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Budgeting for family meals

(25 Posts)
purplealiensdontwearhats Fri 05-Apr-19 18:18:27

Please don’t roast me in this, as it is a genuine question.

Having just read a thread about someone eating the same thing every night, and people mentioning the cost and what they spend on food each week, it made me think how much I spend on us (me, DH and DD 11yrs). I spend in the region of £100 pw.

One poster said they spent £20-£25 pw for food (2adults and a young child) and I was wondering what they must eat? My shop is mostly food, some toiletries, cleaners, dog stuff etc included.

What sort of things do people that don’t spend much buy, and how do they do it??!!!!

LifeBeginsNow Fri 05-Apr-19 18:23:37

I was just thinking of doing something similar. Not so much due to the cost (although it would be great to save money) but more to stop the apathy towards what to cook which then invariably becomes a takeaway.

How bad would it be to have the same thing most nights or set meals? We would still have the odd takeway/ meal out so not totally bland. I don't love my kitchen, don't have much free time and have people in the house that aren't too adventurous with food so what is the point of all the stress?!

ShabbyAbby Fri 05-Apr-19 18:28:55

I think if you start from what's expensive it helps make sense of it?

So things like cashew nuts, avocados, fresh olives, salad, fresh berries, fresh fish, unprocessed meats and most cheeses are fairly expensive compared to peanuts, jarred olives, carrots, apples, tinned tuna, processed meats and margarine. Also things which are branded and fresh foods are more expensive than unbranded and long life foods. Further, it is cheaper to shop in, say, Aldi, than Waitrose. So that impacts the bill too. The more you prep yourself the cheaper food becomes also. So even buying pre cut garlic or onions instead of chopping them yourself effects price.

Something like bean chilli with rice or tuna pasta bake are cheap and cheerful, and there is of course the famous "Mumsnet chicken." Some people underestimate what they are really spending, as well. Also some people straight up lie on here, while others eat a whole lot of value baked beans by the sounds of things!

purplealiensdontwearhats Sat 06-Apr-19 12:25:49

I think I agree that some people must be economical with the truth when they say what they spend. Or they must be very thin because they eat so little!
Some years ago I had very little money, and two dogs to feed. I couldn't give them away as they kept me sane through a very nasty divorce, so I basically ate little else except pasta and cheese sauce (home made) so they could eat. I mean I must have eaten other things, but that was the bulk of my diet for many, many months. And I'm still here-in rude health!!
Now I have more money I don't have to think about what I put in the trolley, so I don't really. Perhaps I should. And I still have two (different) dogs grin

ShabbyAbby Sat 06-Apr-19 12:33:51


Yes I did similar to keep the kids to be fair
Only without the cheese shock
There were lots of baked beans involved but it was my own fault overspending at Xmas.

ShabbyAbby Sat 06-Apr-19 12:34:11

Still spent more than £25 a week though!!

stacktherocks Sat 06-Apr-19 12:36:09

Make a meal plan for the week and buy what you need for it so nothing goes to waste. At the end of the week whatever veg hasn’t been used can be made into a soup which will do the next week’s lunches.

£100 per week seems astronomical for me, but I know most people can’t afford that much. Don’t overcomplicate meals, beans on toast is a nutritious meal and if you have it a couple nights per week you’ve probably saved a bit there.

My favourite tip though is going to those discount shops, Fulton’s is the best imo, or Heron, the food is insanely cheap for the exact same stuff and brands as supermarkets, I can go in there and buy every last item I want and need that they sell and it costs never any more than about £40 for an insane amount of food. For example six individual bags of popcorn for a quid which is great for packed lunch snacks.

We always make the time to head there first and buy as much as we want and then just go to Tesco for the things we can’t get there (the stock rotates all the time in Fulton’s and you can’t guarantee what there’ll be) and it’s much much cheaper than getting it all from Tesco or Asda. Luckily for us there’s a greengrocer en route between the two so we stop there for fruit and veg as it’s cheaper than the supermarkets and you can buy exactly as much as you need. I know someone will come in with ‘but not everyone is near a discount food store/can access a grocers/can afford the petrol to get there/has the time to go to more than one shop’ but save your breath please, I’m just giving an idea of what we do and you can either take it or leave it depending on your circumstances.

There’s only two of us currently and I reckon we don’t spend much more than £30-40 per week and we eat well. I think a well stocked freezer and cupboards is key so you always have a basis for a meal in there. Also whenever you cook do it in bulk and freeze individual portions so on the nights you eat those.

Have you ever seen jack monroe (cooking on a bootstrap)’s blog? It has some brilliant recipes that are genuinely dirt cheap. For example I made their carrot, cordiander, kidney bean and cumin burgers that came out at 9p per burger and they were absolutely gorgeous and really simple.

Start a cookbook of your own where you write down cheap recipies and a rough costing, even very basic stuff like beans on toast so you don’t forget it exists, and before the food shop sit snd decide what you’re gonna eat each day and stick to it. Don’t get sucked into buying expensive junk just cos it’s on offer.

stacktherocks Sat 06-Apr-19 12:39:22

One of my facilities dishes is marcella hazan’s tomato sauce, it’s so simple and easy, just can of plum tomatoes in a pan with butter or marg and salt and pepper and an optional halved onion left to simmer for ages, and then either poured over spaghetti or mixed into spaghetti.

It costs pennies, and it’s the nicest tomato sauce I’ve ever experienced, it parts the heavens and I can hear angels sing when i taste it haha 😂 it’s not gonna win any awards for being healthy or super nutritious other than the tomatoes but it’s sooooo good and feels so luxurious and is literal pennies per portion.

