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can all you mums who manage on £50 for a family of 4 shopping budget pls tell me your weekly meal plan as I have NO idea how you do it.

(38 Posts)
Herecomesthesciencebint Tue 23-Jun-09 21:25:45

ok, Im not trying to get mine down to £50 but its at least treble that and I dont think we eat like kings.
I meal plan, I cook from scratch ish (does using jars of pesto count as from scratch??!), we dont buy much junk so why is mine so high?
can I have an idea of your menus this week and extras so I can see where my excess is going?

many thanks.

Flibbertyjibbet Tue 23-Jun-09 21:40:16

I don't particularly meal plan but its usually £35ish for 2 adults and 2 pre school boys a week.

No tesco sainsbo etc.

Years of scrooging has taught me how to recognise what is cheapest where at any particular time between lidl, adli, netto, local market etc etc.

Breadmaker for bread using lidl flour and tubs of yeast rather than sachets.

No out of season produce.

No fancy yoghurts etc unless being sold off near sell by date.

All cakes and buns home made, biscuits only the cheapest digestives etc.

Make small savings on everything as it soon adds up - for example 4pints full fat milk is 2 for £2.50 at netto at the moment. We go through one a day, so compared to the £1,59 each they are at most other places at the moment thats £60 a year just on milk.

If you are near anywhere like home bargain or b&m bargain make a habit of popping in as they often have good items very cheaply and stock up when you see them.

This may seem time consuming but look on it as working a couple of extra hours a week to end up better off. We both work and manage to fit it all in.

DOn't be tempted by bogofs for things that are still relatively expensive.

We do eat meat most nights but never chops or expensive joints, I have trained the butcher to tell me whats cheapest by asking subtly like 'now I'm looking for something to put in my slow cooker but price is a major consideration'.

I could go on all night... but in answer to your question I would say no jars of pesto are neither cooking from scratch or cheap, so I buy boxes of passata from lidl and use half a box with a tablespoon of pesto sauce.

Wonderstuff Tue 23-Jun-09 21:49:28

We are a family of three. I find shopping online or using ASDA or even better Aldi makes a big difference on a tight month. Average meals in my house
Spag bol or chilli - use tinned toms rather than jar
Mushroom risotto - try to go meat free at least once a week
Bangers and mash
Roast chicken - often on Sat and use carcas for soup on Sunday lunch alternativly cheaper to buy whole bird than cuts so use breasts one day, roast legs the next and use the rest for stock for soup
Tuna pasta bake is a favorite
Pizza
and usually fish either steamed salmon or breaded cod, mackrel is really cheap. Try to keep waste to a minimum, use leftovers for lunch when I can.

KirstyJC Tue 23-Jun-09 21:53:35

Our bill is a little more than £50, although we menu plan we do 'add on' treats but it is about £60 ish a week from Sainsbos. We have 2 adults plus a 5 year old (who is a VERY fussy eater and really has very little, so we add on school dinners to try and get food in that way) and a 7 month old who is just doing BLW and not eating much yet.

One of the main ways I save money is buying meat etc from the reduced section and freeze it. Also, we buy and make large portions of things such as bolognese / casseroles / curries and then freeze most of it. eg a 500g pack of mince, with tin of tomatoes, onions/stock/garlic/herbs etc would make 3 dinners - one for the day we cook it, then 2 portions to freeze.

We also use sausages a lot in casseroles etc which is cheaper than diced meat and can be just as tasty - add (cheap) lentils or a tin of baked beans and you can get 2 dinners' worth out of a pack.

We do buy pizzas when they are on offer or reduced and eat with lettuce from the garden when it's available.

Try cutting down on meat overall - we have dropped to only having it a couple of times a week (rather than most nights) - tonight we had homemeade bean chilli and cheesy cornbread. We had some green beans left over so cooked them up with lentils and one tin of kidney beans and one of tomatoes - there's enough for 3 dinners' worth there and costs very little.

