How much is 'enough' for food shop for a family of 4??

(47 Posts)
SandyChick Thu 31-Jan-13 20:07:16

Just been watching martin lewis and he's given me the kick up the bum to sort finances out.

We do well when it comes to shopping around for insurance, broadband etc. The only thing we have room for manoeuvre is out weekly food shop.

We are 2 adults, 6 year old and a 10 month old. I currently shop at sainsburys. I tend to buy their own brand. I spend around £400 per month which also includes cleaning stuff, cat food, cat litter, nappies etc. I basically buy everything from sainsburys. We have milk delivered.

I have tried in the past to cut down but we always end up going to our local shop for 'treats' during the week.

So, how much is enough for a family of 4 to spend on their weekly food shop without feeling like your really missing out?

jenduck Thu 31-Jan-13 21:22:41

We are a family of 4 (me, DH, DS1 (4) & DS2 (21mo) with a cat, too. We spend between £100 & 200 per month on groceries including nappies, cleaning stuff, cat food - everything. (I know because I write it all down). Actually, it does not include alcohol, on which we spend about £70 3 times per year, on a day trip to France.

This is done through a mixture of buying lots of Tesco Value items & lots of yellow-stickered items (75% off or more). We also don't really buy more than we need & don't throw food out. We don't feel like we're missing out as we often have Finest items & treats from my yellow sticker trawls.

RedPencils Thu 31-Jan-13 21:31:41

I spend about £100 per month for 2 adults and 10 yr DTs. Mostly at Aldi with top up at Asda. We do have a lot of meat though and a treats.

forevergreek Fri 01-Feb-13 10:55:48

Around £60 a week ocado. We have no pets and rarely buy cleaning products ( use an Eco egg for washing clothes, hot water and Vinegar/ lemon juice for cleaning)

gerbilsarefun Fri 01-Feb-13 11:18:54

Around £60 for a shop in Aldi, which can last 2 weeks for meals. In between I need to buy milk, bread, crisps (my 2 can eat crisps faster than walkers can make them shockwink) and other basics. We are a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 dds 14 & 11.

sunnyday123 Mon 04-Feb-13 12:11:02

I spend about £80 per week for 2 adults and 2 kids tesco or asda.I have tried Aldi etc but even then I only get it to £6o-70! How do you manage a month on £100 (genuine question?)

IceBergJam Mon 04-Feb-13 12:19:22

I keep looking at my food shop, because we need to cut back. I think I am doing some wrong from the responses on here.

Over a month, we have two weeks with DH, Me, and DD 14M, and two weeks with DH, Me, 14M, 18 & 16 YO.

Dog & Cat

When there is just 3 of us, we spend about £80. When there are five about £130. Two teens are extremely fussy so its hard to budget with them.

So about £420 a month. We dont really drink, and then we get takeouts / eat out on top of that. We must cut back because the nursey fees now take a large portion of our budget.

We spend £40-£50 per week in Aldi for DH, DS1 (4YO), DS2 (6MO) and myself. We have cut back on wine for health and money reasons, so only buy one bottle of wine a week.

Usually about £60-£80 in asda or tesco (I don't have to buy nappies/washing powder/toilet rolls etc every week) but it'd be more than that if I actually bought enough bread, milk, cereal, squash and fruit to last hmm I never seem to buy enough of those so we have to top up at our very expensive corner shop during the week (£2 for a single can of tuna, anyone?) I shouldn't really, should bite the bullet and get it all in one shop!

I've shopped at most supermarkets and find Sainsbury's to be one of the most expensive. I know you said you buy their value range but honestly, even when I really tried I still ended up spending £20 more than I would anywhere else. If you haven't tried aldi or lidl I would really recommend giving them a go.

Or asda, if you can be disclipined and not be distracted/bedazzled by the zillions of products and offers like I usually am. Shopping list? What shopping list? Fuck the mince, they have chocolate filled crepes on offer!!! hmm

Fayrazzled Mon 04-Feb-13 12:41:58

I wish I could get my food shopping down to £400 a month. £600 is my current target. Honestly, I don't know how you guys do it. I meal plan and use the my supermarket website to choose which supermarket is the cheapest to buy from (although I won't use Tesco but it doesn't matter as they are never the cheapest). No Aldi or Lidl within half an hour of here so fuel costs would be an issue driving there.

