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How do you feed your family on less than £100 a week?

(25 Posts)
GreensAreGoodForYou Fri 05-Apr-19 18:31:25

I keep reading about people who manage on £50 or £60 a week, and I just don't know how you/they do it. Can someone enlighten me? We're a family of four (kids are 11 and 7). Don't eat much meat, hardly buy much processed food and yet I struggle to keep it down to £100! I'm not in the UK now but the prices where I am are similar to there, so I'm wondering if anyone can share their weekly menu? Roughly? Ours would be something like this:
Breakfasts: weekdays, porridge with honey, or toast with something. Weekends: cheesy scrambled egg, maybe with bacon as a treat (as it's so expensive), tomatoes and toast.
Lunches: I usually make pasta with a sauce for the kids' school lunch, along with yogurt (home made!) and fruit; or they'll get sandwiches with cream cheese/salami, or cheese. Me: anything that hasn't been eaten. Husband: eats at work (buys it, this is separate from the budget!)
Dinner: If the kids have had pasta for lunch, I'll do them a plate of bread, cheese, fruit, and nuts; otherwise they'll have something like breaded fish (this is freezer stuff so yes processed), with mash, and peas; chicken soup (made from scratch); or tortillas with tuna and cheese.

I almost never buy biscuits (mainly because here you can only get them with palm oil, not butter, yuck); cakes; sweets unless we're out at a café (not part of food budget mentioned above). I don't buy ready meals and the like.

Where is all my money going?!?! I look at the shopping list and it just has all those things, above, on it. Where am I going wrong? Help!

Usuallyinthemiddle Fri 05-Apr-19 18:35:52

What are you and your husband eating for dinner?

greenelephantscarf Fri 05-Apr-19 18:37:45

- meal plan
- only buy what you actually eat during the week
- mainly vegetarian (one fish & one meat dish a week)
- most own brand is absolutely find

TheWashingMachine Fri 05-Apr-19 18:38:26

Aldi or Lidl.

greenelephantscarf Fri 05-Apr-19 18:39:46

and no separate meal for adults/kids (why?)

EmmaBead Fri 05-Apr-19 18:43:00

We only have 1 child so it's fairly easy, but the tip from me would be to creating meal plans, you know exactly how much to budget as you know roughly what you are eating.

GreensAreGoodForYou Fri 05-Apr-19 18:43:34

Well, frankly, whatever's left! No, not always. I tend to pick but if I'm making the girls food I'll make enough for us all. But it's usually just me and the kids sitting down to eat as husband works late. Looking at my shopping list the pricier things are milk (we get through a lot), cheese (ditto) and other sandwich stuff (even butter, which we also use a lot of). Is that my mistake? I do buy wholemeal bread, while the white rolls here are much, much cheaper...

GreensAreGoodForYou Fri 05-Apr-19 18:44:57

Meal plans, yes, I did do this a few years ago. Will try it again. Then I'll be able to figure out which meals are cheaper too. Thanks. Will do that! I may report back in a few weeks if I'm feeling super organised :D

greenelephantscarf Fri 05-Apr-19 18:52:03

wholemeal is great! don't compromise on that.

do you throw out a lot of food?

WreckTangled Fri 05-Apr-19 18:53:02

I went to Aldi and spent £54 today then to Tesco and spent a further £14 (including two Easter eggs). There's two adults and two dc similar age to yours. Tbh it's not fun trying to stick to a budget.

Breakfasts are:
Ready brek
Chocolate cereal as a treat for Easter holidays

Tortilla wraps (cheese/humous/grated carrot)
Crackers (as above)
Snack sausages/sausage rolls (not a normal thing just for them as it's Easter holidays)
Veg sticks
(Dh also has crisps and chocolate bars for his lunch 🙄).

Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes and apples

Evening meals for the week:
Pasta bolognese
Hot dogs (with nice sausages)
Bacon tomato spaghetti
Curried sweet potato soup with cheese roasties

Extras I got
Rice crispiest
Mini eggs
Cooking chocolate
Extra butter for baking

We're going to make chocolate rice crispy cakes and oat and raisins cookies this week.

I don't know if any of that is helpful blush we don't usually have meat that many nights but already have some mince in the freezer. I only use 250g of mince for one meal between the four of us which is plenty.

GreensAreGoodForYou Fri 05-Apr-19 18:55:24

greenelephantscarf No, not much at all. I think probably the worst of that is fruit - but it's actually pretty cheap here. I probably throw out a peach or a handful of strawberries per week, that kind of thing. Everything else gets eaten. We DO have pretty full stocked cupboards and fridge at all times, though, and sometimes I wonder if I should just not shop for two weeks to get through it (pasta/rice/tins tuna/that kind of thing). But then I'd still end up buying the same stuff each week after that! I'm going to do a detailed meal plan and figure out the cost...

GreensAreGoodForYou Fri 05-Apr-19 18:57:54

WreckTangled - that doesn't read too different to our week. BUT I just remembered two things that I failed to mention –coffee and alcohol. Those two alone would cut our bill down by around £20. Hubs gets through loads of real coffee and a four-pack of beer is around £6, wine the sameish. But I don't want to give up my alcohol! Ha.

