Feed your family for £90 a month

(33 Posts)
rufus5 Wed 11-Jul-12 09:54:20

Like a lot of people we are totally broke at the minute and having to cut back on all our spending. I’ve been reducing my spending on food and groceries gradually over the last year or so, and I think I’m at my rock bottom costs now – for main meals for a month I can feed my family (3 adults, 2 toddlers) for £90 a month. I know a lot of you are in similar financial difficulties, so thought it might be useful to share this with you to help if you are making cutbacks in your food spending also.

This total does involve shopping in 2 different stores (when I compared prices Tesco were better in some things, ASDA in others, so I shop in both now). I did the ‘downshift a brand’ challenge and like MSE advises I only take the value brand of food when I didn’t really notice a difference in taste – we still use some branded items, so it may be possible for you to go even cheaper than this, although most of our food is either supermarket own-brand or the value range. I also haven’t taken any special offer or stickered deals into account so this will help as well to cut costs further, and if you only have 2 adults in your house instead of our 3 it should end up less. However I have worked out my quantities so nothing is going to waste, which may involve batch cooking or buying larger packets of meat and then freezing half – it may mean sometimes my grocery bill is higher if I am buying (for example) a 3kg packet of pasta, but then I’ll not have to buy pasta the next month, so it works out on average.

This is only for main meals, I reckon if I add in breakfast, lunches, cleaning products, loo roll and a few small extras my bill will increase to £200 a month, but still not bad as I used to spend more than twice that every month.

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twolittlemonkeys Wed 11-Jul-12 10:00:37

Have you done the Asda Price Guarantee with your Asda shops? If anywhere else would have been cheaper for your shop, you get the difference back - just enter some numbers off your receipt. Then you don't need to bother going to Tesco at all. I occasionally look round if I'm nearby for offers but Asda wins hands down in terms of value.

I often get great value meat by scouring the reduced section in Waitrose - then either cook it that night or freeze it immediately. Much better quality meat than elsewhere - just don't get sucked into buying non-reduced items there as it costs ££s more!

snapespeare Wed 11-Jul-12 10:25:51

Rufus - really interested in your menu plans - or do you tend to buy whatever is on offer/yellow ticketed

StrokemyForehead Wed 11-Jul-12 10:34:06

I would be really interested in seeing your menu plans too as I am trying to get down to really low spending in this area

IllegitimateGruffaloChild Wed 11-Jul-12 10:45:04

Another one keen to see the plans. smile

babyicebean Wed 11-Jul-12 10:59:37

Please can I see them as well.

therealmrsk Wed 11-Jul-12 15:32:58

Me too! We are really struggling at the moment and desperately need some ideas. All we seem to eat is bread and unhealthy frozen crap, it's all we can afford.


ASillyPhaseIAmGoingThrough Wed 11-Jul-12 15:37:48

I am interested in your menus too.

rufus5 Wed 11-Jul-12 17:37:48

Hey twolittlemonkeys, yea I do the price-check with every ASDA shop. I find it doesn't always result in savings though as quite often Tesco have other items which are cheaper, but they are not compared directly with the items in ASDA as Tesco have wider variety of cheaper products (certainly in my local stores they do).

I have to stress that the costs I worked out are specifically for my meals and my family. I sat and wrote down every meal (I do a monthly plan) and exactly what ingredients go into each, costed the best price from Tesco or ASDA, then added it all up. Hopefully you can get the same savings, but as I said in my original post you might even get better prices as I didn't include discount offers (as I wanted a proper idea of how much I spend from month-to-month on food) and I'm feeding 3 adults (all of whom enjoy good-sized portions!).

The menu plan I'm following is a 4 week plan, Mon-Fri as follows:
1 - pasta bolognese (same as spag bol, just my toddlers manage pasta with a little less mess!)
2 - chilli con carne with rice
3 - lasagne
4 - sausages and champ (mashed potato with spring onions)
1 - salad with wheaten bread
2 - quiche with green veg
3 - omelettes (various fillings)
4 - pizza and garlic bread
Wednesdays (soup day!), all served with a French baguette:
1 - veg and barley soup
2 - chicken and veg soup
3 - bacon and leek soup
4 - chicken and tarragon soup
1 - fry (soda bread, potato bread, sausages, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans)
2 - Tuna and pasta bake
3 - bacon butties
4 - bacon and onion pasta bake
1,2,3 and 4! - fish and chips!

I tend to just do chicken fried rice on a Sat (my husband's favourite Chinese take-away!) and a roast chicken with veg on a Sun, not very exciting, but keeps costs down. However on occasions I'll just see what I pick up on offer at supermarket and do that to give us a bit more variety.

Obviously you guys will have other cheap and easy meals you can substitute for any of these, some of which will be even cheaper, this is just what I do.

I do homemade sauces for my bolognese, chilli and lasagne, and homemade wheaten, but just get the frozen pizzas - should probably do home-made to save a bit more, but ASDA do good pizzas for £1. I have to say I do get chickens from a local factory shop which helps save a bit, but apart from that everything else is Tesco/ASDA. Also I try to co-ordinate next-day lunches with any leftovers. Most of these meals are very common, but if anybody wants recipes for any of them please just ask.

If you're interested the tuna pasta bake came in the cheapest (£2.15 for the meal!) and salad the most expensive (£4.80) but all of them except 2 came in below £3 per meal.

Really hope this is useful for you all, and helps you saves a few pennies!

