Smp panic with budget.

(31 Posts)
newlyfrugal Thu 17-Jan-19 14:21:23

Okay so I know that the mumsnet consensus is that we should save in order to cope on maternity leave but this was a surprise baby and our budget was pretty tight anyway. Please no flaming. It is what it is unfortunately.

Long story short, after carefully budgeting I will have 350 per month for food for two adults and a toddler. The baby is breastfed so thankfully I don't need to find the money for milk. Toddler loves fruit and veg so would still like to maintain and encourage that if possible.

I am useless at both budgeting and cooking so I am here asking 1. Can it be done and 2. Can anybody please help me with tips, meals, recipes?

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lozabella Thu 17-Jan-19 15:43:41

Currently on mat leave with second baby, have a 5 yr old. Our budget for food is around £250 whilst I've been on SMP. We shop weekly at Aldi, which comes in between £50-£60 a week. Where do you shop atm?

lozabella Thu 17-Jan-19 15:46:10

Sorry, didn't read the questions properly. Meal ideas include pasta....lots of it. Lots of slow cooker meals using cheaper cuts of meat, so beef Stew, sausage casseroles. We've had one night a week of egg and beans on toast which is surprisingly filling and I really enjoy it even when I'm not too excited by it. If you do a search on here for "cheap meals" there are loads of really helpful threads with loads of meal ideas. I've used it lots over the past 9m.

Creas35 Thu 17-Jan-19 15:55:24

We spend between £45-£55 a week doing ASDA online and that’s for 2 adults and 1 x 6 yr old DS. Includes 4 x school pack ups 4 x work pack ups for both of us and cleaning bits etc and delivery. If you do online you don’t pick up rubbish you need. We would normally have frozen veg, pasta, jacket potatoes, chicken steaks , pizza , mince , sausages.

recklessgran Thu 17-Jan-19 15:56:45

Don't worry OP it can be done even though it seems tight. The secret is to meal plan around what you have in your cupboards and then make a shopping list for only what you need to make your meals. If you have an Aldi or Lidl close by you may find them the best place to shop. If not, try online shopping - easier not to overbuy and enables you to meal plan around offers. Try to have no meat a couple of nights to save money. Jacket potato with cheese/beans and side salad is nutritious and filling.Home made pizza is a cheap meal, ditto home made quiche. I know you say you can't cook but there are lots of simple meals that you would be able to manage. Have a look at BBC Good Food site-lots of easy recipes on there. Try not to worry-it's amazing what you can do if you try. Good luck.

newlyfrugal Thu 17-Jan-19 16:00:30

Thank you all this is very helpful and so encouraging! What do you put in your pack ups? This is something I am a bit clueless about but will need to start so as to save money on DH lunches.

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livingthegoodlife Thu 17-Jan-19 20:26:04

I often make homemade soup. This week I made broccoli and blue cheese (est cost £1 ISH) and produced 6 portions.

Do you have a bread maker? I make my own bread every day for a rough cost of 30p a loaf. Plus I use it to make pizza dough. Only 20p or so a base. Then add tomato puree, cooked onion & grated cheese. Mozzarella & ham if you can afford it. I do the kids ham & tinned pineapple.

Pasta with pesto & peas, omelettes, quiche.

Serve veg with everything. It makes the meal healthier and more interesting too.

My budget for food this month is only £50 but that is relying heavily on a well stocked freezer & cupboard. We only have meat a couple of times a week.

Don't waste anything. It's amazing what meal can be conjured up from left over bits & bobs.

Also, I've stopped buying cereal. Too expensive. I now do a rolling menu of porridge, pancakes, eggs & bacon. All homemade.


livingthegoodlife Thu 17-Jan-19 20:28:13

Pack ups -

Kids - sandwich, diced apple, buy a big bag of raisins and put a handful in a pot, diced cheese (no cheese strings or babybels), carrot sticks

Adults - soup or just a sandwich and a piece of fruit. It's only lunch. It doesn't need to be a feast.

newlyfrugal Thu 17-Jan-19 21:10:48

Omg @livingthegoodlife I actually love you. I don't have a bread maker but I have made bread before. Maybe give it a go again if it's so much cheaper, think I currently go through 3 small loaves a week! Branded stuff too so don't even know the cost.


