Ok, so maybe ‘feast’ is a bit strong but we do like nice food! We’re trying to cut our budget at the moment and food shopping is one area where we feel we can really cut back. We’ve always been reasonably good at pre-planning meals so that we buy what we need but recently we’ve got out of the habit and as a result we’ve been making more and more trips to our local shop to ‘top-up’, which has meant we’ve spent way more than we’d meant to. We also never plan lunch into our shopping, aside from the odd pack of ham or pot of soup (mainly because it’s my least favourite meal and I never have enough ideas!), which means even more trips to the local shop. We don’t buy any hugely luxurious items (aside from the caviar, obviously, daaahling) but smaller shops are never economical and we’ve also found ourselves wasting more food. So we’ve allowed ourselves £40 a week (just £5.71 a day) to provide breakfast lunch and tea. This is to feed two adults and one toddler. Over time, maybe we can even shave this down more, but this seemed like a good starting point!
The first thing I did was to list a weeks worth of our usual meals and note down all the ingredients – even down to a stock cube or spoonful of flour! I worked out the cost of each ingredient (estimating where necessary) so I had an idea of the cost of each main meal. It took a bit of time but was actually really revealing! For example, one of our faves, fajitas, generally costs us about £8.32 to make…I had no idea! Obviously that totally blows the budget! We usually buy guacamole, salsa and sour cream, as well as branded wraps and fajita spice mix (I never use flavouring mixes so I don’t know why we always have for fajitas!). But by using avocado, tomato and natural yoghurt, as well as switching to own-brand wraps and flavouring the food ourselves, we saved ourselves around 45% of the cost, and it now comes in at about £4.57. Obviously within the daily budget that is still fairly high, but across the week it balances out and most of the meals come in at around £2 or £3. We actually made this last night and it tasted great! We didn’t notice a big difference and enjoyed the freshness of the tomato and avocado.
This week I actually spent about £45, so slightly over budget, but around £5 worth of food will be left to use next week, and I hope one or two of the meals will make enough to freeze a portion or two, so it works out ok. I also bought a couple of extra packs of meat to freeze in order to make the most of money saving deals. These are things I know we will use so it was worth buying them now to save the money.
So, here’s what we are making this week:
Breakfast: we already have cornflakes, shredded wheat and weetabix in stock (all own brand), plus porridge oats. We also have bread for toast. So I didn’t need to buy anything for breakfast this week.
Lunch: homemade tomato soup with toast; boiled eggs and soldiers; ham and cheese wraps; homemade potato and onion soup; roast chicken salad; and houmous, tomato and avocado sandwiches. Yes I know that that’s only six, but I’ve already told you it’s my least favourite meal! PLEEEEEASE leave me your lunch ideas in the comments!
Supper: lasagne; fajitas; spaghetti bolognese; sausage and pea risotto; homemade salmon fish cakes; roast chicken; and tagliatelle with bacon and mushrooms.
So my shopping list for this week – items in bold we already had in the cupboard, and didn’t have to buy.
1kg beef mince (split between the lasagne and bolognese)
650g chicken thighs (half for fajitas, half to freeze)
A pack of 12 sausages (4 for the risotto, 8 to freeze)
A large chicken (using the leftovers in the chicken salad)
A pack of bacon (1/3 being used in the tagliatelle)
We’ve got lucky this week, as in addition to our order, ASDA also gave us a considerable amount of someone else’s shopping! My husband collected the order, so didn’t know it wasn’t ours, and whoever ordered it eats very similar food to us! We did ring them, but they didn’t want it back – health and safety I suppose. Worked out nicely for us! So I’m hoping we can use a lot of that food next week and come in well under budget.
I’d love to hear your favourite budget recipes, so please leave a comment! I’ll be writing again next week with another weeks worth of Frugal Feasts 🙂
This week I am linking up with Hannah at Hi Baby Blog, for her #LittleEats linky.