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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?

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!

InMySpareTime Thu 14-Feb-13 17:39:15

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

eslteacher 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.

InMySpareTime Sun 24-Feb-13 12:30:27

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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