Fayrazzled Mon 04-Feb-13 12:43:11

Oh and I do cook from scratch every night. We get through loads of fresh fruit though and that's expensive.

momb Mon 04-Feb-13 12:47:58

I spend 100 per fortnight at the supermarket, than milk topup locally, plus a 'treats shop' if I'm passing an aldi or lidl maybe once a month. I guess about 300-350 per month, including rabbit food, cleaning stuff (but not wine), toiletries, for DP and myself plus 2 DDs (school age/teen) all week and another 3SDDs every weekend. This includes packed lunches and socialising food (we have guests a lot).
If you spend money at the local shop on treats because you have cut them out, then make some treats and keep them in a tin in the kitchen. Or try the cheaper stores for treats: all our girls prefer aldi crisps to main supermarket ones, and they are 1/3 the price of branded.
Are you cooking yourself or using more pre-prepared food? It does work out a lot cheaper to buy the ingredients and do batch cooking than paying for someone else to prepare it for you.

IceBergJam Mon 04-Feb-13 13:15:45

We tend to cook from scratch, but the teens only eat food with meat in it and little veg. Not sure how to make that cheap. Chicken breasts are so expensive!

Family of 4 here, me, DP, DD1 (4) and DD2 (12 weeks). DD2 is formula fed. And a dog.

We have a budget of £70 per week if we need it but most weeks we get by on £60 inc formula, nappies, toiletries, cleaning products and dog food. I alternate those items (except formula) so its usually £40 on food for all breakfasts, lunches and dinners, £8 on formula and £10 on anything else.

We eat meat with every meal, but it might only be some bacon or chorizo. I meal plan, cook from scratch and buy own brand but not always the value ranges. We rarely feel deprived.

If I was working full time it would be impossible to do it this cheap.

jenduck Mon 04-Feb-13 19:54:38

sunnyday I'm not sure if your question was directed at me, but I'll answer it anyway! The months I spend £100 or thereabouts are usually months when I already have a well-stocked freezer & have cat food & nappies to hand, as well. Then the months when I have to stock up on these things are more like £200 months.

For me, it really is all about buying bargains when you see them & having ample storage (we have 2 full-sized freezers & a large understairs cupboard). So, for example, my freezers are now running low (well, except 6 loaves of bread DH got for 14p each for Kingsmill!), so I will go to Tesco one evening this week & be prepared to hang around for an hour or more to get 75%+ off meat, fruit & veg & bakery items. I may even have to go a couple of times, but I'm confident I will get enough of each to last me the best part of a month. I am lucky that DH is home in time for me to do this this week, but were he not, I would just take the DSes (4 & 21mo) with me & put them to bed later (they can always nap the next day & are both excellent sleepers anyway).

Also, I pop into the co-op/martins whenever I am in the vicinity, whether or not I need anything. I often pick up 6-packs of yoghurts for 10p or 4 pints of milk for 30p, which I freeze.

Lastly, my motto is not to meal plan & buy ingredients for that, but to buy what is cheap & then make a meal out of what I have.

higgle Wed 06-Feb-13 14:33:04

I work full time and haven't got the energy to hang about waiting for mark downs. I do make sure I have enought money in the system to take full advantage of 2 for 1 or big reductions on things we use all the time - ketchup, mayo, Quorn products ( usually an offer on them) that way there is often a week when I have very little to buy except fruit and veg.

ChestyLeRoux Wed 06-Feb-13 14:34:48

About 60 a week with nappies.I do the lot in asda.

noisytoys Mon 11-Feb-13 09:16:37

We spend £80 a month on a Sainsburys basics home delivery and £10 a week on top ups of milk, bread etc from Lidl. We are potty training DD now because we can't afford nappies anymore. We don't go without anything we need and we are all happy smile

Consils Mon 11-Feb-13 09:24:50

Someone on mumsnet had a 2 week meal plan for a family of four for about £35 per week. Does anyone have a link to that thread?

SandyChick Mon 11-Feb-13 21:30:58

Bumping for consils - If like to see the meal plan.

I'm thinking of doing a weekly meal plan then doing a massive batch of each meal to freeze so in theory I should have a few weeks worth of meals sorted. It might be a but repetitive but hopefully it will cut the cost of food shop and time in spend cooking smile

jenduck Tue 12-Feb-13 09:14:07

I think that was BoffinMum but not sure how you find the thread or attract her attention [slightly dim smiley needed]

1stMrsFrugal Tue 12-Feb-13 20:45:05

It's on her blog Austerity Housekeeping

bacon Wed 13-Feb-13 18:20:29

I'd be more conservative at £120 pw. Taking into account I do packed lunches and everything is of good quality, I bake and cook from scratch. We dont have takeaways and hardly eat out (only very occassionally), most weeks thats 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 teas. I have home bred lamb and sometimes beef in freezer. I buy plenty of fish. May include 2 bottles of good wine so could be a bit more. £17 per day for 4 is perfectly acceptable.

