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!

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 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!

sarahtigh Tue 27-Aug-13 14:27:44

take a meal like fish chips and peas for 4

1. takeaway from chip shop about £20-24 most expensive
2. fresh cod from fishmongers, potatoes and peas fresh second
3. frozen fish in batter from farmfoods or similar, oven chips and frozen peas cheapest

the point is that while ready meals are often cheaper than cooking same from scratch, to buy the same taste as home cooked lasagne etc you would not be buying icelands cheapest but something like tesco's finest and cooking from scratch is probably cheaper than buying tesco's finest

like gracie said about her stilton and broccoli soup not the cheapest but taste wise to get equivalent it would be cheaper

the argument about eating half the quantity of better free range chicken is not really that valid 80g of chicken is not as filling as 160g of chicken it has a point about taste but whether poor or rich people want to fill full when have had dinner

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 14:29:53

loopy are you sure that you can buy free range chicken in Aldi? I have certainly never seen it and we have looked.

It's a bit sad that you don't seem to give a shit about the welfare of the animals that you consume. You are like the majority of people though I tend to find but it is depressing nonetheless.

And just to annoy you loopy this morning my neighbour brought round some green beans and cucumbers in exchange for a box of our girls' eggs. Yes we live very rurally but my brother does the same and he lives in London and has a brilliant allotment. Just because YOU don't want to live this way, don't pour scorn on it.

Half of this 'local food' is just to keep small british businesses alive and to make people feel bad for using supermarkets
I don't see a problem with this at all.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 14:30:42

I don't think anyone anywhere is arguing that eating out / getting takeout is cheaper than cooking from scratch...

I don't think that even qualifies as a straw man given how obviously irrelevant it is to the debate.


littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 14:31:18

Bear pretty sure that Aldi do not sell free range chicken.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 14:31:35

blues hmm factor in buying one spice per week even and that is pretty expensive...but cost it up....lets see the numbers!

WhiteandGreen Tue 27-Aug-13 14:33:49

Wow, are you a teacher OP? grin

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 14:34:04

No I don't give a shit about the animals mrsoakenshield.

Do you know why?

Because I'm poor. And I have enough to worry about.

One day I hope to be in the fortunate position of caring about the cows in the field. But its not top of the agenda right now.

We eat the same meat every week; a chicken and a packet of mince, I can get four meals out of those (see my first post). The rest of the time we eat dinners with no meat.

So the theory of 'eat less meat' is wonderfully MC but not very helpful.

ChunkyPickle Tue 27-Aug-13 14:34:11

Oh no - not 11pm - I wander down after playgroup on a Thursday, to Waitrose, and all their veg is knocked down. Tescos knock down more randomly, but still you don't have to go down at a certain time. I realise I'm lucky because I live in a town.

I don't try to stick to a budget, I'm not great at meal-planning, I have to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for 2 adults, one kid, we eat pretty well, generally on home-cooked stuff (easy stuff, DP works long hours, and I'm about to pop so don't want to be mucking about in the kitchen) and it's 70 quid a week (includes washing powder/cleaning stuff etc)

On weeks where I have had to be more careful, we've eaten just as well on
half that - although I have leant on stuff bought on offer that's been bunged in the freezer at that point.

If we didn't do this, then DP would buy lunch out - at about 4-6/day, we'd buy dinner - 3-6/night, and breakfast would cost the same, and I'll assume I have leftovers for lunch (as would DP at the weekend), and DS has bought dinners 1/day - so lets give that an average of 5*5 + 4.5*7 + breakfast (4) + weekend lunch for DP (4) - so even living on cheap junkfood, and hoping I have enough leftovers for lunch that I don't need to buy extra we're at 70 quid again - only we've all eaten less than we wanted, it was all the cheapest available, and I'm yet to buy any washing up liquid!

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 14:34:32

Not really a teacher...well sort of...

<really scared of children>

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 14:34:52

Litylemog Aldi do sell free range chickens. I have one in my fridge as we speak.

118sbigmoustache Tue 27-Aug-13 14:35:10

mrsoakenfield, see this is why I get confused! I've had family, HVs and people at toddler group telling me off for even thinking about the same meal three nights in a row and telling me how much more important variety is so that's why I've been doing it this way instead. I do check the salt values of the ready meals and make sure that its within her daily amount though. I feel muddled now. I've had it hammered into me for ages how its cruel to give her same meal multiple times and now I feel I'm cruel for using ready meals sad I hate being poor. And food stupid.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 14:37:02

loupy I would love to see a costing for your seems the closest to a low cost scratch cook week we have had so far?

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 14:37:13

Loopy not eating meat is not a middle class thing.

The rest of the time we eat dinners with no meat
This is not a hardship so please don't present it as such.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 14:38:26

118 variety is incredibly important....

also it is a bit irrelevant to the ready meal side of the equation...the meals cost about the same each and an infinite variety is available.

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 14:38:33

Loopy so you DO care about animals then? smile Why would you buy a more expensive chicken otherwise?

ILetHimKeep20Quid Tue 27-Aug-13 14:41:39

Buying a bag a nuggets, fish fingers, chips and frozen veg would cost under a fiver (value) and feed a family for a few days easily.

ChunkyPickle Tue 27-Aug-13 14:41:42

118 - there's variety and then there's variety - for instance you start with a roast chicken (large chickens 4/each at the moment in Tescos - raised with extra space and toys to play with - not the uber cheap ones). The next day that is cold in sandwiches, or with salad, the next day the less appetising bits are curry or some other 'meat in sauce' dish, and then the fourth day the very last bits become chicken soup, eeked out with rice or pasta and veggies.

Mince does the same - lasagna, spaghetti bolognese, chilli - all pretty much the same thing, with extra veg/beans added and a different carb.

BrianButterfield Tue 27-Aug-13 14:42:34

Our Aldi has free-range chickens for 4.99 or breasts for £3. They are tucked away in the display but we have been buying them for years.

BackforGood Tue 27-Aug-13 14:45:51

Loopy - I live in a very big City, and, in the last 5 days have been given rhubarb by 3 different people, a homemade cake, and two lots of runner beans. People in cities do have gardens (and/or allotments) you know. I also live in what is considered to be quite a deprived ward, and there is a scheme that's just been set up, to show local people where they can pick blackberries, etc growing wild, and how to use them. You can also register with the scheme if you have 'spare' fruit in your garden or perhaps an apple or plum tree or something that you are not able to harvest yourself, and they will come and pick the fruit for you, and share between you and the 'pickers'. So it does happen in urban areas wink
Oh, but I agree with you there are chickens in Aldi advertised as 'Free Range'

ILetHimKeep20Quid Tue 27-Aug-13 14:45:54

I can make a but pot of potato and leek soup for a couple of quid too though, and have enough for a few meals.

In short, when you're down to pounds in your purse, cheap crap is cheaper, easier and more filling.

But you're not factoring in motivation, skills, challenges, restrictions and the issues other than money which prevent people reading well.

Look at that girl called Jack blog. Yes, she prepared health and balanced meals for pennies but she's the first to admit it was time, all consuming, a huge effort and pretty draining.

MrsOakenshield Tue 27-Aug-13 14:46:29

Loopy - I don't eat meat for any meals, bar the odd ham sandwich. DH is veggie and I made the decision to bring DD up as veggie, and one of the main reasons for doing so was because I knew we wouldn't afford to buy decent quality meat. I would rather eat meat-free than eat meat that comes from badly treated animals. Anyone can, rich or poor, whatever their class. YOU DON"T HAVE TO EAT MEAT.

118 - I tend to look at what DD is eating over the course of a week. There's nothing wrong with some repetition, I think you've been given some bizarre 'advice'. One main dish repeated with different sides is fine - heck, even with the same sides 2 or 3 times would be fine!

Ice - I'll cost something up this evening when I'm not at work blush, made veggie bolognese yesterday, with canned puy lentils rather than mince, to last for 3 meals (2 adults and a toddler), will dig out the recepit.

PigOnStilts Tue 27-Aug-13 14:48:23

Chicken and lentil stew.

Chicken 2.50
Passata. 50
Garlic, leeks, mushrooms, left over crap, call it 50
Tin chickpeas 69
Risotto rice 35

Fed two adults and 3yo v nicely under a fiver

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 14:48:53

Just google Aldi and you can see the free range chickens online.

I wasn't pointing out that I don't meat everyday as a hardship. My point was that the whole argument of 'eat less meat' doesn't always work does it? We do eat 'less meat' but that doesn't mean I can buy 'ethically sourced meat' does it? For some people it does. For the poor it doesn't because 'ethically sourced meat' grown down the road is still too expensive for some people to eat even once a week.

And no I don't care about the animals. Cheap chicken pumped full of water is a false economy as it shrinks. I buy free range so I can get two days worth of dinners out of the bird.

PigOnStilts Tue 27-Aug-13 14:49:23

Then the following night you can eat left over stew over a asked potato, r combine with more herbs etc to make pasta sauce.

Trick is to change carb every day.

ILetHimKeep20Quid Tue 27-Aug-13 14:50:52

That's hardly budget though is it? At a fiver a pop. Three a thousand things ready made I could lick up and feed 2 adults and a tot on for way under a fiver, ready made crap, no effort required.

118sbigmoustache Tue 27-Aug-13 14:51:11

Thanks, chunky. I see what you mean now about variety and variety! I think that's where I get muddled though because for each of the little extra meals, the cost builds up. Like if I have a chicken with veggies the first night, and then salad the next day, and then in something else the night, there's wastage. To buy salad, it costs more than the frozen veggies (for 1.5 people anyway) so then I'd just have the veggies again but then I've taken away the variety. Does that make sense? That's where I get overloaded because I can't balance the cost and variety sad

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 14:52:07

And your individual stories of 'free food' mean nothing.

The fact is most people are not given 'free food' on a regular basis. It would be crazy to say that the poor no longer have to cost fruit and veg into their weekly shop because everyone is givong it away.

PigOnStilts Tue 27-Aug-13 14:53:20

Well, you feed three people for under a fiver, I think it's alright, perhaps I'm just a spoilt bitch. But try that in any takeaway joint or any convenient food....

118sbigmoustache Tue 27-Aug-13 14:53:40

Whoops, didn't see your reply mrso, is it okay then to have exactly the same meal a few nights on the trot as long as the week itself has at least two maybe three different mains? And, yeah, probably, but its hard to tell if its bizarre when you're receiving it haha!

CharlotteBr0nteSaurus Tue 27-Aug-13 14:53:48

i can't be arsed to do the science

but am fairly convinced that the junk is cheaper, and this is partly due to waste - there is none. you carefully measure out your portion of basics chips/fish fingers/beans, and put the rest away.

value chips=55p/kilo
cheapest potatoes=70p/kilo, and then you lose some to peel, and some may go off.

for packed lunches - 5x value cake bars = 50p
bag of 5 granny smiths=£1.95

That's not comparing like with like, but if you are just looking for the cheapest way to feed yourself, nutrition aside, junk is the way forwards.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 14:54:56

pig that sounds lovely - but it is more expensive for a single meal than my daily spend on crap....

More work required.....<puts on teachers hat> could do better B-

badbride Tue 27-Aug-13 14:54:56

The OP has put her finger on one of the most bizarre problems of our age, namely that obesity and associated diabetes, which were once the preserve of the rich, are now diseases of (relative) poverty. It is hard for poor folk to afford healthy fruit and veg--I'm in the middle-income bracket and still find myself horrified by the prices in the supermarkets.

Yes, you can get fruit and veg more cheaply from market stalls. But a many poor people live in areas where no such markets exist. Still I'll have a stab at your challenge, OP. Here's my day's menu for 4. It's sixty pence more expensive than yours, but I would argue that it is comparable.

Doubtless I've missed something out, but here goes. Prices according to mysupermarket, costs listed for 4 people:

Breakfast: Porridge with milk: 80p
Lunch: tinned sardines in tomato sauce on toast: £1.50
Dinner: Chickpea, spinach and tomato stew, with rice: £2.09

Total: £4.39

The chickpea stew contains 2 tins chickpeas, frozen spinach, cheap passata and onion. Could be jazzed up with a spot of curry powder, buy I gather we're on "let them eat cake" mode.. grin

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 14:57:05

bad ahh at last - thank you. Can you also tot up the calories in that? It looks a bit light....

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 14:57:24

definitely equivalent if the calories add up.

badbride Tue 27-Aug-13 15:00:23

Ice is there a website that lists calories? If we assume the use of full-fat milk and generous helping of carbs (oats, bread and rice) I reckin it's not far off.

The stew could be made even more cheaply with dried yellow split peas, but I've factored in an element of convenience, as they takes aaaages to soak/ cook

MrsOakenshield Tue 27-Aug-13 15:00:37

118 - I'm not an expert, but yes, I think that would be fine. Presumably you're talking about your main meal, so you can have a bit of variety with lunches, different sarnies, scrambled eggs/beans/cheese on toast, soup (good for using up veg).

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 15:01:52

bad the kcals are listed for all products on the websites of the supermarkets....

It must have given an amount of porridge per day?

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 15:02:41

I think junk is cheaper. I know people on the same budget as us who buy a lot more food than us because they don't buy fresh fruit and veg.

My dc snack on fruit and it costs a fucking fortune. By far the biggest expense on our shopping bill each week. I buy three bags of apples, 3 bags of bananas and 2 bags of oranges. I top up with what is in season as its normally on offer.

Most weeks dh and I have to go without fruit so there is enough to last the week for the dc.

If I were to buy biscuits, crisps etc for them to snack on it would be much cheaper and last longer.

WafflyVersatile Tue 27-Aug-13 15:02:42

I trust electricity and travel costs are worked into these figures?

Wellwobbly Tue 27-Aug-13 15:07:04


the initial cost of food from scratch is huge. Poor people really aren't stupid except when they vote Labour smile they know what they are doing. They know how to get the most food for the cheapest amount of money, even if it isn't ideal.

Once you have sunk the 'capital' as it were, and think long term, then it is cheaper. But like everything the long term is such a big cost, and that can't be carried when you are poor.

One example: say you get a chicken tikka masala takeout as a treat once a week. Buying the bulk chicken, the spices marinade, yoghurt etc, the basmati those spices, cashew nuts etc -

and the foil containers?

I think you have spent a good £70.

then you have to have the freezer space so that by the end of November you have saved your dosh.

Who thinks that far ahead? Who has £70 so that they can save £40?

I think Jamie is technically correct, but a right judgypants.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 15:07:29

Your stew could be up to 2600 kcals if you are prepared to eat quite a lot of rice...500g between 4 of you...

so the rest needs to add up to about 4400 kcals.

half a loaf of sliced bread is 1000 kcals, sardines was 200 so you need to make up 3200 kcals in porridge...which is 800 per person 200g per nearly a full 1kg bag per day....

Do people really eat that much porridge? <hates porridge so doesn't know>

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 15:09:07

bad it is close though...I reckon about 400kcals off per person, if you only eat a normal portion of rice and porridge...but you could probably add jam to the porridge to fix that smile

Wellwobbly Tue 27-Aug-13 15:09:39

PS obesity and poverty, obesity and malnutrition, go hand in hand. It is about the most calories for the least amount of money, and most calories are found in carbohydrates and fat.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 15:11:23

loopy I totally agree about the fruit. It broke my heart to read MNers saying how they felt telling their kids there was no more fruit left for the week. I don't understand how in the UK fruit can be so Jeffing expensive.

We don't budget or worry about money <because we are MC idiots> but every week I just feel stunned at the price of fruit.

LittleprincessinGOLDrocks Tue 27-Aug-13 15:14:59

I guess it depends what you want to eat.
Pizzas can be bought frozen for £1 each, to hand make from scratch it costs a lot more (cost me about £4 last time) - though it is cheaper than a take away.
Chilli on the other hand I can make from scratch pretty cheaply, though if I use a sauce you can add about £1 to my usual costs. If you buy a ready meal it costs about £4 (£1 each for 4 people). Mine costs about £4 (buy mince from local farm shop which is much cheaper than supermarket) and serves 8 people.
I think for us it is best to have a balance of made from scratch and some shop bought. It is all about knowing which you can do cheaper home made and which you can't.

BackforGood Tue 27-Aug-13 15:16:21

Loopy - the stories of free food balance out your claim And as for 'swap a bag of apples' nonsense, do you really think that happens in urban areas? - er, yes they do.

I never said anything about not having to cost fruit and veg in to your budget. Personally, I tend to see what's on the 'super six' at Aldi, and sometimes try to use that as a starting point.

To reply to the OP, it's cheaper to make meals from what Jamie Oliver would class as 'junk food' simply because they tend to be made with cheaper ingredients - fish fingers, sausages, the processed chicken that goes into all the frozen chicken products, the 'reformed' meat, etc., is not comparable quality as buying chicken or beef or pork from the butchers or some fish from the fishmongers but it is still an ingredient you can fill your family up with when you are on a budget.
I agree with Loopy that the whole 'choice' thing of buying 'organic' or 'farmers market' type produce only actually kicks in when your budget is high enough for that to become a realistic 'choice'. It seriously isn't an option in a lot of people's budgets.

Feckbloodypets Tue 27-Aug-13 15:16:28

Cant be arsed doing a full week but will try and do a proper price comparison and all ingredients bought in 1 shop using full prices so no halving anything that cant be bought in smaller sizes and no special offers except for the meals as they never seem to come off. for 2 adults and a 12 year old.
3x tescos bacon and mushroom pastas £6
Home made carbonnara with mushrooms and peas
1x value penne 29p use half
grated parmesan 1.25
value cooking bacon 81p use half
garlic 40p use 3 cloves
value mushrooms 75p use half
value frozen peas 89p use 2 handfuls
double cream 1.10 use half
value eggs 87p use 1
So this totals £6.36 for all the shopping but would come under the £6 if I didn't buy extra peas to make the meal healthier.
The extras left over will give the following nights dinner with the extra spend of
1x value passatta 29p
1x value tomatoe puree 35p good squeeze
Value mixed herbs 85p 1x tbsp
Cooking onions 1.00 1of
Frozen chopped chilli 50p 1 block
So extra 2.94 with the rest of the pasta, bacon, cream, mushrooms, another 2 handful of peas and another 2 cloves of garlic will give you an Arabiatta.
This leaves another approx 5 onions,5 eggs, 1/2 bag of peas, 1/2 bulb of garlic , the rest of the herbs, most of a tube of puree and another 5 blocks of chilli to go towards other meals
eg ommellete made with onions, garlic and herbs.
Sorry for my spelling mistakes.

SmiteYouWithThunderbolts Tue 27-Aug-13 15:19:08

Ok... our menu today for 2 adults and 4 children

H: bread from homemade bloomer loaf, toasted with cheese: est. 50p (the cheese is expensive but the bread costs pennies to make as we buy yeast and flour in bulk)
Me: porridge made with water, topped with sliced banana: est. 50p
Kids: 2 weetabix (Tesco brand) with milk and banana x 4: £3.60

Me and H: leftover pasta bake x 2 - £1.25 (cost just under £5 to make a massive batch with 8 servings) Half a bag of salad shared: 75p = £2
Kids: Ham sandwiches (homemade bread) £1.25, cucumber and carrot sticks 70p (bought whole and chopped at home), yoghurt (£1 for 4) = £2.95


Me and H: flat mushrooms (£1.35) stuffed with quinoa (85p), half a bag of salad (75p) and grilled pork steak (£2.50 from the butcher) £5.45
Kids: Ready meal lasagne (Tesco) £4.25 with carrots and peas est. £1 = £5.25

Plus snacks of: 4 bananas £1.20, 8 rice cakes (2 per child) £1.30, Muller light yoghurt (me!) 42p. I have no idea what H snacks on at work. £2.92 at home anyway.

Sooooo, that's a total expenditure of ..... £23.17 to feed 6 people 3 meals, with a mixture of cooking from scratch and using pre-prepared supermarket meals. I couldn't tell you if that's good or not!

SmiteYouWithThunderbolts Tue 27-Aug-13 15:22:14

I daren't factor the cost of my cups of tea into our daily meal!

There's only 2 of us here (Dad and me) but I thought I'd have a go at listing what we cook/eat and how much it costs... assume a £10 budget for storecupboard ingredients such as red wine vinegar, black pepper etc. plus another £10 for veg and fresh herbs

1 large Tesco chicken - £4
Roasting it today with:
New potatoes (£1.80 per 2.5 kg)
Paxo sage and onion stuffing (£1 for 170g)
Fresh green beans (£1 for 220g) - will use half
Fresh tarragon (80p)

Tomorrow it's Bratwurst (£1.79 for 6)
German potato salad, using some of the aforementioned spuds, red wine vinegar from the storecupboard.
Smoked streaky bacon rashers (£2.70) - will use half of them
Remaining green beans

Thursday - cold chicken salad using the legs and thighs from today's chicken, storecupboard mayo, 1 little gem lettuce from a pack of 4 (£1.50 for the 4) and tomatoes (£2 for 5, will use 2)

Friday - luxury night!
2 Tescos Finest fillet steaks (£13.60!)
Mushrooms (£1.25 for 'finest' forestiere)
Double cream (£1.10 for 300ml, will use half)
Parmesan (£2.00 for 100g, will use half)
Little gem lettuce (from the 4 pack)

2 boneless salmon steaks (£4.00)
Watercress (£1.25)
Cream (leftover from Friday)
The last lettuce!

Sunday we'll probably go to the pub for a roast.

Dad has cereal for breakfast every day (£2.09 for 500g Kellogs + milk from the milkman)
I have a couple of duck eggs (£2.50 for 6) and either bacon (600g for £4, lasts 4 days), or Indian spiced (using spices from storecupboard) with tomatoes - if there are any left, or scrambled with smoked salmon (200g, lasts 4 days, for £5).

We don't do lunch, and I'm low carbing, so Dad gets the carb options, I pile on the veg and/or salad. I'll make chicken stock from the chicken carcass and any tired looking leftover veg - will freeze it for future use.

I consider our way of eating to be somewhat luxurious and indulgent, but it's not overwhelmingly expensive when you add it up.

Back home with my husband we eat a bit more frugally - lots of mince and eggs, and he loves pasta, which is cheap - I just put lettuce under my bolognese or carbonara sauce. I make a lot of curries too, and am a bit anal about them so have a huge collection of spices which doesn't need topping up that often.

So there ya go - if I had kids I might struggle!

badbride Tue 27-Aug-13 15:24:49

Ice I think it's coming out at between 1500-1800 kcals per person. You could bump that up by including a generous lug of cooking oil to fry the onion for the stew, and smearing some butter on your toast before adding the sardines.

Dunno how much that would add to my total--maybe it would make that menu £1 a day more expensive? Only 25p per person, but it just goes to show, it's not easy

Samu2 Tue 27-Aug-13 15:42:57

Well as a family of seven it does cost me more to cook from scratch. I have two teens who are always hungry, we don't get leftovers. A big chicken will just about serve all of us.

I could go to iceland and buy as meals for half the cost of what making it costs.

Maybe I am doing something wrong, but IME junk food is much more cheaper for a larger family. Well, at least for mine.

Just wanted to add that I never snack (don't get hungry), though Dad does - he has his little pile of treats - Fox's glacier mints, mini cheddars, Pringles etc. Guess they come to another £10 a week. There's various cheeses (Stilton, Camembert, Cheddar) in the fridge for late night munchies, and we do get strawberries and/or raspberries from time to time, plus grapes if they're on offer. I don't buy ready meals at all - not cos I'm snobby about it, I just don't like them. If I'm out for the evening I'll leave a Tesco's ready meal for Dad - usually fish pie or cottage pie - but that's not a regular thing.

Free range isn't actually much better than cage free to be honest, from a welfare stand point. They just have to have some sort of access to some sort of outdoors - but the outdoors can be a tiny piece of scrubby dirt, access restricted to an hour a day and all their food is in the barn so no compunction to leave.

It is expensive to eat ethically, so we're on mainly a veggie diet in order to afford to buy the meat (&eggs&dairy) that we're prepared to eat. There's a local farmer at my market who runs a pasture raised farm - it cost me £28 for a chicken and a dozen eggs the other week but IMO it was worth it (and I made it stretch out so we had chicken in some form or other 6days in a row and have a chicken risotto for 4 in the freezer)

SunshineMMum Tue 27-Aug-13 15:51:18

I don't like Jamie Oliver et al policing what we eat BUT! I have just been forced to change my diet, due to intolerances and took advice from a dietician. We now save about 30 to 40 quid a week, cooking from scratch and buying our fruit and veg locally at a farm/whole sale place. Admittedly I don't eat meat, but DS and DH do, we try and have fish at least twice a week.

Poster above comparing not just family size but age is important, my 4yr old already has a ridiculous appetite, god knows what he'll be like in 10yrs!

Also trying to teach him to snack when he's hungry, not just because he's bored, which should help with budget, obesity and long term good food relationships

I think if you're able to slowly build up a decent store cupboard then eventually it works out cheaper to cook from scratch - herbs and spices make bland food go a long way, frozen veg is quick and easy and nutritious, luckily our whole family loves lentils

I'm in US so it's hard to do a proper comparison as fruit and veg here is relatively cheap and available thanks to our climate and lots and lot of local agriculture

So maybe American free range is different to British hmm

Gracie990 Tue 27-Aug-13 16:13:50

^^ on my god, how on earth are you spending £4 on a homemade pizza???

Pizza is super cheap to make. I batch make them and they cost less than £1. Even when I excessively load them with Parma ham they cost well less than £2.50

OP are you asking people to persuade you that good quality food with high nutritional value is not worth making an effort for?
probably extending you life by ten years

Afraid not Exit

In America there are no government regulated welfare standards for poultry at all sad

cantspel Tue 27-Aug-13 16:22:38

I bought a £4 special offer chicken on saturday and cant see how you would get any left overs from it which would make another meal. We ate the chicken sunday as a roast. The left over leg and leek tops and what ever whilting veg was hanging around made soup for yesterdays lunch but no way would there be enough for another meal.

