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Meal Planning/ cutting shopping price help!

(27 Posts)
Elfina Mon 15-Dec-14 20:01:53

It's me, DH and DD who is 2. We are pescitarian, and ear a lot of fish. We don't snack, and tend to have hearty meals.

Shopping is currently about £120 a week (including nappies, laundry stuff and cleaning stuff, etc).

I really want to get this down in the new year.

Can anyone give me some ideas? I need more veggie, healthy, filling and cheap meals!

captainweasel Mon 15-Dec-14 20:33:53

Start loving chickpeas beans pulses. Add then to everything you can.

Kahlua4me Mon 15-Dec-14 20:36:33

Lentils are good too.

Try having jacket potato/toast with baked beans for one meal a week. I seem to remember reading that on MSE once as a good tip for budgeting.

TheRealMaryMillington Mon 15-Dec-14 20:41:23

Well, fish is expensive

So start with one less fish based meal per week

Veggie, lentil or chickpea curries, veg soups (broccoli and blue, butternut squash and nut butter, sweet potato and red pepper, minestrone). Nothing wrong with poached egg on toast/egg beans and chips/veggie sausage and mash occasionally.

Also - these beetroot burgers are awesome.

Look on pinterest - do a search for cheap vegetarian food there's loads of ideas.

TheRealMaryMillington Mon 15-Dec-14 20:49:05

Also swap out cereal for porridge. Fraction of the price and much healthier.

Elfina Mon 15-Dec-14 20:51:00

Fewer fish meals is a definite, and Lentils/ chickpeas are all good, but I need help on what exactly to do with them, and what to do instead of fish!

We often have veggie pasta etc, but fresh veg is one of my biggest expenses...

DH would not consider eggs on toast a dinner (we have that for breakfast most mornings, too). Jackets and beans are good, but we'd have load of cheese, and that's not too healthy confused

annielostit Mon 15-Dec-14 20:51:56

As for the fish, I saw a bbc2 programme not so long back,where wet frozen fish came out better than fresh in taste/quality tests. There are some good buys in lidl and aldi. I use it for fish cakes and crumb it.
The pie mixes are quite good from supermarkets.
Try down shifting some brands, meal planning and make sure you use up left overs.

TheRealMaryMillington Mon 15-Dec-14 21:00:14

Cheese is also expensive: get meaner with it. Get a block and grate it - freeze it into portions. Use less

Egg based dinners:
Huevos rancheros/eggs in purgatory type thing
Spanish omelette

Eating a pice of fish with sides of veg is about the most expensive way to eat - fish pie/kedgeree etc much cheaper

If beans on toast once a week meant you could have what you wanted the rest of the time, would that not work? Baked potatoes and beans or cauliflower cheese.

We eat a LOT of dahl stoves spiced lentils at least once per week - sometimes as is, but other times with roast red peppers/spinach wilted into it etc. Yummy. Chickpea curry

How much do you want to reduce by - if its £20 pw its a lot less drastic than £50 pw iyswim

annielostit Mon 15-Dec-14 21:08:44

Look at what veg you use in things. Things like fresh peppers can be expensive, frozen ones in pasta sauce taste the same.
I make a big tomato sauce with onion pasatta carrot & peppers. Have some with a handful of prawns with pasta, make a bake with the rest.put some on Pollock (cheaper) fillets & bake.
I'm not a pulse/bean bulk up person myself.
I like tonnes of cheese to so grate it smaller and buy extra mature from aldi. Its only £1.75 a packet.

Elfina Mon 15-Dec-14 21:09:00

I'll be upfront and say we don't desperately need to save money, but at the same time, I think the cost of our food shop is a joke. I don't want to spent all of our hard earned money on food, iyswim?

I'd love to do more with beans and lentils, but it just all seems to be curry. Curry' brilliant, but not more than once a week for us...

Should I put up last week's meal plan? Maybe that would help show where I am? Ideally is only like to eat fish twice a week, but I just run out of ideas for completely veggie meals...