I wouldnt skip on food, quality and nutrition is paramount. My cleaner spends £170 on rubbish. I have to add we have hardly any food waste. I dont buy magazines, crisps, pop, readymades, dog food or nappies.

I cant quite see how you can live on £50pw and food is going up and will definitely next year. If you are eating a good balanced diet, no waste and no cr@p then no one should be ashamed at what they spend I have friends who eat out all weekend so they can justify spending £200 a weekend at restaurants.

whatyoulookinat Wed 13-Feb-13 18:25:38

2 adults & 3dcs. We spend about £80 per week & make most meals from scratch. We don't really have puddings, just yogurts/ fruit & buy alot of own brand including a few Sainsburys basics.

Doshusallie Wed 13-Feb-13 18:31:17

I spend between £500-600 a month. I shop at tescos and lidl. We throw nothing away. 4 of us, dh, me, 2 dses, 6 and 8. During the week the only meals the boys eat at home is breakfast so I am paying school meals in top of that. I do buy a lot of meat, but no idea why I spend so much to be honest yes I do it's gin

stephrick Wed 13-Feb-13 18:43:56

i'm at about a £100 pw, however my children are adults, 19 and 16 and boy do they eat, I try to cut back by buying offers only and basic range of beans, tin toms, peas etc, the problem is I end up driving round for the offers, so waste petrol. Farm foods is fantastic for loo roll and cooked chicken and fish. The big expense is the fresh veg to go with it all.

whatyoulookinat Wed 13-Feb-13 19:13:10

Amazed at how little some people spend. I though we were doing ok for a family if five spending £80 per week. I expect there are some really poor quality meals being eaten if people only spend £100 per month.
Do the people spending such small amounts buy much fresh meat, fish veg etc ? Not criticizing just genuinely interested as we could do with getting our costs down but don't really see how to & continue to eat healthily.

northender Wed 13-Feb-13 21:10:35

{thread hijack, sorry} jen have missed you on the Frugal Feb thread. How are you?

MrsPennyapple Thu 14-Feb-13 14:46:17

I've had a bit of a shock to the system this morning when my card was declined at the supermarket. (Paid with a different one, and can transfer money from another account so it's not as desperate as it might sound.)

The shop was more than I expected, but there were some extravagant one-off purchases in there. Steak as a treat for DP tonight (we don't really do Valentines day but he deserves a treat), and the ingredients to make a raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake. Tell you what, it's not always cheaper to cook from scratch! I calculated when I got home, the ingredients cost £14.75! There is no way I would pay that for a bought one. Admittedly it does make a very large one, and there will be some ingredients left, but even so, it's nuts, really shocked me.

I almost always pay on the debit card so it does make it easy to calculate what I've spent - I worked down the bank statements for Jan and we spent £187.36 at the supermarket. Somehow in Feb we've spent £233.23, and it's only half way through the month! Unfortunately we don't have Aldi or Lidl here, only Shop Rite and Co-Op, and a Tesco that is so far away that any savings would be eaten up by petrol costs. I already buy mostly supermarket's own and mainly cook from scratch, I'm not sure what else I can do. DP won't entertain meat-free meals more than once or twice a month.

Another point of interest, I went to the butcher's this week and bought the same as I would have bought on the 3 for £10 meat offer at the supermarket - it came to £9.88 so realistically, not much cheaper.

One tip I do have is writing to manufacturers - if there is a brand you like, find their website and contact them. Either just tell them how much you enjoy their product, or make up some question, and quite often they will send you free products or money off vouchers. I used to buy a Sacla sauce years ago (one of the few cooking sauces I used), and recently emailed them to ask if they still made it. They replied that they didn't, but made something similar, and asked for my address to send me some vouchers. The next day I got 3 x £1 off vouchers to be used against any Sacla product. Although sometimes the manufacturers just answer your question and don't send anything, it is worth a shot for the time it takes to email.

Sorry for mammoth post!

We grow about half of our fruit and veg, buy from local greengrocer (£5 p/w) and butcher (£8-10 p/w), then the main grocery/toiletries/alcohol shop in Aldi (£25 p/w). In total that's £170-£180 a month, we have snacks in that and meat most days.
Veg in season is cheap and nutritious, and bacon trimmings go a long way in meals (1/4lb easily makes a meal for 4 nicely meaty). We drink about 1bottle of wine and 3 beers between us in a week.