StanleyLambchop Tue 27-Aug-13 16:23:29

Does using tinned tomatoes mean you are cooking from scratch? Or tomato puree? Surely if you are really cooking from scratch then you should buy fresh tomatoes and make the puree yourself? Otherwise why is it any different to opening a bag of frozen veg as opposed to preparing fresh?

squoosh Tue 27-Aug-13 16:27:03

I'm always amazed when people say a chicken povides meals for four days. Maybe four meals for a single person, but four meals for a family?

Faithless12 Tue 27-Aug-13 16:27:21
LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 16:27:52

Yes the age old question 'what does cooking from scratch actually mean?

fatlazymummy Tue 27-Aug-13 16:53:21

From my experience, it is cheaper to buy 'crap food' (and sometimes I've had to), but it isn't comparable and it doesn't fill you up for very long.
Having said that, I think it is possible to have a healthy diet on a low budget, but it does take a certain level of knowledge, resourcefulness and effort which some people may not have.
If this is about Jamie Oliver though I would take it with a big pinch of salt. The guy doesn't have a clue about poverty or how many people live.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 17:14:55

hmmm some more nice examples.

I think though that the real answer to this is if you are really really up against it then cheap calories are not nutritional ones. obvious really.

But you have to be seriously hard up for this to be true. If you can afford more like 40-50 quid a week than 30 quid a week then you can cook from scratch for the same price as mwave meals.

In fact if you can afford mwave meals you can afford to cook from scratch. It is the people who can't afford mwave meals that are stuck in the cheap donuts to fill you up territory.

On the other hand fresh fruit/veg is really really fecking expensive. So cooking from scratch with actual fresh ingredients is much more expensive than mwave meals.

IceBeing Tue 27-Aug-13 17:16:22

and erm no... this isn't about me at all. I spend about 80 quid a week on food for 3 so I am pretty much buying whatever I like.

I am just sick of people saying it is cheaper to buy crap or cheaper to cook yourself without backing it up with actual facts.

Medium sized chicken did us:

Roast dinner for 3 adults and 2 children

Chicken and Chinese noodles for 2 adults and 2 children

Chicken sandwiches for 2 children

Chicken liver Cajun rice for 2 adults, 2 children + leftovers for one adult meal

Chicken risotto (using HM stock) for 3 adults and 3 children, + 3 leftover adult portions in the freezer

Enough stock still in the freezer to make soup for two adults

nickelbabe Tue 27-Aug-13 17:35:49

I'm vegetarian and I think that worrying about animals' welfare is NOT a middle class issue.

and I think it's incredibly rude to state that it is.

I think it's a middle class attitude to expect a meat meal every single day of the week.

I manage to eat healthily without having animals killed for me. If I did buy meat (DH eats meat), then it will be the high welfare stuff. Full stop.

Octopus37 Tue 27-Aug-13 17:40:51

I find that giving the family ready done food is cheaper and its true about the frozen veg thing to balance out ready meals. Also there is the simple (but obviously crucial factor) of whether your kids will eat what you cook from fresh. If my kids would eat anything, I would be inspired to cook more, I do try out meals which I think they will be likely to eat). To me there is nothing more wasteful than cooking a fresh meal (which costs quite a lot) than having your kids refusing to eat it. Personally also find that i get highly pissed off by this. Surely it is fine to go through phases where you eat cheap ready done food and then phases where you tend to cook more. Also depends on whatever else you have going on etc

Should add the DC are young - 4yr old with a healthy appetite, toddler without!

Also the quality of the chicken was amazing, I've never got quite that many meals out of one bird before and it helped that gizzards and offal were included. Still, £20 bird went pretty far

stressedHEmum Tue 27-Aug-13 17:46:43

OK, so assuming that there is nothing in the cupboard, here is a meal plan that I have costed at £35.76 at tesco. This includes things like salt, pepper, cooking oil, tea bags, flour, sugar and 12 pints of milk.

toast and peanut butter, fruit juice
toast and scrambled egg
porridge made with milk and sugar

egg rice with peas
toast with sardine and soft cheese spread x 2
peanut butter and banana sandwiches
spiced potatoes and cabbage
toast and cheese with sliced tomatoes x 2

cauliflower, bacon and potato soup with bread and butter
potato, bacon and onion bake with carrots and peas
mac and cheese with cauliflower
pasta with onions topped with a little grated cheese
jacket potatoes, beans and cheese
pea soup and bread (using onions, carrots, potatoes and marrowfat peas)
pea dahl and rice (using left over soup, tinned toms, curry powder and an extra onion)

There are enough eggs, bananas etc left over to make 2 banana loaves for snacks.

Haven't clue about calories or anything else. works out about £1.20 a day per person for 3 meals and a snack, fruit and veg. There will be potatoes, porridge, flour etc to carry over to another week, also oil, salt, pepper, tea bags, curry powder, stock cubes.

ILetHimKeep20Quid Tue 27-Aug-13 17:55:15

That must be one big ass medium chicken

ILetHimKeep20Quid Tue 27-Aug-13 17:57:42

Stressed do you fancy going on to sharing your recipes and shopping list? Sounds fab!

I do £50 a week for 4 including toiletries, soap powder etc.

CharlotteBr0nteSaurus Tue 27-Aug-13 17:57:57

there's always one with a never-ending chicken
<ticks off MN bingo card>

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 17:59:22

I don't eat meat everyday nickelbabe.

I didn't say it was MC to care about animals. I said I am too poor to eat meat that has been 'ethically sourced' so I've given up caring about the animals welfare.

If you want to choose to not eat meat that's fine. The same as it's fine for me to say I do choose to eat meat and not really care where it comes from.

Apparently the chicken I eat gets a scrubby bit of dirt to run around on so part of its life, before it was brutally slaughtered and hacked up was happy.

I will take comfort from that, next time I'm boiling its skeleton to make stock.

ILetHimKeep20Quid Tue 27-Aug-13 17:59:50

I'm always advocating buying a chicken and getting a few meals out of it but that's something else

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 18:04:04

I don't count stock as being a meal. That's like saying if you have gravy, you have a roast.

To make any meal using HM chicken stock, you need actual food. Thus the stock hasn't made the main part of the meal, it's just flavoured it.

squoosh Tue 27-Aug-13 18:05:48

Medium sized chicken did us:
Roast dinner for 3 adults and 2 children^
Chicken and Chinese noodles for 2 adults and 2 children
Chicken sandwiches for 2 children
Chicken liver Cajun rice for 2 adults, 2 children + leftovers for one adult meal
Chicken risotto (using HM stock) for 3 adults and 3 children, + 3 leftover adult portions in the freezer
Enough stock still in the freezer to make soup for two adults

That must have been a magical mutant chicken! There's no way I could stretch an ordinary chicken that far.

As I say, I've never made a chicken go that far but bar the roast dinner the other meals were mainly veg and carbs, the chicken went Really far as it was good quality and the flavor was strong. The stock alone ended up being bout 3L

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 18:10:22

I hate your attitude towards animals loopy. It really pisses me off that people think like this.

That far before but I always manage to get a roast dinner, several
Portions of risotto, soup and some noodle or rice based dish

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 18:11:16

Even if it did go that far, £28 is still a lot more than I spend on chicken and eggs in one week.

More than double actually.

So I don't even think it was a good deal. Definitely not within my budget anyway.

Not that I would want to live off chicken everyday either.

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 18:11:48

It's not about being rich or poor just about giving a shit about something other than yourself.

ivykaty44 Tue 27-Aug-13 18:11:52

I make pizza once a week: Cheese tomato and sweetcorn and I only use mozzarella, I don't use cheddar on pizza.

The flour cost 80p for one 2ilb
The yeast cost 99p for one tin
The cheese cost 44p
The tinned tomato cost 37p
The frozen sweetcorn cost £1,50
Dried herbs to sprinkle on top £1.00

I use 11oz of flour and one teaspoon of yeast, all the cheese and half the tomato, one table spoon of the sweetcorn. To make one pizza. Next week I will have to pay 44p to buy more cheese - everything else I will have to make a cheese and tomato pizza and that will be the same the following week. So for three weeks I will be able to make pizza by only replacing the cheese and tomato.

So I agree if you make a particular dish or meal and buy all the ingredients it may be expensive the first time at £5.10 but add another 88p for the mozzarella and 37 p for another tin of tomato and you have another meal and so it goes on as you will not have to replace the flour, yeast, sweetcorn or dried herbs.

I buy a couple of kilos of potato, I will not use all the potato for one meal but for three or four meals.

I will make a tuscan bean soup

cabbage 80p
boroti beans x2 50p each from the world food isle or 70-90p else where int he supermarket
carrots £1 for bag
stock £2 for whole packet
tomato puree 38p
onion 50p
garlic £1 for puree
tinned tomato x 2 37p each

I will get 10 portions of soup for £7.40 - buy soup and it is £1.50 per portion.

Added to which I make the soup again the following week and I will not have to buy the garlic, carrots, stock, tomato puree or the cabbage. As all these will be left over to use again.

WhiteandGreen Tue 27-Aug-13 18:13:17

I think everyone having a go at loopy is being really sanctimonious.

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 18:14:08

In what way white?

Which is why we eat a mainly vegetarian diet and once in a blue moon buy meat I'm comfortable buying

Each to their own

ivykaty44 Tue 27-Aug-13 18:17:44

As for the never ending chicken - each portion of chicken is supposed to be 4-5oz. So a 3ilb chicken should produce around 14 meals portions that is allowing for the carcus to weigh in the final weight. So a family of four should be able to produce 3 and a half meals a week for a chicken without any difficulty.

Those of you that are not getting three meals form a chicken for a family how much meat are you eating at each meal?

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 18:18:15

<<shrugs at littlemog>>

I care little.

If I was loaded I would enjoy shopping in farm shops, buying beautiful cheeses and fancy meat whilst patting myself on the back I was doing the right thing by the animal.

However I'm not loaded and haven't stepped foot in a farm shop for years.

So my options are, buy meat off a supermarket shelf or become a vegetarian. I chose the former.

Shoot me.

I don't spend £20 on a chicken every week!

But I do spend about £6 on a dozen eggs each week to ensure I'm buying animal produce I'm ethically comfortable with. We then use the eggs as eggs (omelette, scrambled etc) and don't "waste" them in baking - substituting other products instead

I do get your point loopy and I don't think it's right or fair of anyone I try to shove their opinions down someone else's throat. I totally disagree with your attitude towards animal welfare but appreciate a) I have kids that will eat pulses and lentils happily in lieu of meat b) I am not struggling for cash on a daily basis (not rich by any means but I can afford to later my budgets to spend quite a lot of money per week on eggs!)

Can't remember the poster but that weekly cool from scratch meal plan above that was all veggie sounded delicious IMO!

Phew IvyKate, thanks that you also make a chicken go further than one highly gluttonous meal!

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 18:21:58

£6 on 12 eggs shock

It's another world ...

Yup....then I rarely buy any other meat so my money goes much further on cheap veg, bulk bought rice and pasta, dried goods etc

And if scrambled eggs wasn't one of the few meals DD will eat, I'd prob only need a dozen eggs every 3 weeks instead of 1!

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 18:24:52

Chicken does a Roast and a curry in this house. So that's meals.

I use the wings to add flavour to my homemade gravy and I make stock which I use for soup.

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 18:25:42

*two meals

Stock totally can do a meal - that's what risotto is! Because the stock was vey well flavored I only need a bit of actual meat to bulk it out. Same for chinese chicken noodles

Assuming when you make a chicken curry there's at least one veg and some rice accompanying the chicken? No different to risotto then....

My point is, if you are able to afford once in a while to buy a good quality chicken it will go further and provide you with more meals than a 25p water filled chicken breast grown on one foot

ILetHimKeep20Quid Tue 27-Aug-13 18:29:54

I used to eat free range and felt quite smug with myself. Then our earnings dropped by a third, so cuts were made. You do what you have to do and maintain the ethics you can afford.

And of course if you're prepared the rest of the time to eat a vegetarian diet

And as I've already said, my chicken came with offal so the Cajun rice didn't use stock or chicken meat, but the liver and kidneys you don't normally get with a supermarket chicken

DoItTooJulia Tue 27-Aug-13 18:34:41

Ok, I've only read half of the thread, as dinner is on!

But I spent a fiver on lentils today....a fiver. And that was on just two types! (But admittedly huge bags)

We are veggie and I do a lot of from scratch cooking, but never eat a whole week of from scratch as I do shove oven chips in and fry some eggs for an easy meal. I never buy ready meals.

I spend loads on food. We are a family of five. Actually I spend loads in the supermarket, not necessarily just on food.

I admire your intentions OP. but the trouble is that I can cook from scratch on pennies, or spend a fortune doing it. I just prefer knowing what my food has in it. I'm a food inspector and see way too many bags of white powder in food factories!

chibi Tue 27-Aug-13 18:35:54

boy this doesn't half assume a lot.

yes, homemade is cheaper if

you can cook (you know how)
you can cook (you have a cooker/cooking tools)
you have transportation or live within distance of a shop which sells nourishing food
you work hours that enable you to get to said shop/it is open 24 hours a day
you do not have any disabilities which preclude some or all of the above

and more.

yes, for the supremely determined person in challenging situations, it can be done. you can get two buses to get to the big cheap megastore at the edge of town rather than walk to the expensive shop on the fringes of the estate that sells shit. you can shop with a neighbour to take advantage of deals/share freezer space.

but sometimes it is exhausting and you want something that is a treat and it is easier and doesn't cost you as much in time and energy when you are already knackered.

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 18:36:17

That was my point earlier. I buy free range because cheap chicken is false economy.

However, my free range chicken would stretch as far as an organic chicken of the same weight.

I'm not convinced, I used to buy free range organic chicken - now I buy pasture raised and get several more meals out of it

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 18:41:19

The weight of meat is the same. So it really does go as far.

ChoudeBruxelles Tue 27-Aug-13 18:42:25

It depends where you buy food from. There is a massive market near me. You canbuy shed loads of veg for next to nothing. You could make loads of healthy meals really quite cheaply but people need to know how to cook. It's daunting being presented with a load of veg if you don't know what to do with it

ToffeePenny Tue 27-Aug-13 18:45:53

My attempt (apologies for length - the 'rules' of the challenge don't really allow for brevity!)

1. Home cooked (reliance on canned soup, tomato puree, stock cubes, and custard powder to save time) based on my student days (we probably ate more toast based food in an average week then due to hangovers/laziness though)

2. 1 week's shop for 4 comes in at a little under £60 (tesco) / £51 (aldi)
skip dessert but keep the fruit and choose all value options and it's around £47 (tesco) / £42 (aldi).
In all cases I assumed there were no special offers to be taken up (even though many of the items below were on offer) and that there are no leftovers each meal (there are in reality).
There are leftovers from this list to carry into the next week - teabags, dried fruit, flour, barley, split peas, garlic, olive oil, and mixed spice but it was impossible to buy less of these and we are assuming no store cupboard items/parts of items.
The free range question has a large impact - an extra £2.50 on the chicken but a £7 uplift on the eggs

penne pasta (1.5 kg) £3.00
medium cheddar (1 kg) £5.80
2 Campbell's condensed cream of celery/mushroom soup £0.95 each = £1.90 (cheaper option not condensed at £0.65 each = £1.30)
8 large onions (200g) £0.20 each = £1.60
2 can sweetcorn £0.35 (325g) = £0.70
2 can tuna flakes in brine (185g) £0.50 each = £1.00
basmati rice (1 kg) £1.80 (cheaper option long grain £0.40 for 1kg)
value stock cubes £0.20 (10 cubes)
4 sardines in tomato sauce (135g) £0.35 = £1.40
value tomato puree £0.35 (200g)
green split peas £0.68 (600g)
porridge oats (1kg) £0.75
4 boxes value mixed eggs (15 in a box) £1.35 = £5.40 (free range 20p per egg = £12)
6 large whole milk (4pts each) £1.25 = £7.50
garlic (3 bulbs) £0.50 (optional)
streaky bacon £1.04
whole chicken (1kg) £3.50 (free range was £6)
potatoes (2.5kg) = £2.50
2x corned beef (340g) £1.54 = £3.08
2x butter (250g) £1 = £2.00
flour (1.5kg) £0.45
olive oil (500ml) £2.00
caster sugar (1kg) £1.50
2 cans peaches in juice (410g) £0.32 = £0.64
2kg bananas (about 11 pieces) = £1.40
1.5kg apples (about 10 pieces) = £3.00
birds custard powder (300g) = £1.10
cocoa (100g) £2.00
pearl barley (500g) £0.55
2kg carrots (about 20 pieces) = £1.80
2kg value turnip/swede = £2.00
500g loose leeks (about 4) = £1.30
2 celeriac £0.30 each = £0.60
celery £1.00
greek style yogurt (500g) £1.00
2x multigrain loaf bread (800g) £1.00 each = £2.00
value sultanas (500g) £0.84
marmalade (454g) £0.27
4 x value pure orange juice (1 litre) £0.65 = £2.60
teabags (80) £0.27
mixed spice £0.85
ground pepper £0.35

breakfast (15 mins prep & cooking time on average) small glass orange juice plus:
porridge made with milk x 3,
2 eggs (any way you like) with toast x 2,
pancakes (eggs, milk, flour, oil) with sugar (make the ones for the dessert at the same time),
greek yogurt with banana.

lunch (30 mins each on average to cook - prep is done with dinner the night before):
spanish omelette (eggs, onion, potato, little bit cheese if desired) x 2,
tuna pasta bake (see 'dinner'),
scotch broth (carrot, turnip, onion, white part of 1 leek, barley, split peas, stock cube, 1/2 of the bacon diced) x 2,
stovies (corned beef, onion, potatoes, carrots, stock) with oatcakes (oats, flour, butter, sugar) x 2

dinner - average prep time 15 mins, cooking time varies for each:
roast chicken with potatoes, carrot & swede mash, leeks (green parts), stock cube/ flour for gravy (1hr 20 max cooking)
tuna pasta bake (cook and drain pasta, layer with tuna, sweetcorn, grated cheese, 1 1/2 onion finely chopped, pour over condensed soup and sprinkle with more cheese) x3 (prep all 3 bakes in 1 go in the prep time) (30 mins)
cupboard paella (fry 1 onion until soft, garlic, 2tin sardines, 1 cup basmati rice, add tomato puree and brown, add soaked split peas, 2 cups stock made with cubes cook on low heat (15 mins ) x2,
macaroni cheese (milk, 1/2 onion finely chopped, white part of 1 leek, pasta, flour, butter, cheese) (30 mins)
celeriac soup with bread (celeriac, white part of 1 leek, onion, potato, milk, stock (made out of the chicken carcass, onion, carrots, and celery if you have time as taste is better but otherwise use stock cube) (30 mins)

dessert - average 30mins prep and cooking
bread and butter pudding (bread, butter, sultanas soaked overnight in cold black tea, marmalade, sugar, eggs, milk, mixed spice)
peach cobbler with custard (peaches, sugar, flour, butter, birds custard powder, milk)
apple crumble with custard (apples, sugar, flour, butter, mixed spice)
chocolate brownies (cocoa, flour, oil, eggs, sugar)
crepes suzette (pancakes with marmalade, sugar, orange juice)
bara brith (flour, egg, sultanas soaked overnight in black tea, sugar, orange juice, marmalade, mixed spice)

3. Cooking and prep time combined would be max 12 hours over the week - this assumes the cook is as new to this as we were as students and that they are not multitasking while stuff is cooking. Most of the dishes are 1 pot and desserts would go in at the same time so this would actually be a lot less.

4. Prices are from tesco and aldi on

ToffeePenny Tue 27-Aug-13 18:46:55

that's massive blush


littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 18:50:53

Sad that those who had ethics and bought free range when they could afford it did not maintain those ethics and give up meat when they couldn't 'afford free range.

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 18:51:25

Is aldi on mysupermarket?

ToffeePenny Tue 27-Aug-13 18:53:17

Not Aldi, Asda

mistyped sorry!

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 18:56:22

Well when your backs up against the wall littlemog you develop a tough skin.

The life of a chicken suddenly doesn't mean as much.

On the bright side, the new thick skin means its impossible for someone on the internet to make me sad or guilty.

whois Tue 27-Aug-13 18:56:33

I think everyone having a go at loopy is being really sanctimonious

Agreed. Also quite hypocritical of you've ever eaten meat in your work canteen, eaten a shop-bought egg mayo sandwich, eaten meat in the local chain pub etc!

I have the luxury of cash and can ensure I buy only free range organic top welfare eggs and happy pig bacon etc. However I'm not under any delusions that the pork belly I had for lunch from the work canteen was from a happy pig!

If I had the choice (cash constrained) between eating meat not at all, or eating it a couple of times a week from low-welfare animals tbh I would probably choose that. Choice between low-welfare meat every day and high-welfare twice a week then I'd go for the nice meat twice a week.

I actually tried to do a full week menu for 4 people, costed and caloried up from tesco this afternoon. It's bloody hard! I ran out of time and hadn't sorted it out after 30 mins.

My conclusion is it is easier to eat healthy nutritional calories cooked from scratch than ready meals or take away. However if you're seriously poor then the empty high sugar calories are cheaper.

Re coking from scratch debate - tinned veg and frozen veg defo counts as cooking from scratch. Who the hell buys fresh toms to make a tomatoe sauce? That is v expensive and only worth it flavour wise for a v short season in the Uk.

Tabby1963 Tue 27-Aug-13 19:02:44

You can't beat a good home made meat/veg soup with all sorts thrown in from the fridge that need using up, with Tesco value stock cubes which are about 10p a packet. I make enough for all my work lunches throughout the week, plus extra for the freezer. I was looking at the price of a tin of soup today, really expensive and far too salty for my taste.

With cooked from scratch food, you know exactly what's in it (no added sugar and salt and MSG to 'add taste' for example).

shrinkingnora Tue 27-Aug-13 19:03:28

Okay, have just costed up what we had for supper:

200g flour - 6p
100g baking fat - 22p
6 eggs - 54p (add 60p if you want free range)
1/3 pt milk - 9p
75g mature cheddar - 38p
Tomato - 20p
Onion - 20p

500g Steamed potatoes - 35p

250g frozen peas - 25p

Small tin naturally sweet sweetcorn - 35p

Homemade flapjack
150g Oats - 12p
110g Baking fat - 28p
60g Syrup - 9p
75g Sugar - 13p

5 Apples - £1

Served 2 adults and 3 children with 3 pieces of quiche and 5 pieces of flapjack left for lunches tomorrow. We had value cornflakes or value porridge with semi skimmed milk for breakfast and marmite sandwiches with carrot sticks, home made cake, cheese, crackers and fruit for lunch.

lougle Tue 27-Aug-13 19:04:43

I just meal planned a week's meals and bought all that I needed from Tesco.

£47 to feed 5 x 6 meals, and 7 x 1 meal, so total portions 37. Total cost: £47

1. Roast Chicken with Roasted Potatoes, braised carrots and roasted vegetables (courgette, tomatoes, aubergines). Followed by Rice pudding.
2. Chicken salad
3. Chicken Pie with new potatoes and peas
4. Pasta with bacon & vegetable sauce (bacon, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, olives)
5. Sweet and Sour Chicken
6. Tuna and sweetcorn Pasta bake
7.Baked Potato with beans and cheese

Additional fruit (apples, pears) and yoghurts available
Total cost per portion: £1.27

Admittedly, this was helped by the promotional £2/kg offer for chicken.

gamerchick Tue 27-Aug-13 19:07:41

See i'm not convinced by the aldi free range chickens.. I'm really not!.. they SAY free range and I buy them trusting the label.. but every proper free range chicken I've bought from the butchers had these long, really hard to separate legs from the body.. they were obviously, strong, well used legs.

But the aldi chickens.. even though are marked free range.. are short and easy to get off after cooking.. much like a battery hen.

I think I use a mixture.. but cooking from scratch is a learned thing.. nobody can just come along and do a list.

I could write out a list of every ingredient and whatnot I use and how cheap it is just to be told that 'I don't liiike that though'.. but am I shit working out calorie content. Cooking from scratch is generally better for you in the less preservative point.. it could be high in calories or fat but would probably be better for you health wise.

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 19:17:13

I would so love to be able to shop in a butchers and a nice market.

I am envy of people who say they can shop cheaper in their local shops than supermarkets.

Maybe its because I live in the South East, but I tried local butchers etc and then walked out nearly having had a heart attack at much it had cost me.

Even my local market is expensive.

I saw a programme where someone who has a large family bought a whole pig, the butcher chopped it up and then the family froze it. They said it was cheaper then buying from a supermarket.

That would cost a small fortune round here.

I hear you - when we lived in London and "local butcher" and "farmers market" stocked prohibitively expensive food...

And I'm very aware that my cost of fruit and veg is prob substantially lower than if I was buying the same things in the UK (£2 for 5 perfect avocados) hence being able to spend more on eggs

I agree about labeling untransparency...I was very smug about my free range buying until I looked into it and Realised how much of a mug I was being taken for as a consumer who trusts pictures and labels. Now I only buy our meat and eggs from this local farmer, which is easy because he's at our market, 10min walk from my house, every Sunday. It's easier to make ethical choices when convenience is a positive factor

LisaMed Tue 27-Aug-13 19:40:26

About to get sucked in to bedtime madness so jumping in at page 4

Variety eg 1kg mince cooked up for savoury mince with mash night one, spag bol night two, chilli night three. You use a basic big meat source and s-t-r-e-t-c-h. In this context a big joint is more cost effective than a small one and should theoretically be served hot, cold, hash and soup. I can never do this with a chicken but a leg of lamb when on offer does four of us at least this.

