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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:
HungryHippo11 · 07/08/2021 21:52

Cutting back on the alcohol will make a big difference. That one bottle of prosecco a week will be adding £25-30 over the course if a month. Premixed cocktails aren't cheap either.
BUT if you can afford it and you want those things, that's OK. Just from a cost saving point of view its a good idea to cut back.

Classica · 07/08/2021 21:57

Booze and snacks are always the thing to boost the food bill.

WingingItSince1973 · 07/08/2021 22:40

Yes they did but I still paused it fir a few weeks.

MrsHuntGeneNotJeremyObviously · 07/08/2021 23:08

Food prices have gone up, so I wouldn't compare to what you used to spend pre kids.

LaLaFlottes · 07/08/2021 23:12

We get a Gousto box which has 4 meals which are all obviously cooked from scratch - it’s £47. Then for our other 3 meals we have cheaper options - baked potatoes and salad, omelette, homemade pizza, pasta etc. Then I just buy breakfast, lunch and some snacks. The recipe boxes can seem expensive but we choose something nice that takes a bit longer for weekends rather than takeaway and it does mean that 4 meals are sorted for a set price.

confusedofengland · 08/08/2021 00:39

Try yellow label shopping - i.e. shop when supermarkets do their final reductions. I save £££ this way. Got all this last night (around 7pm) from Tesco for less than £10. It's obviously not a week's full shop, but it's a lot of it sorted & only top up bits to get really.

Overspending on food shopping
Overspending on food shopping
confusedofengland · 08/08/2021 00:40

Ignore the cake photo, I'm not sure how that got there Blush

Skiptheheartsandflowers · 08/08/2021 00:47

Get a delivery pass and book once a week online shopping to be delivered. Don't do the top up shops. You'll keep adding in things especially snacks. See if you can get bread delivered with milk. That's how I get enough for the week. You should be able to buy fruit that'll last if you get enough.

airforsharon · 08/08/2021 01:12

Family of (me, 3 dc) here, i spend about half the amount you do. We also have dogs but their food is bought separately so i don't include that in the main shopping budget.

Things i do differently to you - we're all vegetarian, so main meals are based around pulses/quorn/veg and those are generally cheaper than meat. I rarely drink - a bottle of spirits will last me 3 or 4 months. I'm on a very tight budget & we eat well but the money just isn't there for takeaways or eating out, bar the occasional coffee & cake, so those are no-no's. I often cook double of things like chilli & curry and freeze half, so there's always something i can prepare quickly when i'm short of time or really can't be arsed to cook.

I do one 'main' shop per week, either in person or online, and vary where i go - i swing between Morrison's, Tesco and Aldi, depending on what i want to get. If i need a top up i try and go to my local market, partly because if i go into the supermarket the temptation is there to buy more than i really need.

Some of the best budget recipes i've found have been in things like the Tesco and Asda food magazines. There's also a good selection from the programme Eat Well For Less available on the BBC website.

Twoforthree · 08/08/2021 01:18

I’ve found I’m spending a lot more since covid, even doing on line shops. It’s gone from £550 a month to £650 at least. Occasionally it’s been a 5 week month and that makes me wince.

violetbunny · 08/08/2021 02:16

I see you're buying ready made soups. Soups are cheap, quick and healthy to make at home. I batch cook and freeze.

I use a multicooker so it only takes 10 mins to fry some onions, chop some veg and throw in some stock and lentils/meat. Then it cooks on its own, you can leave it and go do something else for 30 mins while it cooks as it will switch itself off when done. Everything cooks in the one pot (it sautés and pressure cooks) so there's hardly any washing up. I often make a double batch, which is easily 8-9 portions. Great way to use up leftover veg too.

BarbaraofSeville · 08/08/2021 04:27

Yes, ready made soup is really expensive compared with the cost to make your own. Most of them are made from really low cost ingredients like pulses and cheaper vegetables like carrots, potatoes, leeks, onions, broccoli etc.

Plus even the posh fresh ones are disappointing compared with home made.

I often look at them in the supermarket and think they look nice but then remember I have a load of soup in the freezer that I made to use up bendy carrots etc.

If your DH is on board with the money saving he could batch cook soup, he could probably make enough to last a week for the cost of one carton of premade.

If you're not wasting food and most of what you eat doesn't look particularly expensive, it's probably the extras that's adding to the cost.

Premade cocktails are expensive, but a weekly bottle of prosecco wouldn't add hugely to the cost unless you're buying expensive brands. If you stocked up when supermarkets do the 25% off when you buy 6 bottles type offers, the cost should be about £25 a month, if that.

The fruit you're buying isn't particularly expensive, a banana costs around 10 to 15 p for example, so are they eating ridiculous amounts? A banana or an apple is 2 portions of fruit, so one of these a day is plenty. They could also snack on carrots as a cheap alternative.

ragged · 08/08/2021 07:31

I can't make super cheap soup - supermarket soup is much cheaper. Especially canned.

