Smp panic with budget.(31 Posts)
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?
We mostly avoid top up shops during the week. Sometimes we run out of milk but I try to keep a couple of cartons of uht milk. We have a chalkboard in kitchen for things you've run out of and don't need immediately. It then gets bought the following week. When we do the shopping list each week we think of everything we could possibly need for every meal - takes some practice but usually we get it right. If we run out of things then we work around it. Say we're supposed to be having spaghetti bolognese and have run out of spaghetti, then we'll use pasta. Sometimes we swap meals around. We try and keep a loaf of bread in the freezer for emergency toast but if we run out of bread then we run out of bread. We don't go to the shop and get more or we'd buy other things too. We do have crackers and wraps too though. If I've run out of emergency bread for toast after breakfast then I sometimes default to crackers with cheese or cream cheese or pancakes. Sometimes we might run out of fruit so use frozen berries or tinned fruit instead. We have a good surplus of fresh but also a lot of frozen and cupboard fruit and veg.
@newlyfrugal bread and milk gets bought in weekly shop and lasts all week. I freeze a loaf of bread for dd as she doesn't eat it quick enough before it would go mouldy.
Dd eats whatever we are eating, most dinners is spag bol, chilli, lasagne, fajitas, enchilladas, curry. She eats breakfast anf lunch at nursery every day, but on weekends she'll have toast with beans and egg. She has little pots of yoghurts after dinner as well. I buy a few pouches from aldi each month as a back up, and she has 2 of the kids ready meals a week which cost £2each for 1 day she is at her aunts, and another for the night that we have a takeaway.
I never need to do a top up shop, what do you have to top up with? Like i said, if bread is about to go out of date it goes in the freezer, i buy enough milk for the whole week.
@lozabella sorry! Just noticed your question! I shop at Tesco regularly but have access to most supermarkets
Returning to this thread to say that I feel
Like an absolute idiot.
This has been totally manageable. I don't know what I was wasting my money on. I hope that someone who sees this and was worried is reassured. We have eaten well and not had to miss out on anything really and it has felt good not to waste as much food!
"Branded stuff too so don't even know the cost. "
As well meaning as pps have been I think it would be very helpful if you told us what you currently eat/cook including brands so we can suggest ways to cut back and recipes that will suit your tastes and level of cooking skill. You must be a capable cook if you can make bread.
Have you seen the programme eat well for less? You may find it very helpful. It's mostly common sense but sometimes we forget stuff if we get out the habit and I've picked up some tips and recipes. Also money saving expert (mse) site is good. Also check online for money off vouchers, use loyalty cards etc
Off the top of my head:
1 Brands are largely a con
Supermarket or other shop's own brand products (and not the premium ranges) are almost always just as good as brands and much cheaper. Martin Lewis (mse) recommends moving a brand level lower at a time until you reach a point where you do notice a difference. Eg I'm happy using mainly value ranges for basics but some things I don't like the products to the point I know I won't eat/use them. One of those things is bread, I'm fine with supermarket own but find the value level too dry and goes stale too quickly - so it would be a false economy buying
2 carbs and veg are cheap, filling & nutritious
There's a reason our ancestors especially the poor ones based their meals on them.
Eating seasonally is cheaper, healthier (the nutrients in the foods that are in season tend to be the nutrients we need at that time of year - isn't nature clever? (I first learned this during nurse training on a rotation where I was working alongside a dietitian and like many young students went to stay at mums during a rare holiday and did that annoying student thing of thinking I was so clever knowing this. Mum was like 😂 well d'uh! Why do you think I serve shepherds pie and carrots in winter and salads in summer? So I also learned not to be an arrogant twat to to my mum 😂😂😂
Biologically we don't need huge amounts of meat, dairy etc
3 even the products that are your "deal breakers" (and even I have those, not many but a few) you don't pay full price for
if they have a long shelf life offers tend to rotate around the supermarkets (eg if cornflakes are on offer in Tesco this week but offer ends next week chances are they'll be on offer in Asda/morrisons/sainsburys the following week) - seriously once you start looking for this you'll see how much it happens.
