Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

    • RedCola
    • By RedCola 8th Mar 17, 1:32 PM
    • 113Posts
    • 560Thanks
    Food budget plan
    • #1
    • 8th Mar 17, 1:32 PM
    Food budget plan 8th Mar 17 at 1:32 PM
    We're in a bit of a mess. Been paying off debt for quite a while.

    This month we've had a rather large amount taken out of my husbands wages (Council Tax) We still need to pay off our regular debt payments on top off this, and of course our usual bills.

    I am so sad we are still struggling with this, however we are determined to get it over and done with.
    I'd really appreciate any advice on how to manage our food this month. We get paid on Friday, so would really like a plan in place then, so can get straight to it.

    Any advice on what to buy, how to keep healthy, best way to stretch what we have etc would all be really helpful.
    Last edited by RedCola; 08-03-2017 at 1:44 PM.
Page 4
    • suki1964
    • By suki1964 11th Mar 17, 1:19 PM
    • 10,040 Posts
    • 24,743 Thanks
    I wish I knew how to do the home made burgers / pastys / noodles etc.
    I just cant.
    When I made my meal plan, I looked at all the ideas posted on here, and thought how well they would work. except I don't have a clue without following recipes, so I dug out a student cookbook and looked at recipes there, and wrote the ingredients down.

    I could make this so much cheaper, I just don't know how.
    Originally posted by RedCola
    Aww bless, we cross posted

    Cooking doesn't come naturally , we all learn somewhere. And if we haven't been shown it can be daunting

    What one recipe would you like to try?

    I, and I know others will talk you through it step by step. Plus there's a lot of videos on you tube that show you how
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 11th Mar 17, 2:07 PM
    • 2,284 Posts
    • 33,044 Thanks
    Suki - your post pretty much is what I was going to say

    My hubby is another manual worker, HM soup, sandwiches, or leftovers from the night before s dinner, if he has access to a microwave that day.

    I know things like baby Bells are easy to grab, and kids love them, but they are expensive, as are micro burgers, as Suki said, downgrade from premium brands, and don't stress at the moment about your lack of cooking and baking skills, they are something that you can work on, but right now, it's about feeding your family on the cheap, without cutting down too much on nutrition. By basic cake bars or biscuits, Aldi 'digger' Chocolate biscuits are just over a pound for 18 bars, sliced basic white bread, basics ham or cheese with sliced cucumber for sandwiches, as Suki said cheap bags of crisps and a couple of cubes of 'block' cheese.

    This is to get your family over a financial 'hump', you can learn better cooking from scratch meals when you are less stressed x. We all had to learn to cook and for me it was for the same reason as you - we were skint and prepackaged and branded food was just too expensive - you'll get there
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!

    Sept GC £250/£0.00
    • kerrypn
    • By kerrypn 11th Mar 17, 3:02 PM
    • 1,181 Posts
    • 1,993 Thanks
    I wish I knew how to do the home made burgers / pastys / noodles etc.
    I just cant.
    When I made my meal plan, I looked at all the ideas posted on here, and thought how well they would work. except I don't have a clue without following recipes, so I dug out a student cookbook and looked at recipes there, and wrote the ingredients down.

    I could make this so much cheaper, I just don't know how.
    Originally posted by RedCola
    Your meal plan looks fine; but if you wanted to give a couple of my suggestions a whirl (you said you weren't sure about recipes )

    Potato and Leek Soup

    8 or 9 Large Potatoes (or equivalent smaller ones) cut as if boiling for mash
    3 Leeks chopped
    4 chicken oxo
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Bung the above in a large pan, fill water to cover all spuds and Leeks, bring to boil and leave to simmer until spuds are soft. I liquidise mine find it tastes better. You can add a little bit of milk or cream at the end if you like but not essential this freezes beautifully and I always have enough left to freeze for another meal or lunches

    Roast Pepper/Mushroom quick quiches

    Shortcrust pastry
    4-6 large eggs depending on size of quiche
    Grated cheese grate enough to make your egg mix fairly thick, although depending on cheese used you might need less if strong variety
    Salt and pepper to taste
    A dash of milk

    Extra ingredients: peppers/mushroom/onion/broccolli/ham.... add at the end of following method and have any flavour you like

    Line pie dish with pastry (either store bought or hm)
    Blind bake if possible for 10 mins

    Combine eggs,milk,cheese,salt,pepper and any other ingredients you fancy. Pour into part baked pastry case.