Oh, and try not to buy fruit just 'cos it's reduced, only to throw it all away two days later when it's gone mouldy....! That's one of my main problems actually, DH is always moaning about how much I waste..blush

Comewhinewithme Tue 23-Jun-09 22:03:50

Some ideas (I have 6 dc but manage to be shop quite cheaply most weeks).

Pasta with cheese ,ham and cherry toms.

Tuna bake with broccoli cheese .

Cauliflower /macaroni cheese with sausages

Beans on eggy bread.

Sausage casserole (sausage with tinned toms and onions poured over).

Quiche with new pots and salad.

Jacket spuds with whatever.

idranktheteaatwork Tue 23-Jun-09 22:10:55

OK, menu this week is as follows;

monday - pasta with tomato sauce and grated cheese. (tomato sauce was made with tin of value toms, squeeze of tom paste, clove of garlic, oregano, salt and pepper)

tuesday - jackets with chilli. (chilli was from batch cook i did last week.

wednesday - pork chops with salad.

thursday - chicken pie. (pastry will be frozen pastry i keep in freezer for busy nights. Filling will be left over roast chicken from Sunday, little splosh of sherry as partner will be out. campbells mushroom soup, carrots, two slices of smoked bacon chopped small.onion. little bit of garlic.) served with veg.

friday - home made pizza, the tom sauce will be the left over portion from Monday.
Any veg left in the fridge will be used to go on the top as well. Plus bacon/whatever esle i have knocking about.

Saturday - home made burgers on the bbq if dry, grilled if wet. Served with salad.

Sunday - normally a roast.

Puddings - fruit/home made muffins/cakes etc. I don;'t buy any cakes/treats.

Snacks - raisins/veg sticks/cake/biscuit/piece of cheese/piece of toast.

I spend around £45 a week. Although we now have a high income again as we both got jobs fairly quickly after redundancy i have never got out of the habit of being frugal. I think it is because i was so utterly poor when dd was a baby.

I do the following;
Do store cupboard shop online once a month. So tins of toms, sweetcorn, flour, sugar etc.

Rice and some tins like kidney beans are bought at my local asian shop as i can get a huge sack of rice for 2.75.

All cheese/meat bought at local market, tis much better quality and because the taste is so good you can get away with using less.

I use the slow cooker alot to batch cook and then freeze portions. Saves money on the electricity/gas as well.

Once a month i make a huge pot of tom sauce, the portions can be frozen and used for anything tomato based such as spag bol, chilli etc.

If i make a shepherds pie for example, i do a huge one, bulk it out with lots of veg and then freeze the portions.

When i buy cheese i buy one big lump of cheddar, grate half and freeze in portions for use in sandwiches, pizza etc. The other half stays in the fridge for normal cooking/snacks.

Packed lunches for everyone every day, use leftovers where possible. Even when working at home i do a packed lunch to stop me picking at stuff i wouldn't normally.

I get the kids to help with the baking, they love it.

I grow as many herbs as i can, it saves money and you can dry/freeze them yourself.

If you have any veg on the turn either make soup and freeze or blanch and freeze in portions.

I never buy any jars other than pesto. I can use that in a spag bol if i have no basil etc ready.

I keep a whiteboard stuck to the fridge, (you can buy magnetised sheet white board). On that i list everything in the fridge/freezer. That way i don't buy anything we already have and i can use what we have properly.
As i use stuff it gets rubbed off.

Same with the storecupboard stuff, is all listed on a whiteboard and crossed off as used.

Umm, what else..... squash is only offered with dinner/lunch. I never buy new until the last has gone, so if we have orange everyone is stuck with that till it goes.

My veg are delivered from organic supplier, it's £13.95 a week out of my budget but because i buy so well on everything else it's well worth it.

tigerbear Tue 23-Jun-09 22:11:16

Ok, I'm really curious and have been meaning ask this for a while whenever one of these saving money on food threads comes up. Is it possible to eat your recommended 5 a day of fruit and veg on a low budget?