WreckTangled Fri 05-Apr-19 19:00:41

We have coffee but dh buys his own beer as I don't drink. I expect if you take out the alcohol you spend the same as us! It's just getting more and more expensive and I want to enjoy our food and try to eat healthily and lots of cake

crosser62 Fri 05-Apr-19 19:01:29

Shop at Aldi or Lidle, no alcohol, minimal meat.
I spend £45-£50 a week. Familyof 4 includes a forever starving teenager.
Whole meal bread is 51p a loaf I think from Aldi and is lovely, I buy 2 loaves and freeze one.
I meal plan my ass off every week and stick to my shopping list.

crosser62 Fri 05-Apr-19 19:04:17

Also use my slow cooker to do a huge batch of Bolognese or curry eat half and freeze half, that’s a free meal the next week that I don’t have to spend anything on. Maybe naan breads or a garlic bread, less than a quid.
I bulk buy pasta and rice which lasts about a month and a half at least.

loubielou31 Fri 05-Apr-19 19:12:38

Shopping in Lidl, my food only shop can be as low as £50 but that would be a week where we eat very little meat and are finishing off stuff already in the cupboard. (If I include laundry powder etc the bill is considerably more)
Packed lunches are cheaper than school dinners but if DDs do have a school dinner then I am happy to give them omlette or beans on toast for tea. Jacket potato, tinned tuna &mayo with a bit of cheese is a popular tea, pasta and various sauces is an obvious choice. We have quite a few dishes with mince but bulk it out with red lentils and a lot of cheap veg like onion and carrot. Freeze our left overs and "freezer surprise" is a regular menu feature.
You definitely have to meal plan but also be able to change it if there is a really good offer when you get to the shop.

TwllBach Fri 05-Apr-19 19:16:13

I’ve just been to Lidl and spent £36 on my grocery shop for this week for me, DS and DP. I’m having to keep to a really tight budget right now though and it’s no fun at all. I meal plan, so this week’s meals are -

Leek and mushroom pie
Baked sweet potato and beans
Sweet potato curry
Leek and potato soup

I have a smoothie for breakfast (banana, frozen raspberries and almond milk) while DS will either have cereal, toast and peanut butter or porridge. DP doesn’t have breakfast or lunch unless he buys it out. My lunch is either a salad or raw veg and a dip and DS’ lunch can vary when not at nursery.

Having said that, I’ve been living like this for a while so have built up supplies. For example, the soup is coming out of the freezer because I froze half when it was last on the meal plan. The mince for the lasagne is out of the freezer too as I go to the butchers once s month and spend £60 on meat.

It takes a lot of preplanning and it’s a pain in the arse, quite frankly!

AtleastitsnotMonday Fri 05-Apr-19 19:19:23

What sauces are you making for your pasta?
Is the fruit season or are you paying more for imported.
How about things like condiments, oils, vinegars etc, I find those but really make the bill add up.
But I think food is expensive. And more and more expensive with time.

BloodyForeigner Mon 08-Apr-19 09:53:24

The two things that strike me about your list are a lot of fruit and a lot of cheese. Both tend to be expensive, at least in UK, and nuts are too. You may not want to cut back on them, but that will cut costs. So if you swap the kids' plate of fruit/cheese/nuts for veg sticks/houmous/pittas, for example, that would be cheaper. Sandwich/tortilla fillings could be cheese OR tuna/salami, not both. No need for cheese in scrambled egg, etc. I usually aim for one of meat/fish/cheese/eggs in a meal, and then bulk out with veg and carbs.
You could also try and use less butter (spread more thinly) and less milk (eg porridge with half milk/half water).
You say you and husband eat what's left, but it doesn't sound to me like there is a lot that could be left. So may be think a bit more about that - what are you actually eating and how cheap is it? Costing up each meal could be useful in helping to track things.
Finally, as others have said, shopping around can make a big difference. Lidl and Aldi here tend to be cheaper. Buying non branded is cheaper. Markets are often cheap for in season fruit and veg.

00100001 Mon 08-Apr-19 10:20:21

I suppose it depends if your buying budget or brands?
Using Tesco for you shop just for what you say you eat for breakfast:

porridge 1kg : value 75p, branded £2.30
honey 454g : own brand £1.40, branded £2.85 (for 100g less)
toast (800g loaf wholemeal): 59p own brand vs £1.10

So breakfast could be anywhere from £2.74 to £6.25 - so difference around £3.50.

GregoryPeckingDuck Mon 08-Apr-19 10:24:45

Well there you go. Stop drinking. It’s bad for you anyway. Or at least seoerate it from your budget. Alcohol is not good.

GregoryPeckingDuck Mon 08-Apr-19 10:25:09

*not food. Not good either but I meant not food

00100001 Mon 08-Apr-19 10:32:27

Stop buying fresh berries! They're so bloody expensive. Give your kids apples, pears, bananas etc.

Do you grate your cheese for sandwiches? It will go much further.... agree with PP that it's cheese OR ham rather than both
Make sure you buy bread and not rolls or wraps, as they're more expensive for example, you get 8 wraps for about 95p, or 16 slices of bread for 8 sandwiches for about 59p

your pasta should be cheap as chips, as you can get it cheap, 3kg for less than £3 for own brand, or about £1.20 for value brands.

also, sounds stupid, but do you butter both pieces of bread for sandwich? When times were tight, we only butter one slice ... makes a difference. Might want to not use butter either, as you end up using a lot more than you would spreads. and it is far more expensive.
If you swapped a 454g block of butter (Tesco own - £1.50) to a 500g tub of olive spread (Teaco own - 95p) you'd have an instant saving, and it will last longer. Double that up with only spreading one slice for the sandwich, lasts even longer....

00100001 Mon 08-Apr-19 10:34:25

and if you're throwing out fruit, that's not good - either eat the peach/strawberries instead of something else (like nuts which will last).
- or stew/freeze them and use them for porridge toppings.

stucknoue Mon 08-Apr-19 10:41:58

Frozen fruit is good with yogurt and no waste. I can cook for 4 for under £50 if I try hard but it takes discipline

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