Prepping on a budget?

(31 Posts)
peachgreen Sun 01-Mar-20 19:59:58

Sorry to drop in as a first time poster in Preppers and ask your advice, but I'm struggling to get my head around how I can prep on an extremely limited budget. We live penny to penny with an already smallish grocery budget (and not a great deal of storage space!). Any recommendations for prepping on a budget? I have the remainders of a small Brexit stockpile (prepped by Reading the very helpful threads here) which we put on our already groaning credit card so loads of dried pasta, rice etc that I bought in bulk but am growing more and more concerned about coronavirus and have no room left on the credit card. Thank you in advance!

OP’s posts: |
Emeeno1 Sun 01-Mar-20 20:19:30

If you have some basics pasta,rice etc you could just look at adding flavour to make them into meals.For example cooking rice in stock made from cheap stock cubes tastes better than rice cooked in plain water.The same applies to pasta.Cheap dried mixed herbs, salt, garlic granules,chilli flakes all help (most herbs etc are 49 and salt is 25p in Aldi).
A basic bread recipe only requires plain flour (45p), salt and dried yeast (69p) just add tepid water.
A basic soup like French onion soup uses 3 onions, a little oil and beef stock made with a cheap stock cube.You can freeze both the brad and soup in batches if you have room.

T0tallyFuckedUpFamily Sun 01-Mar-20 20:38:22

One thing I find about cheap pasta, is the fact that it takes so much longer to cook. One of the cheaper ways to prepare pasta, is to leave it for an hour or so to soften in cold water, drain the water off then cook as usual.

You can use cheap brand baked beans to bulk out any stews or a lot of other dishes. You can also drain them and add them to soups to bulk them out.

If you go into the foreign food isle in Tesco you’ll often get great deals, such as tinned tomatoes and chickpeas, which can again be used to bulk out meals. They’re currently doing four tins for £1.

If you can stretch to a few cheap herbs, you can really add flavour to food. I use a chilli and garlic salt grinder that you can buy in B&M or home bargains, to add flavour to everything from cheap pizza to chips.

I know it’s a bit extravagant if you’re on a budget, but the ‘Tin can cook’ book is good for making store cupboard meals.

I have a recipe somewhere for soup that works out really cheaply and apparently tastes like Heinz soup, if you’d like it.

Emeeno1 Sun 01-Mar-20 20:44:19

Basic shortcrust pastry can be made using just plain flour and a cheap margerine (69p Aldi). Use half fat to flour (eg 8oz flour needs 4oz marg). If you can add 1 tablespoon icing sugar if making a sweet dish or 1 tablespoon cheese (dried Parmesan with a long shelf life is 59p in B&M) if making a savoury dish. You can use this pastry to make things like jam tarts, treacle tart (using breadcrumbs and golden syrup (89p) or a crumble topping for tinned fruit. Or savoury dishes like sausage rolls (cheap frozen sausages £1 for 20 in Aldi) or cheese and onion pie etc. The pastry freezes well.

T0tallyFuckedUpFamily Sun 01-Mar-20 21:00:17

Found it.
2 tins chopped tomatoes. 25p per tin = 50p
2 tins baked beans. 22p per tin = 44p
2 tins carrots. 30p for sliced or 40p for the sweeter baby carrots = 60p/80p
4-6 pickled onions. 30p per jar
1 veg stock cube. If you can buy the better quality stuff, the flavour will be a lot nicer. I won’t compromise of the stock cubes. Knorr is currently £1 for a pack of 8, so it’s 12.5p per cube

Rinse the carrots until the foam runs off. Chop up the stock cube and chuck it all in a blender. If you don’t have one, can you borrow one or chop it up really finely. Transfer to a pot and cook.

There are loads of ways to jazz it up and make it taste expensive, such as the chilli and garlic I mentioned earlier. It works out at less than £2 for the equivalent of 5-6 cans of tasty soup. You can freeze some for later use.

Topbird29 Sun 01-Mar-20 21:06:38

I find you get more for your money and take up less storage space if get spaghetti instead of pasta.

NeedAUsernameGenerator Sun 01-Mar-20 21:24:51

Tinned pulses and chopped tomatoes can be quite cheap. If you can afford a couple of pounds you can get 3 or 4 tins of chopped tomatoes, 3 or 4 of different types of pulses. An extra loaf of bread in the freezer or a bag of flour might be good too. You could build it up over the next few weeks and include things like peanut butter, jam, porridge oats, tinned tuna, tinned vegetables and sugar fairly cheaply.

RhubarbTea Sun 01-Mar-20 21:28:15

Another vote for the Tin Can Cook book, amazon link here but probably cheaper 2nd hand on eBay. I found my copy in a charity shop for 2 quid.

I'm also on a limited budget and I have found it painful watching other people post what they have been doing to prepare and realising how far short my own prep is simply because I cannot afford to do more than I have. It makes me feel panicky and inadequate and sad. I'm glad I still had some Brexit stash and I have been adding to it for over a month as I got worried about coronavirus early. But it's still painfully slow going.

I would approach it one meal at a time. Eg, set aside and buy the ingredients or the actual meal if you are buying ready meals or batch cooking them. Do you have a good freezer? You could get some cheap ingredients and cook up a lot of something like beef chilli then freeze in portions in ziplock bags and all you need is some rice and some frozen or fresh veg to serve with it.

Don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed but just meal plan one meal at a time until you have a weeks worth for your family, then two weeks worth, and so on. If you have a good freezer then getting yellow label knockdowns and then freezing them is a good thing if you happen to see any. Some brands of tinned stuff are good, like in the Co Op they sell Smedleys tinned veg which is pretty decent, especially things like kidney beans (good in that chilli I mentioned!)
Good luck.