So if they've a long shelf life stock up when they're on offer in your usual supermarket. If it's a short life product shop around to find where it's on offer (there's a few websites/apps that give this info too but I've never used them as when I'm not housebound I shop around anyway) Mind you I have an online "friend" who's also housebound and she shops around with online shopping by rotating who she gets her delivery from depending on who's cheapest for her that week - she's also found doing this that if she doesn't use one for a few weeks they usually send her a voucher to entice her back! I can't do this as not everyone delivers to my address but it might be useful info for you or someone else reading
4 shop around
try places you haven't before, I'm not really a fan of lidl and Aldi as my branches are crap but it varies regionally. There's also places like Iceland, farm foods, co-op, home bargains, b&m and £1 shops (with these bear in mind they're not always cheaper, do the maths. Often in the pound shops they seem cheap but the pack size is smaller. Although that's something I've preferred on occasion if it's something that the normal pack size is too big for our needs anyway or its a product only one person likes.
5 i know you've said food budget but you can save on other grocery stuff too
Supermarkets are actually expensive for non food items. When I'm not housebound I shop around far more than I'm currently able to. Bodycare is a shop near me that is great for cheap toiletries but also some household cleaning products, tissues, air fresheners. Savers is a similar type shop not as big but sometimes has good offers on. B&m, home bargains and poundshops again too.
I get through a lot of kitchen roll and loo roll and surface cleaners because of my OCD and these shops I've found best value for these.
Costco or similar is another option if you've one near you
6 buy in bulk can save you money too. Products with long shelf life and if you have somewhere you can store, can often work out much cheaper overall if you buy bigger packs/multipacks. Also look in other aisles to usual particularly true of "ethnic" foods like rice. Buying smaller packs can = £1.50 per kilo but if you can bulk buy the 10kg or 15kg packs that can drop significantly to £1 a kilo or less
7 go the old fashioned route of buying direct
Farm shops, markets, greengrocers, bakers, fishmongers and butchers even milkmen are more competitive than for a long time generally and for some things always were cheaper. Supermarkets aren't always cheapest.
My parents always buy a sack of potatoes and a "half sack" of carrots from their nearest farm shop (dad ex army and they've found one everywhere we've lived) store them in the "glory hole" (yes I know I know 😂but my mum has no idea of alternative meaning. Basically cupboard under the stairs. Even when all 5 of us were home that would last a month. They now go halves with a neighbour and it's plenty for the 2 of them. They'll also get whatever else is in season and when we were all home mum used to bulk buy eggs too. They lasted longer from the farm shop as you were getting them so fresh.
Mum always seemed to track down a good but cheap butcher, fishmonger & greengrocer too. She'd bulk buy fresh eg a whole pig or half a cow (literally) and the butcher would portion it, label it and she'd freeze the lot.
8 learn some favourite recipes that use up leftovers
On another thread I'm on at the moment many are reminiscing with fond memories of dishes they were served that with hindsight they have realised was their mum using up leftovers/making food go further/making sure food didn't go to waste.
Soups, stews and casseroles are the usual suspects. Honestly you can throw pretty much anything savoury in a soup to use it up, if you have or can afford a blender it's also a great way to sneak "hated" veg into the kids
or the husband
But there's also omelettes/frittatas, bubble and squeak, curries & chillis, pies & parcels, pasta bakes, potato bakes, rissoles & fish cakes...
Yea top up shops should be avoided if at all possible you'll always end up buying more than you went in for, supermarkets pay experts a LOT of money to develop ideas to get people to buy stuff they don't really need - they wouldn't do that if it didn't work!!
NEVER shop when you're hungry or knackered! I read that on a tips page DECADES ago and I'm sure it's saved me a fortune!
ALWAYS use a list - this is a big thing on eat well for less, loads of people buy stuff that they're not sure IF they need it so get it just in case, I've been guilty of that sometimes done a cupboard check and realised I've bloody 30 tins of beans or whatever! Even shopping online I keep a running list (the way I work is fresh bought weekly but non fresh I add to list when I've started or down to last pack) on my phone and check my cupboards and freezer and I've notes like
NO pasta this week!
So I don't make this mistake there too. Sounds bonkers I'm sure but works for me.
I genuinely hope that is all helpful and you might even have a bit of fun with it and find some new dishes/recipes your family likes.
Haha wrote all that then saw update. Glad you're doing well but I've decided to still post in case it's useful to you or someone else hope that's ok.
You're not an idiot sometimes we just need reminding of things we've forgotten or new ideas or motivation.
£350 is absolutely loads for a family that size I think. I shop in Aldi & farmfoods and I'm not super whizz cook! Often buy things can just throw in oven for 40 minutes etc!
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