On most of the meal planners, there doesn't seem to be much of it...
Not trying to be aggressive, just genuinely curious...

idranktheteaatwork Tue 23-Jun-09 22:21:34

Yes definitely. We generally do.

For example, dd will have raisins and orange in her packed lunch along with sandwich and either slice of homemade cake or biscuit and a bottle of water.
For tea we always have two-three different veg in or with the main dish. So tonight in the chilli were fresh tomatoes from the veggie box, onion. Served with it was jacket spud and salad. The salad was sweetcorn, lettuce, red pepper and cucumber.

Fruit and veg are much cheaper if you meal plan and buy what you need rather than packs. So unless you are a large family, the economy pack of carrots from Tesco for example is a false economy as you would probably end up sick of them and throwing some away.
Much cheaper to buy from the markets if there is one near by.

tigerbear Tue 23-Jun-09 22:26:03

Thanks Idrankthetea.... I think I'll start going to the market, as we don't have any Aldi, Netto, etc near us...
Must be worth at try, as we're spending far too much for just 2 people.

Herecomesthesciencebint Tue 23-Jun-09 22:37:04

idrank, we seem to eat similar meals to you and i do cook all my tom sauces etc using tins and bulk them out, but my bill is still way higher.

do you make your own bread?

does your £45 include toiletries, loo roll, nappies, any cleaning products, wine etc.

I think just eat big portions!! an £15 organic veg box would no way last us a week. we eat tons of fruit and veg but I suppose we are snacking on alot of it and its 'unnecessary food' if you see what i mean. Just this week we have managed two highly expensive bags of grapes and just nibbled them away.

and I have just cooked a 500g mince with celery, carrots, courgette, onion stock and carton of soya beans all added and its only made 1 big pot for tomorrows tea (2 adults and 2 kids) plus 2 portions to freeze which will each feed the 2 kids. thats with parsnip and pot mash topping on all. get the impression that would make more than that for other families so perhaps we are having too big portion sizes?

Mousey84 Tue 23-Jun-09 22:57:40

My shopping list from last week (I did, however, have almost all the non-fresh stuff in cupboard, but did list as if I was buying most of it from empty cupboards. My actual spend was around £18)

1kg fusilli pasta £1
Frozen sweetcorn 1.1kg 96p
Frozen cauliflower 1kg 90p
Frozen broccoli 1kg 86p
Frozen peas 900g 85p
Frozen mixed peppers 75p
12 Tomatoes (offer 3 packs of 6 for £2 so got 3)
6 pears from market £1
5 bananas from market £1
punnet of strawberries from market £1
Lentils from market 50p
2 bags oranges for £2.50
Melon (offer 2 for £2)
Bag wholemeal flour 87p
Plain flour 1.5 kg 75p
6 eggs from neighbour with chickens £1
Honey 68p
2 lemons 54p
500g butter 70p at local discount store
Cheese at discount store £1
Porridge 1kg 58p
Raisins 1 kg £1.68
Dried apricots 500g £1.68
Onion 20p
12 stock cubes 59p
beef steak mince 800g (offer 3 for £10)
burger baps 65p
Couscous 1kg £1.15
Baked potato (4) 99p
Milk 99p from local shop 3 times a week
Bread 99p from local shop, or bake it
Make my own yogurt and grow carrots onions and potatoes in big tubs and lettuce, radish, herbs and a few other things in windowsill boxes. Alfalfa etc sprouting. All extremly easy

If my maths is correct thats £42.36 to feed me and dd, plus 6 mindee breakfasts, 30 mindee snacks and 2-4 mindee dinners. Some of the things will last all month (like frozen veg, mince - bulk cooked and frozen - couscous etc)

Meals -
Soup - chicken stock, lentils, beans 1/2 onion, few tomatoes and frozen veg any other leftover veg in fridge.
Salad sandwiches / egg sandwiches / pb&j
Salad with couscous

H/m flapjacks / pancakes / bagels / fruit / yogurt/ plain popcorn for snacks (we are growing popping corn too!)