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IllegitimateGruffaloChild Wed 11-Jul-12 17:46:42

Thank-you for that. Much appreciated!

ASillyPhaseIAmGoingThrough Wed 11-Jul-12 18:43:28

Can I be cheeky and ask how you do your chicken and taragon, your tuna bake and potato cakes?

jenduck Wed 11-Jul-12 18:55:53

If you have any farms near you, these can really help with costs for main meals. One of our local farms does a 25kg sack of potatoes for about £7.50, which lasts about 2-3 months for 2 adults & 2 toddlers. From another farmer, I got a whole lamb (about 5 months old, so quite big) for £90, which is considerably cheaper than buying individual cuts from shops.

rufus5 Wed 11-Jul-12 19:26:18

Not cheeky at all SillyPhase, most of my recipes are hand-me-downs passed on from other people!

The chicken and tarragon soup is 1 chopped onion cooked gently in some butter, add 300ml chicken stock, 100g cooked chicken pieces, 1tbs fresh tarragon (although I also make it with dried tarragon sometimes - 1tsp - not quite as tasty, but perfectly good and a bit cheaper!) and simmer for 5 mins. Add 300ml milk, heat through and serve with a dash of cream if you're feeling solvent enough to afford it!

Tuna pasta bake is off MN recipes! Is just 1 onion chopped and fried gently, add tin of tuna, tin of tomatoes, 1tbs Worchestershire sauce, + some mixed dried herbs, simmer gently while you cook the pasta. Mix it all into an ovenproof dish with some (lots of!) cheese, sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 10 mins in medium oven.

Do you mean the potato bread in the fry when you ask about potato cakes? If so it is just shop-bought potato farls (I'm in N.Ireland, potato bread is maybe an Ulster thing?), not home-made.

Hope you enjoy!

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duchesse Wed 11-Jul-12 19:30:23

Sadly I seriously don't think it's possible to feed a family with teenagers on £90/month. £90/week just about realistic.

ASillyPhaseIAmGoingThrough Wed 11-Jul-12 19:51:49

I will try the soup, not much chicken in it. Tuna bake similar to mine except again I would use more tuna and add sweetcorn.

stressedHEmum Wed 11-Jul-12 20:13:21

Main meals in here probably cost less than £90 a month and I have 3 teens (19, 15, 13) a 10 year old and a part time 22 year old (non term times). We eat mainly veggie, though, so that keeps prices down and I stocked up on beans and lentils when AF had them for 4 packs for £1.

rufus5 Wed 11-Jul-12 21:18:11

Totally agree duchesse, I have no idea how families with teenagers keep their food costs down. I'm hoping we manage to get our finances sorted out before my DC reach the teenage years!

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gabsid Wed 11-Jul-12 21:47:11

Great meal plan! I don't think I could plan that far ahead. I usually do about a week and have some additional options in the freezer/cupboard.

I got a bit drawn into Tesco points and decided a couple of months ago to use Lidls as well - we (2 adults, 2 kids 3&7) saved almost £100 per month, but we still spend about £270 per month, that includes loo rolls, cleaning products and a few other bits.

Also, I love lentils (cheap and nutritous) with Herta and potatoes, chorizo or as a soup.

I always have a bag of soya mince and mix some in when I do spag bol or chilli con carne.

I usually do a big bowl of pizza dough divide it up and freeze it - defrost, roll out and put toppings on - the kids love it! But if you add up the toppings (usually pinapple, ham and mushrooms) I am not sure its cheeper than a £1 pizza.

Have to check out Waitrose reduced meat, if I am near one.

jenduck - how do you stop the potatoes going green? Mine always do in the cupboard, now I keep them in the fridge.

jenduck Wed 11-Jul-12 22:28:07

gabsid they need to be stored in a dark place - ours go in our garage - and keep better in colder weather. If they start to sprout they are still safe to eat but I tend to mash lots then freeze them.

rufus5 Wed 11-Jul-12 22:36:26

gabsid, I'd love to claim I was a super-organised mega-mum with all my meals planned because I'm the alpha-mother of our playgroup, but the reality is I'm a bit of a bleary-eyed exhausted frazzled mum and it saves me racking my brain trying to think "what are we going to have to eat tonight" every single day (as well as being much cheaper)!

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kilmuir Wed 11-Jul-12 22:39:59

How can a bacon sandwich be a main meal for an adult?

chickydoo Wed 11-Jul-12 22:51:10

Am going to have to give this a go! I have 3 teens and a little one. Various animals and a DH. My Dad eats with us a couple of times a week. In the holidays I go to work, come home and the teens have scoffed the weeks food! I'm not joking. I now hide food around the house. We have a selection of pets too. I struggle in the SE to keep the food bill to £120 a week. This includes all cleaning stuff, loo rolls etc. All toiletries too. I have tried to cut down, I buy special offers, and meal plan. If there are Pizzas in the freezer, the teens eat them, and chips, anything really. It's a nightmare

Matildarae Wed 11-Jul-12 23:03:05

Jen could I ask how do you keep pototoes fresh for a couple of months and how can you tell if they are still ok to eat? Thanks

Matildarae Wed 11-Jul-12 23:04:11

Sorry I just read your answer

rufus5 Wed 11-Jul-12 23:27:17

kilmuir, I have to admit our bacon butties are not just bog-standard sandwiches - I use large bread rolls and have about 4 bits of bacon and 2 eggs in each of them, my DH eats 3 which keeps him going no prob! And it's only once a month, so can live with the lack of veg for 1 meal.

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