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newlyfrugal Thu 17-Jan-19 21:11:42

Thank you so much everyone seriously made me relax slightly ❤️

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Raver84 Fri 18-Jan-19 07:23:35

I think you should be fine with that budget I also shop in aldi and recommend their nappies for your new baby and toddler.
In terms of good I spend 80 each week for 6 of us these are the meals we have regularly...
Roast on Sunday either a large chicken or whole shoulder of lamb.
On the monday we use the extra meat for a curry, pie, wraps etc.
Sphegtti bol
Sauage mash and veg
Cook a big pack of chicken breasts use half for fajitas one night and the next night we have a curry.
Chilli and rice
Shepherds pie we always make one with a large mince and a bag or potatoes and this does two nights.
Simple pasta and home made tomato sauce or a jar or bake with garlic bread.
Tuna pasta bake
Jackets with tuna or beans.noodles and stir fry veg, frozen pwawns.
Sweet and sour pork using a jar sauce and rice.

Breakfast is toast cereal or yoghurt. Egg on toast, bacon sandwiches at weekend. Lunches are soup and bread wraps, sandwiches etc. All with fruit after. Puddings are cakes I make or just simple. Penguin type bars from Aldi.

The best tip I have is use your fresh stuff first at the start of the week so potato based dishes I have at the start of the week before the potatoes turn, use all the fresh veg with your meals before they go bad. Towards the last few days of the week we eat more psta and rice based meals and tinned fruit or dried raisins and apricots until the next shop. Takes a bit of planning but worth it.

DonnaDarko Fri 18-Jan-19 07:33:12

I think that budget is fine. We spend 60-80 per week and that includes a lot of gluten free, dairy free stuff which is generally more expensive. 3 adults and a toddler. The toddler is still in nappies. We buy nappies in bulk once every month or so as the supermarket always has a deal like 2 for £18.

Definitely meal plan, but look out for deals as well. Buy non branded stuff. We shop in Asda and a lot of the Asda own stuff is really good, if not better than some of the big brands.

I don't have a lot of time for cooking so I batch cook on Sunday, and sometimes have to do a quick meal in the week.

My favourites to do are one pot meals like chilli, Bolognese or meatballs and casseroles, particularly as it's so cold at the moment!

NeverTwerkNaked Fri 18-Jan-19 07:33:26

That budget sounds ample.
My main tip is to shop online. Plan a weekly shop (after doing a meal plan). If you do it online you can ensure you stay in budget easily.

Cheap meals: jacket potato and beans; home made soup (eg with left over veg);

for fruit: look for the offers each week to help keep costs down? Or possibly find a local market, can be much cheaper for fruit ( I know that goes against my buying online asvice!)

sausageees Fri 18-Jan-19 07:35:37

Your budget is more than we spend monthly for food. I'm sure you'll be fine.

Nicpem1982 Fri 18-Jan-19 07:55:58

I second shopping at a market/greengrocers we spend 15 per week on fresh fruit and vegetables and we have 1 and a half huge bags full and it stays fresh and lasts the week a good greengrocer is invaluable.

Meals we have

Pasta and meatballs
Chilli and rice
Sausage casserole
Cottage pie
Prawn and chorizo rice
Piri chicken and spicy rice


Cheese toasties
Cheese and crackers with crudités
Pate on toast

MaverickSnoopy Fri 18-Jan-19 09:57:25

Similar budget here. Agree with pp's.

A couple of suggestions. It's cheaper to buy a joint of meat to make several meals rather than say several packs of chicken. I roast a chicken and strip it to make chicken casserole. The stripped chicken is added to about 15 onions and carrots and makes about 4 - 5 days worth of chicken casserole which I freeze in separate portions. I use this recipe I don't however use the carcass for this as he suggests; I do it separately and use it to make chicken soup.

If you need to be frugal you can stretch a chicken. We've got a frugal week coming up and this is my meal plan (2 adults, 7yo & 2yo):

Sunday: Roast Chicken with roast potatoes, parsnips, veg, yorkies and sausagemeat stuffing - I'll use the thighs and drumsticks for the roast and the rest will go in other meals

Monday: homemade chicken soup and crusty bread using the chicken wings from chicken, the carcass for stock with scraps

Tuesday: pasta in tomato sauce and sausage meatballs with veg

Wednesday: Bacon and mushroom risotto

Thursday: Homemade Chicken, bacon, Mushroom and Sweetcorn Pie with vegetables (using 1 chicken breast from the roast chicken)

Friday: Chicken and vegetable korma and rice (using 1 chicken breast from the roast chicken)

Saturday: Pizza, garlic bread and salad

Primarily I'm buying a large chicken and a few repetitive ingredients (to utilise the quantity that I buy them in) - mushrooms, bacon, rice etc. Mushrooms, sausages and sweetcorn I will buy frozen as cheaper.

