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Would anyone like to join me on a slightly dull how-little-can-you-spend-on-food-this-month challenge?

(19 Posts)
DitaVonCheese Sat 06-Aug-11 23:28:03

We have quite a pricey month coming up (two weekends away, one at a festival, one at a wedding) and a two week old which means I'm not working and I don't earn enough for maternity pay/allowance. Meh. So am trying to have a very frugal month foodwise (as that's the easiest thing to cut back on - utilities, mortgage etc all a bit set in stone). Anyone want to join me?

We are me and DH, nearly 3 yo DD and two week old DS. DH has been on paternity leave this week - back at work on Mon and usually makes himself soup to take to work as a cheap lunch. He is veggie, which helps frugality. We also grow some veg in the garden and about to hit a massive courgette glut.

Breakfast is fruit and cereal. DD has snacks also, plus we eat a lot of fruit, at least one or two with each meal plus snacks. Week one menu has been:

Sun - lunch was prob sandwiches/stuff in fridge; asparagus risotto
Mon - broccoli & cauliflower soup, cheese on toast; veggie lasagne
Tues - fried risotto balls; sweetcorn pancakes with bacon and tomatoes
Weds - stuff in fridge; tomato, courgette & cous cous salad with halloumi
Thurs - chunky veg soup; pasta with tomato & feta sauce
Fri - Jamie Oliver's chicken Maryland; fried halloumi in pitta with houmous & salad
Sat - grilled chicken with rosemary & lemon; macaroni cheese with peas & bacon

houmous, ham, milk = £5.55 approx
blueberries, choc cake, chicken breasts, bread, lettuce, coriander, choc brownie = £5.94
milk, breadsticks, bombay mix, grapes, bread, lemonade, creme fraiche, mozzarella, eggs, yogurts, apples = £11.22
Total for week = £22.71

TheHouseofMirth Sun 07-Aug-11 14:24:54

£22 is really good going though I guess the haloumi, asparagus, bacon etc in your meal plan but not on your shopping list was stuff you already had?

I'll post mine later but just a few thoughts:

Making cakes yourself is an obvious saving. Would be a fun activity to do with your DD and you could also put some of your courgettes in one! You could also make your own bread for a fraction of the cost of shop bought bread.

Chicken breasts are an expensive way of buying chicken - thighs are often as good or buy a whole chicken and joint it. If you are just trying to save money as a short term thing then cutting out expensive meat for a month might be a good idea?

We're on a really tight buget so I wouldn't buy bombay mix or lemonade though I do sometimes buy Sainsbury's Basics fizzy water and add lime cordial to that.

stressedHEmum Sun 07-Aug-11 15:10:48

I think that, as THM says, £22 is really good. Did you already have the halloumi and stuff? Ways of getting it down further are: don't buy cakes, bake one, it's easy, quick and much cheaper, replace chicken breasts with either thighs or whole chicken. I am on a tight food budget so don't buy berries and things, I stick with basic kinds of fruit like apples, bananas, citrus and kiwi. At this time of year I sometimes buy a punnet of nectarines or plums because they are in season. I forage a lot of plums, raspberries and things as well, it might be worth keeping your eye out for wild fruit trees. I also do what THM does. I don't buy fizzy juice at all, I buy cheap sparkling ater and put a little bit of Sainsbury basic squash in it.

If you want to reduce your bills more and still eat meat, you could swap chicken for chicken/turkey mince and make burgers/meatballs/kofta type things, swap the bacon for a ham joint that you can cook and then portion out into several meals, use thighs and drumsticks for roasting.

Make good use of your courgette glut, too. I have one at the moment and use them for everything from pasta to cake.

This week we will have:

courgette, potato and tomato bake with chicken wings
creamy courgette lasagne with salad and crusty bread
runner bean and sweetcorn crumble with crusty bread
roasted root veg (carrots, turnips, white and red beetroot, onion and potatoes, all homegrown) with sausages
courgette pissaladiere with salad
saag aloo with natural yoghurt, mango chutney and naan bread
salmon loaf with potatoes and peas

lunches will be:
pea pod soup
creamy turnip, potato and lemon balm soup
cheesy courgette pasta
scrambled egg rice
veggie burger rolls
toast with smoked mackerel and soft cheese spread (2 days)