Fuel costs meat usually means either expensive and quick cooked (fillet) or cheap and slow cooked (shin beef). There is not yet enough emphasis on saving fuel. Hay box/slow cooker/remoska/halogen/microwave/tiered steamer cooking. Junk microwave stuff is less expensive to cook.

Travel costs and access to shops It is cheaper for me to get a supermarket delivery than get the bus to a supermarket, and I live in an area with access to city living, huge markets etc. Getting access to eg markets isn't always cost effective. There is no point in me spending £4 on bus fares instead of free delivery (in the right circumstances) when I am going to save less than £4 and knacker myself carrying.

Bulk buying is really useful if you are cooking from scratch. This assumes you have the money for the outlay plus ways of dragging it home plus somewhere to store it. Otherwise it will be even more expensive buying eg lentils by the 200g.

Just the actual cost of ingredients aren't the sum total of cooking.

Look forward to coming back and catching up.

shrinkingnora Tue 27-Aug-13 19:41:38

Part of my job is to sell at farmers markets and I would warn that not all farmers are honest. Particularly the ones struggling to make a living from a small holding (I'm looking at you Dave with you fake farm eggs).

limitedperiodonly Tue 27-Aug-13 19:47:27

Lots of people eat junk but kid themselves that it good home-cooked stuff.

Mostly it's something involving pasta and a tin of tomatoes. They are malnourished.

But you knew that, didn't you? wink

BoozyBear Tue 27-Aug-13 19:47:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Gracie990 Tue 27-Aug-13 19:48:31

Just wanted to say lentils, beans and spices are mega cheap in an Indian supermarket. I go once a year and fill the larder.

A 2 kg bag of red lentil 69p ( ish)

whois Tue 27-Aug-13 20:03:49

*Lots of people eat junk but kid themselves that it good home-cooked stuff.

Mostly it's something involving pasta and a tin of tomatoes. They are malnourished.

But you knew that, didn't you?*

Care to elaborate on that? As far as I'm concerned there is nothing wrong with a meal of pasta, tinned toms and the addition of an onion and some frozen mixed veg. Especially with some beans or pulses in there for protein.

garlicbargain Tue 27-Aug-13 20:05:53

Here we go again with the bulk buying. Few poor people live in homes with larders, pantries, or even enough storage space for their belongings.

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 20:11:07

Its the same when you see good deals in the shop which you know would save you money in the long run but you can't afford to spend that much of your weekly budget on those items.

twistyfeet Tue 27-Aug-13 20:16:20

the only example I can thik of is cake. Today I made ds a birthday cake. The eggs alone were 2 quid for 6 and I used 5. An entire pack of tesco basics butter was £1.20. So thats £3 before you add the flour, sugar, more butter for the butter icing, then icing sugar. I cant be arsed to price all of that but I'm guessing £5 or £6. I could have picked up some cheapo cake in Tesco. But no, ds wanted a home made one.
So a home made cake was way more expensive than some cheapo shop bought round one.

LotsOfNettleTea Tue 27-Aug-13 20:30:22

It is possible to be poor, busy AND care about animal welfare.We certainly dont have a lot of money but prioritise good, healthy and ethical food which means planning ahead and batch cooking. It also means accepting that you don't need to eat every meal, or eveN every day which is actually much healthier. Regularly eating ready meals is not good nutritionally and childrens' health absolutely has to be a priority for any parent in my opinion. From scratch wins in this house, always.

LotsOfNettleTea Tue 27-Aug-13 20:31:09

That should say eat meat every meal!

LotsOfNettleTea Tue 27-Aug-13 20:32:35

And as for bulk buying, we have a small house but make room for storing food in bulk. It IS possible!

LisaMed Tue 27-Aug-13 20:42:55

LotsOfNettleTea Bulk buying is possible, if you have somewhere to put it, can afford the initial outlay and have a way of dragging it home.

Initial outlay can be the real crippling problem. I bought a massive sack of rice for £6, but if you haven't got that in addition to your budget (which happens) then you can't take advantage. It was also a rare moment when I had DH with me in the car, so I could drag it home. Normally not an option.

btw for crap can I recommend Approved Food which is over run, short date and out of date food but watch the postage and some deals are not as good as some supermarket offers. On the other hand, when they had 300 sandwich bags for 50p I bought a shedload and I will have sandwich bags for years to come. The drawer still will not shut.

twistyfeet Tue 27-Aug-13 20:42:58

one thing is tricky with bulk cooking. No freezer. Just that teeny above fridge thingy.

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 20:49:49

Here we go again with the bulk buying. Few poor people live in homes with larders, pantries, or even enough storage space for their belongings

What a massive generalisation!

StanleyLambchop Tue 27-Aug-13 20:58:31

You can't beat a good home made meat/veg soup with all sorts thrown in from the fridge that need using up, with Tesco value stock cubes which are about 10p a packet.

With cooked from scratch food, you know exactly what's in it (no added sugar and salt and MSG to 'add taste' for example).

But stock cubes have got added salt! And why is making a soup with a stock cube classed as cooking from scratch, but a spag bol using a jar of dolmio isn't? I am confused !

BoozyBear Tue 27-Aug-13 21:19:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Chunderella Tue 27-Aug-13 21:23:46

Just so you know loopy, there are people reading this who think you're coming off much better than the people moralising at you about animal rights.

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 21:31:13

How do you manage to buy meat wholesale boozy?

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 21:32:19

Thanks Chunderella smile

chibi Tue 27-Aug-13 21:35:09

i live in a tiny 3 bed mid terrace. it has a tiny galley kitchen. it does not have a freezer. what if i can't afford to buy a freezer?

still making excuses?


BoozyBear Tue 27-Aug-13 21:37:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

limitedperiodonly Tue 27-Aug-13 21:40:09

Care to elaborate on that?

whois I'll give it a whirl.

There is nothing wrong with a vegetarian or vegan diet, but it involves more care, research and effort to get complete protein from it than it does from animal sources.

That's more effort than most people are going to put in.

If you care about what you want to eat for reasons of dietary need or ethics, then that's fine.

And it's great to inform people about good nutrition on a diet that contains no animal products.

But it's very wrong to mislead people into thinking tinned tomatoes and pasta is a good diet because you don't want them to eat animals but don't think they'll follow through if given all the information. Do you agree, or not?

Or do you have beliefs that would lead you to prefer people to eat a nutritionally-unsound diet rather than being informed about the consequences of a diet with incomplete protein and the knowledge of how to overcome that, if they so wish?

I mentioned a diet of tinned tomatoes and pasta, which some people on other threads today to do with poor people, are glibly advocating. That diet doesn't contain any protein, not to mention other nutrients and fibre, and will lead to malnutrition if eaten on a routine basis.

Is that good?

You mentioned adding pulses and vegetables to the tinned tomatoes and pasta. I guess that's because you and I both know that a diet of tinned tomatoes and pasta is recipe for malnutrition.

Whoop-de-do. That's not what I said, and you know it.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 27-Aug-13 21:50:48

Quite often I buy daily rather than a weekly shop, I walk so no transport and I go later in the day to get the offers. Sometimes I buy extra and freeze it.
I find cooking from scratch and buying what we need and not buying junk food and treats to be a lot cheaper.

AmberLeaf Tue 27-Aug-13 21:52:36

I hate your attitude towards animals loopy. It really pisses me off that people think like this

Sometimes you are just too hard up to have principles. It really pisses me off that people rely on food banks, but there you go.

Just so you know loopy, there are people reading this who think you're coming off much better than the people moralising at you about animal rights

Hear bloody hear.

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 21:57:45

There is nothing wrong with a vegetarian or vegan diet

Big of you to say so....confused

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 21:59:57

Amber I think that you may find very many poor but principled people in the world when it comes to food production.

You are being very patronising to poor people to suggest otherwise.

ouryve Tue 27-Aug-13 22:00:21

squoosh - i suspect the medium chicken may just have been a small turkey!

I consider a medium chicken to be about 1.5kg. If it's a typical freedom food or the oakham chicken that M&S do for their dine in offers (which is the only time I buy non-FR), it's more breast than leg. FR is more leg than breast and has less, but more flavourful meat on it. I typically get a roast for 4 of us, a well stuffed sarnie or three, plus a chicken pasta bake or similar, with a generous amount of chicken in it out of that sized chicken. I may save the carcase for soup or stock, but I've usually stripped off every morsel of meat already.

Ad the price of that size chicken? £3-4 bog standard, £5-7 freedom food, £7-10 free range, depending on how free the range was and £10-13 all singing all dancing slow growing and possibly organic. I happily pay the £13 that the organic, fully free range chickens for Northumberland I buy cost, as they make you realise just how tasty a meat chicken can be, but I'd not judge someone on a very tight budget occasionally buying a bog standard chicken to put some good quality protein in their kids' diet, just so long as they used it well and didn't just eat the breast and turn their nose up at the rest. (Unlike Loopy, I think that you owe it to the animal that's lived and died for your benefit to eat it well.)

RhondaJean Tue 27-Aug-13 22:04:04

I'm going to completely ignore the entire previous thread and point out that I can make a pasta sauce from a tin of tomatoes (32p) a stock cube and a sprinkle of dried herbs which tastes better and is about half the price of a tinned one.

AmberLeaf Tue 27-Aug-13 22:11:12

You are being very patronising to poor people to suggest otherwise

No I'm not.

I'm speaking from the experience of having been so poor that I had to forego many of my principles.

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 22:15:04

Well if respecting the bird is important to you, ouryve then you'll be pleased to know I do use each and every morsel of the bird.

Not that it makes a flaming difference. The bird has still died regardless of my feelings towards it.

I would go so far as to argue that if I respected the bird at all I wouldn't have eaten it in the first place.

Littlemog it is you who is patronising on this thread.

Oh yes ouryve. Use all the animal.

limitedperiodonly Tue 27-Aug-13 22:18:54

There is nothing wrong with a vegetarian or vegan diet Big of you to say so....confused

There's nothing big about my saying that littlemog.

A vegetarian or vegan diet is completely valid. But it's more difficult than an omnivore diet in terms of nutrition and ease of eating outside your own home. Don't you agree?

The more you progress towards a non-animal product diet, the more difficult it becomes, but it's not impossible and in certain places some people won't even notice it, if you don't want to tell them.

I don't think you shouldn't but I realise that some people might be silly and think you were being militant. I wouldn't, but that's some people for you.

Just be honest and proud about it. Then people might want to copy you. If not, if they're decent, at least they'll respect you.

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 22:20:11

Use all the animal? So we have a thread of people that eat sweetbread and offel?

ouryve Tue 27-Aug-13 22:21:48

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 20:49:49

Here we go again with the bulk buying. Few poor people live in homes with larders, pantries, or even enough storage space for their belongings

What a massive generalisation!


Not really - we own our house. It's quite big for a 2 bed, with an 8' by 12' kitchen. The kitchen is a tip because we try to bulk buy and take advantage of twofers (because we can afford that, of course) and we have to store a lot of stuff on top of our cupboards. I have nowhere to keep a sack of potatoes, where they wouldn't rot (I rarely finish a 2.5kg bag without them turning to liquid) or more than standard sized bags of flour where the psocids won't get into them. By the time I've taken advantage of multibuys on tinned tomatoes or half price pasta or rice, my tall food cupboard is in danger of bursting all over the floor.

In your average rented kitchen with half as many cupboards as mine, where do you put those things?

I don't care what anyone else's principles are on animal welfare, if you're interested then educate yourself and make the decision that's right for you.

Just because I'd rather go vegetarian than buy ethically sub standard meat doesn't mean I care if loopy or anyone else does too. Plenty of protein to be found in plant based diets but yes you have to learn about it and know how to cook.

FWIW the chicken was roughly 1.75kg again I don't care if you don't believe me, I have nothing to gain by lying about it. It is doable. And without too mug effort as well.

Also I think I did calculations wrong - it would have come out as about £22 for the shop, so £16 for the chicken that fed the masses

limitedperiodonly Tue 27-Aug-13 22:30:12

loopyloo I eat offal, including sweetbreads. with relish.

I balk at chitterlings (fried intestines), fried spinal column and tripe because the texture is horrible.

Though I do like milk-fed calves' intestines with pasta and tomato.

And lightly-fried lamb and calf brains in butter with capers.

Agree on space issue, we can only bulk buy now because we have garage to store the excess in. Our old flat in London barely had room for the crockery and cooking utensils

With you limited

Our family choffs down the liver and kidneys including in the infamous ruddy chicken (which explains some of the reason it goes a lot further than other peoples) and the gizzards make the stock sublime

AmberLeaf Tue 27-Aug-13 22:34:30

Yum offal.

My fav is chicken livers, V cheap too! 50p for a frozen tub x2 feeds us all.

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

So even you limitedperiod, who I would consider a fearless eater and cook, doesn't eat all the animal?

AmberLeaf Tue 27-Aug-13 22:35:49

I don't understand how you made 5 meals out of the liver of one medium chicken though! was it an alcoholic chicken with an enlarged liver?

I try to cook from scratch but find it expensive. I could feed us all (2 adults,3 DC age 10 & 8) easily from Farmfoods for 30 quid a week buying ready meals frozen burgers sausages pizzas etc. I shop in aldi spending around 45-50 then topping up costs about a tenner so a lot compared to buying junk.
I never manage to stretch out a chicken to more than 2 meals & 500g mince makes enough lasagne/cottage pie for all of us, no leftovers in this house. What am I doing wrong confused

Cajun Rice:

One chicken liver fried til broken down and like mince in consistency, added to prefried celery, onions, carrots, capers, garlic and peppers. Add seasoning and a shit ton of rice.

The chicken livers are fairly strong flavoured so go much further than a bland breast.

Fed me, DH (twice, he took leftovers into work for lunch), 4yo DS and 2yo DD

Should add its a Jamie Oliver meal....

AmberLeaf Tue 27-Aug-13 22:50:01

Sounds like the sort of thing Id enjoy, but tbh, its the same as the stock making another meal isn't it?

It isn't really a meal in itself, it is a very small part of the ingredients/flavouring!

I always have my chicken livers with rice smile

RhondaJean Tue 27-Aug-13 22:51:46

That sounds lovely.

The only thing I do with chicken livers is home made pâté which is much cheaper than shop bought, easy to make and tastes better too - but that's one I am going to try.

squoosh Tue 27-Aug-13 22:53:54

The only thing I do with chicken liver is make paté or chuck them in a ragu. I'm a bit squeamish of hunks of liver.

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 22:59:00

ouryve you are very lucky to own your own house (we still have many years left on our mortgage) and this must make your outgoings much smaller than most people's? I do however appreciate what you are saying about having a small kitchen and struggling with storage.

However I still think that it's a bit of a generalisation to say that poor people don't have much storage and I am always wary of generalisations when it comes to discussing people as groups such as 'the poor'.

furbaby Tue 27-Aug-13 23:02:35

Its nice to see that animal welfare is included in this , not all meat is the same .
when shopping I do get bloody cross when people have trollys filled with luxury goods and eggs from caged hens ..... makes me very judgy and up to now have managed not to comment but for the love of god why oh why don, t they give a shit !

limitedperiodonly Tue 27-Aug-13 23:04:45

No, loopyloo but I have tried it all. Which I think you should, in respect to the animal.

Until someone upthread reminded me, I forgot how much I liked lightly fried or grilled chicken hearts with chips.

And lamb hearts stewed in red wine, sliced on creamy mashed potatoes on a chilly old Valentine's day. Mmmm.

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 23:07:45

I am not trying to be inflammatory or militant or whatever else you may think...but how on earth is eating all of an animal any more respectful of the animal that eating only a bit of it?

True respect would be...well you know where I am going with that one don't you?

Notcontent Tue 27-Aug-13 23:09:13

I don't have time to read the whole thread but the point a lot of people miss is that the £3 lasagne or whatever from Iceland is so cheap because it is made from crap ingredients and only tastes ok because it is full of salt and other nasties.

You can make really simple, tasty, cheap meals if you want to - you just need to know how and want to. I would rather have a simple omelette or some pasta with a basic tomato sauce then a ready meal. I can't even imagine serving a ready meal to my child.

AmberLeaf Tue 27-Aug-13 23:12:25

True respect would be...well you know where I am going with that one don't you?

Yep, so when you are a vegan, maybe you can come back and preach with a bit more of an argument?

Whether your organic free range chicken was sung to daily, it was still killed so you could eat it. Which does negate your argument a tad.

LoopyLupo Tue 27-Aug-13 23:13:09

For once I agree with you Littlemog and that was my point earlier.

I think all this 'respecting the animal' is just to make people feel better about eating meat.

I'm sure the animal wishes you respected it enough to let it live.

Its quite hypocritical. An animal has died for your dinner, I don't think you can bring 'respect' into it.

AmberLeaf Tue 27-Aug-13 23:13:41

If you cared that much about animals, you would be a vegan.

Why oh why don't you give a shit?

To be honest the original recipe does call for more and it's bloody lovely with more but it was fine with one.

Def take the point of "flavoring" but I personally don't think I can make risotto half as tasty as with HM stock and the Cajun rice is a bit meh without the liver - and if you can count a roast as a full meal (assuming everyone else has veg and spuds and not just a plate of meat!) then I am bloody well counting my risotto and rice and noodle dishes - the major difference is more carbs but I don't think you need anymore animal products than I'm adding

Damnit, supposed to be doing a vegan challenge and now all I want is chicken liver!

sqoosh you should try the Cajun rice, really break down the liver so it's more mince like rather than big chunks of it

All my chicken dishes do have some meat from the bird in them, it won't be the biggest ingredient but protein shouldn't be, should it?!

garlicbargain Tue 27-Aug-13 23:20:24

I am always wary of generalisations when it comes to discussing people as groups such as 'the poor'.

Yes, I used to be wary, too. Then I became one of the poor, and discovered how very much we (largely) have in common. Most of what we have in common is problems, which I had completely failed to comprehend when I was a liberal-minded 'rich' person.

Like, for example, cramped dwellings, running out of electricity, having to walk past the worthwhile offers because there's NO spare cash, and needing tremendous ingenuity to put together an adequate and varied diet.

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 23:20:47

Amberleaf are you talking to me? I am virtually a vegan as I do avoid dairy but I call myself a veggie (upthread) as I do eat our girls' eggs - technically to be a vegan I would not eat eggs either. I have spent long periods of my life as a vegan and it is hard work - having hens has made it easier for me and I am now more relaxed about just being a veggie.

My husband does occasionally eat meat but because proper meat is expensive, it's not that often and he's happy with that.

littlemog Tue 27-Aug-13 23:22:47

But I suspect that you really just wanted to make your dig and that you are not really interested in my answer.

limitedperiodonly Tue 27-Aug-13 23:23:42

littlemog fair enough. I take it that you don't want to eat any part of an animal. Are you vegan or vegetarian?

I respect that, but I want to eat animal flesh. If you don't respect that I expect you to accept it.

I'm willing to eat a large part of the animal, probably more than most people, so that might make me better than most on a recycling level.

But I don't want to eat all of it, and some of it - well, I don't know where it goes. Probably animal feed or fertiliser but I can't say, and I'm not being flippant.

I dunno, I think you can have your chicken cake and eat it up to a point

I don't have a problem with the idea of animals being raised to be fed to humans. I do care about their welfare in birth, life and death. I also care about the effect too much meat has on my own body. I also care about the mass production of meat putting environmental pressure on the world. I don't know, maybe I only believe in something wishy washy like sustainable meat production?

It's the poor treatment of animals I can't abide. I'm not fully there but am gradually moving towards making my diet fully vegan apart from buying produce I absolutely hand on heart know has been treated decently (including good abattoir practices)...I'm still researching it to be honest so forgive not fully formulated arguments

I do appreciate this will eventually mean having to go fully vegan out of my own kitchen, which is why it's a gradual process alongside doing my research

My theories are also a bit mixed in that I'll eat beef from this particular farmer I've found but I still don't like that cows are artificially inseminated then have their calves immediately taken from them in order to sustain milk production. So, for the most part, I now avoid dairy....

But it does take time and effort and practice to change your habits to conform with your ideologies when you're also working on a budget

garlicbargain Tue 27-Aug-13 23:27:02

Variety is one of the biggest reasons for embracing 'junk' food, ime. Proper nutritionists will tell you how crucial it is: eating variations on a theme of pasta w/tomatoes, day in, day out, will leave you malnourished. Trufact. Doesn't matter how well you've balanced your proteins, your diet must vary. I've developed some food intolerances lately, which restrict my options still further.

Hence my gratitude for things like bratwurst, frozen chinese & indian dishes, lamb burgers (real lamb too dear,) and many other bits & bobs I would have turned my wealthier nose up at.

ouryve Tue 27-Aug-13 23:28:10

Amber - I like (good quality meat and feel a lot healthier when it is part of my diet. I love pulses, but the don't love me. I can happily eat what is a vegan diet for a few days at a time, then it will turn on me and I'll be horribly ill. Then, I'll be pre-menstrual and all that will shut up my food cravings and shakes is a bit of high quality protein. Not a lot, but something that can give me 30g of it, in one sitting. Vegan does not cut it, then. We're built as omnivores and not everyone can veer from that path and remain healthy.

So, I now eat meat. I have 2 boys with ASD and severe food texture issues, so eating meat or fish is what gets protein into them. Without enough protein in their diets, their behaviour is shite, to be frank. I eat very differently now than I did 10 years ago, since there's not just me to think about. I've noticed that I even cater to the boys more than me for lunches in the school holidays, which means that I eat far more wheat/bread than my guts like.

Anyhow, like it or not, I do eat meat, now, and I buy it for my family. I am long term battle weary from getting protein, of any sort into my children's diets. I do buy the highest welfare meat that I can source with them in tow, that they will actually eat. I do feel very guilty if an animal has led less than a perfectly happy life, then had to be killed for food, only to be thrown away, so yes, I do think that it shows respect to eat everything possible.

Good post our

Funny because as I get older my system has started to work in opposite to yours - too much meat (a meal a day two or three days in a row) and I have chronic stomach pain for days after

garlicbargain Tue 27-Aug-13 23:36:32

I have CFS. I wilt very noticeably without meat. Sad but true: my symptoms get much worse. So does my depression (there's some metabolic product of eating meat, which is antidepressant. I forget how this works.)

Really?! Well I never - my depression has lifted considerably since focusing on a more vegetarian diet

Sigh, off to the weirdo corner I go

AmberLeaf Tue 27-Aug-13 23:38:43

But I suspect that you really just wanted to make your dig and that you are not really interested in my answer

What like you when you ignored my post about my viewpoint coming from actually being poor?

My question was not a dig, it was a genuine question.

People who can afford to eat ethical meat banging on at people who can't, are IMO full of it. as I said, the entire animal based food industry is unethical, so either stick to being a vegan or don't preach to anyone else.
better still, just be happy with being a vegan and save the preaching.

ouryve Tue 27-Aug-13 23:59:46

Americas - around my period, red meat does that to me. It actually keeps me awake at night. I eat fish or seafood 4 or 5 times a week. Rarely oily fish, though. It gives me migraines.

garlicbargain Wed 28-Aug-13 00:02:56

Good to hear about your depression, ATB. It's true, of course, that a varied diet with lots of fresh stuff will help depression and many other illnesses.

I imagine that someone who felt tormented by guilt at eating animals would feel depressed by an omnivorous diet! It would be in that person's interests to master the alternatives, as you did.

cerealandtoast Wed 28-Aug-13 00:14:31

I've read about half the thread, so apologies if it has moved on.

I spend, on average, about £80 per week to feed a family of five (2 adults, 3 children, ages 9, 6 and 1. All children are good eaters, eg 9 year old probably eats as much as I do, and 1 year old eats ridiculous amounts). I buy organic stuff mostly, and free from foods (gluten and dairy allergies). I assume, that if I were to buy value stuff, I would easily cut my shopping bill in half. I cook everything from scratch (allergies mean ready meals/processed/pre packaged stuff is not possible) but I don't think I could get the same level of food for the same money if I bought ready meals.

I can't be bothered to list out everything I cook (and would have no clue as to calorie content at all) but yesterday I made bologna use as follows:

1 packet mince
1 jar passata
2 tins tomatoes
1 tin lentils
2 courgettes
4 carrots
Onion (about 3 tablespoons of frozen chopped onions - my one 'luxury' processed food!)
Any other wilting veg hanging around (I bunged in a small handful of green beans I had lurking in the veg drawer)

Estimated cost: £10ish.

This fed:
all 3 children twice (equivalent of 2 adults per sitting, so 4 portions)
4 adults for dinner
4 x portions for eldest to take to school for lunch. So 12 portions in all (and none of us are light eaters). Of course pasta/rice has to be added to this to make a meal, bt even with that added in you are looking at a cost of around £1.25ish/portion, and that is using organic produce. Not exactly expensive for the quality.

If I really could halve costs by buying value/not organic (not something i have costed, but i continually told how stupidly expensive organic produce is) then it would be around 60p/portion, so £2.40 for a family of 4. Equivalent to some of the junk meals quoted in the first half of the thread, and far more nutritious. Also not a time consuming meal to put together - I can get it from fridge to table in 30 minutes and I am no expert chef.

BackforGood Wed 28-Aug-13 00:21:04

RhondaJean - but that's more expensive than the jars of pasta sauce I have in my cupboard, at 39p for a jar, so no saving to be adding herbs and stock cube to a 32p tin of toms.

MaeBea Wed 28-Aug-13 00:25:37

Gosh this thread, and related, shocks me. I cannot believe Loopy is getting such a hard time (and I say that as a 25 years+ vegetarian).

Her meal plan is exactly what people sticking to a budget should be doing (and what my v MC, and rich, MIL did throughout the 70s & 80s - my Gran did similar in the '30s onwards but was better at cooking with unusual cuts than are available these days). One joint, one pack/cut cheaper meat to last a week - she gets the best out of what she buys. 2 "servings" meat per week, but cooked to last, so more than 2 meals. If everyone ate like this there wouldn't be such a problem with meat production in the first place.

