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How much should we be spending on food?

(22 Posts)
Slippersmum Thu 04-Jun-15 09:33:18

Our household income has been slashed in half due to me diagnosed by a very serious illness which appears to be hell bent on killing me. We need to reduce our outgoings to fit better with our new income. (around £25,000) How much should we, be spending on food? There are 6 of us; two adults, well 3 really eldest 17 year old ds who eats more than my dh, two younger teens and a 7 year old. We have cut right down on meat as its so expensive. What else should we be cutting down/excluding from our diet?

I have sold loads on ebay. My youngest ds has been so lovely donating so many of his toys, he has been really amazing through this tough time.

Does anyone have any other suggestions. My dh does not want to claim any benefits other than child benefit and prefers to work longer hours but he is owed quite alot of money from customers he has worked for.

I am quite housebound/in and out of hospital alot of the time so that does mean it reduces my choices although somedays are ok and I can go out looking for deals.

Is it better to do a weekly shop or day or two at a time to make sure we don't waste anything.

Also our cupboards are very empty and the kids have started to say they are hungry in the evenings. Can anyone suggest a cheap filler for those hungry teenage moments.

Thanks, any advice much appreciated.

Madmog Thu 04-Jun-15 10:22:32

I'm sorry to hear of you're illness and can appreciate how tough things are for you.

I used to spend approx. on £370 on food a month for a family of three (we had what we wanted, plenty of wine, lager, ready meals etc). Financially things have greatly changed for us (we moved house so larger mortgage, DH wants to fund a course he's desperate to do (he's very low in his current job) and we've had large unexpected expenses (in the thousands!). For three of us, I now spend approx. £45 on food, cleaning and household stuff. I could cut it back a bit more and am going to.

Rather than shop in one supermarket, I go to Tescos and Lidl - I get whatever I know is cheaper in Lidl and the rest from Tescos. If I'm passing Aldi and Sainsburys (a bit out of my way) I look in there to see what I can buy cheaper. I look for offers and think about how I can get what I want but cheaper, ie value biscuits are cheaper than a bought cake. I buy value stuff wherever I can. I tend to get toiletries and cleaning products in Savers, Poundland or Wilko as they're cheaper. try cheaper brands, most are pretty good. I realize you will have times when your shop needs to be quick and easy in one place, but if you have teenagers they can help.

Look through the old threads on here for ideas on how you can eat cheaper.

Ther're other ways of cutting back, ie only buy clothes when anyone really needs them not because you fancy them. Even a local walk or bike ride gets you out, or a short drive in the car with a picnic. Look into whether you can get your utility bills or insurance cheaper. We used to be with Southern Electric and are now with EDF and have saved £20 a month and they've just given us a £100 refund to clear our account after a year!

My DD is 13, she knows things are tight and she's been great so do speak to the family explaining things are tight but with cutbacks you can manage. Sometimes DD for things, but generally she's the one questioning if we should buy things. She sees clothes she likes and says they are too much, so doesn't want them that much.

Missdread Thu 04-Jun-15 10:27:53

Sending you [thanks: it sounds like you're having a really rough time and your DC sound lovely, selling their toys. Food-wise, I don't think you can best Aldi: I get all my toiletries, loo/kitchen roll, cleaning products from there as they are so cheap and GOOD! How about porridge with golden syrup/honey as a cheap filling late-night snack for your teens? It's delicious and SO cheap for huge bags of oats. Equally canned rice pudding, canned curries/chillies with cous cous? You could bulk out your "one pot" meals with frozen veg or pulses like chick peas so you only need to use half the amount of meat. Do you have a bread machine? Making your own bread daily would be a massive saving. All the best OP :-)

Owllady Thu 04-Jun-15 10:31:02

You need to claim what you are entitled to. Being ill and in and out of hospital is expensive. If you receive dla it will go some way to covering your travel costs at least. Pride before a fall and all that.