    Bake for 25-30 minster at 180c or until eggs set and top golden brown

    If you're using mushrooms though cook them first as they tend to sweat. Peppers can be roasted off in a hot pan in a couple of minutes.

    Also highly recommend you looking up how to make a couple of basic sauces (white sauce, tomato Base, onion base) because these are super cheap to make and give you so many more options for meals. Carbonara is one of the easiest but tastiest quick fix meals, as soon as you know how to make the Base it's dead easy. I make my tomato Base sauces with value brand chopped Tomatoes and passata find its smoother

    Cheap soups like mushroom/tomato make great pasta bakes as well. I'd also recommend a yellow label night, bit of a treat night as well you can often pick up some lovely bits of meat this way, and I guarantee if you posted here you'd get loads of suggestions what to do with's a good time in the evening to forage the reduced fruit and veg too, I've often picked up bananas for 10p and made a banana loaf.

    I warn you though it gets addictive! I used to waste so much money on food, found this board and adapted things to suit us and never looked back. You're doing great keep it going!

    Hth x sorry if I'm telling you how to do stuff you already know x
    Last edited by kerrypn; 11-03-2017 at 3:25 PM.
    • miffedatparkingcharge
    • By miffedatparkingcharge 11th Mar 17, 3:31 PM
    • 26 Posts
    • 41 Thanks
    Packed lunches happen to be the bane of my life. No idea why. Have you got pasta? and can you make a tomato sauce - onions fry off gently, (this makes them sweeter), *& garlic, add tinned tomatoes, herbs, salt &pepper. You can throw in some cheese or bacon. Divvy out into appropriate person's need size pots. Would there be complaints if it happened two days in a row?

    This can easily be eaten cold. Lidl/Aldi really do have better prices snacks/crisps stuff.

    Cannot recommend Twinks hobnobs enough. Good luck.
    Last edited by miffedatparkingcharge; 11-03-2017 at 4:21 PM.
    • miffedatparkingcharge
    • By miffedatparkingcharge 11th Mar 17, 4:28 PM
    • 26 Posts
    • 41 Thanks
    I wish I knew how to do the home made burgers / pastys / noodles etc.
    I just cant.
    When I made my meal plan, I looked at all the ideas posted on here, and thought how well they would work. except I don't have a clue without following recipes, so I dug out a student cookbook and looked at recipes there, and wrote the ingredients down.

    I could make this so much cheaper, I just don't know how.
    Originally posted by RedCola
    How about following a recipe online? You've made a list, could you search google, I'm sure there will be a youtube/facebook/delia that you can press pause and continue as you need?

    You will be brilliant.
    • RedCola
    • By RedCola 12th Mar 17, 4:38 PM
    • 113 Posts
    • 560 Thanks
    I read all comments, since my last. I emptied my online trolley at Asda, and we went to Aldi and B&M today, as suggested.

    We used £67.61 of our budget and the idea is it will last the 2 weeks.

    I will update my first list of food, so I can use it as 'inventory'.

    Thank you so much to all that have replied to me. I've picked up so many tips.
    • RedCola
    • By RedCola 12th Mar 17, 4:58 PM
    • 113 Posts
    • 560 Thanks
    I've updated my list now. Although I didn't include any cleaning / hygiene products ( conditioner, washing liquid, antiperspirant, foil, hand soap, toilet roll, kitchen roll etc )

    We didn't buy much meat - just bacon, pate and pepperoni.
    I can't believe how much we got for our money, and I did worry so much once we loaded the till.

    Now, to put it into plan!
    • RedCola
    • By RedCola 12th Mar 17, 5:15 PM
    • 113 Posts
    • 560 Thanks
    Just wanted to add a thank you for all the recipes and lunch swaps etc..

    Suki, I will choose a recipe to get help with!
    • suki1964
    • By suki1964 12th Mar 17, 5:54 PM
    • 10,040 Posts
    • 24,743 Thanks
    Sounds like you are getting it together, well done for the supermarket change. We don't have Aldi here so I use lidl only and the only product I've bought which I wouldn't buy again had been the tinned sardines. Every other product is as good, or better then a named brand

    Our grandchildren and children before them have never questioned the changes from the big brands. They happily munch their way through the cereals and biscuits and drink the pop and squash. DH is happy with the razor blades and shaving foam and the cat guzzles his food

    If I didn't have allergies I'd swap all my cleaning stuff over but certain things I can't. Those that I have have worked just as well as brand names

    What really works for me in keeping the costs down by shopping there, is there aren't a million choices of everything. They only sell one lot of frozen peas, one brand of tinned tomatoes, so it's so much easier to be aware of the prices. Also their special offers on fruit and veg and meat which run weekly and then special weekend deals, can really help. And as your confidence with cooking grow, you too will get great Value from them as well
    • RedCola
    • By RedCola 13th Mar 17, 7:43 AM
    • 113 Posts
    • 560 Thanks
    Suki - Thanks
    I liked the limited choice of the same item too - took away a lot of anxiety.

