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I need to slash my weekly shopping bill. Tell me your money-saving tips!

(33 Posts)
CoffeeChocolateWine Sun 15-Sep-19 09:42:20

We’re a family of five going through a bit of a financial squeeze at the moment. We spend way too much on food...probably about £150 per week. I know this is too much and want to slash this to about £100 or even less if possible. I reckon we can knock about £25 off easily by cutting back on booze during the week and I’ve been trying to go for supermarket own brand stuff rather than branded foods which helps too. But I’m always baffled by how some people say they spend £50 per week on food...what do you/don’t you buy and what kind of meals do you eat? How much meat and fish do you eat? If you are really thrifty with your food and household shopping, what are you secrets and tips for keeping the cost down and minimising wastage? Where do you shop? Any family friendly super cheap meals you can recommend?

OP’s posts: |
Tbug Sun 15-Sep-19 09:58:14

It's only me and my partner but I normally do it for £30 ish, we have meat or fish everynight and loads of vegetables. This includes buying fruit. Stirfrys are a good option or spag bol etc if you look on BBC GOOD FOOD it gives you cheap easy recipes with minimal ingredients. Lidl or Aldi are cheapest I find. And plan your meals so you don't have wastage. We also dont drink during the week though so that makes it cheaper smile

Twillow Sun 15-Sep-19 10:06:45

Firstly, £50 on food for a week is do-able but involves just that - FOOD. So cutting back on drink 'during the week' hmm
Anyway - here's how I do it:
1) Menu plan - make a list of the meals you all like. Any that involve expensive cuts of meat, grilled sole etc, become occasional treats.
Plan for lunches AND dinners. I don't do breakfasts but you can if you want.
As you menu plan, make your shopping list, adding on the ingredients for each meal if you don't already have it in. Add your basics like milk etc. This focuses you to avoid the 'special offers' and novelty items when you're shopping. (But you can stock up on basics if they are ones you use and on special. For example there is a brand of frozen pizza we like, and have in for emergency days when too tired to cook and saves us being tempted to have a takeaway which would blow half the weeks budget!)

2) Think about batch cooking - i.e. mince is cheaper if bought in larger packs. Cook up a basic mince/onions/tinned tomatoes base and add several grated carrots and/or courgettes to bulk. Chuck in a handful of lentils too.

Then split into thirds and use one third for spag bol (add more tomatoe puree and herbs, splash of red wine as you have plenty grin. One third for cottage pie. One third for chilli (add beans, spices). Three meals done.

Jacket potato day is very popular with us - top with whatever you have /like - beans, cheese, sour cream, leftover chilli etc, and a big salad.
Get out of a pudding habit, if you have one. Keep for weekends.

Pasta with cream cheese, bacon and peas is a favourite too. Boil pasta and add peas towards the end. Cut streaky bacon up with scissors, fry until the fat melts and it starts to get crispy, add a tub of philadelphia or similar and some liquid from the cooking pasta to make a sauce. Combine. Delish.

3) Don't buy things like mueller yoghurts, they seem cheap but it all adds up plus they are full of sweeteners and starch fillers and single use plastic. Get big yoghurt pots and fill up small containers for lunches.

4) Lidl and Aldi are both very good and cheaper than the big 5. But its possible to shop sensibly at the others.

CoffeeChocolateWine Sun 15-Sep-19 10:14:19

Thank you. Does that £30 include lunches or do you tend to buy a sandwich or whatever each day on top of that?

I think a huge problem we have at the moment is that we’re cooking two or more different dinners each day as we have a 1yo who can’t always eat the same stuff as our two older children (she has CMPA), the older children (10 and 7) still like quite bland food and eat at about 5ish and then my husband and I eat at about 8ish when he’s back from work and the kids are in bed and we generally like more flavourful food so we cool something different. I’d love more meals that we all eat and DH and I can just heat up later on. We generally have spag bol once a week as this is just about the only meal that suits us all! We’re coming into casserole season too so that’s another one that works.

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SuiGeneris Sun 15-Sep-19 10:18:16

Also useful to see if you can get your fruit and veg via a delivery service that focuses on good quality but ugly looking produce. We use Oddbox and find their large box, for 20 pounds, covers us for quite a bit of the week. For the rest, frozen veg often cheaper, more nutritious and quicker to prepare than fresh, so we always have frozen spinach and broccoli in the freezer. Chickpeas, black beans and lentils are extremely cheap when bought dried and you just need to soak them overnight before cooking the next day. I make a chickpea soup with leeks, onion, garlic, rosemary, laurel and chopped tomatoes that is popular with all the family and is less than 50p per portion. Serve with fresh sourdough and everyone is happy. Follow with fresh fruit and yoghurt (we buy Fage 1kg and then add whatever each of us likes, rather than buy flavoured yoghurt) and you can feed the family for about £5 (sourdough here is expensive at 1.80 for half a loaf, but we love it).
Also, black bean and avocado salad (recipe on BBC Good Food) is amazing, quick to prepare, filling, and works very well as a packed lunch for the adults the next day.

