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Tips for reducing food shopping bill

30 replies

Anonyrodent · 03/02/2022 20:33

The cost of our food shop has slowly crept up and we are spending between £150-175 a week for a family of four, no pets. This includes essential toiletries, cleaning stuff but no alcohol which I’ve not purchased at all this year to try and save money but need to get the bill down more. It includes lunches.

One of the family is vegetarian and we’ll usually eat vegetarian 3-4 times a week. The other days the rest of the family will eat meat or fish, try to go higher welfare. Children eat a lot of fruit.

Both adults work full time (and both of us work at least 50 hours a week so pretty full on jobs). Don’t have any ready meals and cook from scratch every day (husband loves cooking). Husband has massive aversion to frozen and then defrosted food so we never batch cook but not sure that would help.

We meal plan, have little waste. Online weekly order from Sainsburys (often their Aldi price match cheaper stuff). Don’t have time to shop around or go in and look for reduced stuff. Probably eat too many biscuits and treats.

I feel our food spending is really excessive, or is this just the cost of things now? Ideally I want to cut it by £50 a week but I’ve just done our weekly order and it seems higher than ever.

OP posts:
Anonyrodent · 03/02/2022 20:35

I brought a whole chicken this week which will do two meals … I’ve never found a mythical Mumsnet one to feed us all for a week…

OP posts:
WalkingOnSonshine · 03/02/2022 20:40

I’d get cleaning products in bulk or from B&M type places instead of Sainsburys.

Can you batch cook but eat over two nights? I’m not a fan of defrosted meals either, so I tend to cook at least one meal a week in bulk that will do two nights or a couple of lunches.

What sort of fruit do the kids have? Expensive berries or apples/pears/bananas?

We spend 50-60 on 2 adults and a toddler (who eats a lot!) which covers 7x breakfast and dinners for the 3 of us, plus 5x lunches for me & DH (2 days pw each in the office) and 3x lunches for DS.

For cheaper weeks, I do a recce of freezer and cupboards to see what we can meal plan with.

acquiescence · 03/02/2022 20:46

Something like a big batch of Quorn bolognese could then be adapted to a chilli or enchiladas two days later. Serve with basic carbs such as rice or potatoes. Buy those in bulk. What sort of meals are you having now?

Pulses are super cheap, especially if you buy dried. Dahl, chilli, casseroles, curries all with v cheap carbs to accompany.

I find Aldi really is a lot cheaper than Sainsbury’s. We do online from Asda and top ups from Aldi.

AluckyEllie · 03/02/2022 20:49

Are you buying ready made snacks like cereal bars? We used to get those naked bars but it’s £2.50 a box of 4 so we were spending a tenner a week on them, ridiculous! Lots of those sort of snacks add up. Veg like carrots are super cheap compared to aubergines etc.

MrsBomer · 03/02/2022 20:52

Base your meal plans around what's on offer that week

RB68 · 03/02/2022 20:59

Look hard at what you buy outside of main meals. Biscuits, crisps and processed snacks are expensive.

We do an odd box for fruit and veg now, then top up via supermarket. Only get plain yoghurt and fruit, I have tightened up on alot of things but still struggle with online shopping to get below 100 for 3 adults plus dog.

I always check out all offers and also make sure collect my points and apply them if there is that system.

I recently went to a home bargains and was suprised how much cheaper it was and the ability to bulk buy tea bags etc but can't spare much time for physical shopping.

Having said that I am on the hunt to reduce our plastic recycling hence the veg box, also looking at some of the washing stuff like SMOL

Crocodileshoes · 03/02/2022 21:57

Family of 4 here, our weekly shopping is usually around £70 from Lidl with top ups gor bread and milk through the week. I use the Lidl app for offers and buy fruit and veg in season, avoid branded tins (tomatoes/sweetcorn) and make casseroles, stews etc that cover two dinners at a time. Cleaning and household stuff usually comes from Home Bargains. If I go to Tesco or Asda I get distracted and buy loads more than we actually need

Ilovechocolatetoomuch · 03/02/2022 22:14

Family of four with a cat. We spend between 55 and 90 depending on if we need cat food/ cleaning products.
I sit down and do a meal plan as I order online. That has really helped cut the cost.
Also I try not to buy branded stuff as often you can't taste the difference.

