feed a family for less than £50 a week?

(40 Posts)
frazzled74 Sun 29-Aug-10 21:22:15

I am trying to clear debts and put a little cash aside for christmas, but i need to cut my food bill massively. does anyone manage to feed a family of 5 for £50 a week? if so tips please?

Jaybird37 Sun 29-Aug-10 23:17:15

Flageolet bean soup is a good autumn-winter option - soak flageolet beans overnight and cook in cold water. This is my memory of Rose Elliott's from the Bean Book I think.

Sweat an onion and add some sliced leeks, Chuck in the beans and cover with stock (I use Marigold stock powder).

Cook up together, chuck in some fresh parsley (optional) and blend (I use one of those wands as they work really well and are easy to wash up). Check the consistency and seasoning. You can always add more water or stock if necessary, or reduce if it is too thin.

Add a bit of double cream (makes all the difference even though it is expensive, although not absolutely essential).

Serve with crusty bread.

Contains some of your 5 a day (flageolet beans count), fibre, protein and the parsley is high in vitamin C.

Jaybird37 Sun 29-Aug-10 23:18:28

PS you can use tinned flageolet beans instead.

superdragonmama Sun 29-Aug-10 23:32:25

I've got a brilliant cook book called Feed Your Family for £5 a Day. You'd now need about £9 a day as it's rather old! I used the meal planners and recipes in it for ages to save money for deposit on first house. It was excellent.

Also bought Gastronomy Economy (after seeing tv prog last year) and that's full of lovely recipes and great advice about economising.

Also have found lots of recipes online.

I've found the major keys to economizing are pre-planning food for the week, making a list, only taking cash to the shops - no plastic at all! - and a lot of home cooking and soup grin

Good luck! Can definitely be done.

superdragonmama Sun 29-Aug-10 23:34:07

ps I feed my family of 4 on £60 a week, that includes non food stuff too like washing powder - I speak from long experience smile

LexyLea Sun 29-Aug-10 23:39:06

Yes, I have successfully managed feeding a large family for years for no more than £50-60 per week, for several years.
The way I do it is to firstly, make a weekly menu (and stick to it religiously) this includes packed lunches and all other meals. Choose recipes that go a long way (bbc good food wesite can be very good for that kind of thing). Then I go through all my storecupboards etc with all recipes in hand and only add items to the list that are absolutely necessary. Then I go round the house and note down all other weekly essentials are required that week. Then comes the fiddly bit, going through the whole shopping list on mysupermarket.co.uk and pricing everything up. I have been known at this point to price split the list into 3 and eventually go to 3 different supermarkets for their cheapest items (on certain items there can be large differences). If the list comes out too expensive then I am either ruthless with non-essential items or go back to the recipes and either change them for something cheaper or swap ingredients for something I have in stock.
This is incredibly time consuming (it usually takes me 1-2 hours to complete) but financially it can be worth it. Oh yeah, I also became T-total when I began doing this as booze is simply far too expensive when your living on such small amounts. It can however be tricky at times especially when you have to buy shampoo, washing powder, loo roll, shower gel, washing up liquid and all the other essentials that are quite expensive, all in one week. This severely restricts your food budget. This is when bulk cooking comes in handy. Whatever is left over, freeze for such occassions, even if there's only enough for one portion - this is when the kids choose their own meal and it's treated as a tv dinner.
I have found, by doing this, that my family has eaten better, more nutriciously, and you can avoid value / basics items (which lets face it can be vile) if you shop well and always compare prices. The family congregate in the kitchen while I'm bulk cooking and meal times have become much more sociable as a result. I can understand how this can be very tricky if you work full-time but I have been known to do the mysupermarket comparison part during my luch hour at work.

claireb1974 Sun 29-Aug-10 23:39:53

really? I really need to know how. Does this include all fruit and veg also or just basic meals? Is it all meals or just 1 a day for each memeber. I think I spend about £15 week on fruit if not more!! So I really could do with some tips to cut back. I find it hard to feed on a budget though at the moment as I am doing slimming world and dont seem able to do much for all of us that is SW friendly.

frazzled74 Mon 30-Aug-10 00:54:16

thanks for responses, the £50 is just for food, not washing powder etc. im hoping that it will be easier when dcs are back at school next week. At the moment i spend £40 per week on an ocado shop, £17 on a veg box scheme and around £10-15 a day in co op/morrisons/local butchers etc.I know that this is quite extravegant and we waste loads, so i am keen to start shopping more wisely.

cat64 Mon 30-Aug-10 01:06:37

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Jaybird37 Mon 30-Aug-10 02:05:28

I bulk buy staples like loo-paper, washing powder, tinned tuna and tomatoes at Costco. Savings add up esp when you factor in food inflation and the petrol/ time spent on trips.

