Family of four to feed, clothe and entertain on £85 per week?

(44 Posts)
messybedhead Wed 10-Apr-13 15:08:41

Due to the new financial year my tax credits have gone down and we find ourselves left after all direct debits have gone out (essentials only but also some debt confused) 85 pounds per week.

Can anybody help me budget?

In order not to drip feed:
I work but DP doesn't as we have a DS who has not started school full time yet but will in September.

I have already budgeted my travel costs but not DPs which will be 19 per week.

He is looking for evening and night work so that we would not new childcare as obviously we cannot afford it (2 DC therefore 2 lots of school pick ups at different times )

Pootles2010 Wed 10-Apr-13 15:14:18

Right, how old are your children? Do they get through vast quantities of food?

Hobbies (for yourselves or childen)? How many cars are you running? Have you budgetted for everything for them (tax, mots, etc)?

We are family of 3, and ds is only 2, I try to keep food costs below £200, although I know there are those who will think this is a lot!

How much are you currently getting through?

I find the biggest killer is costs that don't occur every month - the cat's injections, a wedding, and two birthdays this month, so lots of lentils for us atm!

messybedhead Wed 10-Apr-13 15:19:32

Thanks for your reply !

No cars or pets.

DC 9 and 4 so not as costly as teenagers which I appreciate!

DS does football training which is £2 per week, the rest of us don't do anything anyway as it all costs so much. I may have treated myself to the odd bottle of wine but I can see ill have to stop that.

My DC are pickers but actually don't eat a lot.

messybedhead Wed 10-Apr-13 15:20:58

I have been invited to 3 weddings this summer though!

messybedhead Wed 10-Apr-13 15:22:34

I haven't accounted for DPs bus pass so bringing us down to £65

titchy Wed 10-Apr-13 15:23:13

Seems doable.

£15 a week clothes/shoes/haircuts
£35 a week food
£15 a week towards Christmas/birthdays/holidays
£10 a week entertainment (rent a dvd once a week, go on a family walk, and you'd still have enough left over for 4 bags of chips!)

Assuming everything else is already accounted for obviously!

CunfuddledAlways Wed 10-Apr-13 15:26:15

could you cut travel costs by cycling? or something? how do you get the children too / from school?

£85 per week for food and clothes and other basic essentials not including bills?

i don't think this should be too difficult (hopefully) i would budget for a maximum of £35 per week on food shopping, and buy toiletrees + other essentials like that once a month as long as you have storage for these things? look in your cupboards do you have tins and cans of food? pasta? lentils?

clothes i would try to buy only as season changes? and maybe you could ask for clothes for their birthday presents / ask friends/family for hand-me downs? look in primark/george also.

i would also aim to save around £5 a week incase of small emergencies etc - although it doesnt sound much in a year its £260

Pootles2010 Wed 10-Apr-13 15:29:11

Titchy's list seems good. I'd start putting money aside for the weddings now if I was you! The one we're going to is in a fortnight, between hen do (thank god just night out, not weekend away), stag do, present etc it's really knocked us for six.

I'd try to build up a rainy day pot if at all possible, for unforeseen emergencies. I also like to have a list of things I need for when my birthday/xmas comes round. I know its frowned upon here, but I would never ask unless someone asked me first iyswim, and they are the only time I ever buy anything for myself, so it makes sense to get something you need I think. Mine was last month and I now have two pairs of work trousers grin oh, the glamour!

messybedhead Wed 10-Apr-13 15:32:47

Thank you for all of your suggestions! I feel like a spoilt princess at the moment.

I admit I find the idea of feeding all of us including 2 lots of packed lunches for DC and lunch for me a struggle.

We like rice and everyday value eggs so that's a start!

nkf Wed 10-Apr-13 15:37:42

It's just till autumn? Till there is a second income? Lots of board games for entertainment. Walks and picnics. Free museums.

