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To ask for your help with my food budget?

75 replies

BeKindToYourKnees · 13/06/2013 17:49

I need to reduce my weekly food budget to £30. This has to feed me and my 18 year old DD.

DD is vegetarian and I am happy to eat (mostly) veggie food. I am good at planning, not a bad cook and rarely throw food away. Also have a fairly well-stocked larder.

We are not fussy eaters, but prefer that eggs, milk and yoghurt are organic. Can't afford organic cheese Sad I also think it is important to have some form of protein with each meal. We don't really eat much processed food (apart from veggie sausages and quorn).

We have a fantastic local shop which sells a huge range of loose fruit and veg and is only slightly more expensive than the supermarket and I would like to carry on supporting them cadging free over-ripe bananas, tomatoes etc

I should be able to manage on £30 a week (have survived on less in the past) but am struggling, particulary with evening meals.

Would really appreciate any cheap, dinner recipe ideas!

OP posts:

Crikeyblimey · 13/06/2013 17:53

Is this for ALL food? 3 meals a day + keeping your larder stocked? Tea / coffee etc.?


ShatnersBassoon · 13/06/2013 17:56

The obvious place to save money is on the organic produce. Is your reason for wanting them good enough to justify the expense?

Don't bother with Quorn etc. Bulk out meals with pulses instead.


headlesslambrini · 13/06/2013 17:57

what about growing your own veggies / herbs? You don't necessarily need a lot of space.


BeKindToYourKnees · 13/06/2013 17:58

crikey £30 for ALL food, inc tea/coffee etc.

OP posts:

BeKindToYourKnees · 13/06/2013 18:02

headless tried growing my own veg last year, complete failure due to non-existant summer. Plants need sunshine, there was none Sad

OP posts:

LastDaughterofKrypton · 13/06/2013 18:03

Butternut Squash soup. Chop up a squash (leave skin on)into chunks 1-2 inch thick. Stick in a roasting tin with 1 roughly chopped onion and a few cloves of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Cook at 190? until very tender then blend down with half a pint of vegetable stock. Then serve with crumbled goats cheese on top and bread.

For cheaper protein use beans or lentils to make casseroles, chillis or tagines. (Open window)


Cakecrumbsinmybra · 13/06/2013 18:04

I agree that pulses are far cheaper than quorn. I love lentil dhal with rice as a v cheap meal. I am sure you can think of lots of cheap meals - I think the key will be a thorough meal plan and then sticking to it.


Cakecrumbsinmybra · 13/06/2013 18:05

Could you bake your own bread to go with homemade soups? It's not that difficult.


maddy68 · 13/06/2013 18:06

Spaghetti Bol with quorn and cheese
In fact lots of pasta/rice/quorn
Curry/ sweet and sour/ carbonara etc

Do your shopping online.then you can see your final bill and remove things if you go over. Forget organic you can't do it on that budget


ARealDame · 13/06/2013 18:07

Anythings possible. Though you might get tired of it after a while. I think your diet would be pretty limited to porridge, bread, rice, pasta, vegetables and a few pulses.

Part of me feels I should be doing this myself, but I weaken in the supermarket or when I see my recipe books.

Let us know how your experiment goes...


GoodbyeRubyTuesday · 13/06/2013 18:08

Saw a blog the other day living on a fiver a week or something, I can't find it now but Google threw up this £1 per day blog which might be helpful :) I shall watch this thread keenly as starting back at uni but like you I stick to organic dairy and eggs, cheese if possible. I rarely eat Quorn as I prefer pulses.


DoubleMum · 13/06/2013 18:09

Have you looked here:
The lady who runs this website was on MSE for many years and all the recipes were tested and costed by MSE-ers. They are mostly veggie so should suit you well.
£30 should be very doable for 2 people.


InMySpareTime · 13/06/2013 18:11

Eggs are good for protein, also dried beans (after an overnight soak). Tinned value tomatoes or kidney beans are good for sauces. Ditch the organic, it's more important to have a varied diet right now.


farewellfigure · 13/06/2013 18:11

I think that's great. It must be possible. We (me, DH and DS) eat mostly veggie and survive on about £40 a week (not including cat food and alcohol which bumps it up a bit). Lots of veg stews, pasta with onion and tomato sauce, chilli with tinned kidney beans, tinned toms, rice meals, cous cous. We don't buy organic though. Oh and we grow our own veg. Have another go. This summer HAS to be better!


AvonCallingBarksdale · 13/06/2013 18:15

Lose the organic would be the first thing and isn't quorn expensive?


meddie · 13/06/2013 18:15


meddie · 13/06/2013 18:15


PoppettyPing · 13/06/2013 18:16

Agree with Shatners on the pulses. Much better for you and cheaper than meat substitutes!

I often make rice and bean dishes when skint and they are actually really filling and delicious. Especially if you have some spices on hand. I find a good little roster of spices can make the cheapest most basic meal really tasty.

Rice is delicious cooked with some tumeric, and kidney beans are great cooked with chopped tomatoes (sometimes 30p a tin/box), onions, chili powder or fresh chilis, garlic and thyme.

If there's a Lidl near you and you don't mind some meat they do great big whole free-range chickens for cheap and roasting one of them is dead easy and goes a long way. I do sandwiches with the leftovers and make stock sometimes which isn't as hard as people think and really flavours up any other meals you make that week.