I shop in Aldi and Lidl mostly but I shop around too.

newlyfrugal Fri 18-Jan-19 11:10:37

This is all great advice.

Thank you so much everyone...

I think up until now we have in all honestly been lazy and wasteful. I'm looking forward to being more careful, spending an appropriate amount and wasting far less!

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MaverickSnoopy Fri 18-Jan-19 12:17:00

Glad you're feeling better about it. Once you get into it it's quite addictive. I didn't really think about it until I went on my first mat leave. Mat leave can be quite sobering when is comes to budgeting and how we eat.

I also buy quite a lot of porridge for breakfast and have it different ways - sugar and milk or berries (frozen from Aldi are cheap and nice in yogurt too) or apple/raisins/cinnamon with honey. I saw someone on a post say they had it with peanut butter. I make a batch of little American pancakes and heat up for my children throughout the week. I also regularly look in fridge for veg on the turn and make soup or cut up and freeze.

The trick is remembering to do this stuff!

newlyfrugal Fri 18-Jan-19 14:13:42

Thank you @MaverickSnoopy could I be cheeky and ask for your pancake recipe? I've tried a few bad they never quite turn out how I'd like? My daughter loves pancakes but always turns her nose up at my homemade ones!

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MaverickSnoopy Fri 18-Jan-19 14:49:26

I mostly use the ready made stuff from costco - £6 for a huge bag that lasts about 6 months. You literally just add water.

I do have another recipe for if I run out and it's proved popular.

110g self raising flour
25g caster sugar
1 egg
140ml milk

* Mix all of the ingredients together.
* Grease your frying pan with a dot of butter.
* Once hot, pour 2tbsp of batter onto the pan.
* When bubbles appear and the pancakes have dried out a bit you can turn them.

Notreallyhappy Fri 18-Jan-19 15:55:49

As others have said you'll be ok with the planning.
I did a full week on £65 for 3 grown ups this week & the 21 year old can eat.
We didn't go meat free & stretch everything with lentils just stuck to the menu.
Whole chickens can last a few days and mince dishes are reasonably cheap.
Make sure you plan all meals & snacks or come Saturday teatime no plan leads to the just eat app.

Isleepinahedgefund Fri 18-Jan-19 19:51:05

You really have to forgo the convenience food and cook from scratch.

Meal planning is also really important if you're keeping to a budget.

For one month track what you spend on food and keep the receipts. You might find you can easily cut something out or make some swaps.

Jordan Page on YouTube has really good tips - my favourite is to only go to the supermarket once a week - that tip alone saved me loads!

She also advises to meal plan around what you already have in the house, and buy only what you need.

Budget separately for nappies etc, that will distort your food bill.

£350 is a big budget for food imo- but there are only two of us (one adult, one child) and I can feed us very well for the month for £150. I shop mainly at Aldi and pick up a few things from Waitrose. My child also has some food allergies notably dairy, which makes some things more expensive, and we still come in at £150/m.

newlyfrugal Fri 18-Jan-19 20:11:29

@Isleepinahedgefund what kind of things are you eating? How do you manage to stop yourself doing top up shops? I think that's my killer. I feel I'm in the supermarket every other day for bread or milk or the garlic or onions I forgot. 🤦🏻‍♀️

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Lazypuppy Fri 18-Jan-19 22:28:42

£350 is a huge budget to me! We spend £45 a week, budget for £200 a month (2 adults, 1 toddler). I do a weekly shop online and no top up shops during the week.

newlyfrugal Fri 18-Jan-19 22:58:48

@Lazypuppy what kind of things do you make? Particularly what does your toddler eat? Mine isn't particularly fussy but I do worry we give her processed food too often (wee toddler ready meals for example),

How do you manage to avoid the top up shops? Do you freeze bread etc?

OP’s posts: |

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