There's a good link to a site which has very low cost recipes. I can't remember its name but I'm sure someone will link to it.

Pootles2010 Wed 10-Apr-13 15:39:34

here is Boffinmum's meal plan, which is on her blog that I find useful. She says its a crisis diet but I use it quite often blush there's a week two one as well on there. I reckon you might well get it cheaper if you went to aldi/lidl as well.

CunfuddledAlways Wed 10-Apr-13 15:42:05

just do all packed lunches bread, cheap spready cheese/ham/jam , some raisins/sultana's (really cheap if bought in massive value bags)

start trying to do it with your next shop - set a budget, make a list and stick to it...make sure you dont go over budget figure out where you can cut out costs.

walk/cycle/free transport as much as possible, if you have to get a bus pass look into monthly/yearly passes as these are often cheaper.

always look at how much things cost per kilo (for example) so you know if your getting value for money

PeterParkerSays Wed 10-Apr-13 15:42:36

Any food allergies, will you eat vegetarian as a family etc?

titchy Wed 10-Apr-13 15:51:57

Yy to meal planning! Don't have meat everyday. Bulk out mince with lentils, get a slightly larger chicken for your Sunday roast and use leftovers for curry on monday, boil carcass and do hearty chicken soup with pulses and root veg and maybe homemade bread for Wednesday. Packed lunches can be cheap and cheerful bread and filling with carrot sticks and homemade flapjacks. Own brand weetabix for breakfast is less than a pound for all of you. And use cash so you're not tempted to spend more than your budget.

messybedhead Wed 10-Apr-13 16:05:34

Thanks I'll have a look at the budget meal planner. There are no allergies and we will be happy to eat vegetarian meals .

Entertainment wise, well we don't spend on there anyway and so don't really need to cut back.

It's the little things like buying ice creams ( not in this weather) or a packet of moshi monster cards!

Plus the fact that I have a 'good' job- one that is quite often discussed and not always positively on here. I earn a good salary and didn't think I'd have to worry about the pennies. I know once we have two incomes we'll be fine but until then it's going to be difficult .

Pootles2010 Wed 10-Apr-13 16:07:43

Maybe look at selling some clutter to make a bit of extra money? It all helps. Also, have you looked at your essential bills to see if you can get cheaper elsewhere?

Fluffycloudland77 Wed 10-Apr-13 19:08:20
messybedhead Wed 10-Apr-13 19:20:33

All of your suggestions are brilliant - thank you!

noisytoys Thu 11-Apr-13 08:42:23

This thread has prompted me to check my bank acc because tax credits have gone in today. Ours have been reduced by £94 every 4 weeks. Fuck. There's nothing more we can cut from our budget sad

Fairylea Thu 11-Apr-13 08:50:35

Reading this with interest. Our tax credits have gone down 50 a week ! I knew it was happening as dh's salary has gone up but it's still a shock ... trying really hard to cut back on everything, we don't drink, smoke.or go out but it's the perils of walking into Tesco and spending £20-40 when I only needed one thing!

Tempted to take out just the cash I need rather than pay on card or do shopping online but not sure I could stick to it... I need to though !

nkf Thu 11-Apr-13 09:39:20

Using cash only is very effective I find. And writing down everything I spend. It really helps rein the spending in.

PearlyWhites Thu 11-Apr-13 09:44:16

Titchy do you or anyone have a recipe for making curry/ risotto out of leftover chicken? How do you reheat the chicken etc and I confess I have only used jars for curry but would live to know how to make it cheap from scratch also have no clue how to make risotto. Sorry to hijack thread. To boost income try signing up with pinecote online surveys they pay £3 a time, I usually get sent one weekly. Also eBay the kids clothes when they have grown out of them and buy the next set on eBay.Keep the money you earned from selling in your Paypal account to help with cost. Do check postage costs though they have gone up at the post office.