Snacks are fruit, yoghurt, homemade cake or basics tortilla chips with salsa
Won't cost much this week because most of the veg are homegrown, I already have chicken wings and smoked mackerel in the freezer and a tin of salmon in the cupboard. However, it will still cost me a small fortune to feed the toilet roll and soap powder eating fairies that appear to live in this house.

thefoodschool Sun 07-Aug-11 17:31:04

there are quite a few things on your menu that you don't seem to have bought - did you have these already?

i have recently done a 3 week 'storecupboard challenge' (and blogged about it because i'm vain like that)

i fed my family of 4 for around £30 for a week and this is week 3:

Thai fishcakes
Chicken with tarragon / Chicken spanish style
Roast stuffed breast of lamb with roasted vegetables
Spaghetti with arriabiata sauce
Courgette frittata / Courgette carbonnara
Summer vegetable soup
Pasta with chorizo, mushrooms and peas


plain flour
salt and pepper
sunflower oil for frying
marigold vegetable stock
olive oil

Pasta (1kg) x 2 - 73p (500g penne and 500g spaghetti)
Chopped tinned tomatoes (400g) x 2 - 31p for basics, 59p for own brand and 98p for Napolina
Bread, unsliced (800g) - £1.20
Thai red curry paste - £1.21
Tinned salmon (400g) - £1.58
Rice (500g) - 54p
Canellini beans (tinned, 400g x 2) - 88p
Fruit and veg items
Herbs (coriander) £1.07
Thyme - 65p
Tarragon - 65p
Onions - 34p (2)
Garlic - 30p (clove)
Carrots - 65p (1kg)
Courgettes (3) - £1.00
Brocolli - 87p
Butternut squash - 84p (95p per kilo)
Spring onions - 83p
New potatoes - 94p
Mushrooms (organic, 250g) - 87p
Mixed peppers (3) - £1.00
Leek (1 small) - 39p
Parmesan (pecorino) - £2.00 (250g)
Cream - 95p (300ml)
Eggs (15) - £1.50 (free range)
Whole chicken (medium) - £3.50 (standard, medium)
Chorizo sausage (cooking) - £1.96
Frozen peas (907g) - 85p
Frozen broad beans (500g) - £1.00
Lamb (new season, breast of) - £2.61

Basket Total: £31.53 (basics)

DitaVonCheese Sun 07-Aug-11 18:50:41

Ooh hello ladies (and/or gents). Nice to have some company in here grin foodschool I did think that perhaps I should have blogged instead but thought this was easier and made it a bit easier for people to reply/join in if they wanted as well.

Afraid yes I did cheat slightly and used things we already had in the fridge. Also did a big shop last weekend of July as SIL and BIL coming to stay for a night to view new baby - though we didn't seem to buy very much actual food.

Should also have elaborated more probably but thought was probably being overly self-indulgent as it was blush I don't usually buy chicken at all as only like to buy free range or organic and generally can't afford it (and do usually go for thighs when I do) but these were two enormous organic breasts reduced from £6.50 to £2 so too much of a bargain to pass up; one of them fed me and my mum for lunch one day (DD apparently doesn't like chicken hmm) and the other one fed me and my parents' dog blush as it was out of date by then.

The cake was because it was my birthday and MIL was coming up for the day also to view new baby so I just wanted something quick and easy for afternoon tea - was going to get crumpets but choc swiss roll was only 55p. I do do a bit of baking with DD but she generally isn't very interested - started to make banana flapjacks with her on Friday but she lost interest in the first couple of minutes and went to play in the garden instead.

Would LOVE to make my own bread but never get around to it, plus don't really currently have a kitchen or oven, just a crappy A4-sized countertop thing (mid-renovation which have stalled due to lack of funds).

Was going to blame Bombay mix and fizzy pop on DH as that was his shop, but that would be slightly unfair. BM was because we are trying to eat with DD at 6 pm but then need to snack all evening, and it's a pretty cheap snack; we both like fizzy pop blush but always buy cheapo store brands and tbf on this occasion it was because he was thirsty and it was cheaper to buy a big bottle than a can. (Similarly, choc brownie was me shopping when ravenous blush) Like the idea of cheap fizzy water though.

Blueberries were also reduced so 90p for the punnet (I hit the reduced section quite hard this week). Have also bought them tonight as they were a special request from DD for family movie night but wouldn't usually get them. Picked some apples at my parents' yesterday and should hopefully get pears and plums from them later in the month. Have actually noticed loads of apple trees around atm but most of them seem to be on main roads, so not sure how healthy the apples would be.