    Today I sent my husband off with a lunch box full of goodies, and I'm so pleased with myself for once! I made up a pizza style pasta (used a little bit each of pepperoni, ham, mushroom, pepper, cherry tomato and cheddar. I'd made a HM pizza sauce for it.)
    Then I made chocolate cinnamon buns (followed recipe from student book)

    So he had pizza pasta, nectarine, hard boiled eggs and 2 buns for lunch. I then packed some cereal in a pot, with an apple and banana for his breakfast. Plus 2 bags of crisps to snack on. So cheap, all from the cupboards and I'm sure it will fill him up. Fingers crossed it all tasted alright. He was so surprised this morning!
    Last edited by RedCola; 13-03-2017 at 7:45 AM.
    • angelpye
    • By angelpye 13th Mar 17, 7:57 AM
    • 988 Posts
    • 3,706 Thanks
    Well done for a great start.

    My favourite recipes are nearly always by Nigella, Jamie Oliver or on BBC food website. Usually simple recipes with not too much nonsense going on so food tastes fresh. I am not a natural cook but I think overtime I have learned simple meals that taste good. Would recommend surfing the net and looking up some of their recipes.
    Happiness is wanting what you have...
    Debt Jan 2017: £2589.22 DFD: Sept 2022 April 2022 but this Marching Minimalist can beat that!
    Use it or Loose it gym target: Feb'17 5/6 Mar 4/6
    EF £0/£4200
    • mardatha
    • By mardatha 13th Mar 17, 8:17 AM
    • 14,037 Posts
    • 130,775 Thanks
    I'm a really awful cook but I can cope with Delia's recipes. Mostly lol. Big stews with loads of veg thrown in are my standby meal. And simple old fashioned stuff like bacon eggs & chips.
    • carriebradshaw
    • By carriebradshaw 13th Mar 17, 5:54 PM
    • 1,296 Posts
    • 3,450 Thanks
    well done Red Cola I love the sound of the pizza pasta and cinnamon buns too, yum
    • miffedatparkingcharge
    • By miffedatparkingcharge 13th Mar 17, 7:46 PM
    • 26 Posts
    • 41 Thanks
    Well done Redcola. You should be really pleased with yourself. I hope the family have enjoyed your culinary delights. (Trouble is, now you've started, there's no going back!) I think my lunches are three quarters pasta based, because I just cannot be doing with sandwiches unless its a picnic! Pasta & pesto, pasta, tuna & something ...... Do keep posting.

    Another tip... Onions, onions, onions. I find they are part of most meals that are in cooked in a pot. If I'm feeling pretty organised, I try to cook a good number of them early on in the week. Long & slow cook with a bit of salt & oil, stir every few minutes. Put them in the fridge to use through out. If I leave them out & I notice they get nibbled away like snacks! It just makes putting a evening meal so much quicker when they are already done.
    Last edited by miffedatparkingcharge; 13-03-2017 at 8:15 PM.
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 13th Mar 17, 8:07 PM
    • 2,284 Posts
    • 33,044 Thanks
    Redcola - sounds great! Bet Hubby was envied by workmates with home baked Cinnamon Buns - I adore Cinnamon
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!

    Sept GC £250/£0.00
    • jackyann
    • By jackyann 13th Mar 17, 9:26 PM
    • 3,161 Posts
    • 6,380 Thanks
    I'm very impressed too! I really like the idea of an austerity lunch being a tasty pasta pot and cinnamon buns, as well as the other goodies.
    I also find that once you get into the swing of making things, you find a routine, and something that once seemed a 'mission' actually gets done easily.
    • nmlc
    • By nmlc 13th Mar 17, 10:45 PM
    • 2,840 Posts
    • 38,361 Thanks
    Evening everyone

    Redcola - sounds like you're moving forward.