However, you do need storage space and cash available to buy it in in the first place.

india245 Mon 30-Aug-10 08:26:24

I think the key is to put your 'post war wife' head on and not waste anything. Most days I make soup and I'll chuck anything, literally anything in there that has not already been used up - it doesn't matter if there is a tablespoon of something less I don't waste it; I use it.

last night there was a tablespoon of salmon left, so I mixed it with mashed potato and made fishcakes. Any leftovers from Sunday lunch gets made into Monday soup. A tablespoon of sweetcorn leftover will be mixed with pasta and other veggies for pasta salad.

Any fruit or salad that is coming up to going off make into smoothies or soups. If you're pushed for time, throw it in the freezer to preserve it until you have time to deal with it.

I woujld also buy cheaper cuts of meat and use a slow cooker and start bulking out meals with oats / lentils / barley - from this you can pad out minced beef, make stews and pasties etc.

stressedHEmum Mon 30-Aug-10 10:04:04

Its quite easy to feed 5 people for 50pounds a week, especially if that doesn't include toiletries, cleaning stuff etc. I think mainly that you have to manage expectations, really and be prepared to use tinned salmon instead of salmon fillets, for example.

The way that I work is to meal plan everything, even down to snacks and drinks. Then I shop online so that there are no extras grinning at me from the aisles. If I find a very good special offer, I might change my plan, but most of the stuff that I buy tends not be affected much by offers. I buy quite a lot of tinned tomatoes, for example, but I know that they will almost always be either 2 or 3 tins for a pound, so I just check which is the best buy every month. Occasionally, if I am in a shop, I find a really good whoops thing to buy, a leg of lamb for a fiver, mince for 50p or whatever. I will buy that and freeze it, but then the next lot of meals are planned round it and that cuts down on the next shop.

The easiest way to save money is to plan meals around the carb and then fill in, also to make more one pot meals instead of meat and 2 veg sort of meals.

So you could have 2 rice/other grain, 2 pasta, 2 potato and 1 bread based main meals a week. Then work out the protein that you need for these. Try to make at least 2 meals from beans or pulses, then another eggs or cheese, and one fish (I use smoked mackerel a lot because it is cheap and you only need a little, tinned salmon is also a good source of fish oil as are tinned sardines and pilchards. Frozen white fish is perfectly adequate for pies, fish cakes, soup etc.)

Another good money saving tip is to cook some kind of roast once a week, strip all the meat from it and divide it into 3 or 4 meals worth. I NEVER serve a roast as a roast dinner, it's just not cost effective. You can then boil any bones up to make stock for lunchtime soups. Also try baking as much as possible at home. HM bread, cakes, biscuits, scones etc. are much more cost effective and really easy to make.

So you could cook a chicken, for example and them have:

creamy chicken and veg jacket potatoes (use 1 breast shredded, about 1lb of mixed veg of some kind, a couple of onions and 1 1/2pints of white sauce using 1/2 milk 1/2 chicken stock from a cube)
spicy chicken tortilla bake ( other breast finely chopped mixed with a tin of tomato soup, a jar of salsa or a tin of tomatoes with chilli and peppers and a tin of chopped tomatoes, mixed with a 7 or 8 tortillas cut into 1inch squares. Pour into a pie dish, sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for 30 minutes)
Chicken risotto and salad (use scraps of meat)

The you could fill the rest of the evenings with:

smoked mackerel kedgeree (use 3 eggs and 1/2pound of fish)
tomato and cottage cheese pasta bake
lentil lasagne
lentil and veg shepherds pie.

Then you can make stock from the chicken carcass to make soup for lunches and use the rest of the meat for sandwiches, savoury muffins or little pies or pasties .

LAst week I cooked a reduced lamb leg and used it for 4 meals and stock. I made barley mince, lamb and veg tabouleh, lamb rissole things and shredded lamb wraps.