Should also add that my menu is, sadly, not what DD eats hmm - tonight, eg, DH and I have had Greek salad frittata with onion, tomatoes, olives and feta, and DD has had sardine & soft cheese sandwiches (thank you stressed for inspiration there) (though only a couple of bites), broad beans and a couple of bites of frittata as long as it didn't contain any tomatoes, onion or olives.

Will be stealing some of your ideas/recipes so thank you for posting grin (and sorry this is so long!).

TheHouseofMirth Sun 07-Aug-11 22:03:23

Ok here goes:

Monday Lunch: Scrambled eggs on toast
Dinner: Roast chicken with veg from allotment
Tuesday Lunch: Baked camembert with bread (children out for lunch)
Dinner: Chicken stir fry
Wednesday Lunch: Chicken & veg soup
Dinner: Quiche & salad (leaves & potatoes from allotment)
Thursday Lunch: Pancakes stuffed with cheese and spinach
Dinner:Stuffed peppers
Friday Lunch: Butternut squash & sweet potato curry soup
Dinner: Fish pie
Saturday Lunch: Home made pizza
Dinner: Roasted mediterannean veg & sausages
Sunday Lunch: Sardines on toast
Dinner: Homemade gnocchi with tomato & mascarpone sauce*
*Homemade as we’ve got “free” potatoes from the allotment but shop bought is fine and very cheap

Puddings have been blackberry & apple concoctions and pear and cardamon tart (all fruit from allotment/hedgerow/friends)
Breakfasts porridge with homemade fruit compote, eggy bread, toast

Free Range chicken £3.91 (reduced from Waitrose)
Free Range eggs £2.31 for 15 (6 used Monday lunch, 2 for quiche
Noodles £1.20
Butter £1.20
Pot double cream for quiche 40p (reduced)
Camembert £1.42
Bread (4 loaves made from 1 bag flour costing £1)
Onions for quiche 60p
Cheese £2.53
Peppers £2 for 8 from market
Minced beef £1.29 (reduced from Waitrose)
Frozen fish fillets £2.00 (enough for 2 meals)
Frozen king prawns £2.00
Mozarella 94p for 2
Butternut squash £1.30
Sweet potatoes £2.00 from market
Coconut milk 53p
Meatballs £1.09 for 20 (reduced from Co op)
Rice 89p
Basics plain flour for pizza, quiche, cheese sauce,
Sausages 99p for 8
Milk £3 for 8 pints Organic
Oats for porridge 62p
Sainsburys Basics tomato pasta sauce 35p
Mascarpone £1.20

Can't be arsed to add it up properly but I think it's arond £30-ish

My top tips are buying fruit & veg from your local market if you have one, knowing when to go and get reduced bargains from the supermarket (I got £20-ish of fab meaty stuff in Waitrose for just over £6 the other evening), stocking up when stuff you use frequently is on special offer (I never buy dishwasher tabs or loo roll full price) and never shopping when you're hungy!

Another money saving tip (not food related) is to use washable baby wipes, even if you can't or don't want to go down the "real" nappy route using washable wipes will save you getting on for £10 a month.

DitaVonCheese Mon 15-Aug-11 22:07:08

Okay, I have been rubbish at updating this blush (blame cluster-feeding DS - typing this one-handed).

Last week we ate stuff from the freezer that I'm made in advance to use stuff up, so can't remember order but was:

bean goulash with sausages for me/DD
veg tagine though realised at last minute we had no couscous so slightly randomly served with chickpeas instead
veggie lasagne made by doula
cannot remember what else blush - must have been leftover veg chilli
Sat - at my parents for big family party

Tesco shop £14.54 less £4.50 voucher less couple of quid on non-food stuff = £8 approx (can't remember what bought and lost receipt but prob bread, milk and fruit)
bread, milk, cereal = £7.23
+ lunch at soft play Mon and at Ikea Fri blush = £3.75 + £3.20 = £6.95
+ pub lunch with old schoolfriends - oops - £22
Total for week = £44.18 hmm must stop eating out!