Munchkin08 Thu 04-Jun-15 10:31:21

Hi I've reduced my food bill quite a lot by going to Lidl and Iceland. I find Iceland really good for teenagers as you can get quick snacks that they can easily cook themselves, they do really thin pizzas for £1.50 and they are really nice and Greggs pastries (steak bakes etc), cheap sandwich fillers.

annielostit Thu 04-Jun-15 10:41:34

Its how much you can afford not what others spend.

Typically the advice here is do a list of in comings & outgoings. Slash costs where possible.
Do you have, cheap,
Gas/electric. And so forth.
Then you can allocate a budget for food items.
Down grade as much as you can, shops own washing powders etc. Don't buy 20 cleaning products, bleach kitchen spray fairy liquid is about all I buy.
Look at aldi & lidl.

Menu planning is the key.
Plan breakfast lunch & dinner.
Shop weekly and stick to it. Think filling foods bulk with veggies.
3 for 10 are quite good as you can get lots of pork slices, big mince packs that can stretch.
A pot of pasta sauce with 250g of mince and a shed load of carrot onion peppers & tomato will stretch with loads of pasta. Add in a crusty roll and the teens will be full up.

As for stuff in the cupboard, my 16yr old mooches in and out.
Cheap crisps, toast & jam, noodles the dried sort with soy sauce & 5 spice, made in the microwave.(hr don't do pot noodles,) pasta with the above but meatless sauce fills a hole too.
If you want sweet stuff get them to make up packet cake they are pennies in asda/TESCO.
Is that any help.x

Slippersmum Thu 04-Jun-15 10:45:25

Thanks so much everyone, some really great ideas which I will start to follow. We stopped buying clothes a while ago, other than car boot and the ones I have with holes in I am having a go at repairing, which I must admit isn't going so well lol!!

I don't have a bread maker. Did think of getting one but they are so expensive. Would I make the money back if I got one? Tried to make my own and it certainly filled people - sat like a rock in their stomachs for about 3 days!!

At least being ill means I save a fortune going out as can't do any trips etc, always a silver lining aye. Thanks again so much. If anyone else has any tips I would be really pleased to hear them.

Owllady Thu 04-Jun-15 10:49:03

I find buying bread cheaper as it doesn't last long enough but I assume this would depend on how much you eat
I was in Iceland on Monday (first time in ages) and got two of their (massive) bags of shopping for £15 which included a huge number of cherries - have you seen how expensive cherries are everywhere else?

annielostit Thu 04-Jun-15 10:52:25

your top tips for money-saving and a more frugal life.

Have a look at this thread in credit crunch. I couldn't get it to link.x

If you got a home bargains they are good for lots of stuff.
Not sold on a bread maker myself, I'd eat too much fat crusty stuff with butter!! I buy lidl bread for teen toast as they don't even taste it its gone in a flash. Lidl do good baguettes for 19p. Fill it up with lettuce first then you don't need much

annielostit Thu 04-Jun-15 10:56:51

EssexMummy123 Thu 04-Jun-15 10:57:54

You don't need a breadmaker to make bread, but its worth asking on freecycle if your keen to try one.

Also get chasing those customers who owe your husband, an informal reminder by post, then an official Letter Before Action.

Slippersmum Thu 04-Jun-15 12:45:21

Thanks everyone. So what would people say I could be feeding my family for? I need a figure to aim for I think, a target to focus me.

annielostit Thu 04-Jun-15 14:07:33

How much did you spend before? After your bills what have you left to spend on food.
I could spend between £50 & £100 that's for 3. I buy more one week than the next, by using up the freezer.
I could spend less but ive cut back already.

Madmog Thu 04-Jun-15 14:28:18

I've got it down to £45 for two adults and one 14 year old - as you're a family of six obviously you'd have to double this. I think I can get it down a little more now I've adjusted, so am going to try this as money is going to get tighter for us. Sometimes we eat very cheap simple meals (mainly veggie, pasta or rice dishes), but this week we've stretched ourselves to salmon and a chicken fillet.

I forgot to add before, we never waste any food (other than DD's crusts lol!). If there's some left at tea, I have it the next day - if not enough for lunch I'll have some bread with it. DH will happily take cold pasta or rice meals with him to work.