Like India, I don't waste anything. Little bits of things are recycled, dying stuff gets turned into soup, cakes or whatever or pickles, chutneys and jam. I also buy multi purpose ingredients. Lentils can be made into soup, chilli, curry, loaf, burgers, pate...., dried beans can be used in a hundred and one different meals. A small pack of sliced chorizo can be use to make patatas bravas one night, then the other half can be used to make chick pea and chorizo soup (you only need a couple of ounces to flavour a whole dish.)A tin of salmon can make fishcakes, pie, pasta, fritters, loaf, burgers, sandwich spread and more. Things like that mean that the family get a wide variety of meals from a limited variety or ingredients. So they don't get bored eating the same things all the time, but I don't have to spend an unsustainable amount of money to feed them well.

There are a couple of other threads on this topic about cutting back on shopping bills that are full of good tips. There is also one on Good Housekeeping just now, called Back to Basics I think, that's about this as well. You could have a look at those.

You could also try here. The recipes are good and very cheap, but you do eat the same thing over and over again if you stick to the plan completely.

linconlass Mon 30-Aug-10 15:15:36

H i StressedHe Mum- i thought that your post was great - cd you jst clarify re when you say that you cut up tortillias for tortillai bake - to you mean the flour ones - sorry im just not sure whay you meant but would like to know --- thanks !!

colditz Mon 30-Aug-10 15:20:40

frozen chicken drumsticks insteak of chicken breasts/nuggets. Serve with carrots, home made mashed potato (DO buy the value potatoes or get them from a farmer if you're in the country - NOTE - a farmer, not a farmer's market where things are inflated to make middle class borguoisie think they are getting 'better' things.

Lunch is cream cheese and philedelphia sandwiches - cheap and V healthy.

It is very easy to feed 5 people on £50 a week, you have to use what is in season, what is cheap and what is easy to bulk out.

Pasta can be brought in huge bags for cheap as can Rice and dry pulses.

Vegetables that are in season are cheap.

Look for cheap cuts of meat for stews, if you havent got a slow cooker look out for one on Freecycle then all you need to do is bung in some Beef shin and veg with some stock and you have a lovely stew.

Look out for deals on Mince, you can make loads of things with Mince.

Some meals i can think of off the top of my head are,

Jacket Potatos with Beans and Cheese
Omelettes & Salad
Pasta Salad
Pasta with Tomato Sauce
Pasta with Cheese Sauce
Rice Salad
Spicey Rice
Egg Fried Rice
Spicey Mince

Also if you want Chicken but Thight and Wangs and Legs then stick them in a pan with onions and tomatoes, Basil and stock and Beans and let them stew for a while. Chicken Breast is very expensive and doesn't have as much flavour.

That was obviously Chicken WINGS not wangs. They are not as nice..... blush

colditz Mon 30-Aug-10 15:25:45

Sorry, cream cheese and CARROT sandwiches.

colditz Mon 30-Aug-10 15:26:33

make a curry with cheap mince, the fat of the mince actually makes the curry taste nicer.

stressedHEmum Mon 30-Aug-10 16:07:39

Yes, I mean flour tortillas. It's really easy and cheap to make your own. You can use cornmeal tortillas as well.

sarah293 Mon 30-Aug-10 16:11:34

Message withdrawn

Porridge for breakfast with jam if needed.

Cheese sandwiches for lunch with an apple and a banana (get the loose ones and choose small bananas)

My top cheap dinners are:

Jacket potatoes with beans and cheese
Tinned beans and sausages on toast
Chilli with rice
Mixed bean chilli with rice
Soup with a poached egg in
Sausages, mash and peas
Pasta in tomato sauce with courgette and cheese
Macaroni cheese with sweetcorn

Then for dessert cheap tinned rice pudding, custard, tinned fruit or cheap yoghurts.

It's worth planning it online too even if you actually do the shop in person. Get the essentials first and then you will see what you have left for treats.

frazzled74 Mon 30-Aug-10 19:17:27

thanks loads of ideas , i did a shop in nettos today and was amazed at how much cheaper it is than sainsburys and morrisons.
I plan to shop at nettos, then local butcher and grocer for meat and veg, have dusted cobwebs off the slow cooker and breadmaker too. Does anyone have a failproof bread recipe? i gave up with mine as the bread always came out a bit stodgy and small.It is very old and no instructions, is it worth investing in a new one?

cat64 Mon 30-Aug-10 23:03:00

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stressedHEmum Tue 31-Aug-10 13:40:21

Bread will keep longer if you add a couple of spoonfuls of sugar and a couple of spoonfuls of melted butter or oil. It also helps if you cook it at a v. hight temp to begin with so that it makes a good crust to seal it.