Askawayyyy · 03/02/2022 22:21

Before everyone jumps on the aldi/ lidl train…

I do a monthly shop at aldi/ Lidl or Asda to stock up on cupboard stuff then shop weekly for fresh at Tesco or Waitrose as we can walk to those but the others mean a short drive. Spending less on the basics really helps cut our costs

CrumblyCrimble · 03/02/2022 22:35

I'm spending the same as you but I shop on Ocado so I get what I deserve on the price front

frazzledfragglefromfragglerock · 03/02/2022 22:39

Sainsbirys is expensive. Shop somewhere else! I do my main food shop in Aldi. Family of 5 and I plan meals. My food shop averages around £95. (I have to avoid the middle aisle!)

Also with kids lunchboxes I don't my the stuff specifically made for lunchboxes other than maybe some mini sausage rolls and fromage fraise I buy things in bigger packs and split them into pots eg raisins from the cooking aisle, a small loaf cake instead of cake bars, cheese thins in a biscuit pack rather than individual mini cheddars bags etc.

I also use the freezer section more than I used to for things like sausages and chicken (if I'm putting in a curry or similar)

Passthecake30 · 03/02/2022 22:40

Do you meal plan? What type of meals do you have? Family of 4 here, I meal plan and get a delivery from tescos, probably £100 a week.

GrazingSheep · 03/02/2022 22:42

Do you buy toiletries and cleaning stuff every week?

gamerchick · 03/02/2022 22:43

Tbh I'm boggled. Although I don't shop at Sainsbury's.

It mignt be a help to list a usual week of stuff you're buying and how much it costs. People can then help you cut it.

whistleinthewind · 03/02/2022 22:47

I started to look at what I was buying and using things across multiple meals. Eg peppers stuffed with chilli and oven baked... remainder of peppers for fajitas tea that week or lunch with hunmus - essentially shop like you would if you ran a restaurant. I've been really pleased with this as has also cut down food waste!

Batch cooking is a cliche but sometimes works, but I usually find I'm doubling ingredients to make enough to freeze, so not saving money - am just spending it in advance.

If using meat those are the dishes to bulk out with veggies / extras. I also look at the receipt and highlight what I didn't go to buy. Always amazes me how much extra I get 😂

Kite22 · 03/02/2022 22:58

Difficult for us to know how to advise, without knowing what you are spending that on.
6 adults here at the moment and we only spend £80ish a week - not through looking to stick to a budget particularly, but because that is just what it comes to. We do shop in Aldi. Occasionally one of the people cooking will nip out and pick something up they decided they need for a particular recipe, but it doesn't get to more than about £15 in addition.

StarryGazeyEyes · 03/02/2022 23:22

We don't have an Aldi anywhere near us sadly, but still just about keeping it under £100 a week for family and pets. Most the week we have economical but healthy dinners - I use Miguel Barclay's £1 Meal books a lot, but tweak them to make them a bit more substantial - still very cheap. I try to use the same ingredient in different ways so, one bag of kale will do a stir-fry, omelettes and a casserole (making it sound like the infamous chicken!). I also don't like batch cooked frozen dinners - the veg always tastes weird to me - but will do one 'nice' two-dayer each week, with more expensive ingredients so it doesn't feel too austere. Cleaning stuff, toiletries and pet food we buy in bulk online, which saves a fortune - we're pretty minimalist on that stuff as well - one surface cleaner for everything etc.

tsmainsqueeze · 04/02/2022 09:45

You say you are short of time but it's not much effort to go monthly to a home bargains type shop for cleaning/toiletry products.
When you know the price of these things in discount shops its a bit of an eye opener when comparing them with sainsburys etc prices , you would certainly notice a difference on this alone.
Also herbs ,spices ,cooking sauces ,i get meal ideas when looking in this section and i don't spend a fortune either as their prices are much more reasonable.