This week I've had a Groupon Ocado voucher to spend which I bought in July so technically spend was only £5.24 ... Planned menu as follows:

Sun - leftovers from family party
Mon - readymade lasagne from freezer
Tues - sausages + roasted roots
Weds - courgette lasagne + salad + garlic bread
[Thurs-Mon we're at a festival but with limited access to kitchen so can make some stuff to take]
Thurs - broccoli soup/pea + bean risotto
Fri - mac cheese with bacon + peas
Sat - festie food
Sun - festie food
Mon - bean goulash + sausages
Tues - courgette carbonara
Weds - tagine + couscous
Thurs - veggie shepherd's pie
Fri - at wedding in Scotland
Sat - [Scotland] ??fish and chips on beach maybe smile
Sun - leek + sage risotto
Mon - broccoli souffle + breaded m'rooms/sausages
Tues - spicy root + lentil casserole
Weds - polenta + cheese + herbs

DitaVonCheese Mon 15-Aug-11 22:53:50

Ooh, both hands now available grin

House your menu sounds yummy and v jealous of your cheap meat envy Our nearest Waitrose isn't particularly close and last time I went I just ended up really depressed at not being able to go on a massive foodie binge shop.

We do use cloth nappy wipes but my Cheeky Wipes are now literally in tatters after three years' hard service on DD - have some Ikea flannels cut into quarters but they're fraying like bastards so need to treat myself to some new proper ones really <sigh>

amistillsexy Mon 15-Aug-11 23:07:34

Dita, don't panic about your IKEA flannel quarters fraying-I did exactly what you did and at first they frayed like heck, but after a couple of washes, the fraying stops and you can break off any ends that are too long. Mine are still going strong and DS3 is now 4! grin.
I used some of those plastic boxes from IKEA with lids on that you get in packs of 3 (size used to store crayons etc) and made up my own chamomile tea solution, then stored the wet wipes in the box. I also kept a box of dry wipes to use as little towels to dry bottoms! blush

DitaVonCheese Wed 17-Aug-11 00:48:48

Ooh, that's good to know, thanks grin and using to dry is a good idea too - I usually blowdry (by blowing, not with actual hairdrier) but fret about damp bottoms blush

TheHouseofMirth Wed 17-Aug-11 20:34:40

I used a cut up a £1.59 Ikea fleece blanket for wipes. I meant to use them as nappy liners but they gave DS nappy rash. Work brilliantly as wipes though and dry much quicker than toweling ones.

I can't take credit for the Waitrose reductions (at 6 o'clock I'm at home with 2 wailing banshees, cbeebies/CBBC and a bottle of gin) but my fantastic neighbour goes on her way home from work. This week's bargain was 2 packets of premium pork sauages for 10p each!

BTW congratulations on the birth of teenyCheese!

TheHouseofMirth Wed 17-Aug-11 20:39:18

Dita keep meaning to ask - are you sure you don't earn enough for any kind of maternity allowance? Are you Self Employed or employed? Have a look here

DitaVonCheese Wed 17-Aug-11 21:35:17

Thanks grin

Re MA I was talking to someone the other day in a similar situation who thinks I might be eligible so have downloaded the form (all 36 pages!) to fill in - worth a go anyway smile

I miss gin sad

TheHouseofMirth Wed 17-Aug-11 22:23:59

When things got bad enough I'd swig gin whilst feeding DS2, working on the assumption it'd then it'll be out of my system by the next feed wink.

DitaVonCheese Mon 22-Aug-11 23:33:24

grin Oddly enough, I have thought about that before ...

eeky Tue 23-Aug-11 15:42:56

Mirth, that's exactly what I used to do with wine when bf!

TheHouseofMirth Tue 23-Aug-11 22:47:12

Of course encouraging you to drink booze will not help your attempts at frugalness! How's it going?

DitaVonCheese Thu 25-Aug-11 00:44:31

Actually we are so frugal that we've been existing on DH's home brew for months now (if he can ferment it, he will drink it) - tends to be filthy plus I'm bfing/co-sleeping so I don't really go near it. Sigh.

Otherwise frugality has gone a bit awry blush - festival food was mighty pricey even with me taking food for the first couple of days plus had a big expensive slightly pointless blush shop today but have also had a small windfall so things aren't quite as dire as they were at the start of the month smile

DitaVonCheese Thu 25-Aug-11 10:28:12

Forgot to say, made my own bread last night, thanks in part to this thread. Cheated slightly and bought a pack rather than buying separate flour/yeast. Was 77p and I was under the impression it would do several loaves, but in fact it did one - normal loaf costs me 70p hmm plus had to do all the kneading/swearing/cooking. Does taste nice though! (Will get yeast separately next time)

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