Yes I've costed it up in past --supermarket is cheaper by far. But too salty. Hence I end up making it at home.

Cakes are also cheaper at supermarket.

It's only multi-ingredient savoury platefuls that are cheaper made at home. Booze is expensive, though.

OP: "I don’t throw much away."
I'd like to see how much is not "much". We virtually never throw out any food.

Potatoy · 08/08/2021 07:34

Stop the takeaways.
If you're eating your fruit and veg quickly then maybe look at going to lidl or aldi if there's one near. Can do a top up shop from your usual supermarket if there's stuff you can only get there. Make extra portions when you cook and freeze it.
If using mince mix it with red lentils/beans to bulk it out cheaply.
Baked potatoes twice a week will save loads.

Potatoy · 08/08/2021 07:36

Cut down on the booze and use tinned soup instead of the fancy chilled stuff

Edmontine · 08/08/2021 07:53

I generally buy what I need on the day for the meals that I am going to cook.

This seems extraordinary to me. But also takes me back to French lessons at school, when we were carefully told that French ‘housewives’ went to the market every day for fresh vegetables.

It’s bollocks. Don’t you have what used to be called a larder? If I were feeding a family now I would have huge sacks of pulses, beans, chickpeas, quinoa, oats, flour ... Plus weekly veg box delivery (or weekly farmers market, whichever is genuinely more cost effective or pleasurable). The rest would be from my favoured grocery delivery shop.

It’s really not cost effective to be shopping every day. It doesn’t sound as if your shopping accommodates huge casseroles that cover two days? The odd leftover dish is a bit half hearted. Also a week’s bread and milk can be frozen.

And if you could cut down on meat - that would be good.

Plus buy your drink online, in bulk. Much wider variety and you can compare prices.

dontblamemee · 08/08/2021 09:38

I made a bolognese last night with 2 tins of lentils instead of beef mince. So £1.10 for lentils instead of £3 for mince. My kids are super fussy but they all ate it and said how nice it was. I made it exactly the same as a normal bolognese but swapped the meat for lentils. I'm now looking for other swaps to make our food healthier and cheaper!

DonLewis · 08/08/2021 09:42

I'd do a cheaper night every week. Beans or eggs on toast. Have the takeaway every other week. That could save you £25 every 2 weeks, so £50 a month, without a major overhaul.

Nsky · 08/08/2021 10:02

Seems excessive and all that booze, cat and I, £40 a week, semi veg, I could do £45 if needed.
Hardly any yellow stickers, and normally includes 10 to 20 recyclable coffee pods ( cheaper than nespresso).
Normally Aldi, seems to be ok, lots of veg / fruit, mainly frozen

Edmontine · 08/08/2021 10:31

all that booze One bottle of Prosecco a week - between two?Grin And a few ready mixed (90% sugar) cocktails?

Seems pretty abstemious to me.

I don’t include alcohol in my food budget. Decent wine counts as a hobby in my house.

Ilikecheeseontoast · 08/08/2021 11:24

PP I just had to google abstemious Confused

Some good advice on here. I’m going to try to meal plan a bit more and but less snacks which my greedy husband eats before anyone else can anyway

Ilikecheeseontoast · 08/08/2021 11:24


Byeckythump · 08/08/2021 14:03

We were spending £800+ a month during first lockdown. Very easy to do with Ocado.

Realised how ridiculous it was and now aim for £400 a month at Tesco (for the clubcard points) and about £100 on Amazon subscribe and save for cat stuff, nappies, loo paper etc.

I batch cook a lot of mince based meals (bulked our with red lentils/grated carrot) and things like Jamie’s veg pasta sauce. We eat veggie a couple of nights, pasta or risotto. I’ve just started doing ‘something on toast’ night on a Thursday so eggs or baked beans. In place of take away we do freezer food Friday so frozen fish and chips or pizza. Then when we have more time on the weekend we do fancier, more expensive recipes.

RosieLeaLovesTea · 08/08/2021 14:32

@Edmontine. I just learnt a new word abstemious! Yes one bottle of fizz between 2. Although I drink 2/3 and DH drinks I’ve glass. He has got into buying specialist whiskey. Becoming a hobby. But he uses money from his personal account for that so I don’t inc that in the household food bill. Yes sugary cocktails. I need that sugar. One tired mummy here!

OP posts:
RosieLeaLovesTea · 08/08/2021 14:36

Thanks to all you posters here. You have given me some good ideas. Particularly trying to do more veggie meals and replacing. Mince with lentils. I have not tried that yet. I could also do a cheap/snack night.

From sept both kids will be at school so will both be having a cooked dinner at lunch time. I shouldn’t really have to do large main meals in the evening. I have to start paying for my DD’s meals at school in Sept as she will be yr 3. That will be £40.00 per month

OP posts:
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