MissPB Thu 14-Feb-13 17:49:26

we spend between £50 - £60 a week at Aldi but usually do a little top-up at Sainsburys every few weeks of about £35. Also buy some meat from the butcher at approx £25 a month on average.

OP, would the teens eat chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts? A whole roast chicken would probably go further than a pack of expensive chicken breasts! Also - have you tried turkey - diced or turkey steaks are an easy substitute in a stir-fry or curry.

We are getting quite ruthless with our shopping lists at the moment - so don't put down things on the list unless they are needed for the weekly menu. (But do pick up bargains that will store of course!). Do your shopping list at the same time as your weekly menu. I do mine in the kitchen to make it easy to have a quick look in the cupboards to check I have something blush

riverboat Thu 14-Feb-13 19:05:16

I've been trying to get my shopping bill down for a few months now: we're two adults, part time DSS(7) an dog, and we still spend too much, despite the big savings I've made so far through meal planning. We're on about €400 (£340) per month right now I think.

We're in France though, where there are not nearly as many offers in supermarkets and generally prices for lots of things seem higher...Plus I count cooking as a hobby and I like to try out new recipes at least two nights a week, so that bumps the price up more than if I was always just cooking the cheapest meals possible.

One thing I realised is that I always meal plan and then buy what I need - good for reducing costs to an extent. But it often means I don't end up buying the cheapest ingredients / cuts of meat, because they never feature in my meal plans. So next time I'm at the supermarket, I'm going to use my phone to take pictures of cheap cuts of meat / ingredients that I notice, and then try to find recipes for them during the week. This way I hope my meal plans will become cheaper.

For some reason mince here is extortionate! For 350g of 5% fat mince, I'm looking at €4! Drives me mad. Can get 20% fat stuff for about €2.50, but's a lot cheaper than than in the UK, right?

alemci Thu 14-Feb-13 19:07:40

Probably around £100 a week with 2 teenagers but it varies from week to week. may spend more one week and less another. Use Costco to bulk buy some stuff.

jenduck Thu 14-Feb-13 19:18:16

waves to northerner Have fallen off wagon tbh! Lots of bad stuff happening, in top of what happened in Jan - dh's Grandad died, Dh's promised work contract fell through leaving him unemployed, house sale fell through again, ds poorly, other ds playing up, ddad's business (where I work) being sued...

But thanks for asking! Will try to pop over to Feb thread

KnitMinion Thu 14-Feb-13 19:26:44

We are a family of 4 - 2 adults , 1 child and 1 toddler, plus 4 cats and we average about £430 a month for all shopping which includes food, toiletries, cleaning stuff, treats, cat food, cat litter etc.

I think we could get a bit cheaper if we were stricter but as DH does all the cooking it's up to him and he sucks at being able to follow a meal plan! We have tried multiple times and never manage to go more than 4 days before something happens that messes it all up!

We shop all over too, Sainsburys, Tesco, Asda, Lidl - no supermarket loyalty here smile

louisianablue2000 Thu 14-Feb-13 19:47:11

We spend about £500-600 a month for a family of five (admittedly the youngest is still on a diet of milk so isn't contributing to the cost unless you count my chocolate requirements). We do cook from scratch but aren't particularly cost conscious, we get an organic veg box from Riverford so that is £13 a week before we even get to the supermarket. We don't eat meat every day and I wouldn't count that as an indicator of how deprived I felt, e.g. I'd rather have a homemade veg curry than a McDonalds. So in comparison to me you are doing great!

jenduck Thu 14-Feb-13 19:59:12

Just to answer a couple of questions. What I buy is pretty much all fresh. I think I have bought about 10 ready meals in total since ds1 was born 4 years ago! I will, however, confess to usually having a box of either fishhfingers or chicken nuggets in the freezer for emergencies.

Our meals vary all the time depending on what I can get reduced, but we have meat casseroles & hm Curries, pasta with 5 veg sauce, meat (chops, steak, gammon) with potato & celeriac mash & veg, roasts, hm meat pies topped with mash, all kinds if fish (herring, mackerel, salmon, Coley, sea bass) with rice, game (usually as casserole or pie). Our fruit bowl usually has at least 3 kinds of fruit, plus dried & pureed fruit which I freeze (mixes well with porridge or rice pudding). Kids also have yoghurts & custard, plus the usual cakes & biscuits for snacks. Usually have some ham, cheese (different sorts, ds1 favours brie), eggs in fridge. So, not a bad diet, I didn't think hmm

As I said before, this is achieved by going shopping at inconvenient times & bagging bargains. Yesterday I got a family pack of pork chops for 80p,, family size steak pies for 70p, fruit salad pots for 10p each, a celeriac for 7p, pack of fresh doughnuts for 13p,, finest choc muffins 40p,, fresh cookies 20p (treats as had friends over).