I agree that if people could buy cheap, unpopular cuts of meat more easily it would be better, but for most due to retail availability this isn't an option. Loopy's comments about the meat on a free range chicken illustrate that better reared meat can be more cost effective - but who could blame those when this is not the case and have a family to feed.

Part of the problem is exemplified by some of the comments on this thread and others: comparing the costs of a ready meal lasagne and home made one - a lasagne is not supposed to be a "cheap meal", and it is time consuming to cook properly. The fact lasagne is viewed as a week day meal shows our national food confusion! Of course it is expensive if cooked with real meat, cheese etc (as opposed to reformed meat). It is supposed to be so!

Similarly comments on the cost of eggs: in what world is an omelette a "cheap" meal - it was never intended as such! Even in the 1970's it was an indulgence. However a Spanish omelette with lots of potato would only take 5 eggs and feeds 4 easily with leftovers for lunch. Also 2 eggs will make enough batter for Yorkshire puddings (large) for four or 12 pancakes for 2 meals etc.

I think this thread and the other one have actually exemplified exactly what Jamie is talking about - many people seem to have no idea about what is a cheap meal/what food is in season (of course baking potatoes are expensive now it is August FFS!)

Berating someone like Loopy, who is actually feeding her family a well balanced diet on a limited budget is just silly and the comments on this thread show why there is so much food confusion.

I hardly ever post, but feel really cross about this actually. I think Jamie has a point - he has been an arse about it - but, cooking makes sense. Where else in the world, other than the USA, would you have a thread accounting for pennies in terms of real food vrs pre packed shite? Everywhere else people would assume the cost of proper food worth the expenditure even if slightly more (as we did in the past given the reduced budget we now nationally allow for food)l

RhondaJean Wed 28-Aug-13 00:45:31

Hiya back

No saving but no additional cost, less additives (recognise salt in stock cube etc) and to be completely fair, any jarred pasta sauce never mind the cheap one is vile when you get used to making your own.

toomanycourgettes Wed 28-Aug-13 07:13:34

Frugal queens blog has some great recipes and most are costed. if you made a lasagne with the same amount of cheese/meat as a frozen asda/iceland job, I reckon it would be just as cheap. the cheap frozen meals and steak pies etc contain tiny amounts of meat and bulk ot with cheaper carbs.

MrsKoala Wed 28-Aug-13 07:27:15

interesting thread.

MeaBea - 5 eggs to feed 4 people would have way too little nutrition for us. i do one with 6 large eggs for 2 of us. At about 100cals per egg, that's 300cals of protein, say 2/300cals from the potato and peppers. Served with salad i would consider this a low calorie meal for us and would probably be still hungry.

toomanycourgettes Wed 28-Aug-13 07:43:28

In the UK, we pay far less for our food than say, France, Italy, Germany. And far less as a proportion of our income. People often have a very skewed idea of how their income is spent - as little as possible on food, and the rest on 'stuff', i.e. the mobile phones, big tv's grin, clothes. The way we eat has a big impact on our wellbeing and health. and don't forget that it was the cheap frozen products that had the horsemeat in them...... I actually think Jamie had a point, and there are a lot of excuses made for not eating properly and well.

WallaceWindsock Wed 28-Aug-13 08:05:24

I'm not convinced I can do a full shop list but I will estimate the fiddley bits!

Meat for the week.

One pack pork mince £4
Whole chicken £3.60
Sausages two packs for £3

That makes the following meals.
Shepherds pie -2 days, some in freezer for toddler lunches
Roast, pie, pasta bake. Some used in sarnies. - 3 meals.
Spicy sausage stew - 2 meals

That's the weeks meals with a pack of sausages leftover in the freezer for the following week.
I spend £10 per week on fruit and veg
Tins maybe £2 a week
Tesco value porridge oats for breakfasts are only £1.30ish
Lunches are flat breads and soup which I spend about £3 a week on.
The other £30 a week comes from store cupboard bits I'm running low on, cleaning products, toiletries and the standard bits like milk, spread, cheese etc.

I make meat last by bulking it out with huge amounts of veg. So the sausage stew would have 6 sausages, two tins tomatoes, leeks (from garden), onions, 3 peppers, peas, green beans. Powdered chilli, herbs from garden.

Also wanted to address the cooking equipment point someone made up thread. I possess a few baking trays, one roasting tin, 2 saucepans and a casserole pot. I manage perfectly well to knock out pies, roasts, stews and baked goods. You get creative with what you've got.

So yeah food shop is around £60 a week, more if we stock up on nappies, less if we don't need toiletries and other household stuff. I can reliably do 7 meals, have meat for a range of lunches, do healthy breakfasts and stick a load of meat and meals in the freezer.

WallaceWindsock Wed 28-Aug-13 08:09:48

I also agree about foraging and growing. I have a rented garden so have to grow in pots. I have managed to produce tomatoes, leeks, onions, runner beans, peas and herbs this year in 4 average sized pots by time planning and putting effort in with germinating the seedlings indoors etc.

I have an apple and pear tree in the garden and have cultivated a bramble bush in the corner which will produce blackberries. I will also pick berries when I spot them out and about. I always have a bag in my pocket for this purpose.

Baking products can be got cheaply. Ime value flour is just as effective for a quick crumble or pasties as branded flour.

MrsKoala Wed 28-Aug-13 08:23:34

toomany - i agree but that's because he cost of things which are non negotiable are too high. often in a family the only flexibility is food. i read once that in the past people often spent 50% of their income on food and 30% on all other bills, but now it's just 10% on food and the rest on rent/mortgage/bills.

When we lived in the uk DH and i both paid £5-600 per month on train/travel costs, on top of mortgage, gas, leccy etc. Food had to come in under a certain amount because there just wasn't any money left. I would have loved to spend more on food - i often think how the fuck has someone grown/farmed/made this, packaged it, transported it, supermarket sold it, paid staff and overheads and still made a profit?

WallaceWindsock Wed 28-Aug-13 08:28:45

I agree about the types of meals people eat aswell. We do eat a lot of stews, casseroles and one pot dishes. You can use tomatoes, lentils, stocks, or gravies as a base to get variety. Add meat of any type or fish, veg and a side of rice or flat breads, potatoes, lentils etc which are all cheap and nutritious. This is the way my working class mother and grandmother cooked with a roast on a Sunday. My grandmothers mother used to have to scrounge together filling meals which were padded out with suet or lots of bread. The subsequent generations have been able to substitute the stodge with more meat and additional veg.

Because we eat this way most of the time we save lots of money. Some weeks we don't need to do a shop at all as the freezer is full to busting with frozen portions of meals from previous weeks. We are all slim and healthy, DC have lots of energy, never need snacks and don't crave sugary crap all the time. The financial savings mean that we can afford weeks occasionally where I will do a load of more expensive meals like lasagne, stir frys etc and also mean that we can afford meals out at the weekend. Christmas and birthdays I go mad with producing a months worth of festive treats to enjoy and we really appreciate the specialness of it all.

We have become a society that doesn't seem able to eat for practical reasons. A motto in our house is "it's food in the food hole" - it serves a purpose and tastes nice. I can't understand the attitude of so many people who eat expensive and meat heavy meals every single day. Families who munch through steaks, cream based pasta dishes, large joints of meat and game every week. Producing that meat has an environmental impact and IMO we should be conscious of that. Our bodies don't need to huge portions of calorie laden food that so many consume and we need to remember how to eat in a way that is sustainable for this planet, for farming and the environment.

whois Wed 28-Aug-13 08:34:14

limitedperiodonly thanks for expanding.

I agree a diet of pasta and tinned toms every day is poor, but there is still nothing wrong with that sometimes. Especially if you've had beans on toast for lunch or something.

MrsKoala Wed 28-Aug-13 08:40:45

ime it is the baby boomer generation who introduced this level of consumption. Every one from that childhood of rationing and austerity that i know, went the exact other direction and rejected the ways their parents cooked. My parents, friends parents and PILs would never ever dream of padding things out, buying cheaper fatty cuts, eating offal, suet, stodge etc. They throw so much away because they wont feel that they can't have what they want. They take the piss out of people who make their own bread and stock and eat pulses. it has been passed down from them i think, for numerous reasons. 2 wages, women working longer hours, a rejection of the previous generation, convenience, travel, cheaper food...

littlemog Wed 28-Aug-13 08:44:24

Wallace I too grow quite a bit of stuff and it can be done as easily in a little back yard in pots (as my mum now does in her smaller retirement property) as in a garden. Potatoes, tomatoes, berries, courgettes etc can be grown very easily and I do not understand all the costings above for buying dried herbs when they can be grown by a 5 year old!

I think that it is our way of thinking about food and food production that needs to change. It should be something we are active participants in not just recipients of - in an ideal world.

toomanycourgettes Wed 28-Aug-13 08:56:16

also advertising has a lot to do with what we eat - all these pictures of happy healthy families advertising sugary crap, if you want the perfect family like this one, eat this cereal. Or all the 'i'm worth it, indulge me ads- oh, you work so hard, why not indulge yourself in this bar of chocolate/frozen pizza etc

littlemog Wed 28-Aug-13 08:58:23

But why are people taken in by advertising? Surely everyone knows cereal is a crappy food on the whole so why let the perfect family coco pops ads sway us?

LoopyLupo Wed 28-Aug-13 09:01:08

I grow fresh herbs on the window sill as I can't justify the cost of buying them from the supermarket every week.

I did consider planting veg in our very small back garden, but I have to take into account the set up costs. The thing that really put me off was hearing how some veg had failed a particular year etc.

I could maybe justify the cost if I was definitely going to reap the cost back by saving on the shopping bill. If the produce didn't grow/was eaten by insects etc then it would be a waste and I haven't got that money to waste.

nkf Wed 28-Aug-13 09:09:13

Why not work out the cheapest meal from scratch. Pasta with tomato sauce and some cheese. All from the basics range. What's that? £2? Even less.

The cheapest ready made meal for four would be more than that, I would have thought.

OwlinaTree Wed 28-Aug-13 09:17:42

I have read up to page 5 of this thread, so apologise if repeating someone here!

Some excellent points have been made about both sides of this. Realistically it does come down to more than just cost of ingredients, doesn't it? In order to cook a spag bol from scratch you need to buy all the ingredients, but you also need a decent knife to chop the veg, a chopping board, a big pan to cook the sauce, a small pan to cook the spaghetti, then you need a hob to cook it on, and to pay for the gas/electricity to cook it. If you don't have all the additional things there listed, it is going to be cheaper to buy 4 Iceland ready made spag bols for a quid each and whack them in the microwave (yes you would need a microwave!)

I guess it's not just time that is a factor. My dh enjoys cooking and makes many meals from 'scratch' (well he uses tomato puree and curry paste but basically) of which he will batch cook and we can freeze portions. I think on the whole it could be cheaper but we buy free range meat when possible and not the cheapest rice. We do bulk out meals with veg tho, things like frozen spinich are great in curries and cost pennies. However, if he didn't enjoy cooking it would be a different story i'm sure, with us buying much more convenience foods. So enjoyment of the actual cooking process plays a role. I certainly wouldn't make all my own bread for eg, even if it was a lot cheaper.

I'm guessing you could eat 2 x ready meals a day from Iceland etc at cost of £2 per person per day so 4 people x £2 = £56 plus breakfast (2 boxes of cereal £2? milk x £3 ish on milk? another £5?) so about £60ish. But i'm not sure how long you could keep it up and i think ready meals tend to have a lot of salt in? I reckon we spend less than that purely on ingredients to cook with/meals a week for 2, but of course we buy crisps, drinks, yoghurts, fruit, icecreams etc too, so spend more than that a week, and also not having to buy every single ingredient for every planned meal each time as will already have stock cubes, rice, pasta etc left from the week before.

We need a proper controlled experiment to be done on telly, 2 families, 3 months, completely from scratch. One on ready meals, one on home cooking. Even that wouldn't allow for inequalities in facilities, but would be a start? Any volunteers? wink

LoopyLupo Wed 28-Aug-13 09:18:22

Does anyone else struggle to cook cheaply in the summer?

One pot meals such as casseroles and stews are perfect for the winter and can be made in large quantities which can be frozen.

In the summer, no one wants hot food and no one wants to stand in a hot kitchen kitchen cooking it either.

On really hot weeks, I don't even want to put the oven on long enough to roast a chicken as it makes the kitchen so hot. So even roasting the chicken to have with salad has gone out the window.

Buying cold cuts from the deli counter to have with a salad isn't cheap. You don't get no where near as much meat for your money.

I do breathe a sigh of relief when Autumn comes and I can go back to roast dinners and one pot meals.

This year I have been replacing the chicken I would normally buy with a small gammon joint and cooking it in the slow cooker, this does us for a couple of meals with salad and new potatoes. I do need more ideas for cheap summer meals though.

I haven't read the whole thread, sorry.
There are cheap meals you can cook from scratch, but for variety you need to spend money unless you do as I did yesterday and bought junk from heron foods (was cool trader)

I bought 2 youngs fish pies, scampi bites, bird's eye vegetable fingers, 2 boxes bird's eye chicken quarter pounder burgers, tub of I can't believe it's not butter for £7.15. That's four meals, I have got chips, frozen veg etc in my freezer to go with them.
Also, I think something's wrong when I can buy a gigantic packet of barrel type biscuits cheaper than a bag of 6 apples.

stressedHEmum Wed 28-Aug-13 09:24:45

Someone up thread asked for some recipes from the meal plan that I posted.

Cauliflower, bacon and potato soup

Fry some chopped onions and 250gms of cooking bacon in a little oil until the onions are soft and translucent and the bacon is cooked. Add 4 decent sized potatoes, diced, and half a bag of frozen cauliflower. Pour over 2litres of water and 2 veg stock cubes and season with plenty black pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes until potatoes are soft. serves 4, if feeding little kids, there may be leftovers for lunch.

Potato and bacon Bake

Layer 2 or 3 pounds of sliced potatoes with some sliced onion and 250gms of cooking bacon, cut into little pieces, in a baking dish. Pour over 1pint of white sauce made with flour, marg and milk, seasoned with salt and pepper (a little nutmeg is nice if you have any.) Bake for a couple of hours at 160. Serve with peas and carrots.

Mac and cheese with cauliflower

Cook a bag of value pasta with the other half of the bag of frozen cauli. Meanwhile make a white sauce using a chopped onion, marg, flour, milk, salt and pepper. Add about 100gms of grated cheese to the sauce. Stir sauce through drained pasta and cauliflower. You can sprinkle the top with a little bit of extra cheese and brown under the grill if you like.

Pasta with onions

Chop 2lbs of onions and fry in some oil and butter (marg) until translucent and soft. Add salt, pepper and a spoonful of sugar. keep cooking over a low heat. meanwhile, cook a packet of value pasta. Drain pasta and mix through onion mix. Top with about 1/2 - 1oz of grated cheese per person.

Mushy Pea soup and mushy pea dahl*

Soak a 500gm pack of dried marrowfat peas overnight. Drain and then cover with about 1inch of water until very soft and breaking down. Season well.

Take half the peas and make soup with veg stock, 3 or 4 grated carrots, some chopped onion and a couple of diced potatoes. Again, there may be some leftovers.

Take the other half of the peas. Fry a couple of chopped onions until soft. Add some curry powder and cook for a couple of minutes then add a tin of chopped toms and simmer for about 10mins. Add the mushy peas, mix well and heat through. Serve over rice.

Egg rice with peas

Cook 2 cups of rice in 4 cups of salted water until all the liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile cook 2 chopped onions in some oil until soft. Add cooked rice and half a bag of frozen peas. Cook, stirring until hot through. Pour over 4 beaten eggs and stir until eggs are cooked. Season with pepper.

Toast with fish and soft cheese pate

Take the bones out of the sardines in 2 tins. Mash with a fork. Mash into a tub of philly type cheese (value is fine.) Add the grated zest of a lemon, a good squeeze of the lemon juice and plenty of black pepper. Check if it needs salt. Make sure it is really well mixed and smooth. Spread on toast.

This makes quite a lot, so there would be enough for 2 lunches and likely some leftovers. If you bought another loaf or a packer of crackers this and the extra peanut butter (price of meal plan includes 3 loaves and 2 peanut butters) would give snacks through the week.

Spiced potatoes with cabbage

Par boil 2lbs of potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces. Fry 2 chopped onions in a good splash of oil until soft. Shred a cabbage and add to onions. Mix well and allow cabbage to wilt. Add curry powder, salt and pepper and cook for a minute or two. Add potatoes and cook, stirring, until potatoes and cabbage are tender.

I think that was all the actual recipes involved in the meal plan. As I say, the cost of £35 assumed completely empty cupboards and included everything needed for the week counting things like tea bags, flour, sugar, salt, pepper, curry powder, stock cubes, oil, 12 pints of milk etc. I would post the shopping list, but that would make this the longest post in history.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 09:28:12

I used to love steak and burgers and mince....but I basically can't eat red meat any more....I stopped for 9 months while on a diet and my body seems to flip out if I either eat out, eat ready meals or eat red meat. I can manage prawns, fish sticks and chicken (in small quantities)...but nothing else.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 09:29:22

ohh - thanks for that! <except fish paste....why would you even want to make that? shock >

DeckSwabber Wed 28-Aug-13 09:30:19

I think the real saving in cooking from the ingredients is that you will have 'leftovers' which can make extra meals. Ready meals are usually eaten up in one sitting, but at the end of the week or in a lean week I can usually rustle something up from whats around.

I also keep hens so I get eggs. This isn't a cheap option, because they cost quite a bit to house and feed. But I treat them, and the garden in general, as a hobby. I find vegetables more interesting and rewarding to grow than flowers, but I can't say it actually saves me money unless I cheat by saying I am saving on gym membership or a flat screen TV or whatever else I might have spent my money on.

stressedHEmum Wed 28-Aug-13 09:38:51

Ice, I know! but I have several kids who love this and it's a cheap way of getting fish into them. You can make it with smoked mackerel for a stronger taste, if you like.

prettybird Wed 28-Aug-13 09:50:05

Lidl free range chicken (c.£5 depending on weight) will last 3 of us (2 adults and 13 year old ds) 3 nights.

First night roasted with some garlic (dead easy - put some peeled garlic cloves inside it, some unpeeled ones at the bottom of the chicken brick, wipe the chicken with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, put in to chicken brick, put chicken brick into cold oven, turn on to 450F for 90 minutes, take out of oven and leave for 15 minutes). Lovely jus at bottom of brick - no need to make gravy.

One meal hot, one meal cold, then make stock with remaining carcass, leave to cool and then strip off remainder of chicken to put into the stock. Heat up again and add some broken up noodles for a tasty chicken noodle soup. Serve with bread for a nice supper. Alternatively, add some chopped veg for a broth.

nickelbabe Wed 28-Aug-13 09:58:04

i've just made coleslaw and bread for today's sandwich.
the colseslaw and bread will do us tomorrow as well.

bread - 50p a loaf (so 25p for the family today and 25p tomorrow)
coleslaw - 2 carrots (59p a kg, and 3 would be about 30p), one onion (17p), 1/4 of a cabbage (1 cabbage is 62p, which the rest will be used for other stuff, so the 1/4 for the coleslaw is 15p), 3 dollops of mayonnaise (so 3 tablespoons? 75ml about 18p) (divide by two because of two days, so 40p)
total for my coleslaw sandwich = 65p

shop bought coleslaw (which isn't an option because all the sainsbury's ones have milk in) = 45p (for basics)
shop bought bread = 90p a loaf, and with medium slices, you can go half of that for 4 = 45p
you'd have to buy another coleslaw for tomorrow, because you can only just get 4 sandwiches out of that tub, so I really have to count the whole tub.

so 4 portions of shop bought coleslaw sandwich = 90p, 4 portions of homemade coleslaw sandwich = 65p

ArtemisatBrauron Wed 28-Aug-13 09:58:12

I really disagree with the people saying that all meat is unethical, so there's no point in buying free-range/organic/properly reared meat.

It's all on a spectrum and surely (if you can afford it!) you should be happy to cause the least pain and suffering possible to the animal?

Obviously I know that many people can't afford this, but if you can and choose not to then I think you've got to take a long hard look at yourself: what gives you the right to cause such unnecessary suffering to all the animals killed on your behalf?!

ivykaty44 Wed 28-Aug-13 10:07:42

who gives you the right to tell people how to live their lives within the law artemisatbrauron?

twistyfeet Wed 28-Aug-13 10:25:31

summer cooking often tends to be raw veg for me Loopy. Chopped cabbage and carrot moxed with mayo with a blob of hummus. But then I lose my appetite when its hot.

ArtemisatBrauron Wed 28-Aug-13 10:29:04

not telling people how to live, but asking them to think about their choices and interested to hear their point of view/reasons for why they do things ... I suppose it's freedom of speech? Freedom of ideas?

I genuinely can't understand why someone would, if they had the money, choose to buy meat which was reared in a cruel way (e.g. battery chickens kept indoors, no room to move, stuffed with drugs etc) rather than meat which minimised suffering as much as possible. I was hoping that someone might have a perspective on this, rather than simply trying to shut down the debate ivy

nickelbabe Wed 28-Aug-13 10:29:49

now, if we use that mayonnaise for egg mayonnaise, we can have sandwiches for the next 2 days too.

Eggs are £9.90 for 64, so 15p each.
you need 4 in egg mayo for 4 people, so that's 60p
and the mayonnaise, same number of blobs as above, so 18p for the mayo.
repeat with the bread - 25p
and chives from the garden, so free.
total = £1.03

shop bought egg mayonnaise = £1.55 and 45p for the bread
so total = £2.00

my homemade egg mayo would be more if I had to buy the eggs from the shop (we have our own chickens) would be £1.70 for the minimum welfare that i'll go for, so 28.3p per egg. = £1.38 for 4 sandwiches

twistyfeet Wed 28-Aug-13 10:32:44

you got a recipe for home made mayo Nickel? My hens lay about 5 eggs a day so we usually have a few. And is homemade cheaper than Hellmans? Does it store well?

DiamondDoris Wed 28-Aug-13 10:49:13

Cooking things from scratch on a tight budget, well, it all sounds rather dull and too carby. I try to veer towards a mediterranean diet but it's almost impossible cost wise: peppers, good natural yoghurt, aubergines, fish etc. are all expensive. I love cooking but it's become such a chore since I have to measure out food for my DD who's diabetic and deal with my DS's gluten/dairy intolerance... I can't even use convenience even if I wanted to. IMO ready prepared foods such as fishfingers, sausages (who makes their own sausages?), puddings/desserts are cheaper and really save time. I'm all for saving time and mixing up convenience and scratch cooking. Don't know what point I want to make...

OhDearNigel Wed 28-Aug-13 10:52:26

I would expect to get 5-6 adult meals out of a medium chicken.
1. Roast chicken - we eat one breast between us (I am a size 20 and DH weighs 17 stone so not exactly tiny)
2. Chicken pie with the other breast, padded out with frozen vegetables and topped with homemade shortcrust. Maybe some ham offcuts if I've got some cheapies in the freezer
3. Wagamama style udon/yaki noodles with one leg and wing
4. Pasta or risotto with the other leg and wing.
5. Chicken dumpling soup with pearl barley, any odds and sods of vegetables with the carcass.

I try to use meat as a "flavouring" rather than the main feature of the meal. Hence I can make a £8 chicken last a week (and preferably I have got that chicken in the reduced counter)

OhDearNigel Wed 28-Aug-13 10:55:29

So we have a thread of people that eat sweetbread and offel?

Yep. And would eat more of it if it wasn't so expensive due to being trendified by ** like JO. Sweetbreads are delicious.

DiamondDoris Wed 28-Aug-13 10:57:47

Cabbage and rice soup is cheap, tastier with lardons and parmesan though. Cannelini beans with bacon, tomato, carrot, celery is good but how do you use up the rest of the celery? I see advantages and disadvantages to budget cooking. I spend way too much on groceries and go without new clothes, eating out, cosmetics and other beauty products, hairdressers and so on.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 10:58:32

okay now all the tasty sounding food is making me hungry!

i must get the hang of pies!

My main problem is that the more effort I put into cooking the more upset I am when my toddler takes one look at it and says 'full mummy'.

DD eats one mwave meal a week and polishes it off like she has been starving for days and refuses to eat anything I might make along the same lines....

DiamondDoris Wed 28-Aug-13 10:59:08

Neck of lamb used to be a cheap cut until it became "recession fashionable"

squoosh Wed 28-Aug-13 11:00:15

I miss cheap oxtail, that's gone trendy too.

LoopyLupo Wed 28-Aug-13 11:01:04

I think we've proven we don't have a thread of people who eat sweetbreads and offel.

Some people eat offel. That's about as far as it got.

So all this 'respect the animal by eating all of it' is rubbish. Most people don't eat all the animal. Unless we are going to pretend that most people eat cows eyes?

squoosh Wed 28-Aug-13 11:01:54

OhDearNigel that's helpful that you've included the amount of chicken you use in each meal. I can make sense of these magic chickens now smile

LoopyLupo Wed 28-Aug-13 11:04:10

If you were feeding a family how many meals would you get out of your chicken Nigel?

littlemog Wed 28-Aug-13 11:04:46

Artemis on this thread anyone who questions the need to eat meat is seen as a militant or if you question why people don't make ethical choices you are seen as forcing your view down everyone's throats!

It is the standard 'I deserve cheap meat every day of my life' person's response to something they either don't understand or don't want to care about.

I do, however, have a great deal of respect for loopy whose postings make a great deal of sense to me.

littlemog Wed 28-Aug-13 11:07:01

Oh and Amberleaf your question below was not 'genuine' as you later claimed and it was clearly spiteful and goady.

If you cared that much about animals, you would be a vegan

Why oh why don't you give a shit?

No need is there?

