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Overspending on food shopping

56 replies

RosieLeaLovesTea · 07/08/2021 19:21

Hi all

I knew it! I’ve bitten the bullet and gone through my card statements to works out and total our outgoings and spending per month. We are really over spending on food. Some months it’s been £600-£700 in the month. Plus eating out is approx £200. This includes either eating out or takeaways. We tend to have a takeaway on a Saturday night.

I knew it was bad because I buy bits daily. And my DH does too and from rotting the receipts up I knew it was increasing.

We are a family of 4 with 2 DCs. One in primary school and one due to start in sept.

Share your best tips for controlling the food bill and also tasty budget meals. I need to get the spending under control.

OP posts:
HumdrumGuga · 07/08/2021 19:24

Get a Starling bank account. Decide what a reasonable amount to spend on food is, put it aside in there each week. Once it's gone, it's gone. Bulk buy loo roll/cleaning stuff etc.

Eileen101 · 07/08/2021 19:26

Plan a menu and stick to it.
Make a shopping list from that menu.

Favourite budget meals in our house:
Bean chilli
Pasta anything for toddler

Check out Jack Monroe for budget recipes.

Can you make the takeaway a monthly treat? Ours is a payday treat.

Cook from scratch as much as possible.

Also don't go shopping hungry - my DH is terrible for this Hmm

EileenGC · 07/08/2021 19:30

I have a separate (mobile only) bank account for food and non-essential purchases. X amount goes in on the 1st of the month and once it’s gone, it’s gone. I can open the app in 2 seconds so it’s checked very regularly. I keep track of how many big shops/top up shops I still need to do, and then cut down on takeaways or something else, if the money won’t be enough.

Obviously you have to be flexible the first few months if you can afford it, and figure out what’s the reasonable maximum you want to/can spend on food each month. Then be completely strict about it - unless there’s an emergency of course.

After a week of peanut butter sandwiches and bananas, I learnt not to spend it all in the first 3 weeks of the month. It helped that I was still a student when I started this, but I’m so happy about it now because I don’t overspend.

ssd · 07/08/2021 19:30

Try just doing the shop online only.
Less chance of temptation.

HummingBeeBox · 07/08/2021 19:39

Can I ask if you get through it all or whether there is a lot of waste? Food planning is a great idea. Maybe a meal recipe box to start?

WingingItSince1973 · 07/08/2021 19:39

Just back from food shop with DH. He doesn't usually come shopping as I do it in the week but it was an eye opener for him. We spent £200 between Tesco and Aldi. Did incl pet food (2 dogs, 4 cats, 2 fish) My dd and her 6 year old ds have moved back in with us for a few months so there were things added on that I wouldn't usually buy. Washing powder etc. I would love to do my whole shop at somewhere like Aldi but I find it such hard work at our store. Tesco scan as you shop then just pay at self service till really helps me with my arthritis, fibro etc. I do feel bad spending that much and wish we could live cheaper so looking forward to reading the replies x

WingingItSince1973 · 07/08/2021 19:41

Oh and we also have a Gousto box delivered once a week for £47 which I'm going to cancel. We have myself, dh, dd 15, dd 23 and dgs 6 plus pets x

Classica · 07/08/2021 19:43

Food planning. May seem a chore but it's the best way to stop buying random those random groceries that can cause your food bill to soar and it reduces waste. And have a takeaway once a fortnight rather than weekly.

DGFB · 07/08/2021 19:45

I food plan and still spend £200 a week for two adults and 3 DC. We could eat cheaper probably but I buy a load of fruit and veg and free range. Not much meat though

dreamingofsun · 07/08/2021 19:45

i always check through my weekly food shopping receipt - partly to check its accurate but also to see what the biggest spends are and whether they are worth it or not

WhatsTheTimeMrCat · 07/08/2021 19:46

We are 2 adults, 2 DCs (1 toddler, 1 early primary school age). We spend £400-500 per month, which includes all food eaten at home, nappies, and cat food, but not takeaways (maybe monthly) and not eating out (if we want to buy the odd work lunch, we buy that from personal accounts and we don’t often eat out as a couple or a family at the moment).

What works for us is meal planning, batch cooking, online delivery/a weekly shop (with the odd top up for bananas/milk type stuff), balancing cheaper home cooked meals like chilli/bolognese with more expensive convenience meals, and really keeping an eye on things like soft drinks, ice cream bars and so on. As soon as we pop into shops on a daily basis, our bill goes up a lot.

Meal planning is a big one as you plan round what you have and what you need, eg if you only need half a cauliflower, you think of something else that needs half a cauliflower for a second meal (or make double). Sorry, that’s a really random example but you get the idea!

Batch cooking is good if you’re busy as then you can just pull something out to defrost on busy days and all you have to do is cook rice/pasta when you get home. Half my problem is the thinking part of meal planning rather than the doing.

I also keep a note on my phone of what we’ve spent so far that month, which helps to keep things on track.

