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For those reducing food bills - portion sizes curiosity

Hi everyone,

I'm a newbie, starting with a food budget of £3 a day. I'm following all the great tips and advice on here (thanks to all contributors), but one thing i'm noticing, is that i'm stretching my batch cooking, buying value products etc... and still my meals come in around the £1.00 mark (and I'm a vegetarian who only does one-pot cooking!).

I know many of you manage on much less. But for me, those £1.00 meals aren't huge portions and though I need to lose a few lbs (quite a few if i'm honest) i'm not sure I can stick this out feeling hungry all the time.

Did you notice an adjustment in your portion sizes when you fist started out? Did you adjust to the portion or change recipies/budgets/meal frequency?
How do you handle snacks, if you have them?

p.s. I'm new so getting below £1 a meal is probably just a learning curve. I'm adapting recipies as I go along for savings, to up f&v and reduce white carbs. I'm cooking for one with limited food storage space (so limited in the amount of bargains and bulk-buys I can take advantage of). Just volume of food that might derail me.
Debt free (finally) and saving a deposit for my first home.


  • edited 28 February 2012 at 1:16PM
    freyasmumfreyasmum Forumite
    20.6K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    edited 28 February 2012 at 1:16PM
    Yea, check out the site patchwork cat gave. It's really good for not only giving the portion sizes but ideas on how to use up things that may otherwise be overlooked.

    If you're still feeling hungry after your meals, try adding more protein. I know that if I've eaten a meal that doesn't have as much in it, I can find myself grazing, looking for something else (though I know what it is!). However, if I eat a meal with enough protein, it's more than enough to satiate me.

    Try also to remember that it's not a competition, it's not about what other people spend - I know for a fact that I'd struggle (read: just plain couldn't) to make a chicken last up to four meals for a family as some people do.

    Good luck :j
  • building_with_legobuilding_with_lego Forumite
    2.6K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper I've been Money Tipped!
    Soup keeps you feeling fuller for longer, and if you have a drink of water or herbal tea before meals you'll fill up quicker.

    You do get used to eating less, won't feel hungry forever and will find that you get full faster once your stomach adjusts. Those pounds will melt away (mine did :)) and you'll feel great. :)
    They call me Dr Worm... I'm interested in things; I'm not a real doctor but I am a real worm. :grin:
  • budgetboobudgetboo Forumite
    198 Posts
    One of the reasons I cook from scratch is that ready meal portion sizes are waaay to teeny for my hungry tummy. Portion size is not summat I fret about too much bar not serving massive quantities of meat for cost reasons. We fill up on extra tatties and veggies instead. We eat fairly seasonally partly to ensure our greedy bellies are filled as in season veggies are cheaper so we can eat more of em.

    I honestly believe that constantly stressing about food and yo you dieting wrecks people's metabolisms over time, so do be careful of tricking your body into thinking it's at risk of starving as it'll hang onto the fat on your hips for dear life.

    Snacks - banana is the perfect snack as it's filling and nutrious. We adore home popped corn - cheap as chips and far healthier than lots of things like crisps (now they could be my downfall!). Peanut butter on brown toast is a good filling snack for those times when a piece of fruit won't do the trick.

    Porridge is great for brekkie when you are skint, as it's low GI so keeps you going to help avoid the mid-morning packet of biccies.
  • edited 28 February 2012 at 3:08PM
    8.8K Posts
    edited 28 February 2012 at 3:08PM
    Another vote for soup, for both your purse and waistline. For example, I've recently done a couple of batches of broccoli and cheese soup, and all that was left of the broccoli was the bit I cut off of the bottom of the stalk. Yes, you use the stalk. And two batches of chicken soup. All that was left of the chicken is a pile of bones.

    And I also recommend water. Add a splash of lemon juice. It's meant to be an appetite suppressant.

    And herbal tea. For me, that's the classic chamomile, rosehip and peppermint, not the funny fruit ones. To ring the changes, I also have Earl Grey and green tea, with or without jasmine. I've also discovered Roibos (redbush) tea.