    I really enjoy cooking/baking but by no means am I a good cook, I still regularly have disasters! A few weeks back I decided to make a Victoria sponge (2 sponge cake layers, sandwiched together with buttercream and jam, sprinkled with icing sugar) - something I've made regularly for over 30 years - I got the sponge layers out of their tins after they were cooked and they were flat and more like pancakes, so I had to either use them as they were (not possible, would have been awful), bin them or find something else. So I decided as 1 was better than the other, the better one I cut in half made up a small quantity of buttercream, spread the cut in half sponge with buttercream and the other half with jam and sandwiched together, so we then had half a Victoria sponge cake, and the flat as a pancake other sponge, I broke up put it in the bottom of a big glass dish, made up some jelly poured that over it, then blancmange and then some cream, and we also then had a trifle.

    The cooking/baking that day went a bit wrong, but I was determined that I wasn't just going to bin the ingredients so it became something else. As you get more confident you will learn this skill. HTH.

    Keep safe and well x

    nmlc x
    Last edited by nmlc; 13-03-2017 at 10:47 PM.
    • determined new ms
    • By determined new ms 14th Mar 17, 7:21 AM
    • 6,538 Posts
    • 37,610 Thanks
    determined new ms
    for lunches for me I just have soup and a home made roll. I'm no baker so if I can knock up rolls anyone can. Just google technique.

    I have a 3 nearly 4 year old and I put in her lunch box, a sandwich (ham/cream cheese/marmite/sometimes chocolate spread), fruit (apple/orange/banana/a few strawberries/cucumber slices/raisins, a slice of cheese, hm cheese straws, a yogurt - I get the aldi fromage frais and freeze so they don't go past their date and just get one out the night before and decant into a little tub, a hm fairy cake/slice of something. Sometimes I send her with soup, beans on toast, scrambled eggs and toast. Sometimes crackers, ham & cheese slices so she can build her own sandwiches. Rarely a packet of crisp

    I think our lunches cost pence.

    There's a really good page on facebook called "feed yourself for £1 per day" which is worth a look for low cost meal plans/ideas etc
    DF as at 30/12/16
    Wombling '16 £287.33 Roadkill £28.25
    Wombling YTD £2982.2/Roadkill £8.63
    SFDs Oct 12/15 CC saved £2372.50
    • suki1964
    • By suki1964 14th Mar 17, 7:46 AM
    • 10,040 Posts
    • 24,743 Thanks
    I'm a really awful cook but I can cope with Delia's recipes. Mostly lol. Big stews with loads of veg thrown in are my standby meal. And simple old fashioned stuff like bacon eggs & chips.
    Originally posted by mardatha

    Delia is my tutor as well. All these years I've been cooking for family (40) and even having spent 10 years being paid to cook, she's my turn to still. If Delia says this temp for that amount of time, she's right. Yes I use Jamie's and Gordon's recipes as well but Delia teaches the basic skills like no one else
    • Teacher2
    • By Teacher2 22nd Mar 17, 9:15 AM
    • 494 Posts
    • 2,499 Thanks
    I see you have lamb shanks. I once had one left over as someone didn't turn up for a meal. I put it in the slow cooker with some celery, onions and carrots and it made the best soup ever. Soup is a very good, cheap meal. We have soup and a bun/toast twice a week and it is very economical.

    Scones are quick, easy, cheap, delicious and filling.

    A quick recipe is as follows:-
    8oz self raising flour
    1-2 oz sugar
    2 oz butter
    1-2 whisked eggs made up to a quarter pint with milk
    A handful of dried fruit
    -Sift the sugar in with the flour and rub in the butter until the misxture turns to 'breadcrumbs'
    -Add the dried fruit
    -Add the milk/egg mixture (leaving a little for glazing the scones) and mix into a dough
    -Roll out on a floured surface about an inch thick (3cm)
    -Using a cutter or mug, cut out into circles and place on a greased foured tray
    -Brush with the milk/egg mixture
    -Bake for 15 minutes at 200c (fan oven), 220c otherwise
    -Serve with butter and jam
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

3,296Posts Today

8,384Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • RT @LordsEconCom: On Tuesday Martin Lewis, Hannah Morrish & Shakira Martin gave evidence to the Cttee. Read the full transcript here: https?

  • Ta ta for now. Half term's starting, so I'm exchanging my MoneySavingExpert hat for one that says Daddy in big letters. See you in a week.

  • RT @thismorning: Can @MartinSLewis' deals save YOU cash? ????

  • Follow Martin