SoonToBeSix Wed 28-Aug-13 11:10:29

(Just marking place for the tips.)

cory Wed 28-Aug-13 11:11:42

For once am guilty of not having read the whole thread, so please ignore if I am just repeating what others have put better. The following paragraphs need to go on the list:

5. list the outlay and equipment of your kitchen before you start planning for this meal

6. indicate if you have sole access to this kitchen or if you are in shared accommodation

7. indicate if your electricity is on a metre

8. indicate amount of storage space, capacity of fridge-freezer etc.

9. indicate transport arrangements. e.g. can you pick up bulky bags of potatoes in your car (or at least in a grannny shopping trolley) or are you limited to what can hang on the back of the baby's buggy?

Mrchip Wed 28-Aug-13 11:11:45

A typical meal plan here. I spend about £60 a week but could cut a bit.

Not sure of prices for all items but for a weeks dinners would need the following (breakfast and lunches can be done cheaply)

Chicken £4
Value carrots
Cabbage £1
Bag large spuds £2.60
Value broccoli 50p x 2
Value flour
Value butter £1.30
Value rice
6 eggs £1.40
Value onions
Value pasta 30p
Value tinned toms x 2 36p
Sausages £1.99
Value beans x2 about £40p
Value coleslaw

Cheese an expensive optional extra for pasta and baked spuds.

Roast chicken - eat half
Baked pots

Sliced chicken- other half
Home made wedges

Chicken soup with dumplings

Pasta with tomato sauce

Special fried rice

Toad in the hole

Baked spuds beans
Value coleslaw

Mrchip Wed 28-Aug-13 11:14:54

I use Tesco for main shop.
Greengrocer for fruit. Yesterday got the following for £4.70
Large punnet strawberries
Blackberries x2

cerealandtoast Wed 28-Aug-13 11:18:10

LoopyLupo, I would reckon on at least 3 meals for our family of 5 from one chicken.

First day as a roast (prob use about half the chicken)

Then strip the chicken (all of it, even scraggy gristly bits)

Most of the 'nice' stripped meat (ie not the fatty/skin/gristly bits) I would use in a second meal: curry/risotto/stir fry with lots of added veg/lentils/beans (depending on which meal, obvs).

the carcass and scraggy bits of meat I would chuck in a pot with a couple of potatoes and odd bits of veg, depending on what I had needing using up/in the freezer, to make a soup. Also any other 'bits' that might need using up, eg the odd slice of ham or bacon. My dc won't eat soup, so I use it as a pasta sauce or over rice for them, so that is an added expense.

If I made curry I would expect it to feed the 5 of us once, then at least 3 or 4 portions for dd1 to use as lunch (she takes hot meals to school), or a further meal for the children and a couple of portions for school lunch.

the soup would do us all (with added pasta/rice as above) once, then a further meal for the children.

so, adding up (I reckon my 3 children eat the equivalent of 2 adults), 1 chicken would do:

3 adult portions as a roast
6 (probably) adult portions as a curry
4 or 5 adult portions as a soup.

cerealandtoast Wed 28-Aug-13 11:19:18

sorry, that should say 4 adult portions as a roast

wink1970 Wed 28-Aug-13 11:20:33

first time poster, I have joined just to enter this debate:

I shop weekly at Tesco. Lots of fresh fruit (mostly gets thrown away), TONS of fresh veg, and chicken or fish each night. I cook from scratch every night though I work long hours (DH pours the wine & gets in the way)'s rare that my bill is less than £200.

DH shopped when I was poorly for a fortnight; bought mostly ready meals and the bill was £90 despite them being 'finest' types.

Step-son has just got his first flat, I bought him a Le Crueset and an 'ingredients cupboard' stock-up (herbs, flour, oils, dried goods etc), the food part was more than DH's weekly shop experiment

It's FAR more expensive to eat fresh. However, I just bought our first flat screen TV recently <ducks for cover>.....

nickelbabe Wed 28-Aug-13 11:21:09

twistyfeet - homemade mayo is basically just olive oil (not the posh stuff) and egg yolk. (with a little bit of mustard, lemon juice)

you have to mix it really really slowly, while dripping in the olive oil slowly.
I got the recipe from the booklet that came with the Kenwood chef, so I don't know it offhand, but I'll try to google it for you.

here we are
the one most like the one I use is this hugh fearnley whittingstall one.

we don't tend to add salt to stuff, though, and I don't think the sugar is necessary.
It really doesn't last long at all, so it's more frugal to use one or two eggs at a time and make it when you need it (that's the beauty of most of it beiong storecupboard ingredients)

OhDearNigel Wed 28-Aug-13 11:23:12

To be honest, it must be dreary enough living a hand to mouth existence without also having to live on a diet of pulses and pasta without a bit of meat or flavour to perk things up. I buy welfare meat but I am fortunate enough not to have to worry about whether I have enough money for next week's food/electricity/rent. If I had to live on baked beans and economy bread I think I'd be less interested in whether the chicken had lived in a cage. Simply pleased to have some affordable variety.

If you've got 3 kids in an overcrowded, damp 2 bedroom flat with no outside space, your husband works split shifts as a kitchen porter on minimum wage for 12 hour days, you work as a hospital cleaner for which you have to travel on the bus an hour each way, you have no family around to help you out, and no spare cash at all to do anything enjoyable I expect that your dinner is the only small highlight of the day.

nickelbabe Wed 28-Aug-13 11:25:58
cerealandtoast Wed 28-Aug-13 11:27:49

wink1970, do you really spend £200 a week on food?

for how many people?

why do you buy so much fruit if it is mostly thrown away?

I am astonished that anyone can spend that much on day to day food (especially if the waste part is so high). I am not on a tight budget, and buy mostly organic/finest/ready to eat stone fruits etc. and it is a rare week that my food bill is even approaching £100.

nickelbabe Wed 28-Aug-13 11:31:00

you can bulk up ready made things, though, and add nutrition - so you can buy the value baked beans at 20p a tin, and bulk it out with veg.
frozen veg is always cheaper, but if you can't keep it in the freezer, then you could buy a smaller bag of frozen mixed veg and keep it in the the fridge for up to a week, and just use it in every meal.

for example, we would make beans on toast, using the beans and mixed veg - if we used frozen, then it's £1 for a bag (500g of mixed peppers, or 1kg of more traditional veg like broccoli/carrots/cauliflower) - that bag can easily do 3 or 4 meals (peppers maybe not so many).

but we also buy seasonal veg, which makes it cheaper than out-of-season.
Kale is nice, but you can buy bog-standard cabbage to save money.
spinach is good, but dearer.

We bought 2 bags of fresh mixed peppers from the veg aisle yesterday because they were reduced to 39p (the same amount of fresh peppers would have cost £1.80, as there was about 2 peppers' worth of sliced veg in there)

nickelbabe Wed 28-Aug-13 11:31:26

one of my friends has an aunt who will only buy food that's reduced.

she then makes all her meals based on that.

stressedHEmum Wed 28-Aug-13 11:31:43

cory, If you look back at the meal plan that I posted, it is full of the kind of things that we eat in here all the time. In answer to your questions

I have a very basic, small council house kitchen. I have a cooker, some pots and pans and very basic utensils etc. but nothing like a microwave, food processor, garlic press or the like. I have 2 kitchen knives and a bread knife which I use for all the peeling, chopping and cooking and a cheap box grater for grating. No idea what the outlay was because everything is years old, but at least 10years, except the cooker which is probably about 5 years old.

I do have sole access to the kitchen but I have lived in shared accommodation and cooked all the same kinds of meals.

My electricity (and gas) is indeed on a meter.

V. little storage space - tiny council kitchen where the cupboard doors are broken. I have 1 double cupboard unit for food storage. There is only 1 other cupboard in the house outwith the kitchen and it houses the gas and electric meters, the boiler, DH's wardrobe and the freezer. Said freezer is a standard sized one door upright so doesn't hold that much.

I get my shopping delivered by Asda on a weekday afternoon because it is far cheaper than going into town on the bus and, as I have M.E., going on the bus is almost impossible for me anyway, never mind the walk on either side of the bus journey. It costs £2 to get your shopping delivered on a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday afternoon.

My bill is similar to Wink's. for 3 of us. I have a full freezer and full store cupboard but shop nearly every day for bits.

twistyfeet Wed 28-Aug-13 11:35:03

ta nickel, I will give it a whirl. I use tons of mayo (I dont eat carbs at all so mayo is my calories)

wink1970 Wed 28-Aug-13 11:40:03


Yes I do, and it's shameful really. I always have a rammed fridge, though the fruit is just an extravagance (in bowl on dining table, 'just in case'). 3 people, though we often have weekend guests.

I keep meaning to stick to a meal plan, which I know works wonders. I can also cook - I took night classes whilst at Uni so I had a skill to fall back on - so I'm perfectly capable of making a chicken last all week. I just don't. blush

Would it help if I told you I contribute to a food kitchen and the Sally Army often?

prettybird Wed 28-Aug-13 11:43:48

DiamondDoris : you can get a big tub of very nice Greek youghurt from Lidl smile (I happen to get the full fat version, but that is because I am low carbing).

Pork belly is still cheap - slices from Lidl (or even M&S - got 6 yesterday for £3.36! shock) or whole pieces from your local butcher (they often just mince them up for sausage). A rolled piece makes a good joint that is cheap and can last a week, judiciously used. Pork belly slices are dead easy to cook - rub some fennel seeds (if you have them) together with some salt and rub into the top fat. Prop up the slices in a grill proof dish and grill for c.15-20 minutes. Done. smile

Lamb breast is another cheap but fatty cut that can be slow cooked into lusciousness. Lamb shanks too - but they have got a bit trendy so the price has gone up.

Chicken livers are still really cheap and can be roughly chopped and then briefly fried in butter. Add some worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar and serve with some salad or on rice (if you eat carbs). Reminds me, I really should buy some

A shoulder of lamb is a big treat but one I only get when Tesco or Sainsbury's is doing it half price. However, the shoulder will last all week for the 3 of us (plus guests): hot roast, cold meat, suleman's pilaf (cubes of cooked meat cooked together with diced tomatoes, raisins, pine nuts, onion and rice) and then a large shepherds pie (it's amazing how far a few ounces of minced roast lamb can stretch wink - it can sometimes also stretch to a "bolognaise" sauce). As I'm low carbing, the "mash" is made of cauliflower, neeps, egg, cream and parmasan and some crumbled bacon if I have it. And I've still got the bone to make a stock with!

OhDearNigel Wed 28-Aug-13 11:44:08

squoosh I thought that might be helpful smile

cerealandtoast Wed 28-Aug-13 11:53:19

I am honestly astonished that food bills could be so high for 'everyday' food (and I use 'everyday' with reservations, especially on this thread!)

Obviously I know that one could eat caviar and fois gras every day and spend far more than that. But for plain, day to day cooking, with meat, fruit and veg, plus staples like bread and pasta/rice etc - £200 a week? What on earth are you spending it on, tbh? (not harshly meant, just incredulous)

I can't buy from most aisles in the supermarket due to allergy issues. This knocks out a lot of crisps/biscuits/other stuff, but then these are hardly essentials. And it does mean that for eg, if I buy curry paste, I have to buy stupidly expensive ones (I need it dairy and gluten free, and to be able to take it into school, it also needs to be nut free. A small jar of paste is around £3). A typical days food here is:

cereal and toast for breakfast (might be an expensive free from cereal, or for the rest of us, porridge, but with dairy-free milk, so that bumps up that price too)

lunch is usually a hot meal (gluten free bread is expensive, and tends to be rank), so eg curry or spag bol as per recipe I posted earlier. plus fruit (at least 2 types of fruit). we sometimes have pancakes (gluten/dairy free, so using 'expensive' flour and milk) for pudding. or homemade cake or biscuits (but these are rare, or around birthdays etc)

dinner is the same.

when the girls are at school, my lunch is more typically a quick sandwich.

so, even on 2 hot meals a day I cannot conceive of spending that much on food alone. seriously, if that is your food bill alone, then what are you spending it on? and how much actually gets used?

twistyfeet Wed 28-Aug-13 12:01:10

I use curry powders cerealandtoast as I'm also gf. Much cheaper.

cerealandtoast Wed 28-Aug-13 12:05:09

thanks, twistyfeet. I do use powders sometimes (it depends on what curry I am making ponce alert )

I agree with toomanycourgettes about the cultural aspects -- I live in France now and yes people do take food much more seriously.


Fruit and veg are much, much cheaper here, and of much better quality.

You can get a huge variety of cheese (good source of protein) for cheaper.

On the flip side, ready meals are more expensive (€4 for a frozen pizza)

People work shorter hours, and housing costs are less

It's basically easier to eat well here, and so we do. I don't know how you could apply some of these features to the UK but if you could, I think you'd see eating habits change.

cerealandtoast Wed 28-Aug-13 12:07:08

also, it does depend on time too.

if I have a lot of time, and can add a pinch of this and a twist of that, and spend the time simmering and tasting etc, then I use powders.

if it is more the curry equivalent of spag bol, then it's paste all the way. another meal from fridge to table in under 30 minutes, quick and easy.

Missgiraffe1 Wed 28-Aug-13 12:08:27

Meat, fresh fruit &fresh veg are expensive. No doubt about it. But by bulking up meals with lentils, beans other pulses and frozen veg, you can greatly reduce your costs. And it's healthier. Try experimenting.

I agree that the price of many family-sized meals from cheaper stores is probably hard to beat but I guess it's down to the individual, their circumstances, and whether price outweighs nutrition or vice versa. I have an honours degree in nutrition so tend to put nutrition before cost (apart from a Chinese takeaway on a sat night that is grin)

lollylaughs Wed 28-Aug-13 12:08:29

I am sitting here quite shocked really as to how cheap the ready made meals are in uk. Did I read right that you can buy a ready made family size pie for 2 pounds? To buy one here you would be looking at a minimum of 4 pounds.

For us living in SA it is most definitely cheaper to cook from scratch. Our veg and fruit are a lot cheaper (as is the meat). But luxury items for us are way more expensive, and I class anything ready made as a luxury.

We had some hard times and I changed a lot of the way I did things, shopped accordingly to a weekly meal plan and made every single thing from scratch. I had a budget of 150 pounds for a month of groceries which was 35 pounds a week (I have converted currencies). Although I spent a lot more time in the kitchen prepping etc, I have to say that we didn't go hungry once, and on top of that I made some sort of desserty thing 3-4 nights a week out of that budget. I bulk out mince with lentils, oats etc, so 250g of mince lasted 4 of us 2 nights meals. I added extra veg to each meal as what is in season is cheap.

Now that things are better financially I still try to stick with the from scratch method. In my luxury items, I class ready chopped fresh veg which I confess to still buying quite a lot of now, as chopping veg is not on the top of my to do list if I can help it. Talking pumpkins, butternut and that sort of veg.

A pizza take away will cost us about 15 pounds, sushi about 25 pounds, burgers and chips about 15 pounds too (not talking mcdonalds - these are proper burgers wink ).

DiamondDoris Wed 28-Aug-13 12:12:57

prettybird Unfortunatel no Lidl or Aldi near me (area too posh). I'm a semi low carber too (had to stop total low carb as too expensive). Mashed cauliflower is lovely but works out more expensive than rice/potatoes/spaghetti grrrr

ivykaty44 Wed 28-Aug-13 12:15:42

fruit and veg cheaper in france shock

Melon in the supermarket you are looking at 4 euros and at the market 5 euros. In tesco or lidl you can get the same type of melon and size for £1.

I found fresh fruit and vegetables a good 50% more expensive in french supermarkets and a good 75% more at markets

DiamondDoris Wed 28-Aug-13 12:18:14

Just a thought - tinned peaches are lovely in a Persian-style dish with chicken (turmeric, cinnamon, cumin etc). I use skin on chicken thighs (cheaper) and value peaches. Spaghetti (again) but instead of the usual and boring tomato sauce, pan roasted garlic cloves (several cloves), in butter I think, maybe can be done with oil. Don't think children would like it though. It does take time to "research" but not too much time to cook these things.

LoopyLupo Wed 28-Aug-13 12:20:55

Whats the best cookbook for cooking on a budget?

DiamondDoris Wed 28-Aug-13 12:23:22
DeckSwabber Wed 28-Aug-13 12:32:26

Things which really inflate my shopping bill are

- cereals (I eat porridge or eggs but the three teens prefer branded stuff and can eat two bowls a day each).
- ice cream. Again, I rarely eat ice cream myself but buy a couple of tubs a week of mid-range stuff.
- wine
- things like naan bread which I get because middle teen won't eat rice.

If I'm having a lean week I cut these items out.

BackforGood Wed 28-Aug-13 12:34:43
prettybird Wed 28-Aug-13 12:36:34

I understand what you mean about cauliflower v potatoes Doris - I really enjoy roasted cauliflower, but a whole head is 69p and only does us one meal as the potato "substitute".

I have a raised bed full of lovely new potatoes too, which I am trying to resist and/or feed to dh and ds grin.

But one of the advantages of low carbing/high fatting is that you feel fuller sooner and therefore in theory don't eat as much! wink

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 12:43:27

So what do people think of this as a thread summary:

For a family of 4

1. If you are looking to spend less than 25 quid a week then beige ready made food is really the only option (includes things like value bread, jam, family pies and close-your-eyes-and-think-of-england budget mwave meals.

2. If you are spending more like 40 quid a week on things including normal mwave meals with actual named ingredients then you could 'cook from scratch' for the same price. Here cook from scratch means combining basic ingredients out of tins, packets and freezer bags eg. making pasta with tomatoes and tinned chickpeas instead of a mwave pasta dish.

3. If you are spending more like 60 quid a week you can replace your finest mwave meals with home cooking including actual fresh vegetables / meat etc.

4. If you go up to 80 quid a week you can actually afford to buy fruit too!

BackforGood Wed 28-Aug-13 12:49:59

Fab - I think we should appoint you to summarise all long threads for us IceBeing so we don't have to read pages of detail in future grin

LoopyLupo Wed 28-Aug-13 12:53:47

£80 a week is a lot. Does that include toiletries and cleaning products? Or just food?

I spend less than £80 a week on food and I don't eat ready meals and I buy fruit.

ivy do you live here too -- whereabouts? I think there may be a big regional variation.

We honestly spend much less on fruit and veg here, but we do eat seasonally which makes a huge difference. We very rarely buy the most expensive fruits. But kiwis for example are 10 cents each and in season most of the year here (thanks to overseas territories), carrots are dirt cheap (you can buy them uncleaned so they're cheaper), tomatoes are cheap.

The big difference is the quality, which also helps save money, because for example you can have a salad with just tomato, lettuce and a tiny bit of vinegar, and it's amazing because the veg has real flavor. You don't have to add a bunch of other stuff to it.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 13:19:18

back yes well...erm...not sure that I have read all of it either...hence asking for confirmation that I have made a fair assessment....

As soon as people back it then we can nip any further such threads in the bud <dreams on>

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 13:20:09

jeffing hell we are on discussion of the day...well that actually explains some things...<doh>

ivykaty44 Wed 28-Aug-13 13:25:45

No this is my experiance form travelling to france over the last 6 years and being shocked at the price of fruit and vegetables, this year I took food from home and only brought fresh food to keep the price down.

This year we were in a few different place (about 5) and over 500 miles apart but each supermarket was expensive for fresh food and I never saw melons cheaper than 4 euros. But 3 years ago it was so bad at easter - we drove barcelona to Calais via La rochelle that in the summer when we returned we stocked up with store cubboard food then only had to buy fresh.
As we travel around we are not in very touristy areas - il de re is very expensive and I would expect it to be, but this is just normal supermakret shopping and I am staggered as to how the french can afford it.

There is a marked difference when we hit Spain as the prices drop down.

Dad used to buy french cheese in UK as it is cheaper and then take with him (he is aways for many months at a time) You don't buy french cheese n france to bring home wait until you get home and buy it imported

ivykaty44 Wed 28-Aug-13 13:26:35

I do agree though - the french food - lettuce and tomatoes have much better flavour and am envious over that grin

At the moment I have a good budget, but until recently, I had a £80 monthly budget, better than a lot of people- £20 oer week.

Breakfast: Every week, a 31p cornflake Tesco box.
Lunch: This is snacky-
Monday - cucumber, sliced by me (60p)
Pitta bread (22p)
Tomato, sliced by me (only half used in pack)
Ham (only half used in pack)
Boiled egg each (4 of 6 used in pack)
Roll (60p for four)
Cheese (50p)
Ham (used rest in pack, total pack cost 80p)
Some cornflakes
A banana each (total cost, 48p)
Boiled egg for the kids (pack costs 87p)
Cucumber (only half used in pack)
Tomatoes (for this and previous half, total £1)
A banana each, sliced (48p)
Sausages (1 each, half use of pack)
Potatoes, mashed up (only some used)
Sweetcorn (35p total)
Beans (runner) (£1)
Pasta (18p)
Cheese melted over (50p)
Broccoli in it (only a quarter used)
Pasta (different type,9p)
Onion (25p)
Parsnip (22p)
Sweetcorn (35p)

For supper-
Bacon (54p)
Carrots, boiled (78p)
Potatoes, only a few and not in pack (total cost, 98p)
Sweetcorn (35p)
Sausages (59p)
Potatoes, only some used in pack
Sweetcorn (35p)
Cucumber (60p)
Pitta bread (22p)
Remaining ham (total cost of pack, 75p)
Cheese (not all used)
Cauliflower (60p)
Broccoli (40p)
Pasta (9p)
Cornflakes from box
Banana each in cereal (48p)
Mashed potatoes (rest used in pack, 80p, from Friday lunch)
Sausages, rest used in pack from before (pack cost is 56)
Sweetcorn (35p)
Some cheese in mashed potato (pack costs 50p)

Salt and pepper total cost is £1.20 and not used purely in this week. Water only.

That's the cheapest I got it down to- actual cost was £18.63 for a week, and it fed us. I used the remaining £1.59 on a chocolate Swiss roll (25p- I wanted the DC to have a special thing and it was across the weekend and the rolls were small) and strawberries costing £1.20.

This was a pittance compared to what we could get on ready meals or frozen food.

If each week breakfast is 31p cornflakes.
Then, each day-
Monday Lunch: Lasagne (75p)
Sweetcorn (20p)
Carrots (33p)
Supper: chilli con carne (80p)
Tuesday Lunch: 2x chicken with rice (£1.50 total)
Supper: 2x Shephef'ds pie (£1)
Sweetcorn (20p in can)
Wednesday Lunch: Meatballs and tomato sauce (68p)
Sweetcorn (20p)
Carrots in tin (33p)
Supper: HALF a pizza
Thursday lunch: chicken fillets (£1)
Potatoes, roasted (not all in pack)
Carrots (33p)
Supper: vegetable nuggets (60p)
Potatoes, made for chips (£1)
Friday Lunch: Macaroni cheese (£1)
Carrots (33p)
Supper: chips (65p)
Sweetcorn (20p)
Hotdog sausages (50p)
Saturday Lunch: Fishfingers (4 of a 10 pack)
Sweetcorn (20p)
Cucumber (30p)
Supper: REST OF PIZZA (50p total)
Cucumber (30p)
Sunday 2x sausage casserole (£1.40 total)
Carrots (33p)
Lunch: REST OF Fishfingers (60p)
Chips (65p)
Frozen mixed vegetables (75p)

Which saves about £1- not much, but we would usually use these meal plans over two weeks, doing alternate days and mixing lunches and suppers and whatnot, so that it was pure frozen or ready meal, but the second meal plan was a lot more filling. We used the remaining £2 or so on Kellogg's all-bran with a bit mixed into the cereal to make sure it saved. No, it wasn't heathy, but I think it's better they feel fuller but have junk and ready meals than fresh food!

Sorry- forgot my Friday:
Lunch (pitta bread, 22p)
Sweetcorn (35p)
Leftover ham (already counted)

Half a banana in each cereal (24p)

Total cost: 81p - not including ham, of course.

Aargh, didn't mean supper - meant, AS WELL AS choice of cereal/banana.

ivy that is fascinating, because it is just the opposite of my experience! I mean, buying French cheese in the UK, what???? I just bought a huge block of fourme d'ambert (blue cheese) at the supermarket for €2, comte is as cheap as cheddar, goat cheese is cheap, especially at the markets.

I agree that overall food is more expensive here, but part of the reason we can cope is that we eat a lot of veg and bread and cheese, all of which seems cheaper to us than it did in the UK.

But we live in a very non-touristy area which is also not on the way to anything touristy (ie you can't get to calais from here) which helps a lot.

Anyway sorry for the tangent but actually it's interesting to see how people can have such completely different experiences, I'm sure it's the same in the UK.

garlicbargain Wed 28-Aug-13 14:07:10

My tiny contribution for the day - because I've just bought them and keep forgetting about them - is Aldi scotch eggs, my frequent standby. I'm too unwell to cook properly today. Aldi's Scotch eggs are 69p for two! That's adequate protein, no sulphites or dairy (which I can't eat,) and now I can just snack on carrots, fruit, and the veg risotto I made the day before yesterday.

I repeat, I'm endlessly grateful for cheap, ready-made foods.

Btw, baking is a massive issue when you're watching your electricity day by day. I couldn't possibly match the price of value or marked-down bread & biscuits.

I agree that dried pulses are over-hyped. I use them for bulk, but they're not actually that cheap and only the really expensive ones taste nice.

ivykaty44 Wed 28-Aug-13 14:13:00

Dream I am very luck where I live in the uk - as I have a large tesco just 10 minutes walk from my home - but within a mile from my home aorund a large roundabout there are four supermarkets, lidl, sainsbury, morrisons and aldi. This means that they all compete for trade and therefore keep prices down

prettybird Wed 28-Aug-13 14:35:48

The thing I noticed about living/working in France (admittedly it was a looooong blush time ago) was that the French would eat less but better than us. Definitely much less "ready made" food. Patisserie is a (deserved) treat - not every day scoffing. Same goes for cheese and saucisson. A small amount to be appreciated - not a large amount of poorer quality stuff. Veg was bought in season at the market.