Halloumi is another fave of mine as a relatively cheap protein, I just love it. It's great chopped up on pasta with garlic and tomatoes and courgettes, or alongside roast veg.


Moominsarehippos · 13/06/2013 18:18

I guess you should look to get large bags of pasta, rice, lentils, soya, potatoes, onions, carrots... as cheaply as possible. Do you have a costco or happy shopper you can use?

Stock up on tinned toms, puree, cubes... Whatever is on offer!

Can you make your own bread, soup, stock?
Whatever you cook up (pasta sauce, stwe, curry...) Cook up extra and freeze.

Grated cheese goes further than huge chunks in a sarnie (also more healthy!).

Organic free range eggs are dear - can you use 'non' in the meantime?

Try not to buy anything ready made - they are more expensive or awful!

Fresh herbs are expensive, so get dried mixes (herbs de provence/italian herbs/curry) from the health food shop to flavour food.

Buy up cheap stuff in the supermarkets at the end of the day and freeze what you can and/or prepare or cook up for the freezer.
Make jam with squishy fruit and soup with floppy veg.

I suppose the meals will be:

Pasta / with veg or tomato based sauce/ lasagne
Rice with veg (like a biriyani)
Jacket potatoes with beans/cheese/salad
Curry/dahl and rice
Baked veg with an egg cracked into them
Veggie chilli


GoodbyeRubyTuesday · 13/06/2013 18:19

The website meddie posted is the one I was looking for, some good veggie recipes on there :)


ScarletLady02 · 13/06/2013 18:22

I can give you recipes for Veggie Chilli and lentil lasagne if you want. We spend around £35-40 for me, DH and DD. £30 for two of you is doable.

My biggest tip is batch cooking...we have a freezer full of "ready meals" for when we have a skint week.


lemonandice · 13/06/2013 18:26

As a veggie, I second avoiding Quorn. Frozen veg is the way forward though- you can buy big bags of basic/value frozen sweetcorn and peas for about £1 each, and they taste no different to the other brands.

I am making this : for tea, and you can happily leave out the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce etc and it still tastes great. A giant bag of pastry mix is about £1.20 from Morrisons and does 2 of us 3 times, which would be 4 if we stretched it.

Beans and rice is also underestimate IMO. Fry up leftover veg, tip in a can of mixed beans (60p ish), and you've made a meal out of stuff going a bit dodgy in the salad draw. You can add passata/chopped tomatoes if you've got them kicking around, plus whatever herbs you have in your cupboard. Quick too.

Mushroom soup: fry up mushrooms and onions in whatever quantity you like, add in cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic powder/cloves, 1l of veg stock. Simmer, and stir in creme fraiche or something similar. Really good with bread, and can be frozen up to the point of adding the dairy.

Easy calzone pizza: 200g plain flour, little packet of yeast, 120ml-ish of water. Mix up into a dough, leave to prove, separate into 2 balls, roll out, load up half of one rolled out ball with chopped veg (I usually use mushrooms, peppers, onions and some mixed herbs or similar.) Cover in passata/tomato puree and a bit of cheese, fold over and seal. Cut a little slit in the top, and cook at about 180 for about 15 minutes until it looks 'done'. If I have a lot of veg left over it gets fried up and mixed with tomatos until I have sauce.

Reading back through this, I've just seen how much of my cooking comes from using stuff that's just about to go off Blush I have found that once I got a meal plan and cut back to buying basics where I could, I cut about a third off my food bill. Good luck!


BeKindToYourKnees · 13/06/2013 18:29

Thank you for all the links....I shall investigate!

Really don't want to give up organic eggs (£1.70 for 6) organic milk (£1 for 2 pints) or organic yoghurt (currently £1 for a big pot of Rachel's at Morrisons).

Remember reading somewhere that organic dairy produce is actually beneficial, whereas there are no extra nutrients in other organic food products

OP posts:

Moominsarehippos · 13/06/2013 18:29

You'll need to plan to stop getting bored or think 'sod it, I'll buy a pizza'.

Breakfasts are not too hard - you need a huuuge bag of porridge (made with water, the proper way!). There was a survey that said that the store own brand came tops, rather than the fancy very expensive brands (so about £1 for a kilo bag). You can tart it up with chopped fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts... (Even sprinkle some museli on top for texture) or honey if you like sweet (don't try marmite). I often have some cooked up strawbs or raspberries in the fridge (cooked up from the tail end of a punnet that's gone squishy) and pop that on top (or have it with yoghurt). Yum. Home made yoghurt can be cheap too.

Cutting back on tea/coffee isn't a bad thing!

Try new beans/lentils! Experiment with ingredients. Our local sainsbos has sections with foods from asia, carribbean, poland... and some of the dried/tinned legimes are cheap and come in large packets.

Buy fruit, but whatever is in season and on special offer. Be flexible and hopefully you will have time to shop around for good deals.


50shadesofbrown · 13/06/2013 18:29

Don't buy breakfast cereal - it's expensive, mostly really sugary & not satisfying. Eat porridge, fruit/yoghurt/muesli, toast instead.
Make your own bread, especially if you like the nice bakery style bread with seeds, herbs etc in.
Grow your own herbs on a south facing windowsill. Use compost for these as they can live for a while.
Grow your own cress on a south facing windowsill, save the plastic pots from couple of cress tubs from the supermarket & grow it in cotton wool, as this is cleaner a
easier than compost.

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