I make my bread by hand. A good basic recipe is:

1kg strong white bread flour
2 sachets yeast
600ml warm water or a mix of milk and water
4tblsons oil
4tblspns sugar/honey
1tblspn salt

Mix flour, salt, sugar and yeast together, add liquid and oil or butter. Squeeze it well together by hand and then cover and leave for about 15 minutes to rest. Turn it out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead until smooth. Set aside for about 30mins. KNock back gently. Divide into 2 equal bits and shape into 2 loafs, or shape it gently and put into 2 2lb loaf tins. LEave to double in size. Heat oven to max. Slash loaf tops with a lame or something very sharp and lightly brush with egg or milk. Out them in the oven and turn the temp down to 200. Bake for 40-45minutes until risen, brown and hollow sounding.

This works out much cheaper than shop bought stuff, is infinitely variable as far as flavourings and types of flour go and keeps quite well.

You need to remember to let bread cool before you cut it or it males it go kind of stodgy.

serin Tue 31-Aug-10 21:55:46

Don't buy crisps or biscuits, toast with jam or marmite is cheaper and better for them.

Risotto is the cheapest meal I know and fab for using upleftovers.

cat64 Tue 31-Aug-10 21:58:43

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jenduck Thu 16-Sep-10 15:53:31

I spend roughly £100 per month for myself, DH (including packed lunches) & DS aged 21 months (huge appetite) - plus 1 cat.

My method is completely opposite to most of those on here - I rarely plan at all!

I go to my local tesco (lucky to have a big store 1 mile from my house) every once in a while at 8pm. I then buy meat, fish, pies etc at 25% of the original price & fruit & veg at 10% of the origianl price, as it is on that day's date & they have marked it down (eg the other day I got a whole load of prepacked fruit salads for 7p each, broccoli heads for no more than 10p each & packs of rosemary for 4p each). Once I get home, I divide everything up into meal-sized portions & freeze it. Fruit, I puree/stew & freeze. I rarely spend more than £20 a time doing this & it usually provides main components of 15-20 meals, if not more.

I supplement the above with weekly milk, yoghurt & bread runs (or walks, to be more accurate!) which are about £5 for all I need for the week. Things that cannot be bought reduced are usually value brand (& taste 90% as good, if not 100%).

I buy big boxes of washing powder when on offer & these last me 6 months or so - I use half the recommended amount & clothes come out fine. I only use bleach, limescale remover & tesco value all-purpose cleaning fluid (less than 50p a bottle) to clean with & find these adequate - I hate the idea of too many chemicals & some actually give me a headache or sore throat if I inhale the fumes. D/w tabs & fabric softener are value brand, nappies & wipes tesco own brand & bought when on special offer.

I see you have more DC than I do,OP, but I think your goal is perfectly attainable. Good luck with it smile

stressedHEmum Fri 17-Sep-10 09:31:53

Jen, I used to do the going to the shop at 7 or 8 o'clock thing (well, OH did on his way home from work.) Our local ASda has stopped reducing things to that level in the last year or so, though.

We don't drive and it takes about an hour to get to the supermarket in the evening because the buses are not regular after 6 o'clock. In fact, sometimes they don't run at all because the drivers refuse to come through our village because of all the yobs chucking bricks and things at them. But, if getting to the shop at that sort of time isn't a problem, I would tell anyone to try it out. It can be pretty random and you have to be quite creative in the kitchen, but it saves a fortune.

When OH was in the habit of going to Asda and they did the bog reductions, we were getting bread for 5p a big loaf, carrots for 7p a kilo, apples and oranges for 5p a bag, spinach for 10p, cabbages for things like 2p, mince for 25p for 500g, chickens for a pound. AS I say, ours doesn't do it like that any more and the most that is ever off things now is 50%, usually more like 35%, but even so, it's a good saving. SAdly OH rarely goes that way home since he changed is job, so it's not often that we can get things. I used to love it when he came home with a super bargain and got quite good at making meals based on things like carrots and wholemeal bread grin

jenduck Fri 17-Sep-10 17:49:23

Yes, stressedHEmum, I am very lucky that we are so near to a big Tesco (takes about 15 mins to walk) & my DH usually gets in with the car at about 7.30 so I hand over DS to him in exchange for the car! You're right, it can save fortunes & lead to pretty experimental cooking - we've had everything from liver to game to ready meals to burgers - we'll eat anything! The best bargain night was when I went there a few months ago and even the meat was down to 10% as they had so much left! I must have got enough for 2 months' meals! What a shame the buses don't go through your village, vandals spoil it for everyone, sometimes sad

annasearchnews Thu 23-Sep-10 17:31:00

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

Vermdum Sun 31-Oct-10 19:43:18

ASDA online.