PearlyWhites Thu 11-Apr-13 09:48:46

Another tip I remembered if you shop in a supermarket that has saving cards/ stamps buy the amount you need for the month on 4/5 separate cards when you get paid and only take the card/stamps no money with you when you do your weekly shop.

messybedhead Thu 11-Apr-13 10:05:27

60 a week mine went down by.

What I think I'm going to find hard is my budget of 85 per week comes in dribs and drabs.

33 cb on a Tuesday, 27 tax credits on a Wednesday.

100 left after my wages that has to be split over 4 weeks!

messybedhead Thu 11-Apr-13 10:06:17

Pearlywhites you're a genius!

Is it just iceland that does that or all supermarkets?

anklebitersmum Thu 11-Apr-13 10:06:37

Pearly Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food book. Tells you how to make foolproof curry pastes and all the curries too. Generally brill for 'proper' home cooking too.

Lidl and Aldi is a great way to go shopping-wise.

Try freecycle for an extra freezer (or even fridge-freezer) if you don't have a huge one already and then buy bulk when offers are on. I 'bulk' bought all the bread for this month in Morrisons at the start of the month. 14 half price split tin loaves and 20 packs of BOGOF cobs (4s). Sausages for casseroles were half price in Lidl last weekend so we bought 24 packs @ 52p each.

Always look at the per kilo/litre prices. You'd be amazed at how much extra money you spend by just picking up what looks like the best buy initially.
e.g. Lidl's minced beef £3.09kg, chicken is £2.35kg, I never buy cheese at more than £5 per kg..once you start really looking at what you spend where you'll be amazed grin

Toasttoppers Thu 11-Apr-13 10:10:45

Do you actually want to go to the weddings?
Just asking as DH cousin got married about four years ago and travel and hotel were adding up to about 300 pounds so we didn't go. It's not as if we are close or anything.

PearlyWhites Thu 11-Apr-13 10:11:20

Morrisons does stamps, asda do cards not sure about the others. They are marketed as Christmas saving cards but you can redeem them at anytime.

anklebitersmum Thu 11-Apr-13 10:12:20

oh, I have 4 permanent nippers and a regularly visiting dss.

Pootles2010 Thu 11-Apr-13 10:13:25

Agree about the taking cash out - I have a little coin purse that has the cash in for our grocery shop, works very well for us. I know my mil puts grocery receipts in hers too, so she can work out where it all went.

titchy Thu 11-Apr-13 10:23:53

All I do for a curry is a tin of tomatoes, a large onion, leftover cold chicken (chicken is fine to reheat once - any food is, so freeze uncooked, defrost and cook, then once cooked either freeze again or chill and reheat the next day, or day after), tablespoon curry powder, table spoon coriander, tables spoon cumin, garlic, tomato puree, chille powder to taste!

Adding a tin of coconut milk turns a rogan into more of a korma (esp. if you add table spoon ground almonds) and will probably mean you get double portions. Chinese and asian supermarkets generally have curry spices, thai curry paste and coconut milk MUCH cheaper than supermarkets.

Or same recipe, but instead of spices above, add oregano and basil (grow your own?) and have with pasta.

Risotto - add whatever's in the fridge - this is a great leftovers meal. Simmer rice with leftovers and add stock.

PearlyWhites Thu 11-Apr-13 10:40:23

Thanks for recipes sounds easy enough smile
Messy if you shop in Morrisons and spend £35 a week for 3 weeks you get a £10 voucher so your 4th weekly shop will only cost £25 ( you would have to use cash not saving stamps)

cozietoesie Thu 11-Apr-13 10:42:40


Our bills have gone down significantly since I took to shopping online for the main purchases. If I feel the urge to get something, I just go online, add it to the list - and then remove it next time round. I think I've found maybe a 25% reduction in spend by not actually going to the supermarket. (Leaving aside the cost of petrol and the hassle of trawling the aisles because I manage to wangle free delivery but you may not be able to so that would be an offset for you.)

