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Help me budget please! I am a failure!

(31 Posts)
Banjolais Wed 25-Jan-17 13:01:57

I am currently spending £200 a week for a family of four. We are 3 meat eaters/ 1 vegetarian.

We spend about £30 a week on meat or fish. £5 a week on cheese, £5 on bread, £4 on milk, rest on beans, pasta, veg, fruit, cereal, cleaning products, cooking oils.

Biggest expense is £30 a week on wine I imagine.

What should I cut out? Alcohol obvious choice but it is our only hobby currently and drinking 4.5 x £6.50 bottles of cheap supermarket wine.

Does anyone use budgeting software for optimising spending choices?

Thanks!

Hellmouth Wed 25-Jan-17 13:09:56

Are you actually eating everything you're buying or do you find yourself chucking stuff out? If you are wasting food, then try buying a bit less. You might also want to consider buying supermarket own brands.

You've said you spend £200, but then what you've listed doesn't add up to that. I think you need to find a few recent receipts and look at exactly what you've been spending.

hopgarden1 Wed 25-Jan-17 13:16:26

I also struggle; we are six of us and I probably spend that. We need to cut it, but we don't eat ready meals? Does your family?
I know people often suggest having two non meat/fish days.
Wine is a must to stay sane, but how about buying one less bottle? We're attempting Dry January but keep slipping.
Sorry have no bright ideas.

Banjolais Wed 25-Jan-17 13:42:19

Thanks for the replies!

We don't go through all of everything.

Further approx breakdown:

Lo fat / salt crisps for kids snacks £6 but lasts 3 weeks.
Brown rice : £2
Noodles: £2
Yogurt £3
Cooking oil £2.50
Nuts £2.50
Veg: £5
Fruit £6
Toilet paper £2
Coffee £2
Crackers £1
Drinks/juice: £4
peanut butter or a sauce: £2
Paper towels: £1
Cleaning product /detergent: £3
Ready meals: : £7
Eggs: £3

daisydalrymple Wed 25-Jan-17 13:42:20

Is that on one big shop or top ups on the week too? Do you shop in store or online?

I meal plan then do an online shop. I tend to think in terms of a week's worth of meals that can be swapped / adapted depending on what we fancy / have on after school. So I'd think in terms of a chicken for a roast then to go in a stir fry when not as much meat needed with the leftovers, a half salmon side, pack of mince, haddock fillets, then always something easy like jkt pot / pasta for the swimming/footy/gymnastics nights after school. I then try to mix and match so the carbs are different through the week e.g. couscous / rice / noodles / potato.

I shop online for everything and £120 is my top budget, so if the shop is more than that I go through the basket, take things out or swap for cheaper until I'm on budget. That also includes packed lunch for ds1 and dd at school, and lunches for me and ds2 at home every day. I buy milk and bread for the week and freeze it then might need a top up of fruit for the dcs before the next shop. Also nappies and wipes for ds2, always pampers but only when on offer. I do shop cleverly, I know which brands go on offer and get them then, eg Persil non bio huge box goes half price every so often.

Lots of posters on here prefer Aldi / Lidl for saving money, but I just find it easier to have the delivery at the moment. Dc3 is a challenge at times grin much as I'd love to browse home bargains for household / toiletries and give Aldi a try, I would be a nervous wreck at the end of it with him, as he wouldn't last that long in a trolley!

This week-
Roast chicken dinner
Chicken mushroom pie new pots broccoli peas
Sausages round chips (using left over cooked new pots from yest) beans (dcs also had massive treat of sausage sandwich for school the next day!)
Tuna pasta salad
Salmon couscous roast veg
Roast veg lasagne salad (roasted two trays of veg yest and enough for two lasagne one now in freezer by adding tin toms)
Haddock parsley sauce pastry lid mash veg (using left over pastry from chick pie meal)

Not saying all 3 dcs eat all options mind you!

Banjolais Wed 25-Jan-17 13:43:41

Sorry probably £6 more on beans / lentils / tin tomatoes
£2 porridge / cereal.

SpeckleDust Wed 25-Jan-17 13:48:51

Eat a 'cheap' meal twice a week eg baked potatoes with beans/cheese/veg chilli/coleslaw (homemade) or pasta with homemade tomato sauce with veggies in.