It also helps that both dses are very unfussy & will eat anything. They have had to, as I refuse to believe that children should eat separate foods such as only ever nuggets, fishfingers, sausages, smiley faces, so I buy very little of this ,& they eat what we do.

Apologies for typos as on phone.

jenduck Thu 14-Feb-13 20:11:28

Forgot to mention that we usually have fresh veg with each meal, as well as in Nash, pies, casseroles etc plus salad with lunches

bigkidsdidit Thu 14-Feb-13 20:23:52

We do £60 a month for two adults and a toddler, including nappies and wipes. We do it all at lidl and only eat meat twice a week; eat lots of soup and Dahl etc.

bigkidsdidit Thu 14-Feb-13 20:24:12

A week, sorry grin

MrsKnowName Sat 23-Feb-13 23:12:19

Wow cannot believe how little some people can get their shopping down to. We spend around £90 per week. Theres me DH, DS (4), and DD (1). I do an online order with ASDA once a week. I tried ALDI but found it no cheaper as I would end up having to top up in ASDA. I did manage to get it down to around £70 per week but I was going to local ASDA a few times a week to top up so was spending much more than I do now. I try to buy everything in the one shop. Only exception is I normally run out of fruit mid week so top up about £5 on that.

I do weight watchers and do find it difficult to find low fat alternatives at a low cost. I think this is why my bill is fairly high. The amount of food waste we have is too high. I have cut back on portion sizes for DC's as most of the time they dont eat it all. I also home bake as much as I can. I try to bake for treats - more because Im cutting down on the amount of sweets my kids eat. I hate a shop with nappies as they alone are £20! Tried several different brands and all but pampers gives my DD horrific nappy rash!

BoffinMum Sun 24-Feb-13 09:22:41

I think people that manage to get their food bills right down do things like this:

1. Eat lots of pulses, especially lentils.
2. Meat consumption goes right down.
3. They either grow veg or live near people that do and who give them surplus stuff, which is then frozen for later use. Alternatively they eat ready frozen fruit and veg. (Note: they don't account for gardening costs in their food budget, so it's only deceptively cheap to grow things, most of the time).
4. They tend to eat a fair bit of toast for breakfast and snacks.
5. Soup figures quite prominently, often as a main meal.
6. Their diets are sometimes a bit repetitive.

While I am here, I was wondering if people wanted a new Crisis Diet menu plan (£35 a week) for the Spring? It occurred to me that there are only two weeks' worth on there and people may be a bit fed up of eating them!

BoffinMum Sun 24-Feb-13 09:25:22

Incidentally I spend about £90-£100 a week at the moment for three adults, two teens and a little-un. I'm currently shopping at Tesco to acquire enough Clubcard vouchers for a return Eurotunnel crossing.

I grow veg, and after the first year "gardening costs" are negligible, as I collect seed from most of my veg to grow on the next year, or leave some to self-seed.
I bought shallot sets this year, £2 for 40 shallot sets, each will become 6-10 shallots, I won't need to buy onions for about half the year if stored correctly.
High value veg is well worth growing (e.g. Sprouting broccoli) but I wouldn't bother with e.g. Potatoes or carrots as they are cheap to buy and take up space.
I don't have a big garden, but every inch is well used, fruit trees are trained along fences and fruit bushes make up borders.
Strawberries grow readily in even small spaces, and courgettes crop well for little work.

BoffinMum Sun 24-Feb-13 12:35:25

I grow expensive stuff like rocket, posh lettuce, unusual herbs, courgettes (I grow them big, like marrows), fine green beans (look lovely growing up the canes!), tumbler tomatoes (hanging baskets and pots), black basil, purple sprouting broccoli, and strawberries.

BoffinMum Sun 24-Feb-13 12:38:19

My mate Anna is a dab hand at productive gardening, as can be seen in this blog post.

Mixing flowers and food in borders

BTW Anna has her first novel coming out soon! We are apoplectic with excitement over here. <proxy stealth boast> grin

catlady1 Sun 24-Feb-13 12:53:30

I'm not sure exactly how much we spend because I tend to shop around and pick things up as I see them if they're on offer, but we spend probably around £60-£70 a week, for two adults and two snobby cats. So that includes cat food and litter, cleaning products, toiletries etc. We're not well-off by any means and could probably do with cutting it down a little, but we don't go out or order takeaways very often so I don't mind spending a bit more on good fresh food and cooking from scratch, especially after spending a long time being single and very skint and living off crap.

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