AmberLeaf Wed 28-Aug-13 14:51:54

Oh and Amberleaf your question below was not 'genuine' as you later claimed and it was clearly spiteful and goady.

If you cared that much about animals, you would be a vegan

Why oh why don't you give a shit?

No need is there?


It was a genuine question.

The why don't you give a shit was a response to another poster who said that about eggs.

AmberLeaf Wed 28-Aug-13 14:52:35

oh and as for spiteful, I suggest you go back and read some of your posts to the very patient loopy.

littlemog Wed 28-Aug-13 15:01:57

My posts are not spiteful Amberleaf.

But whatever. smile

lougle Wed 28-Aug-13 15:10:33

Icebeing, the £47 I spent included fresh fruit and vegetables for making sauces, etc, not tinned.

ivykaty44 Wed 28-Aug-13 15:19:36

I last had a macdonalds back in 2004 isn and dd get taken sometimes to macdonalds by her father and she hangs out sometime in the fast food place in town.

So in france this year we were a bit stuck for lunch due to car trouble - dd was given money to go and get herself some type of macdonalds, I gave her twenty euros. I decided I would wait but wanted to make sure she was not hungry.

Anyway she came back and handed me the twenty euros and said It is very expensive I am not buying anything - it was apparently 6 euros for a burger that would cost 99p in the Uk.

So does this stop the french eating as much macdonalds and why is there such a large price difference? Are there different country polices?

We moved on anyway and stopped and got the most delicious croissant I had all holiday even if it was better becuase I was hungry it was very good.

squoosh Wed 28-Aug-13 15:23:32

A croissant will be just as fattening as a Macdonalds. They are 90% butter.

Plenty of fat French people to be seen outside of Paris.

prettybird Wed 28-Aug-13 15:24:54

There probably are different pricing and product policies in different countries for McDonalds. After all, in Scotland you can get Irn Bru at a McDonalds grin!

LoopyLupo Wed 28-Aug-13 15:30:29

You can buy beer in Europe in McDonalds.

Not helpful - but good to know!

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 15:48:23

wow thanks roasted!

So your conclusion was that you could feel more full on the 20 quid a week junk meals then on 20 quid a week 'cooking'?

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 15:50:23

and thanks lougle that is impressive for 'proper' cooking...but doesn't appear include breakfast or you are probably in the 60 quid category....

harrietlichman Wed 28-Aug-13 15:58:23

I am making breaded chicken breasts tonight:
two chicken breasts from butchers - £4
breadcrumbs (3 slices of bread, whizzed up in mixer)
1 egg
couple of spoonfuls of flour/salt/pepper
olive oil to oven bake them with - approx. cost just under a fiver, all in?
At Iceland I could buy a pack of 8 Garlic and Herb breaded chicken breasts for £2 (just checked on website after reading this thread)
Am shocked, actually, at the difference in price. I reckon mine will be the healthier option, but if I was on a stricter budget, I wouldn't think twice about the Iceland option.

Peregrin Wed 28-Aug-13 16:07:33

Icebeing, your summary may be accurate as far as the thread goes but otherwise not necessarily correct.

This blog has been recommended before, including on this thread, but it's worth repeating:

She cooks from scratch for herself and her toddler on a budget of £10 a week, producing nutritious and varied meals. Most of her recipes give an exact breakdown of the costs, down to a splash of oil (2p). She lives in a rented room so it's not as if she has a massive kitchen + freezer to store things etc.

I've made her Curry with Apricots recently, for example. It was a big hit at home, though admittedly I mixed in extra chicken from a chicken soup I'd made earlier, instead of the chickpeas she used. We are lucky not to be on such a limited budget.
Cost of the original recipe is 87p for four portions.

prettybird Wed 28-Aug-13 16:08:31

harrietlichman - I have to agree with you on that one. I've recently had to start making home-made chicken nuggets as Lidl stopped doing their very good if somewhat misshapen frozen chicken nuggets (which used proper chicken breast pieces).

I could a 500g pack for £1.49 shock - no way can I replicate that with chicken breasts cut of up in to pieces, breadcrumbs (made from the crusts of a sliced loaf or left-over home-made bread if it's not all wolfed down ) and a beaten egg (and I also use grated parmesan to reduce the carb count).

But they do taste good and I know that it is "proper" meat. smile

Peregrin Wed 28-Aug-13 16:09:01

PS. her meals are typically quick to make and she started doing this once she found she could not stretch her income to cover rent, utilities and ready made (budget end) food.

We are having Iceland herb and garlic chicken breast tonight, as harriet said they are £2 for eight, with wedges £1 for a pack of frozen think its 1KG and a bag of salad also £1. So dinner for me and two teenagers will be about £2, as there is enough in the packets for two meals, ant see how I would make that cheaper at home. I would if we had the money but we just don't at the moment.

twistyfeet Wed 28-Aug-13 16:31:30

teenagers eat like horses

MadeOfStarDust Wed 28-Aug-13 16:46:04

Surely most people mix and match anyhow,

Sometimes I have toast for breakfast - one slice of plastic bread, done in the toaster for minimal effort and washing up, one spoon of lemon curd from a jar.
Sometimes I have porridge - a scoop of oats and 150ml milk.... done in the microwave for minimal effort and washing up.

both are fairly cheap - only the latter would be classed "home made from scratch"

HoneyDragon Wed 28-Aug-13 16:50:30

Monday egg and chips
Tuesday chips and egg
Wednesday oeuf avec pomme frites
Thursday frites avec oeuf
Friday pan fried egg with a selection of crisped old potatoes and a tomato jus
Saturday rustic Eggs with hand carved potato chips
Sunday KFC

What you are doing and managing roastedcouchpotatoes is amazing, hats off to you to be honest.

Def settles the price debate, I totally appreciate when that's your budget nutrition has to take a backseat to making sure nobody goes hungry

I'm actually wondering now, having been on my high horse about this (although categorically not telling anyone else what they should do or think) about the meat v money debate. I'd said that I would go vegan rather than squander principles on meat production if my budget came down to that choice (as I've said, I'm already mostly vegan as it is and buy meat rarely but DD drinks a total shit ton of milk on a daily basis and yes cows milk is a lot cheaper than any alternative, even here in LA where you can get anything)....does very cheap meat actually sometimes work out cheaper than buying fresh veg? I have no idea tbh but is this part of the money and nutrition debate too?

FYI made some bloody gorgeous banana bread last night with what was in the cupboard and without my precious and expensive eggs

Loopy I still have my mums battered copy of the Paupers Cookbook which is a bit dated (I think it's a good 40yrs old) but does have some great basic recipes for those on a tight budget, and has a section on "entertaining" and did me very well when we were previously scraping the barrel each week. You'd have to do a bit of research because some cuts of meat, as already mentioned, are dearer now than they were, but if you can find a copy for 50p in a second hand bookshop (if you want mine ill happily post it to you when I'm next in the UK) it might help a bit. It's got basic cooking tips too a la delia, if you need them.

FWiW when it comes to celebrity cookbooks, you can't go wrong with Nigel Slater, yes like everyone you need a bit of a store of herbs and spices but his ingredients tend to be simple and minimal - he has a great 30min cookbook where a lot of recipes literally call for about 4 ingredients.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 17:28:07

Austerity Housekeeping Crisis Diet

Here's my version of the cheapest I think people can realistically eat.

whendidyoulast Wed 28-Aug-13 18:02:00

Haven't read all of thread - sorry. I do think it's more about education and attitude and motivation than cost.

A 1kg bag of oats cost 75p in Tesco. That's a month's worth of porridge for breakfast for a family of 4. 500g of value penne is 29p. A can of baked beans is 28p. A sack of potatoes cost next to nothing. 1 kg of rice is 40 p. There's nothing wrong with frozen vegetables, nutritionally and they can be really cheap.

It might not be delicious and you might have to forego quite a lot of meat and fish (also beneficial for the environment) but you can be filled up healthily for very little money. Most students are well aware of this.

ivykaty44 Wed 28-Aug-13 18:36:31

honeydragon - fancy a prune grin

squoosh - I don't care if a croissant has double the calories of macdonalds

shrinkingnora Wed 28-Aug-13 18:37:53

1kg of oats is 20 portions, so 5 days for a family of four.

cantspel Wed 28-Aug-13 18:46:30

I want to know where sacks of potatoes are going for next to nothing.

Potatoes have been really expensive this year and not even that good so quite a bit of waste when peeling.

We eat a lot of meat and potato type meals as we dont like beans, lentils or pulses. Makes shopping more expensive but i try to cut costs by buying as much reduced meat as possible and have 2 large freezers so i can stock up when i see it. If there is not alot going one week i still have enough left in the freezer to last and i always try to shop late to get the best bargains.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 18:51:57

peregrin the problem with those recipes is that they in no sense deliver the required amount of calories per day. That point was made when they interviewed her. It mostly works because she doesn't eat much.

IceBeing No, not exactly. It was okay for me and DH. But we have young chikdren and it was hell for them. Junk food meant at least they didn't feel too hungry. Tbh, I couldn't give them much nutritious food for that cost, I tried- mixing junk with homemade meals- but the homemade ones cost more to make for a lot less food, so the DC were a lot hungrier- and when every day until the end of the school holidays or whatever is similar in portions, I think it's sometimes better for children to not be hungry all the time then to have healthy food all the time. It isn't an either or, but cereal isn't that good for a lunch but we couldn't afford a proper lunch, so it was either cereal+pitta bread sandwich with veg, which means they're hungry all the time, or cereal+lasagne, not as healthy but it meant their stomachs didn't hurt and they felt happier that they had a proper meal, that they weren't too different to their friends.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 18:56:30

when hmm I think you might benefit from some education aimed at understanding that you can't get 120 portions of porridge out of a 1kg bag tbh....

unless you are a borrower and 8g of porridge is normal for you....

ivykaty44 Wed 28-Aug-13 19:06:51

well I read it as 20 portions of porridge - or is my eyes sight going?

Where do you get 120 portions of porridge from ice

ivykaty44 Wed 28-Aug-13 19:09:08

ah now I see - it is my flipping eye sight. There are two posts on about kilo bags of porridge.

One girl gets 120 portions and the other 20 portions

Ragwort Wed 28-Aug-13 19:21:18

Unless you grow all your own fruit & veg and really enjoy numerous lentil/pulse type meals I don't understand how cooking from scratch is cheaper than 'junk' food.

I recently went to Iceland blush and was amazed at how cheap the food was - it might not be to everyone's taste, it might not be nutritious but it is cheap. I volunteer at a food larder and 99% of our 'clients' don't want lentils etc or 'wholesome' foods, not many of them will take the excess fresh produce that we are currently being given (please, no more courgettes grin).

I am in the fortunate position where I don't have to be really frugal with my food shopping and I know how to & enjoy cooking. But if I was on a strict budget I would definately go to Iceland or similar.

I am mum of 3 & a student due back at uni in 3 weeks time. Today I have started bulk cooking meals to freeze so I have easy meals for the days I am on hospital placements & not home before 6pm. As an example I have made a huge cottage pie which will do around 12 portions (1.5kg of mince used) This cost approx £8 so 67p a portion. Tesco everday cottage pie costs £1 4 of these might stretch to feed the 5 of us so 80p per portion (not sure if 4 would fill us all up tho). So mine is slightly cheaper but much better ingredients so nutritionally superior. It is possible to cook from scratch for similar cost but much more effort required so can see why many opt for the convienence option.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 19:24:40

failing you also need the extra capital to be able to buy 12 portions worth in one go.....

BettyandDon Wed 28-Aug-13 19:46:23

I buy nearly all our food at m&s. It's expensive but I get virtually no wastage and it saves me so much time and effort to get nice meals.

I have no food skills and our kitchen is smaller than most peoples bathrooms.

I also eat low carb.

We spend @£70 on food a week and buy non-food at Lidl or a supermarket for about another £30 a week or less.

Yes it could be cheaper but it wouldn't for me be worth the time, hassle and skill element.

The problem with cooking from scratch is that you need skills, time and a huge store cupboard. Plus the sort of meals you make - pasta, lasagne, chilli, potatoes etc are just the sort of stodgy my fat belly does not require...grin

Plus there is loads of washing up!

MrsKoala Wed 28-Aug-13 19:53:03

I am so envy reading this thread. The food in the UK is so cheap compared to where i live. And while i do think the price is probably 'fairer' it is eye watering (i have actually cried in the supermarket here). A bog standard frozen oven pizza at $9 would be a real treat. 5 cheap sausages cost $5 (dh would have 3 and i 2). I would find it very hard to do a 'decent' meal for 2 for under $10. I also feed a big eating 1yo so buy a lot of fresh fruit, veg and meat and weetabix/milk/yogurt (he eats a $6 tub of yogurt every 2 days) for just him.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 19:54:54

IceBeing, it depends where you live in the country to a large extent. Food costs vary, even in supermarkets, as do bargain basement prices.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 19:56:04

MrsKoala, you can make yoghurt yourself. Look on my blog for a recipe.

MrsKoala Wed 28-Aug-13 19:59:34

Thanks Boffin - Milk is almost as expensive so making it makes no difference just extra hassle really, plus i don't have somewhere to make it.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 20:04:54

Crikey MrsKoala, where are you living? That's awful.

racingheart Wed 28-Aug-13 20:25:27


I can spend about £50 per week for family of four which includes a 6'2 DH and two teen boys who eat for England, which includes all three meals a day. I don't do it every week, but can be done.

Using Sainsbury's normal and basic ranges:

From the 3 for £10 meat range choose the mixed thighs and drumsticks chicken pieces, the 540g minced lean beef and the 10 pork sausages

Add 1 bag of basics pasta, 1 of spaghetti and one of rice
3 packs of chopped tomatoes, 2 tins of kidney beans
1 mozzarella ball
1 bread mix
3 Onions, 6 mushrooms, 1 courgette
Bag of frozen mixed veg
A big curly lettuce and cucumber
tinned sweetcorn
part baked french loaves

That whole lot comes to under £10, and from it you can get:

Spag bol one night
Chilli beans (with some of the bol meat stirred in) and rice next night
Roast chicken thighs with rice and mixed veg
Home made pizzas with salad
chicken noodle soup with sweetcorn and fresh french bread
sausage and bean casserole with rice

Not exactly exciting but healthy and only £10 for 6 family meals.

Add eggs, milk, tea, coffee, cereal, butter, apples and oranges, cheese, tuna - using the cheapest available options, 2 loaves basics wholemeal bread etc plus very cheap treats like basics choc mousse (usually about 30p for four, which have identical ingredients to their normal mousse) and you can feed the whole family for £40-50 per week, including all meals very healthily. The problem is it gets monotonous. But it can be done.

The following week, swap one of the meats for the pork steaks, and add the frozen white fish for kedgeree and goujons, and one of the pastas for potatoes, for baking spuds one night and chips or mash the next.

Would be cheaper if veg was from the market or from the reduced section. It's definitely cheaper to buy fruit at the market.

I don't see how junk food can be cheaper. Even if you buy that cheap steak pie it would still need veg with it.

MrsKoala Wed 28-Aug-13 20:39:18

Boffin - Vancouver. I could shop cheaper if i could buy in bulk, but not driving i do all shopping on the bus/locally. This means i can only buy for every few days/what i can carry. I can't order online as they wont take our UK registered cards. I have a wriggly 1yo so traipsing round shopping is out. We are on a short term let so the flat is small and kitchen is very basic, which restricts things i can make (i make a cake in a ceramic baking dish once a week and freeze in portions to save on expensive crap/treats). I have no rolling pin or processor, didn't even have a grater but i bought one of those as cheese is shocking (and nasty) here (a block which you'd get in the UK for about £4 is $15 here and almost flavourless - so i grate it and freeze it in bags for toppings on bakes, but have stopped eating it in sandwiches sad ). A 4pinter of milk is about $9. I share a utility room with others in the block so can't use the space for making yogurt or storage. i do have a freezer however, so i batch cook when i find bargains. A lovely MNer i met here is driving me to a cheaper supermarket tonight and i am getting irrationally excited and looking for recipes now for soda bread and stuff which i can make myself (bread here is also very expensive - about $4-5 a loaf).

BOF Wed 28-Aug-13 20:41:23

It's depressing that affluent foodies like Jamie Oliver believe themselves qualified to pronounce on where the revolting poor are going wrong, on the basis of swanning into somebody's living room with a film crew. He doesn't have a clue.

George Orwell could understand the basic problems back in the 1930s when he wrote The Road To Wigan Pier :

Would it not be better if they spent more money on wholesome things like oranges and wholemeal bread or if they even, like the writer of the letter to the New Statesman, saved on fuel and ate their carrots raw? Yes, it would, but the point is that no ordinary human being is ever going to do such a thing. The ordinary human being would sooner starve than live on brown bread and raw carrots. And the peculiar evil is this, that the less money you have, the less inclined you feel to spend it on wholesome food. A millionaire may enjoy breakfasting off orange juice and Ryvita biscuits; an unemployed man doesn’t. […] When you are unemployed, which is to say when you are underfed, harassed, bored, and miserable, you don’t want to eat dull wholesome food. You want something a little bit ‘tasty’. There is always some cheaply pleasant thing to tempt you. Let’s have three pen north of chips Run out and buy us a twopenny ice-cream! Put the kettle on and we’ll have a nice cup of tea [...] White bread-and-marg and sugared tea don’t nourish you to any extent but they are nicer (at least most people think so) than brown bread-and-dripping and cold water. Unemployment is an endless misery that has got to be constantly palliated.

ivy I'm starting to think I live in some weird black hole of cheap food in France. I don't eat at McDonald's either but I walk past the one in town and you can get a whole meal for €4. I need to tell DH we're never moving! smile

Seriously, I'm going to have to stop generalising about France and food because clearly we are very lucky.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 20:53:40

Bloody hell, MrsKoala, I think you are doing amazingly feeding anyone at all given that setup. shock

Is cycling a possibility at al,l or is everything completely car focused there? I ask because you can stuff a week's worth of shopping and a small child in a cheap trailer, if this is a possibility. If it's like the US though, this will be difficult.

In terms of equipment, a hand blender and some silicon baking dishes or loaf tins might open up a few more possibilities for you, as they are oven-to-freezer and also light to pack if you are bringing them back to the UK.

I suppose another possibility is hooking up with local foodie networks in case this allows better access to other people's garden produce and so on, but this might be a bit unrealistic, I don't know?

Anyway, I think you deserve some sort of home management medal at the moment. grin

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 20:54:27

PS An empty glass bottle makes a great rolling pin.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 20:57:06

Great quote, BOF

EldritchCleavage Wed 28-Aug-13 20:58:38

Thank you for that Orwell quotation. How sad that he nailed it in the 1930s and here we all are listening to the same old ignorant preaching at the poor all these years later.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 21:01:27

It is a great quote.

whois Wed 28-Aug-13 21:03:22

Right, I've sat down and worked out a full meal plan for four adults for a week for £50. Enough protein, enough variety and just about enough veg (3 to 4 portions a day) and one piece of fruit per day.

Easy to cook, can make even if you only have an ice box in the top of the fridge. Basic cooking equipment only required plus hob. All priced from tesco online.

Will post tomorrow when I'm back at my laptop for it to be evaluated.

Have to say, pretty bloody difficult and it does use two packs of cheapo sausages which won't be to everyone's taste!

whois Wed 28-Aug-13 21:09:07

Also includes oil, herbs etc

MrsKoala Wed 28-Aug-13 21:14:30

Yes great quote. I hate all this 'well meaning' inverse 'let them eat cakery'. It just isn't realistic at all. It is dehumanising and patronising.

Thanks Boffin (hadn't thought of the wine bottle - don't know why as that's what i used at uni!) I have come from a very well equipped kitchen so it has been a massive shock for me here. I struggle to keep our food shop to under $300 a week. And it's easy for people to say shop daily, make bread etc, but when you don't know the area, have a demanding baby, have little space or equipment, need to get out to meet people and have human contact, your time and will is limited. If it was just me i would live on beans on toast/omelets. I think i have eaten about 4 pieces of fruit in 8 wks.

shrinkingnora Wed 28-Aug-13 21:15:26

Racingheart - £20 for six family meals as you missed the £10 of meat out. Looks good though!

racingheart Wed 28-Aug-13 21:16:57

Mrs Koala that sounds really tough. Are there markets in Vancouver? Are they any cheaper? I agree the cheese over there is disgusting. Like fatty rubber. Didn't realise it cost so much though.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 21:23:04

Over here you can order food in bulk on Amazon, but it looks like that is not possible in Canada.

racingheart Wed 28-Aug-13 21:23:24

shrinking Doh! I did miss out the meat, it's true. But still - it's fresh, good food, (except the sausages) and loads of people could make it stretch further. I just can't, as I have a big tall DH and two boys who eat as much as he does, so the portions are huge. (They can hoover up a 500g bag of pasta at one meal. I know families who eat half that amount.)

We don't do it all the time, but as we're freelance, it can be feast or famine, so I like to know it can be done.

Didn't allow for seasoning either, in that budget, and OP has quite fairly said you should. But mixed herbs, garlic puree and cayenne pepper work out at about £2.50 in total and last at least a month, so that's either an extra 2.50 on the budget or an extra 63p, depending on how you work it.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 21:25:53

Will Spud accept an overseas credit card?


MrsKoala Wed 28-Aug-13 21:27:07

well i've fucked the carrier in my buggy, lugging spuds and thing across town so that was a false economy. Also bus fares are $2.75 each journey. which means if i can only get what i can carry the saving have to be worth it. The other day i walked for 4 hours to a market and back for cheap off cuts of fish to make a fish pie (ds loves it). But when the weather turns i wont be doing that!

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 21:31:08

Before I could drive I sometimes used an old lady style shopping trolley (although mine was wicker and reasonably stylish) and had DD in a backpack, when out foraging for food.

MrsKoala Wed 28-Aug-13 21:37:01

As i said nice mner is taking me bulk shopping this evening. i'm hoping if it's successful and i pay petrol and bribe with cakes she may take me monthly. then i can do fruit/veg from a market (2 bus rides away) weekly.

MrsKoala Wed 28-Aug-13 21:37:50

sorry, didn't see link. thanks for that. i'll look now.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 21:38:11

That does sound promising. I hope you manage to find some nice stuff.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 21:55:40

racing I don't understand? You think £20 for 6 meals can't be beaten? I showed a whole weeks worth of crap food for £28 (breaky, lunch and dinner)?

And I wasn't even shopping that bad boy at iceland...which would appear to be the king of bargain basement mwave meals....

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 22:03:10



4 steak pies £1:50
400g chips 30p
400g veg 45p

large family meal £2:25 * 6 = £13.5

£13.50 << £20

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 22:04:12

In fact your cayenne pepper costs more than a decent sized family meal from Iceland...

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 22:05:10

I think the gavel moment is approaching....

racingheart Wed 28-Aug-13 22:06:43

Ice I must have missed your post. I'll go and find it. But I'm assuming that people want to get in the five a day and eat reasonably healthily. Could do it cheaper if it was freshly made high fat low veg and protein. But it was balanced. (Still want to take a look at your version.)

What's interesting though is that while you try and work it out and make sure it's all balanced nutritionally and fits the budget, all the cheap treats start glinting at you. That Orwell quote is so accurate. I just tried to do a test sainsbury's shop online from scratch (so including all the spices and cooking oil etc) and kept forgetting it was supposed to be the junk free version, and chucking in cheap choc mousses to liven things up for the children.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 22:09:31

shrinking that looks tastey but your are over my daily £4 and have only tabulated 1 meal.....

toffee again looks fab (will be trying some of that!) but you came in nearly double the minimum on price.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 22:11:02

racing the point was to determine if ready made crap is cheaper to live off than cooking from scratch.

Obviously you don't get anything like nutrition from the cheap crap - that is the problem facing the seriously poverty stricken.

I loved your list - but lots of people can't afford that....

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 22:11:49

I know what you mean about mousse...I have to pretend the toddler stuck it in the trolley blush

racingheart Wed 28-Aug-13 22:11:58

Ice I'm being dim but I can't find your weekly shop for £28. What page is it on?

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 22:12:14

I've just perused the Iceland website. Frankly it's pretty hard to feed the family on a low budget using conventional food whilst bypassing Iceland. Their main meals work out about 25-50p a person for the protein component.

shrinkingnora Wed 28-Aug-13 22:13:18

Yeah, should have said that was just out of interest really... I'm too lazy to cost up a whole week!

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 22:18:26

Was checking out the girlcalledack recipes.

They certainly aren't cheaper than value meals.

I selected some at random and got a part of main meal for over £3 and a loaf of bread that cost more and weighed less than a tesco value loaf.

Her thing is feeding two people, one of which doesn't eat much for the sake of the isn't a long term strategy for anyone....