    My simple way of making my batches of stuff (Bolognese sauce, chilli con carne, curries, etc.) go a bit further was to use one more freezer box. Instead of 3 x ~330g portions, I now get 4 x ~250g ones.

    For snacking, I keep some fruit (little apples, pears & satsumas or clementines - and I'll search through the bags in the supermarket to find one with 1 more smaller ones!) in the fridge. I find Corn Flakes are good too. And a couple of cream crackers aren't as bad for you as a slice of bread.

    Biscuits are simple to deal with. I just don't buy them. Then, it's impossible to eat them.
    The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in my life. :)
  • adelightadelight Forumite
    2.7K Posts
    Less meat, more root veg, more soup and smaller portions. My dinner got smaller but my other cheaper meals got bigger, ie a bigger bowl of porridge in the morning and more soup at lunch time.
    Living cheap in central London :rotfl:
  • Ruby789Ruby789 Forumite
    312 Posts
    Thanks for all the responses!

    Cat, thanks for the link. I seem to be a little generous with some of my food groups and stingey with others so definately an eye opener.

    freyasmum, you're right.

    building with lego, congrats on your weightloss, glad to hear that budgetting can work lighten my waistline and my purse.

    budgetboo, starting to love porridge again, so cheap and versatile. Will look into the seasonal stuff, admittedly something i've never thought about.

    stephen, will start making my own soups again. It's been a while but seems to be the way forward at least a few meals a week.

    Thanks again. Forum is very inspiring, hope I can stick to this till I get myself back in the black! Cheating a little at the moment as I still have cupboards full of stuff, but i'm sure it'll all even out in the end.
    Debt free (finally) and saving a deposit for my first home.
  • JBDJBD Forumite
    3.1K Posts
    Hi ruby.
    I'm a vegetarian who has lost weight on an old style diet [check out the old style weightloss thread].
    Some of my portion sizes are -
    porridge - 2 heaped tablespoons oat flakes ,1 rounded tablespoon dried milk powder,2 heaped tablespoons dried mixed fruit, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
    chilli - 1 green pepper, 1 onion, 1 tin of basic sweetcorn, 1 tin of basic kidney beans, 1 tin of basic tomatoes. This makes 3 portions and works out about 50p/portion. If you want you can cook rice in it as well [add after frying vegetables, but add extra stock of course]
    Veg curry - Either 6 heaped tablespoons of red lentils or 1 tin of chickpeas. Frozen spinach [recommended portions will be on the pack x 3], 1 onion, 3 carrots, 1 tin toms, any other spare veg.] this makes 3 portions.
    Lentil burger - 2 heaped tablespoons of red lentils, 1 level teaspoon of crunchy peanut butter [basic is fine], wholemeal breadcrumbs if necessary [keep a bag in the freezer]
    Nut roast - 1oz of chopped nuts, 1/2 oz of wholemeal breadcrumbs.
    Quinoa - 1/4 cup [dried weight].
    Ratatouille - 1 small courgette, 1/2 red pepper, 1/2 onion, few mushrooms, 1/2 tin tomatoes.
    Cheese omelette -2 large eggs, 1 oz grated cheese
    To give you an idea of amount, I use an 8'' plate and it is usually filled with food. I don't feel hungry and I do swimming quite a lot.
    For lunch I normally have a wholemeal pitta with a little houmous or grated cheese, with some salad.
  • Take a look at the Glycaemic Index (you want low GI foods)- it ranks foods for how slowly the body processes them, and thus how quickly you feel hungry again. Although I knew a reasonable amount about this, I really got to see how effectively this worked when I did the Atkins diet (it has a strong element of low-GI). A dose of sugar can lead to a big energy dip that makes you feel starving - try the difference between a snack of a handful of sweets and a handful of almonds and see how long it takes to feel hungry - it's surprising. Don't forget that as long as you mix it with low GI, not high GI, fat is actually good at helping to keep you full.
  • If you're reducing carbs, you need to replace the energy.
    With fat and protein.

    Hear me out...! The right combination sends signals of satiation to your body, that you've got the nutrition you need.

    "She who asks is a fool once. She who never asks is a fool forever"
    I'm a fool quite often :D
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