Buy less alcohol or buy it slightly cheaper. I really like Aldi's cheap Red (Rosso) which is usually about £3 or push the boat out for their award-winning Toro Loco at abou £3.60.

Where do you usually shop? I have been an Aldi convert for many years now and rarely have to go to other shops as we don't eat a lot of ready-made stuff that people often say they can't buy there.

Banjolais Wed 25-Jan-17 13:49:31

Thank you so much for your time daisydalrymple ! Yes - I like the online idea of viewing what you are spending in the cart. I think this could be could be a goer for me.

Do you have any problems with them not delivering what you ordered / replacing with something undesirable / giving you something with a short sell-by date?

This has made me wary in past but perhaps I have been wrong in this.

Banjolais Wed 25-Jan-17 13:52:21

I shop at Tesco but buy 3 for £10 meat at M&S as husband is a vegetarian and the small portions of salmon and meat seem the right size and good quality.

daisydalrymple Wed 25-Jan-17 13:52:42

No I only occasionally have a different item delivered (and never the extreme random replacements I read about on here grin) I use Tesco and I've found the customer services brilliant if there's anything wrong once the driver has gone. They always refund no problem.

Also heard equally good things about Asda, but just prefer to stick with Tesco as I know it well now.

Banjolais Wed 25-Jan-17 13:55:23

I can see the 2 cheap days working well also. We are not fussy other than like to eat fairly light food like stir fry more than heavier northern european food.

I do spend some money on herbs and spices and chili and soy sauce every month also which may contribute.

Banjolais Wed 25-Jan-17 13:56:10

We could definitely be happy on chili bakie and pasta two nights a week.

Banjolais Wed 25-Jan-17 13:57:02

OK - well I may give Tesco a go as they stock everything I need.

JaxingJump Wed 25-Jan-17 14:00:30

I spend £80/wk for a family of 4. Including toiletries, nappies, formula, cleaning stuff.

You need to look at your brands. Most/nearly all own bands are as good, sometimes better. I buy budget mozerella balls for 47p vs £1.50 for branded. That's a huge saving. Rice crispies, yogurts, cheese etc are massively cheaper and taste just the same. I do check ingredients too to make sure I'm not buying something massively inferior or stuffed with cheap fillers but most of the time it's not.

PurpleDaisies Wed 25-Jan-17 14:03:19

I'd look at cooking more vegetarian meals. It would mean you could all eat the same thing and it's much cheaper than meat/fish.

Places like b and m bargains are really good for cheaper cleaning products, branded sauces and tinned tomatoes. It adds a layer of hassle to your shopping if you haven't got one nearby. Mine's next to Asda. smile

I do my main shop at Lidl now and it's so much cheaper. Generally the quality is absolutely fine.

UrethaFranklin Wed 25-Jan-17 14:06:31

You don't even have to shop online really, I use the online grocery page to compile my shopping list (so I can see how much I'm spending, like PP's) and then print it off and go to Tesco and buy the stuff on the list.

TheFlis12345 Wed 25-Jan-17 14:06:47

I completely agree on checking brands. On some things there is not much difference in cost but with others it is huge. I picked up some bran flakes for my DP the other day and Kellogg's were more than 4x the price of Tesco own!

AdoraBell Wed 25-Jan-17 14:09:45

I also shop on line for convenience, but I book time slots for a couple weeks.

That helps me as not only can I see the total and change the order If it's too much, but I also adjust the next week's. The one I use allows you to change up to 11pm the day before delivery. That avoids a trip for 1 Item you've forgotten and pickin up random extras.

Banjolais Wed 25-Jan-17 14:10:30

Thanks everyone!

Madmog Wed 25-Jan-17 14:45:48

Look at every product you buy and consider if there's a cheap version, ie buy shops own instead of a brand, could you have a similar meal a bit cheaper. Check if there are any wines on offer or clearance and buy those if cheaper, I just bought a clearance Finest bottle of white for £4. If DH is veggie, it might also be easier having a few nights where you all eat the same, veggie fajitas, veggie chilli, veg spag bol, macaroni cheese etc. I often make a tomato sauce and just through in whatever other veggies or protein we need to use up.