Munchkin08 Fri 05-Jun-15 14:58:47

Definitely do a meal plan. Make sure you always have potatoes, pasta, rice and you will have the basis of a meal. Cook large amounts and bulk out with frozen veg. I too never waste anything, portion up ant left overs for the following day or freeze. Tin tomatoes are good too, you can make lovely pasta sauce or put on pizza base. Cooking from scratch saves and makes far more. If I put my mind to it I can spend £30-40 for a family of 4. I go to Iceland one a month to fill the freezer with veg and some treats like I said before in an earlier post x

Unescorted Sun 07-Jun-15 08:31:38

Home made bread too heavy fix.... leave it to rise longer on the second rise(it should wobble when you shake the tray or leave a small indent if you press it lightly) also make the dough slightly wetter,but autolayse - leave the dough to stand for about 20 min before kneading. I use a stand mixer with a dough hook to knead. It doesn't work out cheaper than a 27p value loaf but tastes so much better. You can also reduce the amount of yeast and leave to rise for longer to make it taste even better.

Top food money saving tips -
Make everything from the most basic ingredients you can. Do not buy anything that is pre-made, it will save you a fortune in the end.
Grow anything you can - herbs, beans, peas, salad leaves, radishes, spinich are all easy ( I can do this with gardeners death watch fingers).
Don't throw out food - freeze leftovers, refashion into something else, only make the amount you are going to eat.
Make use of gluts and sad looking fruit & vege - jams, pickles, sauces, soups are all great ways of using up anything you have over bought or is really cheap in the supermarket.

escondida Sun 07-Jun-15 08:53:34

If you're brave you could track every penny spent for a month & post the budget up here. Some replies are hopeless but others can be useful.

Don't just think food, clothes & transport cost a lot too.

escondida Sun 07-Jun-15 08:55:04

ps: friends feed their family of 6 including 3 teenagers & an adult with special diet needs, for £100/week.

siblingrevelryagain Sun 07-Jun-15 09:16:07

Tummy filler pancakes (the older kids can whip them up in minutes). Cup of sr flour/cup of milk/1 egg. Just use whatever cup/mug you wish as long as you use it for both flour & milk. Makes lovely American style thick pancakes, serve with cheap jam/golden syrup/sugar etc. can grate in a manky old apple or pear /mashed banana to save waste and up the nutritional value.

Value flour/tinned toms won't affect the quality of your food. There was a thread on here a while ago about what was good and bad in the tesco value range, might be worth a search. Also, scan back over the other frugal threads and those in food section for ideas.

Jacket potatoes are a cheap filler.

Pasta sauce-tin toms/garlic/dried herbs. Cheap pkt of value pasta and cheese on top.

Try to plan in a late-night supermarket visit if you or your DH can (go online to see when your shops do their reducing). Things like bags of grated cheese can go in freezer for adding to pasta/jackets/beans on toast.

Slippersmum Mon 08-Jun-15 10:11:11

Thanks for your replies. Our money in is lower than our money out. We never have left overs (unless they don't like it of course)! Teenager boys eat soooo much! I think I am going to aim for £50 a week to feed us which really is about all I can afford, well more. I am not really sure how much I spent before all this but our family income has halves since I became ill.

I have cut back on so much but there are always other great that ideas that you all come up with.

Superexcited Mon 08-Jun-15 10:18:46

You really need to claim the benefits that you are entitled to. You should be entitled to PIP for yourself due to your illness and some tax credits for your children. Your DH needs to stop thinking that he doesn't want to claim benefits as they are there to support people in your situation and you don't need additional financial pressure on top of your illness.
You have paid tax and NI and now you need a bit if financial help so don't feel bad about claiming it.

Madmog Mon 08-Jun-15 14:47:06

One thing I do which helps is count up roughly how much my supermarket shop is adding up to, that ways there's no nasty surprises. If you think you're getting close to your limit and still have things you really need, have a quick think if there are cheaper alternatives to what's in your trolley or if you really need everything that week.

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