ZippyBungleandGeorge Sat 06-Apr-19 12:39:52

OP you're in the land of the mythical MN chicken that feeds a family of eight for five cooked meals and a week of lunches (don't forget to make soup with the carcass! 🙄) I meal plan we very very rarely have takeaway and we don't really eat processed food, I spend £100 ish a week and that's for me and DH (3 meals a day for both) , DS is still solely a milk monster. Take some things with a hefty pinch of salt

stacktherocks Sat 06-Apr-19 12:40:52

Favourite not facilities!

ZippyBungleandGeorge Sat 06-Apr-19 12:40:55

I've lived on dried noodles and beans on toast when I was a student and don't fancy that life in my thirties

PeachyPrincess Sat 06-Apr-19 12:42:07

@stacktherocks I think you’re the first person I’ve seen use Jack’s preferred pronouns. And I know a lot of people who know them IRL.

Calic0 Sat 06-Apr-19 12:43:43

Oooh, I’ve made that tomato butter sauce as well - it’s fantastic and so easy to do.

The key to reducing costs is definitely to plan and only buy what you need and have some contingency recipes for using up the odds and sods - I’ll often throw together a “fridge bottom” pasta bake which will do dinner for DH and me and lunch the following day and hoovers up all the bits and pieces left from meals earlier in the week.

Clutterbugsmum Sat 06-Apr-19 12:45:23

It depends on what your family eats, how many and ages are in your family.

I spend about £100 pw for food, cleaning products for 5 people (me,dh 15, 11, 10). And that breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

I don't drink so I don't buy alcohol but if DH wants some he buys it himself.

But I also do a Tesco shop around £200 to top up store cupboards every 3 or 4 months and Iceland About £100 every other month.

I menu plan weekly.

ziggiestardust Sat 06-Apr-19 12:46:41

We have recently switched to a mainly plant based diet (started in Jan) and honestly meat was our biggest expense by far. I easily took £20 a week off the bill with that alone.

Meals we all enjoy are fajitas made with portabello mushrooms and peppers, Mexican spicy beans with smashed avocado on top, jacket potatoes with loads of different toppings (sweetcorn, coleslaw, fried onions, baked beans etc), homemade pizza, veggie burgers and chips, lasagne made with mushroom mince (Sainsburys do a prepacked mushroom mince; super convenient and way nicer than quorn!), soups made in the slow cooker with those part baked rolls, stir fry with noodles, pesto pasta, those cheap ramen noodles jazzed up with some pan fried veggies and BBQ tofu on top, falafels in pitta with loads of garlic sauce and chips/salad, risotto... Switching a couple of meals a week saves ££. This has definitely been the key for us.

purplealiensdontwearhats Sat 06-Apr-19 13:29:31

Thanks everyone, I'm getting some brilliant ideas on here! So glad I posted now! I know what you mean about the meat-I spent £45 in the butchers yesterday confused

stacktherocks Sat 06-Apr-19 13:36:30

Really PeachyPrincess?

It’s just basic respect surely. I haven’t heard anything about them in quite a while so wasn’t sure if I was up to date but that’s pretty shocking if even their friends don’t bother to show them that basic respect!

purplealiensdontwearhats Sat 06-Apr-19 18:23:01

How much did you budget for the salt? 🤣

ZippyBungleandGeorge Sat 06-Apr-19 18:32:05

@purplealiensdontwearhats a lot, but you can get some excellent bargains if you take your own sack to the weigh and save!

HotChocLit Sun 07-Apr-19 20:16:19

I do think u could spend that little with using greengrocer or home bargains and Lidl/Aldi. Cheapest bread 36p,10p tins at hb, 10p crisps, plenty of pasta dishes etc

HotChocLit Sun 07-Apr-19 20:17:18

Zippy where do u shop?

purplealiensdontwearhats Sun 07-Apr-19 22:15:12

Already got my shop for this week, but next week I'm going to try B&M, followed by the green grocer, with ASDA for what I can't get elsewhere.
I'm actually looking forward to it!

MoorMummy Sun 07-Apr-19 22:22:07

Have to say I’ve only popped in B and M for a specific item in the past, but I was surprised at how much branded stuff they do. For example Colman’s mustard ( large) for a quid when it was £1.60 in the supermarket. I’m really time poor , but I think I might start trying to find the time to go in the future.

BarrenFieldofFucks Sun 07-Apr-19 22:26:46

I reckon we spend about £100 a week, two adults, two kids and a toddler plus a dog.

We cook from scratch bar pizza on a Saturday, roast on a Sunday, packed lunches for kids most days. Dh takes leftovers or simple meals to work.

I tend to follow a fairly simple pattern:
Roast on a Sunday
Slow cooker something on a Monday
Fish and veg on Tuesday
Either fajitas or similar on Wed or we go to my parents
Thursday is slow cooker, normally meatballs with pasta as kids love them
Friday is fake takeaway like shish kebabs, curry etc
Sat is pizza.

I tend to roast a chicken on Mondays as well for meat for salads for my lunches, and for sandwiches. I will also get a large thing of lean mince and make a big chilli or similar for lunches. We eat a fair few Spanish omelette and salad type the summer more cold meats etc. Home made soups.

Few bags of salad, a load of fruit and veg, pack of cheese, some ham, bread, wraps, the odd condiment when we run out, baking stuff. Big tub of plain yogurt. Sometimes a packet of biscuits, cereal bars, tub of ice cream. Milk, two big bottles of whole organic. Eggs (fox got our chickens).

That tends to come to around £75/80, then there will be the odd top up over the week.

goodfornothinggnome Sun 07-Apr-19 22:31:51

hmm, it really depends. I can do a weeks shopping on about £20 if i meal plan and have time to spend cooking, £50 is more of a usual amount i spend on the families food though with extras etc. not including toiletries and cleaning products or dog stuff.

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