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

Message withdrawn

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

Message withdrawn

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.

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