CoffeeChocolateWine Sun 15-Sep-19 10:19:51

Thank you @Twillow. Great idea re. the mince and making three meals. Will try that.

So when people say they spend £50 per week, that is just food? Because I’m sure some people claim that is their ‘supermarket’ shop which I take to mean food, drink, household stuff which I find amazing.

OP’s posts: |
SuiGeneris Sun 15-Sep-19 10:23:17

Sorry, forgot to mention we are a family of 4 with two growing and ravenous boys.
We also make a lot of quiches with home made dough (takes about 5 minutes to make and then it rests 40 while I prepare the rest of dinner) and whatever vegetables we have (often courgettes, broccoli or spinach, but also leeks and potato). Using 750g/1kg of courgettes, three eggs and half a tub of ricotta (or 130gr Fage yoghurt) and whatever cheese needs using up, we can make enough for 6/8 portions spending around 5 pounds.

redchocolatebutton Sun 15-Sep-19 10:29:40

stop cooking more than one dinner.
you can do 'modular' food - basic dairy free meals, add cheese (for example) for older dc and chilly/herbs/salsa for you and dh.

CoffeeChocolateWine Sun 15-Sep-19 10:33:56

Really appreciate these ideas, thank you!

OP’s posts: |
redchocolatebutton Sun 15-Sep-19 10:42:07

one 'modular' example could be
plain pasta with veg sauce + mince
+ cheese for older dc
+ pesto for you and dc

or plain falafel and pita and salad
+ tsatsiki for older dc
+ chilli sauce for you and dh

0lga Sun 15-Sep-19 10:47:53

I’m pretty skeptical of the posters who say they feed a family of 4 well for £50 a week.

When you look into it there’s always a back story eg

The kids are only babies / toddlers
It doesn’t include anything except food
The kids get breakfast club / school lunches and then eat dinner at grans after school
The adults get a cheap/ free cooked lunch at work
They get cheap or free food from someone with an allotment or who works in a food shop

The people who actually do eat for £1.70 a day can only be doing it by surviving on bulky carbs - porridge for breakfast, bread, potatoes, rice, cheap veg and maybe some eggs or cheese. I know some have to do this and my heart goes out to them, because it’s no way to live.

YoungMummy94 Sun 15-Sep-19 12:52:31

I use online recipes and my favourites to create a "menu". The menu has all of the meals for week. Then I do an online food shop. This means that I can see exactly how much everything is going to cost (before paying!) and remove items if necessary. There are no reduced items but you can still bag bargains!

Aside from this cooking in bulk is always helpful for cost saving. One night I might do an "Indian night" with one Indian meat curry, and then two veggie dishes - lentils, Bombay potatoes. This helps the chicken go further as everyone can have a bit of everything.

We also have 2-3 vegetarian meals a week which saves us a lot of money. Whether it's a simple vegetable pasta bake, or tofu dish you can easily save a few quid here and there.

One other thing worth doing is having a look in the "reduced" section of your local shops if there are any near you. Usually a local supermarket or big supermarket adds the reduced stickers to products at a similar time each day/week. This means you can often grab a bargain on reduced meat, fish, vegetables, bread which can always come in handy if you freeze them on the day of purchase or cook them fresh. smile

userxx Sun 15-Sep-19 12:56:45

If I didn't buy gin it would be much cheaper. Aldi really is excellent when you're looking to make cut backs.

Knittedfairies Sun 15-Sep-19 13:06:43

I do think your main problem is cooking two meals a day; maybe it's time for the older children to wait a bit longer for their dinner so you can all eat together. It does depend on what time your husband gets home though. Your children need to experience less bland food too!

Trewser Sun 15-Sep-19 13:10:01

It is really, really hard when you are cooking different meals. I have cut back to about 80 a week for 5, but 2 of mine have lunch and dinner at school!

Meal planning and online shopping work for me (online shop means i have to stick to my list!)

Nextphonewontbesamsung Sun 15-Sep-19 13:13:00

Going largely vegetarian will help.

Use the odd bit of bacon or chorizo for flavouring if you like, but if you can do 5 meals out of 7 meat and fish free then you will be saving loads of money.

Really cheap meat and fish is terrible anyway, so avoid avoid avoid!

Drogosnextwife Sun 15-Sep-19 13:13:26

If you cut the drink out completely you will save more than 25 quid 🤷‍♀️

DonPablo Sun 15-Sep-19 13:22:28

Switch down brands. Buy basics pasta and the likes, beans on toast or egg on toast for one meal a week will help, jacket potatoes would work well for your different needs... It's just the toppings that you need to do differently.