The one thing that really grated was that I don't get 'reduced' items online but over the piece I've now found that that wasn't really as much of a saving as I'd thought. In reality, I would often would buy things because they were reduced and then not use them - so they were cheap but a waste of money.

I'd give it a try. If you sign up to one of the big supermarkets (if they do your area) they'll often do an introductory offer on online shopping so you could save some money on that trial anyway.


anklebitersmum Thu 11-Apr-13 10:43:59

coconut milk 89p Lidl.

gosh I'm sad

titchy Thu 11-Apr-13 10:52:50

75p in Wing Yip!

(Just as sad!)

cozietoesie Thu 11-Apr-13 10:56:28

If you use Chinese supermarkets, get a couple of jars each of the Lee Kum Kee sauces (particularly the chilli garlic sauce and the black bean garlic sauce.) Superb, very cheap - because they last for a lot of meals - and a life saver for chilli with rice and using up meat to do a stir fry.


anklebitersmum Thu 11-Apr-13 10:58:05

oooooooh..hadn't heard of Wing Yip. grin

<scuttles off to other tab to browse virtual shelves>

cozietoesie Thu 11-Apr-13 11:10:52

There are several online Chinese groceries. If you're there, have a look at the prices of the savoury noodles/ramen. Great for quick snacks, especially for ravenous teens, take 2 minutes to make (straight in the bowl is best), taste great (completely different ball game to pot noodles) and will bulk out a shop if you're ordering to be delivered.


(Can you tell I use Chinese supermarkets a lot?)

jenduck Fri 12-Apr-13 12:04:06

If you don't already do so, check out supermarket reduced counters for bargains. I went to Tesco on Wednesday evening, at about 7.30pm & got enough meat (at least half of it organic, too!) to last our family of 4 (me, DH, Dses 4 & 2) for the rest of the month at least, plus 5 loaves of bread (Hovis/Kingsmill), 2 packs of sliced chicken for sandwiches, 3 little bottles of milk & some limes for less than £20.

Also yesterday got a takeaway-style Chinese meal for £2, which fed all 4 of us easily (large egg-fried rice, prawn crackers, sweet & sour chicken, chicken curry).

irregularegular Fri 12-Apr-13 12:15:25

If my weekly spending money was that low than I think my main focus would be on making a little extra money. It has to be easier to earn an extra 20 quid a week than to cut your spending down from 100 to 80. Could you or your DH to something like babysitting in the evening? That's an easy 20 pounds spending reading/working/MN-ing and there seems to be an endless demand here. Put a card up in a local shop or join an agency. Or cleaning/lawn mowing/ironing - all things your DH could easily fit in during pre-school hours or evenings.

cozietoesie Fri 12-Apr-13 12:58:20

Why not do both? (Cut back plus seek to earn some more.) A little reserve of cash is no bad thing if it can be achieved.

ChristmasJubilee Fri 12-Apr-13 16:37:49

What jenduck says. I go to Tesco a couple of evenings each month for reduced produce. This week I got 26 loaves of bread at 16p - 22p a loaf, 10 packets of rolls, 20p a pack, scones, hot cross buns, muffins, wraps and some nice cakes 9p - 20p a pack. Broccoli, carrots, rocket, swede and 2 bags of chopped onions all for 60p. Joint of finest ham on the bone, beef joint, 2 large packs of chicken thighs and drumsticks, 4 lamb chops, 2 packs sausages (expensive ones) and some packs of cold meat for less than £7. 2 packs of bananas, cape gooseberries and some prepared fruit £70p.

Some nights there is loads of stuff sometimes very little so occasionally I have to go twice in the week but, it really is worth it.

I couldn't do it cheaper at lidl or Aldi.

applepudding Fri 12-Apr-13 22:10:30

Tesco does a jar of value curry sauce for about 25p - dont know what it tastes like though!!

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 13-Apr-13 08:56:22

I actually like that cheap curry sauce, it's a bit like chip shop curry sauce.

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