Pasta bake (h/m cheesy sauce and lots of veg added) with salad
Bolognese (mince, veg and tomatoes) with pasta
Lasagna and salad
Pizza (h/m)
Burgers - bulk with lentils, beans porridge oats or breadcrumbs
Tonight we had baked potato with leftover bolognese and cheese
Tomorrow night its cottage pie

I bake cakes, cookies etc but dessert is usually fruit.

Flibbertyjibbet Tue 23-Jun-09 23:54:08

Yes we eat a ton of fruit and veg every week. I don't list out 'apple for elevenses' 'orange mid afternoon' when planning the menu, I just buy seasonal fruit selection each week.

Things like grapes I only buy when half price fruit and veg day is on at lidl. Soft fruits like strawberries or raspberries I just never buy until they are selling off a glut at about 50p a punnet.

Last week I got a box of huge mushrooms containing 4lbs, for £2 and it wasn't closing time it was just what they were sellign them for. So we had mushroom soup 2 days and then stuffed mushrooms the next day.

I do admit though that the little town I live in (east lancs) has a very good very market and the produce there is very cheap compared to what I see people spend in other parts of the country. For example I've been paying 40plb for jersey royals the last couple of weeks or 23p lb for very good quality local bigger spuds. Eggs from the butcher £1.10 half doz organic free range. Butcher 'grows his own' on a large farm 5 miles away and his meat is devine and 30% cheaper than the pre-packed flavourless stuff from sainsburys.

Our health food shop will order me 5kg sacks of Suma dried fruits for a very cheap price compared to buying the small packs more often.

We have a shop that does 'cheap food' but in the refridgerated bit at the back there are usually 500g tubs of Rachels organic yoghurts 2 for £1 and recently organic butter £1 a pack. yes the sell by dates are almost up but we usually eat it within a couple of days.

So you see I have all these places that I visit regularly and it saves me so much money that I need to work less hours for the same lifestyle!

mrsjammi Wed 24-Jun-09 00:10:00

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SomeGuy Wed 24-Jun-09 02:25:27

2.5kg of potatoes shock That must be what 50 roasties?

mrsjammi Wed 24-Jun-09 10:58:44

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claireybee Wed 24-Jun-09 11:07:58

I'm having to get mine majorly down at the moment because our tax credits have gone down by £20 a week so that is £20 a week less I have to spend on food. We used to spend £200-230 a month on groceries (inc toiletries/cleaning products etc) so we weren't extravagant anyway and I am finding it really hard.

This week:
Monday - Pasta with 1/3 pack mushrooms(reduced to 30p), 2 slices ham and frozen peas. Made sauce from some old parmesan, onion, splash of white wine and cream (had the cream in the fridge from something else)

Tuesday - Beef chilli and rice using left over beef from roasting joint on sunday (saved approx 1/3 of joint), basics tinned tomatoes and basics kidney beans plus another 1/3 of the pack of mushrooms an onion and half a green pepper (also reduced to 30p). Chilli and herbs from cupboard.

Wednesday - Lentil 'cottage' pie with brocoli, carrots and frozen peas

Thursday - Spicy beans in pitta with lettuce. Dried beans from cupboard, the rest of the mushrooms, the rest of the green pepper, an onion, fajita spice from cupboard (I buy it in big jars not sachets). Lettuce left over from weekend (we also grow a bit of lettuce in a pot but don't have any edible at the moment).

Friday - Egg and saute potatoes, frozen veg (peas or sweetcorn or both), some kind of home made pudding.

Saturday - Broad bean risotto made with chicken stock made from roast last week onion, garlic and frozen broad beans. Plus the rest of parmesan from fridge and a glug of wine.

Sunday - Won't be home!

Most of these meals do 2 adult and 2 toddler portions plus either another adult or another 2 toddler portions for the next day.

I have a full herb/spice cupboard which means I can make meals from not very much at all.