Shop around if you can. Poundstrecher and home bargains really do have cheap stuff. Like the expensive farmers market heinz soup for 50p a can.

We all have packed lunches and nobody buys drinks out of the house. We have refillable bottles, thermal cups and take drinks from home.

Finally, strict meal planning is the single best way to only buy what you need.

CoffeeChocolateWine Sun 15-Sep-19 13:38:28

This is great, thanks all. I’m going to check out Aldi and Lidl, do some batch and modular cooking and aim to eat vegetarian 3 or 4 days a week.

Drogosnextwife, you are right, we could save more by cutting the booze out completely but we’d like to allow ourselves a little pleasure and we both enjoy wine. But it will be a weekend treat.

Also a good idea to cut out pudding during the week. DH and I don’t tend to have pudding but the kids have come to expect it every day and that adds up. Sometimes it will just be a yoghurt but the individual pots really add up. Need to make that a weekend treat too.

OP’s posts: |
CoffeeChocolateWine Sun 15-Sep-19 13:43:47

By the way, when I say the older kids still like quite bland food, I mean not spicy. They don’t eat only beige food. I love cooking and they have good diets...apart from the odd pizza (which is also being cut out to save money!) everything is made from scratch. But they have things like pies, pasta with various toppings, fish with veg, risottos etc but they wouldn’t have curries.

OP’s posts: |
BigFatLiar Sun 15-Sep-19 13:58:03

Said before mince is good. The basic spag bol can be used for Lasagna or turned into chilli.
Lots of veg, buy loose not pre-packed. If you have a chicken boil and make soup before you eat as a meal.
Porridge for breakfast.

Lots of things you can do to make food go further.

Kelsoooo Sun 15-Sep-19 14:06:29

I do £75 a week max including toiletries/cleaning/toilet roll. Every sixth week might be £85.

3 adults, 2 kids (7&10) they have school dinners at £44 a month each.

This week's meals;

Friday: chicken wraps with sweetcorn/tomato/halloumi/cucumber/lettuce

Saturday: Toast/cereal/eggs breakfast, ham wrap and crisps for lunch and dinner was Sloppy Joe's (mince, tomatoes, peppers, onions) with cheese slices, lettuce, crispy onions.

Sunday; same breakfast lunch was chicken sandwich, dinner chicken kofta, new potatoes, broccoli and peas

Monday dinner is; chicken and bacon pasta in a creamy sauce (peas and broccoli stirred in too)

Tuesday; Pork chops with sweet potatoes, roast mixed veg; carrots parsnips etc

Wednesday; pizza for the kids before club, shark steak with couscous and roasted pepper for the adults

Thursday; sausages and cheesy mash with Yorkshire pudding and vegetables

Friday; jacket potatoes with turkey chili

Snacks; fruit including banana, apple, pear avocado, pepperami, cocktail sausages, yogurts etc

During the days the au pair has salad for lunch with tuna/chicken/etc

Pudding for the children is yoghurt/cake/biscuits

We don't buy alcohol weekly, but have a stock of rum/whisky/gin/wine/pisco/champagne etc.

We only shop online and meal plan.

Toilet roll 9pack lasts two weeks
Cleaning products as and when basis.

I invested in an ego egg at about 12.99 and it's paid for itself already.

Kelsoooo Sun 15-Sep-19 14:06:57

I did have paragraphs in that.

JingsMahBucket Sun 15-Sep-19 14:41:38

Something else to consider is your family’s grazing tastes. A year ago I realized that I don’t eat a lot but I’m very much a “variety” person. I like to try lots of new things or have choice. Don’t ask me how many different cheeses I currently have in my fridge!

However, this can mean food ends up being wasted because I may not finish one package of something because I’ve got 3 or 4 interesting items on the go. If you or your kids are like me, try narrowing down the choices to just 2 of some particular thing at a time. So if they like to snack a lot, only buy two types of snacks such as batches fruit and and bags of nuts. This will then cut out the extras like crisps, chocolate wafers, and other individually sized treats, etc. That alone could shave £5–£10 per week alone.

Then the following week, choose a different variety of snack items, cheese, pasta, whatever. Psychologically this will still feel like having access to the variety without everything being bought at once, all the time. You’ll then start to get into a rhythm of alternating weeks and your family will look forward to it. “Oh mum, can it be fruit shoots this week, pleeeeasssssse?!”

Know what I mean? I mean, how many types of crackers or biscuits does anyone need in the house at any given time? Don’t answer that! grin

joystir59 Sun 15-Sep-19 14:50:32

Plan all meals and only buy what you need for your meal plan. Cook from scratch. Shop at Lidl/Aldi. We are two adults and a chicken-fed dog. We spent £40-50/week including a bottle of wine for the weekend.

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