the previous shop a la Nigel Slater or a storecupboard day - it's not hard to do with a bit of thought, and it means for every eight weeks you only actually do seven food shops.

I shop between Tesco, Aldi and Lidl, with Aldi being the cheapest. I buy a LOT of fruit and veg, but aside from grapes for DD I only buy the £1 packs of anything, it means we're eating seasonally too because fruit/veg in season is cheaper. I buy meat in Tesco 3 for £10, but stretch it out so each pack does two meals. The pork loin steaks have six in, and I use three in either a sweet and sour with extra veg, or in a casserole.

Tinned beans (butter beans, kidney beans etc) are cheap, healthy, taste good and are very filling. They can be thrown into any soup or stew to bulk them out.

Anything using mince you can throw a handful or two of oats into to bulk it out and make it go further.

CoolaYuleA Fri 04-Jan-13 00:08:40

Forgot to mention - I found cooking from scratch and not eating processed foods (no white bread, white pasta, fruit juice) was the best way to lose weight. Eating the way your body was designed to eat - things it could hunt or gather, works really well.

flow4 Fri 04-Jan-13 01:08:50

YANBU Puddle, but these bits of info might help... And please ignore forgive me if I'm saying anything you already know!

- There is a fantastic 'classic' (30+ year old) cookbook called 'The Pauper's Cookbook', which I learned to cook from, which has loads of cheap recipes Amazon link

- Buy your fruit/veg from an open market rather than a supermarket - they'll be literally a third of the price, sometimes less.

- Buy staples in bulk if you can store them. Bigger bags/bottles etc. are cheaper, of course. But also, it's usually possible to get a card for your local Cash 'n' Carry store or a semi-wholesalers, where corner shops etc. get their stock - and multi-packs will be cheaper there.

- There is more 'food value' in whole foods, and they are usually better 'cash value' too - e.g. wholemeal bread and pasta have more nutrients than white/processed equivalents, and fill you up more, so you eat less.

- Ready meals are completely out if you are feeding a family on a budget. The cheap ones are rubbish, and the decent ones are too expensive. (But if you are more organised than me, you can get plastic take-away tubs, make meals in batches, and freeze them). It's much cheaper to cook meals from scratch, including plenty of quick meals.

- Some 'basic' things are much, much cheaper to make yourself than buy ready-made. A big loaf of wholemeal bread costs about 30-50p to make, for instance (depending on whether you bought your flour in bulk). Pizzas cost about 40-50p each if you buy plain bases, and make your own topping with tinned tomatoes, grated cheese, etc. (Kids really like doing this btw, cos they get to choose their own toppings!) Soups, pasta sauces, pancake/yorkshire pud batter and pastry are easy to make and much cheaper than their ready-made equivalents.

- Eating veggie is cheaper, usually. Stews with beans or chick peas, lentils in everything grin... I make a healthy, well-balanced veggie Prue Leith's 'Vegetarian Bible' is the classic, but it's very hard to get hold of - or very expensive. The Vegetarian Society provides online recipes here

HTH and isn't OTT! grin

flow4 Fri 04-Jan-13 01:19:26

Oops, just noticed half a sentence missing in the last para... It should say "I make a healthy, well-balanced veggie meals for 3, for about £2.50 on average, but could cut this down to £1.50/meal with a bit more effort (and if we stopped eating quorn)".

Thanks you all for taking the time to pass on your tips and recipes, I really appreciate it. smile

Oblomov Fri 04-Jan-13 10:13:21

<<taking notes>> smile

BigBoPeep Fri 04-Jan-13 12:16:12

just googled some half lamb suppliers: all about £7/kg

sondes place farm , 10kg half £7.50/kg

cullinaw farm 10kg half £7.80/kg

rosewood farm 10kg half £7/kg

bwydlyn 9.25kg half welsh lamb £60

Flatbread Fri 04-Jan-13 12:41:39


This is very useful, thanks. If anyone uses these farms and gives feedback that would be great!

BigBoPeep Fri 04-Jan-13 12:52:31

i have my own lamb obvs so just plucked them from google!

Flatbread Fri 04-Jan-13 13:00:19


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