TheRealMaryMillington Mon 15-Dec-14 21:21:14

yeah, why not do that

If you are only aiming to save - say £50 pcm then its not likely to be too painful. : )

We would all happily eat curry every single night, but here is always chilli instead, roast spiced chickpeas, chickpea and kale soup (lots of paprika), proper big thick meal soups like puy lentil and tomato, puy lentils with an egg on top or a cauliflower "steak" or roasted butternut with a tahini dressing. All of which a lot cheaper than fish based dinners.

Elfina Mon 15-Dec-14 21:44:34

Here goes:

Sat: home made fish pie

Sunday: roast w. Quorn sausages for me and DD, quorn escalopes for DH

Monday: salmon/prawn teriyaki, stirfry, noodles

Tuesday: spaghetti, prawns, garlic, asparagus and cherry toms

Wednesday: homemade veggie lasagnes

Thurs: roasted halloumi, new pots, green veg and roasted peppers and toms

Friday: smoked salmon risotto

Sat: whatever we find in Sainsbo's/ Waitrose that we fancy, or a takeaway.

TheRealMaryMillington Mon 15-Dec-14 21:53:58

Looks easy to me:

if you swapped smoked salmon risotto for butternut squash or mushroom risotto that would save you £3-4

Had a home-made curry instead of the takeaway/random Saturday item, likely save you £4 minimum

Stuck some lentils in your lasagne, serve with more veg/salad and have two days in a row

Why not just do it one meal per week at a time?

annielostit Mon 15-Dec-14 22:20:37

Nice menu!! I would suggest if your shopping at waitrose or Saintsbury's regular there's the problem. I love them and m&s but they can increase the budget.
I get my storecupboard goods - pasta, tomatoes,pasatta butter flour etc at aldi & laundry dish stuff. I spent £65 today but it enough for the month. I can then buy meat at the local farm butcher or said shop nice things. I'm like you, think i could do with cutting back but don't.��

Lottie4 Tue 16-Dec-14 10:20:55

Look for recipes which you can add a can of tuna to (which will cost no more than a £1 to do) - tuna pasta bake, tuna fishcakes, tuna in a herby or spicy pasta sauce. Also, look in the frozen section, you can get pieces of cod cut into squares for something like £1/2. Try looking at quorn, pulse and cheese ideas (mature cheddar is stronger and you'll need less).

We've cut back a lot recently, there are two adults and one teenager. I set myself a limit of £50 per week for food and approx. £5 a week to feed the cats. I find it helps to add up roughly the cost of what's in the trolley as I go along. If it's getting near my limit, I think what I can change for something cheaper, ie a packet of biscuits will be cheaper than a cake. Try all the value/basics options, they're not that bad. Many cereals in Tescos get put on offer every few months, so stock up on things when on offer. Do try Lidl and Aldi. I probably wouldn't buy everything there myself but you can find some products which cost less and are easily just as good. I've been doing this since September and have been buying a few extras within that cost for Xmas. With Xmas food, it will be hard to keep the budget, but I'm determined - we won't starve, I've got cans and pasta bought on offer.

lilacclery Tue 16-Dec-14 12:04:42

4/5 carrots, carton of passata, onion two handfuls of red split lentils, wonderful rich filling soup - cheap, filling and delicious

MERLYPUSSEDOFF Tue 16-Dec-14 13:33:35

Do you used tinned fish? Sardines are really nice in a ragu sauce with philly mixed through. Sainsbos used to do smoked salmon trimmings. Aldi and Lidl are normally good for fresh veg, plan your meals around their weeks bargains perhaps?

IssyStark Tue 16-Dec-14 13:34:13

Split pea shepherd's pice is excellent. This Delia recipe is similar to the one I do (but I use yellow split peas and green peppers, plus fo the mash with a bit of yoghurt and dried basil instead of goats cheese). Freezes bloody well too.

Also look at Lidl (or Aldi) for veg. I used to do all my shopping at Waitrose but we had rather an expensive summer and needed to ahve a few frugal months this autumn to get back on track re savings etc, and I was amazed at how much my food bill reduced and yet we were eating even better. I still use Waitrose and sainsbury's for certain things, but basic veg, pasta, rice, tinned stuff, dairy, even sparkling water, we get at Lidl. The fish and seafood at Lidl is very good as well (ds loves their crayfish tails and I've heard very good things about their whole smoked mackeral, I love it by DH can't stand it so not had it yet myself).