I mean obviously it is cheaper to eat very very little real food than a healthy amount of calories from crap food...

makes me feel so sad

nickelbabe Wed 28-Aug-13 22:21:06

you've got a 1yo, so I assume a pram? is there anyway you can leave him with someone for a coyple of hours so you can do bulk shop using the pram as a trolley?
if not, then can you bulk buy one at a time? ie buy masses of pasta one day, masses of rice the next, all the meat the next etc? it's easy if you've got a freezer for that - just chop things up to freeze in portions and save for when you're ready to make the meal.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 22:21:19

Racing it was early on...(don't do pages). It wasn't a whole week it was a day but with obviously exchangeable elements that cost the same amount so you could scale it up to a week.

it came out at £3.81 per day for a family of 4 eating 7000 kcals a day

it involved a lot of lemon curd on white bread sad

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 22:22:22

shrinking yup me too blush

shrinkingnora Wed 28-Aug-13 22:24:08

Okay, I'm fired up to give this a try. Will see what I can do. If I'm not back in an hour send help. And do you know what else? I'm going to live it for a week because we are totally broke and could do with getting the bills down as much as possible.

shrinkingnora Wed 28-Aug-13 22:25:23

Am assuming three meals a day plus snacks to the total calories we should be eating for our ages. And drinks.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 22:28:59

In extremis I would get five packets of frozen veg from Iceland (£5), big packs of: mince, lamb, chicken breasts and sausages from Iceland (£12), a big bag of plain flour (80p), some margarine (£2), some cheap jam (£1), a couple of loaves of brown bread (£2), some big cartons of milk (£3), half a dozen eggs (£2), a big box of Weetabix (£2), some fresh potatoes (£2), some tinned tomatoes (£1), a couple on onions (50p), some gravy granules (£2) and a cheap block of cheese (£2). Total about £35 ish. Then I'd get a big pack of cheap ham for about £4, a packet of apples and a packet of bananas (£5). Total £44ish. Out of that I would make a cottage pie, a bolognaise, a chicken and pea pie, a chicken risotto, a chicken soup, a toad in the hole, cowboy bean bake, a vegetable curry, a lamb stew, and a vegetable stew with hidden eggs and grated cheese on top. That's ten main meals. Breakfast would be Weetabix or toast, and lunch would be sandwiches and a bit of fruit. I think we could last for about 10 days with frantic rationing, so for a week that would be about £30.

racingheart Wed 28-Aug-13 22:36:39

Ice, you've asked all us cook-from-scratchies to cost an entire week, but only done one junk meal yourself and then assumed the cost is the same each time. Is it? Generally, do Iceland and similar places make sure a family meal is a fixed price, whatever you choose?

I could choose a meal - say - kedgeree - which works out at about 30p per person or home made pizzas and frozen veg, which are, again 30p per person for a huge Pizza express sized pizza with loads of topping, but am trying to do exactly what you asked and check the real cost.

One thing we haven't discussed much is that the junk food is designed to be over fatty, over salty and over sweet to get you craving it and over-eating it due to those cravings rather than genuine hunger pangs. It could be that the girl called Jack is so slim and eats so little because she is really well nourished, so doesn't get cravings.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 22:37:30

boffin wow that is getting close...although I need to point out I didn't go to iceland with my estimate...

Also is it that much less crap if you buy I can't believe they are really sausages from iceland than buying I can't belive they are really steak pies from iceland?

Surely the actual food value is still in the red zone....

DownstairsMixUp Wed 28-Aug-13 22:41:58

I still think from scratch is cheaper if you shop around. There's plenty you can do. Loads of local butchers do good offers on meat, like at our local one at the moment we get five chicken breasts, 500grams of diced chicken, five pork steaks, five beef steaks, 454grams of beef fahita strips, 10 sausages for 25 pounds, that lasts us a fortnight (you don't have to have meat every night!!) filling the week with some pasta meals is fine! Pasta bakes are great. I make a chorizo pasta bake with macaroni, chopped chorizo and a philly cheese sauce, does dinner and our lunch the next day.

Growing your own herbs if you have the room saves money. Our back garden isn't huge so we planted herbs and stuff in our front garden so we get all rosemary, thyme, mint, coriander for free with tomatoes and blueberries. We have chickens to which don't cost much to keep, easy to care for and free eggs.

Them bloomin jars for things like spag bol are ridiculous, like 1.69 when you can get chopped tomatoes for 33p, an onion, splash of red wine which will do tons of spag bols so worth the fiver and some beef stock squish of tomato puree, tastes much better, not loaded with sugar and cheaper. Again making dishes like this you can freeze and use for lunches/more dinner when you are feeling lazy.

Even takeaways you can be cheap with. We always have a treat take away but tend to keep an eye out for deals we get by texts or certain days like dominos did a special offer on tuesdays only for a while. Always look for discount codes online, sometimes you can get £45 worth of pizza/dessert for 20 pounds with them discount codes and so much pizza usually lasts again for lunch the next day!

racingheart Wed 28-Aug-13 22:43:05

grin at I can't believe they are really sausages.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 22:45:04

racing if you add up calories in her recipes they are nowhere near the 2000 kcals a day the average woman is supposed to eat.

secondly the duplicateability of my day...

well the potato products are interchangeable at that are the veg. Cheese can be exchanged at that price for ham/cream cheese etc. crisps come in different flavours....

the fish fingers were 60 p for 10...

you can get 700g of sausage rolls at 88p
600 g of mince and onion pie for 75p
cottage pie or fishermans pie for 1 pound
tin of chilli 54p
tin of curry 53p

which brings me up to 7....

all averaging less than £4 quid a day

although I feel ill now.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 22:46:54

Okay well under a late surge by the 'scratchers' I will give you all till tomorrow...but the gavel is poised!

MrsKoala Wed 28-Aug-13 22:53:09

Boffin - just looked at Spud and it's very expensive so even if it took my card it would bankrupt us!

Nickel - i am trying to pick up extras but we go thru things like weetabix, nappies, milk, toilet roll, yogurt, detergent, etc so quickly that it's all i can do to carry the essentials. If i went out for just pasta, or something i would not be getting things which were needed - if that makes sense.

MrsKoala Wed 28-Aug-13 22:58:34

i think the issue with the 'scratchers' tho is that it isn't universal, you can have someone who lives near cheap markets/has transport and time to drive around saying 'oh well, near me i can by x,y and z' but that doesn't mean everyone can. for example I've never ever lived near a cheap butcher. I think the prices need to be universally open to everyone. Foraging, growing own etc should also be out. The stuff shouls all come from a recognised shop in the uk which everyone has access to/delivery from.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 23:06:11

Well the Iceland sausages and cheap jam would be the sort of crap they fed us at boarding school, so survivable. And the rest of my meal plan is quite high in fibre and low in sugar, so not too bad. It would be a bit bland though. If people were imaginative and scrounged free fruit and veg from green grocers at the end of the day, or neighbours, and built up a little stash of curry powder, black pepper and mixed spice there would be further scope for improvement and variety from time to time.

racingheart Wed 28-Aug-13 23:07:13

But where's your breakfasts and lunches, Ice?

I've included ingredients for home made soups and sandwiches and pasta bakes etc in the £40-50, as well as fresh ground coffee, tea, milk for the week, choice of cereals at breakfast etc.

Got it all in an online Sainsbury's shop which came in at £52, including all the cooking oils and cayenne peppers wink and a wildly extravagant £5 for 800g of really nice cheddar on special offer, which will last for two weeks. Also included a whopping 46p for eight chocolate mousses which I hope doesn't lead to disqualification for lurching over to the junk camp.

You put that gavel down, Ice. I want to see your whole list for three meals a day including tea, coffee, all the stuff that people who eat junk food also have to buy on top.

garlicbargain Wed 28-Aug-13 23:08:16

Another big up to BOF for the Orwell quote - and, yes, it's disgusting that the same old patronising crap is still being rammed down our hungry throats.

... and, thinking about the food value of crap, this is a more interesting question than it might at first seem: why is there such a large price difference [in Macdonald's]? Are there different country polices?

Yes! Macdonald's uses a very precise algorithm, which takes into account the average income of a country, income by sectors, and food prices. So clever is this, the US government - and most others - use it as a guide to standards of living. Coca-cola used to do the same, but I'm not sure they still do; the price of a Coke doesn't seem to vary as much as a Big Mac.

If a French Macdonald's (ooh, it sounds nice in a French accent!) is fearsomely expensive compared to a British one, this would suggest that the price of food and the standard of living are higher there. Just going by those EU/UN standard of living charts, that would seem to be right.

Still off topic, has anyone else noticed that Italy's suddenly got wildly more expensive, while Germany seems to be cheaper these days? <considers brushing up very rusty German & becoming an economic migrant>

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 23:11:26

MrsKoala, exactly. I have loads of neighbours with allotments and I donated some of my own land for a community guerrilla gardening patch so I get stuff for free, plus I can forage brilliantly well nearby, and I have a car, so that makes it easy to reduce costs. I am friendly with my butcher and get free ham bones and so on as well. All these things make a difference and I managed to do this in London too, but not everyone can. It's expensive being poor, as they say.

racingheart Wed 28-Aug-13 23:13:50

Mrs Koala isn't that true of the junk food shops too? I don't live anywhere near an Iceland or FarmFoods. Most people have access to a supermarket, I based my prices on Sainsbury. I know Aldi and Tesco are a bit cheaper but there aren't any near by.

As for free food, which a lot of scratchers haven't included (I didn't either) I don't know any place in the UK that doesn't have free blackberries, elder flowers and nettles. They grow wild wherever there's a patch of untended land.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 23:15:48

On my blog I did a post about British restaurants in WW2 where people could get a square meal for the equivalent of £1 or £2 - I think we need them back tbh.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Aug-13 23:21:32

Btw there's a good entry on British Restaurants in Wikipedia if anyone is interested.

MrsKoala Wed 28-Aug-13 23:21:39

i meant use shops like iceland/sainsbury/asda/tesco, because i think they all deliver. So most people can access them. The problem with going to the reduced section/foraging/growing/scrounging etc is that it is unreliable. You can't count on it. So it you get to the shop and there is nothing reduced/cheap you can't say 'sorry kids, no food today'. Same as 'car boot sale' slow cookers. It is not something everybody can access and should not really be included in a serious strategy to combat poverty. We can't all live like that. So it's not really a valid economic policy.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 23:24:30

racing that includes breakfast and lunch. toast and a variety of different curds/preserves for breakfast and varieties of sandwiches (which I listed) plus crisps and shortbread for lunch.

IceBeing Wed 28-Aug-13 23:32:44

value bread is 47p per 800g...
value lemon curd is an amazing 22p (56 kcals per 1p - so if you only eat lemon curd then your weekly shop for a family of 4 costs £8.75)

urgh...on that note I am heading to bed.

racingheart Wed 28-Aug-13 23:39:47

MrsKoala - you're right. It's not a proper strategy at all.

Ice - gah - I still haven't found your menu.

Scratchers. I like it smile

Good luck with your shopping MrsKoala I hope it works out well. I hear so many people raving about Vancouver, nobody ever mentions the $9 pizza!

prettybird Thu 29-Aug-13 08:17:23

Got a loaf of sliced organic wholemeal bread last night in Sainsbury's for 10p shock. As it's for toast, who cares if it is "out of date"? hmmgrin

BoffinMum Thu 29-Aug-13 09:26:04

Prettybird, also bread and butter pudding made with 2 eggs and half a pint of full fat milk, plus a bit of marg and sugar?

MadeOfStarDust Thu 29-Aug-13 10:08:18

as a child of parents with no money, we used to have bread and butter pud for breakfast some days - it made 2 eggs and half a pint of milk, with half a stale loaf of cheap white bread (not much butter usually!) go round 6 of us.

whois Thu 29-Aug-13 10:34:15

Right, here is a pretty balanced menu for 3 adults, around 2000 calories per day coming in at £50.95 or £1.82 per person per day for 3 meals a days. Cheap sausages and non-free range eggs but I’m coming from the point of view that money buys you the luxury of ethics and I’d rather eat meat 2x per week than not at all.

There will be spices, oil, tea bags, flour, sugar, gravy, baking powder & biscuits left over. Also some pasta and rice.

This menu allows for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and three puddings. You can have some squash to drink, also there are tea bags and sugar and 2 pints of milk available for tea / not otherwise allocated.

Obviously you do need basic cooking equipment but apart from the cake I’ve avoided using the oven to keep energy prices down. You can actually cook the cake in a microwave anyway so think that is allowable. You also need some knowledge of how to cook but the meals are easy and quick at 30 mins or less cooking and prep time.

You get enough protein, carbs, fibre and just about enough veg. Only one piece of fruit per day but 3 to 4 portions of veg a day. Next week, you wouldn’t need to buy all the staples so could buy some more fruit or veg, or stock up on more ‘store cupboard’ things to help liven up the meals.

I think this is a fairly good menu, low salt except in the tinned soup, and I would happily eat all these meals.

Breakfasts x 5
Porridge 50g
Milk 280g
1 tablespoon honey

Breakfasts x 2
Buttered toast x 1
Eggs x 2

Snack x 7
Calories: 166

Snack x 7

Lunch x 2 Beans on toast
Buttered toast x 2
1 tin baked beans

Lunch x 2 Soup and toast
Buttered toast x 2
1 tin tesco soup (one day veg and one day chicken suggested)

Lunch x 2 Cheese sandwich
Buttered bread x 2
Cheddar x 2 slices
Lettuce (use 1/2 lettuce over all sandwiches)

Lunch x 1 Sardines on toast
Buttered toast x 2
Sardines x 1 tin


1.Sausage pasta

Pasta 400g
Tinned toms x 2
Carrots 400g diced
Onion x 2 diced
1 tablespoon oil for frying
Sausages x 8
Mixed Italian herbs
Black pepper
CALORIES: 708 (total 2831)

2.Tuna pasta bake

Pasta 400g
Peas 320g
Tuna x 2 tins
Cheese 200g
Flour 50g
Butter 50g
Mixed Italian herbs
Black pepper
CALORIES: 887 (total 3549)

3.Egg rice with beans

Rice 400g
Kidney beans x 2 tins
Onion x 1 diced
Peas 320g
Eggs x 10
Oil x 1 tablespoon for frying
Black pepper
Spice Mix
CALORIES: 851 (total 3405)

4.Frittata with salad and beans

Eggs x 12
Potatoes x 500g
Chickpeas x 1 tin
Oil x 1 tablespoon
Carrots x 400g grated for salad (or cooked if prefer)
Green beans x 350g
Lettuce x ½
Mixed Italian herbs
Black pepper
CALORIES: 636 (total 2542)

5.Rice with veggie chilli

Tinned toms x 2
Kidney beans x 2 tins
Onion x 1
Carrots diced x 400g
Lentils 1 cup dried + 2 cups water
Oil 1 tablespoon for frying
Black pepper
Spice Mix
CALORIES: 715 (2861 total)

6.Sausages and cheesy mash

Saussages x 8
Potatoes x 1kg
Gravey from granuals
Grated cheese x 100g
Green beans x 400g
Dash of milk for mash
CALORIES: 558 (total 2233)

7.Daal and naan bread

Naan bread x 1 pack
Onion x 1 dieced
Lentils x 1 cup
Carrots x 400g dieced
Peas x 400g
Oil x 1 tablespoon
Spice mix
Rice x 400g
CALORIES: 785 (total 3143)


1.Pancakes with jam

Makes 8

Eggs x 2
Flour x 100g
Milk x 300ml
Jam 1x tablespoon per pancake (8 total)

2.Jam sponge

Makes 8 slices

125g butter
125g sugar
2 eggs
125g flour
1.5 tea spone baking powder
Jam x about 15 tablespoons
CALORIES: 330 per slice


Tesco Everyday Value Vegetable Soup 400G x 4 @ £0.24 = £0.96
Tesco Everyday Value Chicken Soup 400G x 4 @ £0.24 = £0.96
Tesco Everyday Value Baked Beans In Tomato Sauce 420G x 8 @ £0.28 = £2.24
Tesco Everyday Value Sardines In Tomato Sauce 120G x 4 @ £0.34 = £1.36
Tesco Everyday Value Mild Cheddar Slices 240G x 1 @ £1.36 = £1.36
Tesco Everyday Value Medium Sliced Wholemeal Bread 800G x 3 @ £0.47 = £1.41
Tesco Everyday Value Unsalted Butter 250G x 4 @ £0.98 = £3.92
Tesco Everyday Value Oats 1Kg x 1 @ £0.75 = £0.75
Tesco British Whole Milk 2.272L/4 Pints x 3 @ £1.39 = £4.17
Tesco Everyday Value Mixed Weight Eggs X 30 x 1 @ £3 = £3
Tesco Everyday Value Penne 500G x 2 @ £0.29 = £0.58
Tesco Everyday Value Long Grain Rice 1Kg x 1 @ £0.4 = £0.4
Tesco Everyday Value Small Potatoes 1Kg x 1 @ £0.69 = £0.69
Tesco Everyday Value Mixed Herbs 30G x 1 @ £0.85 = £0.85
Tesco Everyday Value Ground Black Pepper 100G x 1 @ £1.19 = £1.19
Tesco Everyday Value Chopped Tomatoes 400G x 6 @ £0.34 = £2.04
Tesco Everyday Value Clear Honey 340G x 1 @ £0.99 = £0.99
"Tesco Bananas Loose
x 28 @ £0.12 = £3.36"
Tesco Pure Vegetable Oil 1L x 1 @ £1.5 = £1.5
Tesco Red Split Lentils 500G x 1 @ £1.09 = £1.09
Tesco Everyday Value 8 Pork Sausages 454G x 2 @ £0.59 = £1.18
Tesco Everyday Value Dark Red Kidney Beans 400G x 4 @ £0.21 = £0.84
Tesco Everyday Value Garden Peas 900G x 1 @ £0.89 = £0.89
Tesco Everyday Value Carrots 1.5Kg x 1 @ £0.59 = £0.59
Tesco Brown Onions Loose x 5 @ £0.25 = £1.25
Tesco Everyday Value Gravy Granules 200G x 1 @ £0.2 = £0.2
East End Chick Peas 400G x 1 @ £0.39 = £0.39
Tesco Everyday Value Mild White Cheese Small x 1 @ £2.66 = £2.66
Tesco Everyday Value Tuna Chunks In Brine 185G x 2 @ £0.9 = £1.8
Tesco Everyday Value Plain Flour 1.5Kg x 1 @ £0.45 = £0.45
Tesco Everyday Value Strawberry Jam 454G x 1 @ £0.29 = £0.29
Miscellaneous Granulated Sugar Packet 1Kg x 1 @ £0.99 = £0.99
Tesco Ground Mix Spice 37G (Cinnamon,Coriander Seed ,Nutmeg ,Clove ,Pimento ,Ginger) x 1 @ £1 = £1
Tesco Garlic/Coriander Naan 2 Pack 260G x 1 @ £0.99 = £0.99
Tesco Everyday Value Iceberg Lettuce x 1 @ £0.9 = £0.9
Tesco Sliced Green Beans 750G x 1 @ £0.79 = £0.79
Tesco Everyday Value Double Strength Orange Squash 750Ml x 1 @ £0.42 = £0.42
Tesco Everyday Value 80 Teabags 250G x 1 @ £0.27 = £0.27
Tesco Everyday Value Digestive Biscuits 400G x 1 @ £0.35 = £0.35
Tesco British Whole Milk 1.136L/2Pints x 1 @ £0.89 = £0.89
Tesco Baking Powder 170G x 1 @ £0.99 = £0.99
TOTAL = £50.95

BoffinMum Thu 29-Aug-13 10:36:22

That's bloody ace, whois. Can I put that on my blog?? People would absolutely love that.

BoffinMum Thu 29-Aug-13 10:37:48

Another way of using stale bread is making apple puree with free apples (lots around at the moment) and cutting the bread into cubes and frying them in a bit of margarine or butter, with a sprinkle of sugar, and then scattering the bread cubes on top of the puree.

MsCatShoes Thu 29-Aug-13 10:53:53

Very late into the thread but would just like to thank whois for that awesome list and everyone else who has not only offered tips but recipes too.

I can only offer one thing I did as a student (and still do when money is low) to liven up/make more filling chopped-tomato-pasta sauce. To a big saucepan I added a teaspoon of sugar (removes the sharpness) and a generous spoonful of yoghurt to bulk it up.

Also does MN have a 'check out this supermarket food offer' forum/chat?

Chunderella Thu 29-Aug-13 10:55:33

The biggest problem with foraging, I think, is the fact that we can't all do it because there isn't enough. There are lots of blackberries, nettles etc around even in very built up areas, it takes very little time and even the poorest may be able to do it. I know people on carers allowance in the inner city who forage. But the point is, its easy and fruitful at the moment because so few of the population do much of it. If we all did it, or everyone on benefits was expected to, the amount of foraged food available now would be much more thinly spread. So it isn't viable. Foraging ought to be seen as a nice extra, a hobby for some, and no more. And I say this as someone who blackberries, and thinks we as a society urgently need to make use of all the free food around us.

shrinkingnora Thu 29-Aug-13 11:04:50

Whois - that is so similar to the one I started that I am giving up! I would add crumble to the puddings because it is immensely filling and can be made with seasonal fruit or a mixture of apples and tinned peaches. The topping works out very cheaply.

whois Thu 29-Aug-13 11:11:56

Can I put that on my blog??

Sure although you might want to add simple instructions to the meals too?

Cake - follow this method

curlew Thu 29-Aug-13 11:14:26

Junk. No question.

You can feed q family from Iceland for very little.

Sad but true.

curlew Thu 29-Aug-13 11:17:18

Don't know whether anyone has mentioned this, but it also costs money to save money.

Going to different shops, slow cooking cheap things, buying in bulk- all of these are not options for people on very low budgets.

And (sad but true) most children will eat junk. If you are poor, you can't risk spending money on stuff they might not eat.

whois Thu 29-Aug-13 11:17:24

Didn't mean to post so soon.

*I've just noticed an error on the potatoes - thought I had 1.5kg but I only have 1kg

You can now only have 200g in the fritata so add 1 extra tin of chickpeas at additional cost of £0.39*

whois Thu 29-Aug-13 11:38:37

Sausage pasta
Fry onion in oil, add carrots & chopped up sausages. Fry until sausages browned. Add tomatoes, herbs and spices & simmer for approx 15 mins.
Meanwhile boil the pasta according to instructions.
Drain pasta, mix with sausage sauce and serve. [you do have 100g of cheese available if you want to grate some over]

Tuna pasta bake
Basically cook according to this recipe:

Egg rice with beans
Cook rice & drain. When rice nearly ready cook the frozen peas.
Fry the onion, add 2 teaspoons spice mix & black pepper. Start to scramble the eggs in there. Add the rice, peas and beans. Mix through and season with pepper and serve.

Frittata with salad and beans
Cube the potatoes and par boil them. Drain.
Meanwhile whisk the eggs, add pepper and herbs.
Add potatoes and chickpeas to a frying pan, tip in the egg mix and stir. Cook over a low heat, finish off under grill or use two plates to flip the frittata over and finish top side in the pan.
Grate carrot while the frittata is cooking and shred lettuce for salad.
Cook frozen beans when frittata is nearly done.

Rice with veggie chilli
Fry the onion for a few mins then add the carrot and fry some more.
Tip in tinned toms, 1 cup red lentils and 400ml boiling water (can use one of the tins to measure, it is one tins worth of water).
Add black pepper and herbs.
Bring to boil then simmer for 20 mins.
Meanwhile cook rice.
Add beans to sauce after 10 mins.

Sausages and cheesy mash
Cube your potatoes, boil them until done. I leave on the skin to save time and extra nutrients.
Meanwhile fry the sausages or grill if preferred.
Make gravy up according to instructions.
When potatoes and sausages are nearly done, cook the frozen beans according to instructions.
Drain the cooked potatoes, mash with the grated cheese, dash of milk and black pepper.

Daal and naan bread
Fry the diced onion for a few mins, then add diced carrot.
Add 3 tea spoons of the spice mix and fry for another min.
Add 1 cup lentils and 4 cups water. Bring to a low boil, then turn down the heat to low, cover and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are very tender.
Meanwhile cook rice according to instructions. S
tir in the frozen peas into the daal after 15 mins.
Heat up naan bread and serve.

Pancakes with jam

Jam sponge
Or to microwave, add in a few tablespoons of milk into the batter to make it more moist than normal. Microwave on high for 4 mins, check to see if cooked (put knife into top, if it comes out clean it is cooked) and with take out and cool or cook in 1 min or 30 sec intervals until cooked.

whois Thu 29-Aug-13 11:39:20

Updated cost for the extra tin of chick peas is £51.34 or £1.83 per person per day.

stressedHEmum Thu 29-Aug-13 11:51:24

Here is another meal plan based around beans. it doesn't come in any cheaper than my last one, upthread. Total cost in Tesco today £37.69. It includes things like oil, spices, butter, sugar, teabags, 12 pints of milk, salt, pepper. Basically, it assumes an empty cupboard. At the end of the week, there will be left over oil, sugar, tea, spices, stock cbes, barley and probably some other stuff. Because there's no baking in this one, I have added in a packet of biscuits, a packet of value fairy cakes, rice pudding and 4 choc mousses.

The only things the oven is needed for are the wedges and the jacket potatoes, everything else is cooked on top of the cooker in ordinary saucepans.