T0tallyFuckedUpFamily Sun 01-Mar-20 21:36:06

I cannot afford to do more than I have. It makes me feel panicky and inadequate and sad.

Please don’t compare yourself to others and be upset. There are the arrogant people that think we’re all over reacting and they’re doing absolutely NO prepping, so you’re already ahead.

RhubarbTea Sun 01-Mar-20 22:17:02

I know that, but I also know what I would be doing if I could afford to (buying a freezer that isn't tiny freezes stuff for more than a month, filling it, getting some handgel and masks somehow, buying a shedload more long life food and house-related items) and I am not able to which is very frustrating and worrying.

I am glad I have some stuff in at least, however. And you're right that some people aren't bothering at all which is daft if not arrogant.

T0tallyFuckedUpFamily Sun 01-Mar-20 22:23:05

I’ve removed all my processed food from their cardboard packaging and put them in a food bag, with the torn off name and cooking instructions. It’s amazing how much room you can free up.

OnNaturesCourse Sun 01-Mar-20 23:31:29


We are a penny to penny, week to week, paying off debts family, in the same boat as you.

Another reason we are weekly shoppers is we have no space, and already have food under the stairs and in dining room etc... And that's just our usual food. We only have a undercounter freezer too so a couple meals and it's full.

I'm trying to prep in terms of medication, hygiene and ease (ie. pre cooked meals ready to go)

We have a toddler in the house plus pets so if we do come down with it then we need to be prepared for coping.

T0tallyFuckedUpFamily Sun 01-Mar-20 23:38:31


Do t forget the space under your kitchen worktops. The kick boards should pop off and you’ll easily get two dozen tins under a standard (600ml wide) unit.

OnNaturesCourse Sun 01-Mar-20 23:40:06

Our kickboards are weird, and all latched on but it's a good idea to try at least!

T0tallyFuckedUpFamily Sun 01-Mar-20 23:42:39

In what way are the6 latched? Usually they attach to the legs by a plastic clip and it’s hard to get a grip of the end, but you can slide in a flat head/Phillips head screw driver to any gap at the end and force them off.

OnNaturesCourse Sun 01-Mar-20 23:48:58

They are overlapped like a T shape, with the one joining onto the middle of the other. Two of them are sealed together (old house and it's been filled to prevent draughts) and they are popped onto the legs. Plus there it is sealed around the bottom next to the lino.

Basically I'd need to remove the whole lot to get in, then look to reseal it all as it goes out onto a brick wall.

peachgreen Sun 01-Mar-20 23:49:33

This is all so, so helpful, thank you so much. I am genuinely moved, as silly as that sounds. I've been making a big list based on your recommendations and feel better already just having done that. And DH (a very mañana, what will be will be type!) has finally agreed with me that it's sensible to have enough emergency rations to see us through a few weeks (we have a toddler and no local family so coronavirus aside, a double whammy of illness could see us pretty housebound for a while) and has agreed to clear out some cupboards to house a store of tinned goods etc. Am going to do a smallish emergency shop now to get started and then add a few things from my list every week, and hopefully that will see us right. Thank you again - I'm really so grateful. Thanks especially for the tomato soup recipe @T0tallyFuckedUpFamily - tomato soup is toddler DD's absolutely favourite as in her head we're just handing her a massive bowl of ketchup and letting her eat it with a spoon!

OP’s posts: |
RafaIsTheKingOfClay Mon 02-Mar-20 00:15:57

If you’ve got a little bit of a basis already, you can save a bit by topping up with what’s on offer.

Obviously you’ll need to keep an eye that it doesn’t become unbalanced but take advantage of savings where you can.

FelicityFebruary Mon 02-Mar-20 00:38:53

Cheap protein that will sit on a shelf: dried red lentils, tinned sardines.

My kids will eat both with pasta if disguised with tomato pasta sauce.

Red Lentil soup is really nice imo. Fry onion and any usual soup veg, add some rinsed lentils and stock plus any herbs you might have, if you happen to have a last lonely piece of bacon fry it up at the start with the onion.

Ibloodylovewomen Mon 02-Mar-20 00:46:38

Dried pulses, beans and rice take up less space than tinned, and are very cheap. If you have a local Asian food store then things are often cheaper than supermarkets. Maybe get a few tins of cheap soup if you can, just in case you get ill and don't feel able to cook from scratch. Porridge oats are cheaper than cereal and take up less space. Do you have any space outside where you could store a box of tins to save on your indoor space?

Ibloodylovewomen Mon 02-Mar-20 00:47:52

Also, in terms of hygiene, some cheap bar soaps and a bottle of Milton go a long way.

PomBearWithoutHerOFRS Mon 02-Mar-20 01:00:09

Check out the Approved Foods website regularly. If you put stuff in your basket but don't check out they will send you a discount code or a free shipping code wink
Now that you have got rice etc, try and get stock cubes, spices, seasoning type things. Things like cup a soup can be used to add flavour too.
Think about getting a slow cooker too, you can do big batches of things and freeze the leftovers.
You aren't prepping for the end of the world, just to keep your family going if you are housebound for a while.

bellinisurge Mon 02-Mar-20 06:49:02

Totally second the excellent ideas on here.
The best thing is obviously add a tin here and there over a few weeks. Not an option at the moment.
Do not expect gourmet food but it is feasible to get a bit of a rounded diet.
Tin Can Cook is excellent. I keep promoting it here despite having not much love for the author. (My reasoning on that becoming increasingly pointless because the book is so massively useful).
I strongly recommend the corned beef chilli.

bellinisurge Mon 02-Mar-20 06:57:11

Also Jack Monroe's website which has quite a few free recipes.

EnidBlyton Mon 02-Mar-20 07:13:25

I find cooking from tinned beans and lentils excellent and cheap, and if not veggie, just add a small amount of bacon or whatever.

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