FreakinScaryCaaw Tue 16-Dec-14 13:43:49

Last night I did tuna and pasta for dss and saved some for my lunch today. I used a Lloyd grossman jar tomato and basil (99p on offer) tin of tuna in sunflower oil, half chopped red onion, half chopped red and yellow pepper. Cooked it up as usual and mixed with penne. Cheap but very tasty.

IssyStark Tue 16-Dec-14 13:45:50

Pie not pice. I blame the stinking cold for misbehaving fingers.

avocadotoast Tue 16-Dec-14 13:58:33

What else are you eating? Because those evening meals don't add up to £120 per week. I'd look at your breakfast and lunches too to see how much of an expense you have there. Breakfast is usually an area you can really skinny down (porridge and frozen berries is always going to be cheaper than eggs on toast, for instance).

There's a thread on MoneySavingExpert I've been reading lately called something like "feed a family of 4 for £20 per week". Some of it is a bit grim looking but it has some good inspiration.

I'm trying to cut costs at the minute too. This week we spent £48 at the supermarket (just me & DH) and we're having:

- Porridge with frozen berries or peanut butter for breakfast each day

- Packed lunches - I made 4 portions of lentil soup on Sunday which had done us for 2 days with a wholewheat pitta on the side. Tomorrow we'll have leftovers from tonight, and then for Thurs/Fri I'll do another bean soup

- Evening meals - we're both out a couple of nights this week, but:
- last night I had roast cauliflower with grilled halloumi and courgette, and another pitta
- tonight we're using the rest of the cauli to make cauliflower macaroni cheese
- later in the week I'll have a tuna/potato salad (like a nicoise type thing), and a chickpea curry Friday night

So it is doable, just tricky to get the planning right!

slippermaiden Tue 16-Dec-14 14:13:53

All these food ideas sound yummy!

NowBringUsSomeFuzzpiggyPudding Tue 16-Dec-14 14:22:55

Frozen veg has really helped bring our bill down. It's so convenient too.

Bulk cooking helped too, doing one huge pot of tomato sauce and dividing it into eight freezer bags is much better value than doing the same sauce 8 times.

Agree with strong cheddar too. A little goes much further.

FelixFelixNavidad Tue 16-Dec-14 14:35:53

We've been trying to cut down on food shopping too. I've started planning more vegetarian meals and not wasting food. We always used to have random bits of veg left at the end of the week, and I now use the slow cooker to make soup and use up the leftovers. Things like pasta etc do not need fresh veg in as you can't taste the difference. I buy frozen peppers and spinach. Also frozen fruit from Aldi is great with natural yoghurt or porridge for breakfast.

Typical meals we have are:

- Salmon stir fry (I buy smoked salmon trimmings for loads cheaper than a normal pack)
- Cauliflower and lentil curry with brown rice
- Fish tacos (made with frozen white fish from Aldi. If you google 'epic fish tacos' there's a really good recipe which doesn't cost much to make at all. Sorry can't link as I'm on the app. Serve with wraps and salad)
- Bean chilli with brown rice
- Omelette and toast (pack with any left over veg you have)
- Vegetable tagine (again, any left over veg with chickpeas and dried apricots. Nice in the slow cooker served with cous cous)
- Various pasta dishes. You can mix them up by having pesto one time, then a tomato sauce or creamy sauce another time.
- Potato skins (bake potatoes, scoop out the insides and mix with veg, add cheese on top then put back in the oven. Nice with sour cream)

It's annoying when you get stuck in a rut and have the same dinners over and over again. I always sit for an hour and look up new recipes to try before writing a meal plan. Lots of good ideas on this thread!

BL00CowWonders Wed 17-Dec-14 08:44:10

Smoked mackerel (vacuum packed) is very cheap compared to other fish. It's got a lovely flavour and as it's ready to go, also makes a fast meal when you need it with eg new potatoes

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