Tesco Everyday Value 12 Fairy Cakes £0.60
Tesco Everyday Value Sliced White Bread 800G x 4 £1.88
Tesco Everyday Value 12 White Rolls £0.40
Tesco Everyday Value Custard Cream Biscuits 400G £0.35
Dunns River Coconut Milk 400Ml £0.99
Tesco Everyday Value Mixed Fruit Jam 454G £0.29
Tesco Everyday Value Mayonnaise 500Ml £0.40
Tesco Everyday Value Passata 500G £0.29
Tesco Everyday Value Chopped Tomato With Herbs 400G £0.45
Tesco Everyday Value Garlic Granules 130G £0.85
Tesco Evaporated Milk 410G £0.57
Tesco Everyday Value Mild Chilli Powder 95G £0.85
Tesco Everyday Value Dark Red Kidney Beans 400G £0.21
Tesco Pearl Barley 500G £0.55
Tesco Wholefood Pinto Beans 500G £1.09
Tesco Red Split Lentils 500G £1.09
Tesco Wholefoods Black Eye Beans 500G £1.09
Miscellaneous Granulated Sugar Packet 1Kg £0.99
Saxa Black Pepper 25G £0.60
Tesco Table Salt 750G £0.29
Tesco Medium Curry Powder 80G£1.00
Tesco Pure Vegetable Oil 1L £1.25
Tesco Everyday Value Crunchy Peanut Butter 340G x 2 £1.24
Tesco Everyday Value Oats 1Kg £0.75
Tesco Everyday Value Vegetable Stock Cubes 100G 10Pk £0.20
Tesco Everyday Value Long Grain Rice 1Kg £0.40
Tesco Everyday Value Penne 500G x 2 £0.58
Tesco Everyday Value Chocolate Mousse 4X62.5 £0.18
Tesco Everyday Value Apples Min 4 Pack £0.90
Tesco White Cabbage Each £1.12
Tesco Everyday Value Eggs Minimum Weight Box Of 10 £1.30
Tesco Lemons Each £0.28
Tesco Sunflower Spread 500G £0.75
Tesco British Mature White Cheddar 450G x 2 £5.00
Tesco British Whole Milk 2.272L/4 Pints x 3 £3.00
Tesco Everyday Value Tomatoes 500G £0.88
Tesco Everyday Value White Potatoes 2.5Kg £1.18
Tesco Everyday Value Onions 1Kg x 2 £1.26
Tesco Carrots Loose x 8 £0.72
Tesco Everyday Value Orange Juice 1 Litre x 2 £1.30
Tesco Everyday Value 80 Teabags 250G £0.27
Tesco Everyday Value Rice Pudding 400G x 2 £0.30
porridge, milk, sugar x 4
peanut butter toast (2 slices) x 2
eggs and toast (2 slices) x 1
fruit juice three mornings


Pasta with caramelised onions and a little grated cheese
egg mayo sandwiches
peanut butter and apple sandwiches
cheese and tomato rolls
lentil soup and bread
jacket potatoes, coleslaw and cheese
rice salad

mediterranean beans and rice
white bean alfredo pasta
lentil and potato curry
lentil soup, bread, rice pudding and jam
bean burgers. wedges. shredded cabbage, carrot and apple salad
bean chilli and rice
barley risotto, choc mousse

toast and peanut butter
bread and jam
custard creams
fairy cakes

tea, milk


Pasta with onions:
chop 1kg of onions and fry gently in oil and marg until soft. add salt, pepper and a spoonful of sugar. Cook a bag of pasta. Stir onions through hot pasta and serve with a little grated cheese sprinkled on top.

Rice salad:
cook 2 cups of rice in 4 cups of water till liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Cover and put in fridge until cold. Chop an onion, a couple of tomatoes and a couple of carrots, shred about 1/4 of the cabbage. Mix veg into cold rice and stir though some mayonnaise. Squeeze in the juice of half the lemon, season well.

Mediterranean beans and rice:
Soak the black eyed peas overnight. Drain, put in a large pan with a splash of oil and enough water to cover to the depth of about 1 inch. bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours until tender. Drain. Reserve 2 cups of the beans for the alfredo sauce.

Chop and fry an onion until soft. Add the tomatoes with herbs and a teaspoon of garlic powder. Grate in the zest of the lemon and squeeze in the juice of half the lemon. season with salt and pepper. Stir in beans and heat through. Serve over rice (1 1/2cups cooked in 3 cups water.) top with a little grated cheese if you like.

White bean alfredo pasta

This . Substitute grated cheddar for the parmesan.

Lentil and potato curry:
Cut about 2lbs of potatoes into bite sized chunks. Chop and fry a couple of onions in some oil until soft. Add a spoonful of curry powder and cook for a minute or two. Add potatoes, half the bag of lentils, the coconut milk and a tin full of water. Mix well, bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat for about 1/2 an hour until potatoes are cooked and lentils are very soft.

Lentil soup:
other half of the lentils, couple of chopped onions, 4 chopped carrots, veg stock, salt and pepper. Simmer until done.

Bean Burgers:

Prepare the pinto beans in the same way that you did the white beans. Separate out 3 cups of beans. Make breadcrumbs from a couple of end slices of bread.

Chop and fry and onion until soft. Mash the beans in a bowl. Add fried onion, breadcrumbs, 2 eggs, some garlic powder, some chilli powder, salt, pepper. Mix well, Make 8 burgers and fry on either side until crisp and browned. Serve with HM wedges - cut 4 potatoes into wedges, toss in a little oil, season and roast at 180 for about 25-30mins- and a salad made from a couple of shredded carrots, 1/4 of the cabbage, shredded and an apple, chopped into little bits. Mix this with a little mayo and season.

Bean chilli:

Fry a chopped onion until soft. Add a little garlic powder and chilli powder to taste. Add the tin of tomatoes, the drained tin of kidney beans and the rest of the pinto beans. Simmer for about 1/2 an hour. Serve over 1 1/2 cups of rice cooked in 3 cups of water.

Barley risotto:

Fry a couple of chopped onions until done. Add a spoonful of garlic powder. Stir in half the bag of barley and stir until coated with oil. Add About 5 cups of veg stock, bit at a time - the way you do with risotto rice - stirring all the time. When the risotto is done, stir through a spoonful of butter and a handful of grated cheese. Cover and leave to sit for a few minutes. Check seasoning.


Grated the remaining carrots. Shred the last 1/2 of the cabbage and finely chop an onion. Mix together well with some mayo. Season well. Use to fill the jacket potatoes, top with cheese.

Don't know how to do a calorie breakdown, but it's quite balanced, I think, over the course of the week.

whois Thu 29-Aug-13 12:08:47

Don't know how to do a calorie breakdown, but it's quite balanced, I think, over the course of the week

It is very time consuming but simple. You see how many calories per 100g (or slice or whatrever) on the nutritional infomation which you can see on Tesco's website, then work out how much of that product you are using and add it all up.

I was surprised at how low some of my meals were comming out at, and a
lot of the lunch calories come from the butter on the toast. I was also reminded that cheese has a seriously high amount of calories!

Interesting that the passata is cheaper for 500ml than a tin of chopped tomatoes.

VikingLady Thu 29-Aug-13 12:26:23

I used to feed 2 adults on £15 per week pretty easily BUT I was on maternity leave with no other calls on my time, living in the NE. I had tons of time to scour the clearance sections. I'd say it was a 50/50 split of convenience food and "real" food.

But I was also taught to cook. smile

BoffinMum Thu 29-Aug-13 13:01:43

MrsKoala, I was just doing some Ebaying and an advert popped up for a PayPal credit card linked to a PayPal account, I presume. It is a Mastercard. Would that be any use to you?

stressedHEmum Thu 29-Aug-13 13:46:28

Cheese does have an awful lot of calories, doesn't it. It's a good source of calcium and protein in a veggie diet, though. A lot of the calories in the lunches above come from cheese or mayo, tbh, but then some of the other meals are fairly low fat.

Don't think that I could be bothered doing all that to work out calories smile

garlicbargain Thu 29-Aug-13 14:20:33

Boffin, I've got one of those. It registers as a credit card, but has to be pre-loaded. You can do this with a transfer from your bank, and it also uses any funds in the PayPal account. Very handy sometimes.

MrsKoala, I'm sorry to hear Canada's still trying to starve you sad When can you get back here? Is that too desperate a question?

Babieseverywhere Thu 29-Aug-13 16:33:48

I love this thread and have loads of ideas to look at...wish I could cook properly.

This website I found on Money Saving Expert years ago and thought what a good idea. Originally you could feed a family of four with proper nutrient filled food for 100 per month that was in September 2010 wonder what it would cost today ?

Pinkash77 Thu 29-Aug-13 17:11:46

I like to think I,m not out of touch, considering we are a middle income family of 4 (2yr/1yr old) but I was truly astonished to find how so many people are so resourceful and pre plan to enable them to save right to the last pence. I was analysing our monthly food shop and it stands at 500.Considering we don't buy organic/ free range I am certaintly going to try to make some savings as per the suggestions however not at the expense of good nutrition.

noobieteacher Thu 29-Aug-13 18:08:27

Can't we do it for individual meals? Or per day of food?

noobieteacher Thu 29-Aug-13 18:21:37

I'm spending about £4 on protein, £2 on veg and carbs, and £2 on puddings and fruit.

That's for the evening meal, but when you add breakfast, tea and coffee, juice, a packet of biscuits or snacks, lunch, you are looking at at least an additional £3 per person per day. Unless of course you want to live like a pauper.

So I reckon we spend £20 a day on food as a family of four. We could do it for a bit less (I hate spending more than 30p each on pudding) but £20 a day would be safe, and covers things like petrol to get to the shops.

I'm going to make some scones and see if I can do it cheaper than the shop bought ones.

When we are broke i can feed the family of five with 5 $1 cheeseburgers and a $1 fries. if the kids are still hungry two apple pies are also $1. there is not one thing that i can think to make from scratch that would cost less. the most expensive things here are fresh fruit and vegetables. probably the cheapest made at home meal is chicken legs with potatoes and frozen peas, at about $10.

LoopyLupo Thu 29-Aug-13 19:35:31

I've just seen that Jamie Oliver has a new cookbook and TV show out bases on affordable meals and leftovers.

Will be interesting to see how affordable it actually is.

BoffinMum Thu 29-Aug-13 19:56:23

Just wanted to say that my eBook is free from lunchtime tomorrow for about 24 hours if anyone wants a copy and missed the last promotion. Details are on my blog. It's compatible with Kindle, iPhone, iPad and PCs. Austerity Housekeeping

Reviews very welcome if you do download a copy, either on Amazon or direct to me via MN!

nightingale452 Thu 29-Aug-13 20:02:32

A couple of years ago we had some building work done which involved the kitchen being completely out of bounds for 2 months. Instead of my usual cooking everything from scratch (I'm a SAHM and keen on cooking) we had to live off microwave meals for this time. Food was definitely saltier and fattier (and less nice) but the difference in my food bills was was far, far, cheaper.

IceBeing Thu 29-Aug-13 20:12:55

Okay thank you to the people who posted such lovely recipes and lists!

No one has come close to the cheapest ready made crap weekly shop though.

Really when you think it about it it is obvious that the supermarkets can make portions cheaper than can be made at home. Everyone here has emphasised making a load in one go and freezing...or mass production as it is also called.

The not at all surprising news is that it is cheaper to make 12000 portions than 12.

The other key aspect is that the ready meals contain cheaper more horrible ingredients than customers will buy individually. We wouldn't put that sort of meat in anything...hence they are using cheaper base ingredients.

I suspect that in charging £1:50 for 4 steak pies Iceland are still raking in profits. That number is what they can get, not what it costs.

So at the end of the day you can get your recommended calorie intake more cheaply buying crap than making from scratch. You aren't getting anything like good nutrition...but in a choice between good nutrition and empty bellies it isn't surprising that people get stuck into the value sausage rolls.


but if you are spending more than £35 a week for a family of 4 then you CAN afford to cook from scratch - see recipes appended!


BoffinMum Thu 29-Aug-13 20:13:34

Just posted up Whois's fantabulous menu plan.

Whois menu plan

Thanks again, Whois. grin

racingheart Thu 29-Aug-13 20:22:34

Here's a Sainsbury shop for under £50 for a family of 4 for a week:

1Sainsbury's Beef Steak Mince, Lean 575g £3.33
1Sainsbury's Apples, Family Bag x9 (minimum)£1.85
8Sainsbury's Loose Fairtrade Bananas £0.87
4 Sainsbury’s Carrots£0.45
1Sainsbury's Cucumber, Whole£0.80
1Sainsbury's Curly Leaf Lettuce£0.70
1Sainsbury's Mixed Vegetables, Basics 1kg£0.75
1Sainsbury's Mixed Herbs, Basics 13g£0.30
2Sainsbury's British Fresh Whole Milk, 4 Pints 2.27L£2.58
1Sainsbury's Ultimate Pork Sausages, Taste the Difference x10 690g £3.33
1Sainsbury's British Chicken Thighs & Drumsticks 850g £3.34
1Sainsbury's Stock Chicken Cubes, Basics 10x10g£0.20
1Sainsbury's Mushrooms, Basics 400g£0.97
2Sainsbury's Courgettes (loose)£0.38
4Sainsbury's Red Onions, Large (each)£0.68
1Sainsbury's Crusty White Bread Mix 500g£0.80
1Sainsbury's Pasta Shapes, Basics 500g£0.39
3Sainsbury's Chopped Tomatoes, Basics 400g£1.05
2Sainsbury's Red Kidney Beans In Water, Basics 400g£0.42
1Sainsbury's Barn Eggs, Basics x6£1.00
1Sainsbury's Cayenne Pepper 38g£1.00
1Sainsbury's White Fish Fillets, Basics 520g£1.75
1Sainsbury's Crunchy Peanut Butter, Basics 340g£0.62
1Sainsbury's Beans In Tomato Sauce, Basics 420g£0.25
2Sainsbury's Pancakes, Basics x6£0.40
1Sainsbury's Sweetcorn In Water Salt & Sugar Added, Basics 198g£0.25
1Sainsbury's Spaghetti, Basics 500g£0.39
3Sainsbury's Wholemeal Bread Medium Sliced, Basics 800g£1.50
1Sainsbury's Long Grain White Rice, Basics 1kg£0.40
2Sainsbury's Mozzarella, Basics 125g£0.88
1Sainsbury's Bake at Home White Baguettes, Basics x2 300g£0.45
1Sainsbury's Mixed Vegetables 1kg£1.00
1Sainsbury's Strawberry Jam, Basics 454g£0.29
1Sainsbury's Butterlicious Spread 500g Buy 2 for £2.00£1.30
1Gia Garlic Puree 90g£0.80
2Sainsbury's Anya Potatoes, Taste the Difference 1kg Save 50p was £1.50 now £1.00
1Sainsbury's Red Label Round Tea x40£0.74
1Sainsbury's Roast & Ground Coffee, Basics 227g£1.69
1Sainsbury's Porridge Oats 500g£0.65
1Sainsbury's Cornflakes, Basics 500g£0.31
2Sainsbury's British Medium Cheddar 400g Buy 2 for £5.00

It's really healthy. There's a choice of breakfasts and lunches, and it assumes you have nothing at all in the larder to start off with (except salt. I forgot salt but basics salt is about 20p.)

choice of porridge, cornflakes, scotch pancakes or wholemeal toast with jam or peanut butter. Freshly brewed coffee or tea.
I chose full fat milk because you use less of it in tea and can water it down slightly for cereal, to make it taste like skimmed, so it goes further.
These foods double as snacks if people are hungry.

Quick Lunches:
cheese sandwiches
PBJ sandwiches (can't take them to school but adults can have them) beans on toast,
freshly made mushroom soup,
baked spuds with beans or cheese (usually these would be baking potatoes but designer anya spuds were cheaper this week, so it's those instead. Can still be microwaved with cheese or beans.)
An apple or a banana for four days of the week, carrot sticks for 3 days of the week.

You could add some biscuits from the basics range for about 40p a pack, or some 30p basics choc and make choc krispy cakes to go with the lunches.

Dinners (assuming no veggies in the family.)

1. Spag bol - make a double lots using 2 packs of chopped toms, the minced beef, 100g of mushrooms, 1 courgette, 1 large onion, garlic puree and mixed herbs.
Use 400g of the spaghetti for 4 people
Serve just over half of the sauce.
Add grated cheese if wanted

2. Chilli
Add kidney beans to the left over sauce, add cayenne pepper and serve with 200g dry weight of rice, cooke don hob or in microwave

3. Chicken thighs with savoury rice.
Rub chicken thighs with garlic puree and herbs and cook in oven or on hob. Add a little water and chicken stock cube to keep them juicy.
Fry half an onion and 200g rice in a pan, add chicken stock and when cooked for 5 mins add half pack of the frozen mixed veg. Bring back to boil. Cook through for another 5 mins.

4. Chicken noodle soup.
Boil up the drumsticks from the chicken pack with 3 pints of chicken stock. Remove drumsticks, take off skin and strip meat. Cut into chunks and return to the stock. Finely chop 1/2 onion and fry. Add to the stock, add frozen mixed veg to the stock and a tin of sweetcorn. Add herbs and 100g spaghetti broken into short pieces. Cook for ten more mins. Serve with the french bread sticks which you can make into garlic bread if wanted with garlic puree and spread mixed together.

5, Sausage, spuds and beans.

Boil the spuds. If bakers (which they’d normally be) you can mash them. With these smaller potatoes just slice them and fry if you want, in oil with a bit of garlic & cayenne.
Cook all 10 sausages.
Chop an onion, fry, add tin of beans, pack of chopped toms and some herbs and spice. Serve with some of the basics frozen veg.

6. Veggie Pasta bake
Fry ½ onion and tomato again, with garlic and herbs. Set aside 4 tablespoons of this mix. Add the other courgette and a few mushrooms. Add some of the frozen veg. Cook the pasta. Stir in the veg and grate lots of cheese on top and grill or microwave to melt the cheese.

7. Home made pizzas (can be used for lunch instead)
Make up the bread mix, Divide into 4-6 balls and roll out. Use the set aside tomato sauce from yesterday as tomato topping then add mozzarella cheese. If any saussies left over, slice them onto the pizza too. Serve with the lettuce and cucumber and carrot sticks.

8. Kedgeree
Fry ½ onion with rice and then add water to cook the rice, along with the frozen white fish, cayenne pepper (ideally would be curry powder but I’m not assuming anything is in larder) and then add the last of the frozen veg. Hard boil two eggs and chop on top or if preferred just beat them and stir them in at the end to make a creamier kedgeree.

9. Mushroom soup

Finely chop mushrooms and slow fry with garlic and herbs. Add chicken stock. Cook for 10mins. Puree if possible, add splash of milk to make it creamy.

That's more than enough dinners and hot or quick lunches, plus tea, coffee and a few tiny treats such as pancakes. But monotonous, but if each week you added a different flavour to the shopping trolley (curry powder, black pepper, lemon juice etc you could build up more variety of flavours.)

It may not be as cheap as the junk food but apart from the sausages it is all lean protein, high fibre and gets in the 5 a day. It won't put you in hospital with a bad heart or make you obese, constipated or malnourished which junk food, even if eaten in excess, can do.

racingheart Thu 29-Aug-13 20:27:17

Ah - I missed getting in before the gavel and anyway was way over cheap as chips budget, but is still another cheapish weekly budget for a family of four.

That's excellent racingheart

hogwartsismyhome Thu 29-Aug-13 20:43:27

I am a single mum with 3 dcs. We are veggie. Nothing with a face! Mainly for animal welfare and you have no idea whats pumped into meat, but also because we save loads! I or my 14yr ds makes sauce for the lasagne and i use tinned toms NOT jars. Pizza i make on a whim and use normal cheese if no moz. I hardly ever do midweek shop. My view is this. MY HARDSHIP HOPEFULLY WONT LAST LONG BUT MY CHILDRENS GOOD HEALTH SHOULD LAST A LIFETIME. We eat really well on very cheap. Proud mummy and maybe slightly smug!!!

hogwartsismyhome Thu 29-Aug-13 20:49:49

Oh and i sometimes go farm shops!!

MrsKoala Thu 29-Aug-13 22:03:48

Right, after looking at the tesco website, if I could shop for a fortnight in one go, I reckon I could bring feeding 4 in at about £60. So £30 per week.
Using their 3 for a tenner meat, I would buy 1 chicken, 750g mince beef, 750g Gammon, 10 pork sausages, 6 pork loins and 15 eggs.
5kg Pots £3.49
1kg Carrots £1
750g Parsnips 90p
Celery 80p
Onion 1kg £1
Garlic 40p
Ginger 40p
Value apples x2 90p each
Value banana (about 8) £1.15
V. Sultanas 84p
Sugar 99p
Red lentils 1kg £1.69
V. Tin Toms 34p
V. wraps (8) 92p
V. rice 40p
Chickpeas about 60p( – couldn’t find them on my search tho)
V. Penne 29p
V. lasagne 32p
v. sweetcorn 35p
frozen peas 900g 89p
Self raising flour 45p
Veg oil £1.25
Coconut milk 99p
Crushed chillis £1.89
Cumin £1
Oregano £1
V. kidney beans x2 21p each
v. cheese £3.36
v. butter 98p
passata x3 29p each
Value bread x2 47p each
Porridge 1kg x2 75p each
V Ham x2 75p each
V. Mayo 40p
Whole milk 6 pints £1.99
V. beans x 3 28p each
With that there could be lunches of Ham/egg/cheese sandwiches & mayo & Red lentil and tom soup or Beans on toast. Breakfast of porridge.
Dinners would be:
Roast Chicken, Sausage & apple stuffing, Pots/Pars/carrots/peas, Gravy
Left over Hash & beans
Chilli & rice
Toad in the hole & peas
Veg curry & rice
Roast Gammon, Pots, carrots and sweetcorn
Spag bol
Gammon & wedges & beans
Pork loins & jackets & veg
Pork & egg fried rice

MrsKoala Thu 29-Aug-13 22:10:43

oh and that includes making 2 apple and sultana loaves for treats.

gloucestergirl Thu 29-Aug-13 22:11:34

It's not that hard to understand. If junk food comes from take-aways it will be more expensive that cooking from scratch. If the junk food is supermarket convenience food, then cooking from scratch will be more expensive.

But muddying the waters, if you were to cook from scratch and applied the food ingredients/standards applied to making the supermarket convenience food, then cooking from scratch would be cheaper again. But no-one will do that as it would taste awful and be completely disgusting mentally once you realise what goes into it. We don't have access to the chemicals that they pump into these foods to make them half decent tasting.

As an example, take the lasgne you would make at home, use half the ingredients (except a tenth of the meat) and double the amount of water and pour a bucket load of flour, salt and cooking oil into it. That will undoubtedly be filling, cheap and also explain why it tastes slightly of wallpaper paste (despite all those extra chemicals).

racingheart Thu 29-Aug-13 23:17:05

One thing about this is that we're not comparing like with like. I finally found Ice's one day meal plan and it doesn't have any of the five a day on it, except beans. Cooking from scratch could be far cheaper if we just made stodge, but the scratch-cookers automatically search for healthy and tasty food.

I could do a dirt cheap menu if it was just heavy pastry smeared with a bit of brown stained flour glue gravy stretching miniscule amounts of mince. But wouldn't really want to eat it. The pizzas I make are very cheap and massive. But it would be boring to eat them every day, even though they are much nicer than cheap ones. (Not nicer than Pizza Express chilled counter ones but those are almost take away prices.)

I'd choose to eat several of the meals from my menu even if there were no budget constraints.

MrsKoala Thu 29-Aug-13 23:48:27

I meant to add, some of my meals sort of 'feeds' into the other.
So roast chicken would be
Heat oven to 400 (hot). Take 2 of the sausages skinned and mixed with a chopped stick of celery, chopped apple, chopped onion, some oregano. Stuff this into the bird. Drizzle oil over, crush 2 cloves of garlic and put under the chicken in a roasting pan. Wash the spuds, parsnips & carrots but don't peel. you should have 4 medium parsnips in the pack - use 3. Remove the biggest 4 spuds from the bag and keep for jackets later in the week. Take 6 medium spuds and 3 decent sized carrots and the parsnips and cut into similar sized chunks (i make the carrots a little smaller and parsnips a little bigger as they cook at different speeds). put veg in a bowl and drizzle oil over. Put chicken in the oven on the highest shelf for half an hour. After this add and another roasting tin on the shelf below to heat. about 5 mins later chuck veg and oil into the hot tin, shake and put back into oven. Keep checking and turning for 25 mins while it all cooks. Remove chicken after 1 hour (depending on size) and remove to rest. put tin and juices over the hob, add a couple of tablespoons of flour and stir in to soak up juices, add boiling water (or stock from last week if you have it) and whisk in till thickened and gravyish. Cook some frozen peas. Cut the breasts off the bird and slice up. remove stuffing and divide between 4. Dish up but retain half the veg for the hash tomo. Keep left over chicken gravy (there should be quite a bit)

Remember to keep all veg trimmings aside apart from pots and parsnips (i don't peel but keep carrot tops and bottoms). I put onion bums and celery bits and even the roots of garlic in an old ice cream tub in the fridge as the week goes on.

Hash: chop all meat from legs and thighs of bird and keep any scraps of stuffing, chop all veg to a small size and chop half an onion. Heat butter in a non stick frying pan and add it all, turn it over to fry and heat thru. Serve with baked beans.

Scrape every scrap of meat off the carcass and freeze meat and bones separately.

Chilli: Split 750g beef mince in half, fry 375g beef, 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 stick celery, garlic, tsp cumin, tsp oregano, chilli flakes (depending on taste), garlic clove. Add a carton of the passata and a pint of water and a mug of red lentils. Simmer till reduced. Add 1 tin kidney beans and a chopped green pepper (if you can stretch to one). Serve half with rice (cook 200g per person and retain 60% of the rice for 2 later meals).

Enchiladas: in a big bowl mix the remaining half of chilli with 1/3 the left over rice. In a square lasagne dish put the tin of chopped toms, a chopped onion and chilli flakes to taste. fill the tortilla wraps will chilli mixture and put in the dish on top of 'salsa'. sprinkle over grated cheese and bake for 45 mins.

Pork loins and jackets: Take the biggest spuds kept aside and bake. Sprinkle oregano over all 6 porkloins and roast. Boil carrots and peas and serve 1 loin each, and 1 pot with veg and gravy retained from the Chicken roast. Keep 2 pork loins aside for

Pork and egg fried rice: Chop pork loins small, Fry 1 chopped onion, 1 -2 carrot and 1 stick celery chopped small, a clove garlic, chopped ginger and some chilli flakes. add left over cooked rice should be equal to about 75g dried weight per person) and pork and heat thru. Whisk 2 large eggs and a tbsp milk. move all ingredients to the side of the pan and turn up heat - scramble the eggs in the space left then stir thru the rice. Drizzle over soy if you have some.

Roast the Gammon and veg as before, use frozen left over chicken gravy with this too. Cut a thickish slice of gammon and chop small and freeze. Cut remaining into 8 slices, and serve one slice each and keep one slice each for;

Gammon mash and beans. (self explanatory really!)

Soup: Done at