Inextremis · 04/02/2022 09:59

I shop click 'n collect from Tesco - that way I don't have to pay for delivery, and neither do I get tempted by seeing stuff on the shelves. I base our (3 adults, 3 dogs) main meals around the Tesco '3 for €10' main ingredients - meat and fish, so get two lots of that - so €20, plus one other random main - often homemade pizza as our weekly treat, or a joint of meat or a chicken for Sunday lunch. I meal plan so I know what other ingredients I need for our meals - most of which are bulked out with rice, pasta, or potatoes. Lunches/brunches are nearly always lentils/dal in some form - just because it's easy, cheap and tasty. None of us eat breakfast.

I'm at home, retired, so I tend to bake any treats we have - muffins, biscuits, cakes etc. Flour, eggs and sugar are cheap! I also make all our bread, but that's not any cheaper - often more expensive - than shop bought bread - but it's nicer, and I think we waste less because I only make it when we need it.

I spend €100 on the 3 of us, including all cleaning/washing materials and dog food etc. This doesn't include alcohol - DH or the other adult male in our household will pick up cans of beer or maybe the occasional bottle of wine or spirits if we fancy a drink or I want something as an ingredient.

I think we eat very well - lots of veg as well as the main protein, lots of variety (I keep a notebook to record what we have each day - for inspiration, mostly).

This year's projects include developing a vegetable garden - well, growing veg, anyway - 'garden' might be pushing the concept a bit! That'll help to keep costs down - and if I can just persuade DH to get back into fishing, we might have some free protein, too!

theneverendinglaundry · 04/02/2022 10:05

Family of 5 here. I think I probably spend about £100 a week, I tend to get a delivery for around £50-60 and then top up around £40 during the week. That's just food, not including any toiletries, cleaning products or booze in that!

I do agree Aldi is fab. If I had a car it would definitely be my place for the weekly shop.

Agree with others about meal planning. Plan everything, as much as you can.

I often cook for 2 days - shepherd's pie - I make two of them, put one in the fridge and have it the next night.

Make sure you have a good stash of herbs and spices, the corner shop type shops are often much cheaper for those than supermarkets (the bags of spices rather than the little glass jars).

CharacterForming · 04/02/2022 10:13

Aldi/Lidl once a month for toiletries and cleaning products would be worthwhile if you have one because they're big ticket items which don't go off. You can easily halve the price of laundry/dishwasher tablets/miscellaneous cleaning products. I also stock up on jam and chocolate for baking there.

If you're doing adventurous vegetarian cooking then go to the largest supermarket you can and buy pulses and spices from the World Food aisles where they're often far cheaper than the "standard" supermarket aisles. (Assuming you don't have a large reasonably priced South Asian shop in your area).

BritishDesiGirl · 04/02/2022 10:15

Do you have s farmfood near you, they have very good deals

BettySundaes · 04/02/2022 10:48

The only clues you have given to where the money is going are "higher welfare" meat and lots of biscuits and snacks. Is it those alone? Are you buying all the "finest" ingredients for your cook from scratch meals. Wouldn't have thought online ordering or using Sainsburys are the sole reasons for your large bills. But what type of item you pick can make a big difference added up over the whole bill. Eg online with Sainsburys today I can buy a 400g tinned chopped tomatoes for as little as 28p or as much as £1.05.

Wilma55 · 04/02/2022 10:55

Ni use for online but I've recently started weighing my own brocolli and bananas which is a lot cheaper than pre packed.

TickleMyPickle · 04/02/2022 11:10

We use Gousto for 4 meals for 4 of us per week, that’s £50.
I used to think it was expensive and only do it when I had a money off code, but I’ve come to realise that it really does save us money.
We both work and to know that for 4 nights of the week, I don’t have to think or plan and all of the ingredients are there waiting for whoever gets in first ( and my kids are teenagers and they will, when asked, make it).
So no panic buying at the shops on the way home, and inevitably picking up extra crap we don’t need, or getting take aways.
The portion sizes are good, and it’s quality ingredients.
If one of us isn’t eating at home that night, someone then gets that portion for lunch the next day.
It’s seriously reduced our weekly food spending, and for the last few weeks I’ve only ordered the under 600 calorie meals ( DH and kids haven’t noticed ) and we’ve all lost weight!
If anyone wants to try it this code gives you 65% off your first box, and me £20 off my next one.

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