I buy massive bags of rice and pasta which works out cheaper. We prefer basmati but it is more expensive so alternate with basics long grain.

A 2.5kg bag of potatoes does 5 or 6 meals (but none of us particularly like potatoes so just eat them to bulk up the meal).

If using mince I add an equal amount of lentils so we get double the portions.

We don't really eat puddings but sometimes buy basics fromage frais for the kids or a big tub of plain yoghurt and mix it with apple sauce or jam etc. Sometimes I bake cakes or biscuits. Mostly the kids just have fruit and we have nothing. (I like it when I send dh to pick up a few bits though because he can't resist buying a cheesecake or roulade etc yum yum yum)

We drink a lot of wine but buy it by the case so it works out cheaper. It messes up my budget a bit that way though because I have to pay for it all at once so put it on credit card then pay it back each week but is worth it to always have good wine in the house. The endless meals of beans and lentils don't seem so bad if you can have a glass of something with it wink

Breakfasts are cereal, either own brand or reduced. Lots of porridge and weetabix(supermarket brand) too.

Buy reduced bread and keep in freezer for toast/cheese on toast etc. I sometimes make bread too.

Buy reduced meat and freeze til we need it. Don't buy basics chicken but will buy basics stewing packs of lamb or beef for slow cooker. I buy the freedom food chicken but get 3 meals from a medium one, roast, risotto/pie/stew etc then stock (2 meals worth)

Fruit is apples, pears, bananas (though dc don't like them at the moment), clementines in season. Anything else we only buy if it's reduced or on special.

I used to buy fresh fruit juice for the dc, then switched to concentrate, now they have high juice squash with the occasional (watered down) basics concentrated juice. DD will drink water, ds won't.

Any treats we buy (rare but I quite often need chocolate!)are basics.

claireybee Wed 24-Jun-09 11:09:25

Sorry that was an essay blush

FioFio Wed 24-Jun-09 11:21:22

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FAQinglovely Wed 24-Jun-09 11:24:17

Iceland blocks of cheese are tiny (well they are compared to most "big" blocks grin

FioFio Wed 24-Jun-09 11:26:57

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FAQinglovely Wed 24-Jun-09 11:29:36

was it long and thing or short and fat <<<<<<crucial details required>>>>>>

FioFio Wed 24-Jun-09 11:31:48

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becstarlitsea Wed 24-Jun-09 11:33:55

I have to cook big portions but we are so broke that I only have £50 to spend per week at the moment - that is all the money we actually have and sometimes we don't really have that without dipping into savings. Tis a bit of a nightmare.

So for the same meal mrsjammi described my recipe is 200g mince bulked with handfuls of red lentils, finely chopped celery and carrots, plus the same whole thing of mushrooms, 2 onions, 2 tins of tomatoes, stock cubes, garlic, herbs, peppers that you list. We end up having lentils in everything... We do have a roast chicken sometimes and I use the bones for soup (I pinch the picked clean bones off plates - well, I'm going to boil them for 3 hours so there won't be any germs left on there!)

I never accept money but whenever we go to the grandparents we accept food parcels especially veg from the allotment/vegetable garden. We haven't needed to shop at all this week because we had 2 sacks of veg from FIL's allotment, we had some lentils in from last week and a bit of mince & fish in the freezer (pollock - Sainsbo's basics) and we won some meat in a raffle as well. So we've eaten like kings all week for nowt! Thank god for that as DH doesn't look like he'll get any work next week (he's freelance, so we live from week to week.)

We never ever throw any food away, or buy food 'just to have in' - it's all menu planned.

FAQinglovely Wed 24-Jun-09 11:34:23

shock that's nearly £6 a kg -

Morrisons is £4.84 a kg <<<<snurk>>>>

becstarlitsea Wed 24-Jun-09 11:35:25

Oooh, FioFio - do all Icelands do fresh produce? We don't have a proper freezer just an icebox so I haven't been in there assuming that they wouldn't have anything for me? But those prices sound really good for fruit & veg?

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