Also, make sure you don't waste anything. Leftovers can be eaten by one for lunch or served as a side dish the next day.

Our food bill is really low - £45/50 a week for food, this includes all lunches, dinners etc. Toiletries and cleaning products are on top and I buy in town at places like Savers, Poundland, Superdrug as cheaper. So over the last week we've eaten:

Breakfast: cereal, porridge or toast if one of us wants a change

Snacks - aways 1-2 pieces of fruit (bought in bags for 69p), biscuits, cake or fruit, occasionally toast, DD has had one packet of crisps and I've had nuts once

Lunch - sandwiches and fruit for DH/DD. I often have something with salad. Also, DD has biscuits as well as two other things, something like veggie sticks, cereal bar, babybel, the odd packet of crisps or mini choc treat.

Main meals this week have been:

Frittata - I added onion, tomato, broccoli, potato to this - all items I was using up.
Bean chilli with rice
Veg curry (with chickpeas added for protein), rice and naan bread
Chicken, potatoes, carrots and peas
Creamy tomato pasta with cheese, carrots and broccoli
Veggie casserole (with butterbeans) for us, SF chicken, potatoes, carrots and peas for DD
Tonight - Tesco value white fish with homemade sauce, potatoes, parsnips, carrots and sprouts
Tomorrow - only two of us so I may have a jacket potato with beans and cheese which really fills me up, DD may have fish in breadcrumbs with veggies.

We don't bother too much with desserts, yogurts are always on offer. DD will often have another piece of fruit later on and sometimes we have protein bars.

Banjolais Wed 25-Jan-17 21:42:09

Madmog thank you so much for your time. I think this is a menu we could do and enjoy and it covers the sort of food DH eats also which we usually eat on a few nights.

I think I should be looking around for cheaper cleaning products, good idea.

ifonly4 Thu 26-Jan-17 10:21:17

How many pieces are there in the packs of meat you buy at M&S? If only, two it might be worth looking elsewhere - I buy 2 chicken fillets at Lidl for £1.79 and buy their salmon when near sell by date (they reduce prices a day or two before) usually around £2.15 per pack. You mention you shop in Tesco, ours often have two pre-packed mackeral fillets in the clearance departments for 90p.

Only buy food you know you can use and start to think about cheaper options, going down a brand, cheaper meal options, checking out Lidl or Aldi if passing - you might not buy everything in there but it does help. I buy fresh thick sliced bread at Lidl for 49p, lots of fruit and veg is cheaper, cans tomatoes 25p, can tuna 64p, cheddar cheese £1.49, 8 yogurts £1.09, 15 eggs £1 - all the savings add up.

Notreallyhappy Thu 26-Jan-17 14:52:46

I don't think £30 is too much to spend on meat & fish.. not if it gets used up or £30 on wine ( im prepared to be frowned at).
£200 is the excessive bit.
Planning is the key. This week at m&so I got 2 x 3 for £10 meat selections ( plaice, chicken thighs 500g, chicken tenders whole chicken, minced beef plus 3 extra lean rump steaks (£9) battered plaice & gammon steak. Plus potatoes fruit (apples satsumas & grapes) beans broccoli onions & carrots.
nice bread,
Biscuits
Plus a curry sauce... it was £42. On working it out daily we've got food for 3 adults for a week. Including lunch left offs for dh.
My add ons of milk,porridge baked beans tinned tomatoes baguettes washing stuff etc from Lidl. It doesn't come to more than £25.
That's £30 left for winegrin
Planning is the key.

Nearlyadoctor Thu 26-Jan-17 16:01:59

Madmog do you have a recipe for your creamy pasta sauce please?

FreedomMummy Thu 26-Jan-17 16:10:26

Meal planning and shopping in Aldi means I spend £50-£65 per week for 4 of us and that includes nappies, toiletries and cleaning products. We eat meat nearly every day and it also includes lunches everyday for me, DH and DS. DD has lunch at school but also then has a cooked meal with us at home. However, we don't drink alcohol but even if you added your £30 a week onto our shop it would still come to under £100.
It also depends on the ages of your DC as I know my shop will go up once my DS is older as he is only 2 but eats the same amount as my 6 yr old.

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