pop1973 Tue 02-Nov-10 13:11:41

I have for the last month been cutting back on the shopping - used to do my main shop in Sainsburys and Asda online.

I now go the either lidl or aldi (when aldi has decent offers on). I have managed to cut my shopping bill down from £60+ to £30-£35 a week for 4 of us.

I don't buy any processed items really, and no biscuits cakes etc. as they seem to contain alot of sugar and a lot of bad fats.

I have cut down to buying the cheap 19p diet lemonade instead of all the expensive pop we used to buy, and their bread is always on offer and their fruit and veg is half price.

Okay you can't get everything - and sometimes I need certain items so have to spend the odd £5 in sainsburys at the weekend, but have noticed the credit bill has gone down considerably as the other good thing about these shops is that my local lidl doesn't like taking credit card for payment so I have to use my bank account card which is good as I only spend what we have now.

I am doing a bit cut back to clear the card before christmas. Hopefully !!

thinkingaboutschools Sat 05-Feb-11 20:14:31

Baked beans are full of good things and cheap!

Lots of pasta/rice dishes with lentils/quorn to bulk up (children love rice and pasta!)

I would go to open air markets at the end of the day if you can - I am sure that they will be selling off fresh veg/fruit at knock down prices.

Look for special offers BOGOF etc

Also, as long as you will use it find out when the supermarket etc discounts on fresh food and then look for things that are significantly reduced that day (esp meat etc)

Hope this helps!

thinkingaboutschools Sat 05-Feb-11 20:15:45

Oops only just realised this is an old thread - hopefully though might help someone!

alexandra65 Thu 17-Feb-11 16:05:56

thats ok, I found it useful !

Never seem to find any amazing reductions myself though :-(

northerngirl41 Mon 30-May-11 14:34:01

What do you do if you have a family of snackers?

I read Economy Gastronomy and thought it was excellent - but if you follow their "tumble down" meals, we'd all be starving! In theory you are supposed to buy a big chicken which gets used to roast with lots of veggies, then gets made into risotto, then into soup etc. In practice what happens: My hubby demands more meat and then picks at it in the fridge, so there isn't really enought to make even one meal out of, let alone two. He's also particularly skilled at eating essential ingredients from main meals (ever had fahitas without the tortillas??). Mostly this is laziness/greed - he likes to grab whatever is easiest to eat straight from the fridge or cupboard without any preparation.

So short of padlocking the fridge, how do you keep them away from your kitchen essentials???

fastweb Mon 30-May-11 17:06:27

"So short of padlocking the fridge, how do you keep them away from your kitchen essentials???"

I have one of those types of husband.

Thankfully he also suffers from "not right under my nose, therefore is invisible" blindness, so opaque Tupperware (full of cheese, or any other "nibble-able" essential ingredients) carefully stashed behind the bags of onions etc on the bottom shelf.

Tortillas hide behind the intimidating rows of tins on the bottom shelf of the stock cupboard.

Basically I hide stuff in non see through containers and behind boring things that don't appeal as a snack.

And carefully scatter "insta munchies" that I know he likes at a push, eg washed carrots, celery, oranges, apples, one small bit of cheese in pole position on the top shelf, to discourage him from getting motivated enough to start a deeper search for something to chomp on.

northerngirl41 Tue 31-May-11 20:51:50

Ah - I thought I was the only one doing this, but alas I can see that other people stash food all round the house... Thanks fastweb it's good to know it's not just me!

I'm seriously considering putting in extra secret fridges when we redo the kitchen. I do tend to move insta-munchies round into different cupboards so he doesn't always know where they are.

bacon Wed 15-Jun-11 17:29:18

Surely buying better quality pasta pref wholemeal is more bulking so buying the slimy stuff in huge bags is false economy???

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