Cheaper meals that work well here include:

  • vegetable curries
  • sausages, mash and beans/veg
  • pasta anything
  • lasagne
  • cottage pie
  • chilli
  • anything with mince
  • bacon, cauliflower cheese, fried/roast potatoes and green veg
Minkymandy · 07/08/2021 19:46

I changed to online with Sainsbury from my regular weekly Aldi shop with a few bits from Asda/Tesco. I am saving easily £25-£30 per week and we have a much more organised meal schedule. Always have everything I need for the full week. I've just started pushing it to 8 days instead of 7 to save save shop every 6/7 weeks, again saving another £100. We have honestly never eaten so well and I had been shopping at Aldi for 10 years thinking I was being frugal but my weekly bill started topping £110 and one week I was forced to buy online due to isolating and now I won't go back. I'm saving time and I'm not tempted by things around the shop.

Llamasally · 07/08/2021 19:48


StarryStarrySocks · 07/08/2021 19:51

Miguel Barclay's £1 meals books are great, his recipes are really tasty unlike Jack Monroe's.

LittleRedYoshi · 07/08/2021 19:53

Make a list of all the meals your family eats regularly and then calculate the total cost of each one. I found some of our meals were only a couple of quid, while others were £15! We still have the more expensive ones every so often, but we think twice about it and choose the cheaper ones more frequently now.

Like others have said, we shop online and meal plan, but we try to do it based on what's on offer that week. And anything non-perishable, I try to only ever buy when it's on offer (i.e. get enough to keep us going until a deal comes round again).

lljkk · 07/08/2021 19:55

How much food waste do you have, OP? How much of the restaurant food you buy goes to waste?

KingdomScrolls · 07/08/2021 19:55

Can you afford it? We spend around £600 a month for two adults, one DC and a cat. We buy higher welfare where possible, like to eat fresh fish etc. I've lived on much tighter budgets and can do it if necessary but we save a good amount, bills are paid, we have no debt but mortgage so we don't scrimp on groceries. I'd cut down takeaways before grocery budget

KingdomScrolls · 07/08/2021 19:56

And we don't waste food, if I've got some veg in the fridge starting to go a bit limp I'll make a roasted veg pasta sauce and freeze portions and so on

skodadoda · 07/08/2021 20:10

We are just two but I tried this for £30:-

It was good value and came with recipe cards which you can adapt to suit you.

Christmasfairy2020 · 07/08/2021 20:10


CatFaceCats · 07/08/2021 20:12

Definitely meal plan. I know it’s sounds a chore, but I just write down 7 meals. Then I’ll double check if I need anything extra for the recipes, then do an online shop and add the ingredients I need, meal by meal.
If I have spaghetti bolognese, I’ll double the quantities and freeze the extra for the next week.

MauveMagnolia · 07/08/2021 20:15


Oh and we also have a Gousto box delivered once a week for £47 which I'm going to cancel. We have myself, dh, dd 15, dd 23 and dgs 6 plus pets x

They will offer you 25% off for 4 weeks when you do
RosieLeaLovesTea · 07/08/2021 21:39

Thanks for all the replies. So helpful for all the tips.

we don’t waste much food at all. I generally buy what I need on the day for the meals that I am going to cook. I don’t throw much away.

The children have free access to fruit during the day so I am often buying extra apples, satsumas and pears through the week. Also extra bread through the week.

I generally cook roast chicken on sundays with potatoes, veg and Yorkshire puddings. Often we will have leftovers/mini roast on Mondays. Or I will use leftovers and make chicken risotto. But both my kids Moab about risottos so sontimes it’s just for me and DH. I have been buying a more expensive chicken from M&S regularly especially last year through lockdown.

Also other regular meals: beef tacos (with mince) on Tuesdays - extra chilli mince goes with rice on another day, chicken sausages on weds. The chicken sausages can be quite expensive per pack. But I have just found that Iceland do them near my work 50p cheaper per pack.

Also we have got into drinking at home (prompted by lockdown). So we have a bottle of Prosecco on Saturdays night and ready to drink cocktails. We also buy snacks. My DH likes ready made soups. That is probably counting for the extra cost.

We don’t waste takeaways or delivery food. If we don’t eat all the curry - we eat it the next day.

We are not spending hardly any money on going out ourselves. The Alcohol cost is included in the food shop costs. Also my lunch at work when I buy it is included.

OP posts:
RosieLeaLovesTea · 07/08/2021 21:41

It just seems such a lot of money when you see it added up. When I used to do the food shop for me and DH before kids it was about £60.00 per week.

OP posts:
PullTheWeeds · 07/08/2021 21:46

We are the same sized/aged family as you. I put £500 into a separate account to cover food and petrol for the month. Its a great idea but it always runs empty by about the 20th and I need to top it up arghh. Just can't get a handle on the food shop either, I spend about £100 on a weekly shop then do top ups through the week. It's annoying because we all eat very different things, we're quite often making 4 different meals on one night. I've got no tips, but I feel you.

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