Grocery Shopping budget thread

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  • edited 9 February 2014 at 4:40PM
    PipneyJanePipneyJane Forumite
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    edited 9 February 2014 at 4:40PM
    Hello everyone! (I've been MIA for ages. I've missed you all.)

    Firstly, how many people are in your household? Secondly, do you meal plan? What sort of thing do you like to eat? What do you have in your cupboards.

    Your budget is doable, it just depends on how you plan things and whether you act on your plans.

    (FWIW 23 years ago, during the really tight February of 1991, I spent £25 to feed two adults for the month. What saved me was that there were a multitude of bits-n-pieces in the larder that I gradually worked through (flour, red lentils, spices, rice). The ex had accumulated this stuff before I moved in with him. I spent my £25 on tinned tomatoes, tins of tuna, a 3kg bag of frozen mince, 1 lb lump of strong cheddar, some butter, a dozen eggs, 5lb of potatoes, 10lb of onions, milk... things like that. I bought the tomatoes, potatoes and onions from the local greengrocers - discovered he was cheaper than the supermarket. We lived on curries, souffle, various quiche, fish pie made with tuna, pasta and a sauce... The ex was a useless spendthrift, but he did teach me how to cook a curry.)

    So here are some ideas for you. They all involve some degree of cooking:-


    1) Porridge is usually the cheapest option. For one person: measure out 30g into a microwave safe bowl, add approximately 160ml milk and zap for 2 minutes.
    2) Breakfast cereal. I cut more expensive muesli with an equal quantity of value bran flakes to get a tasty breakfast cereal at a much lower cost, with more fibre. Weigh out your portion and keep it to between 30g-40g.
    3) Toast+. Some people do well with toast and a spread for breakfast - I don't (I just get hungry an hour later). However, a piece of toast and a fried or poached egg on top will keep me going for hours.


    1) Leftovers. Since so many main-course recipes are for 4 or 6 or 8 portions, whenever I cook, I always portion up the entire meal when I am serving up to ensure we are getting all the portions and not eating two or three portions in one sitting. (My DH has hollow legs and can eat for England. If I leave it in the pot, he'll eat it for seconds then go back for thirds. If it is portioned up into lunch boxes, then he won't pick.)
    2) Baked potatoes. A perennial favourite of mine, although usually they're zapped and not baked. (7-10 minutes on full depending on the size.) You can serve with tuna and mayo, or left-over stew, or baked beans or 60g of strong cheddar melted on top.
    3) Bagels and other sandwiches.
    4) Home-made soup. There are thousands of recipes. I like making mine from fresh veggies (pumpkin soup, carrot & corriander, curried cauliflower) and/or lentils (Shurit Ads, continental lentil and mushroom soup). For the price of one tub of "fresh" supermarket soup, you can make enough soup for six or eight hearty bowls instead of one. Serve with a bread roll or bagel.


    1) Quiches and other flans. Make a pasty base (rub100g butter - cut into lumps - into 200g plain flour, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a bit of water to bind into a lump. Chill for half an hour. Roll out. Fit to your flan dish, !!!!! all over with a fork then bake "blind" at 180c for 10 minutes). Meanwhile, create your filling: fry an onion (or 2 or 3) possibly with some garlic; add some cubed bacon or chicken or cooked, cubed potatoes, and fry until cooked. Beat together 2 or 3 eggs, a pinch or two of mixed herbs and up to half a pint of milk. When the pastry case is ready, pour in your filling, pour over the egg mixture and bake at 180c for 30 minutes or so, until the top is golden. You can cover with grated cheese before baking if you wish.

    2) Curry served on rice. Cooked from scratch, you can curry just about anything and make it taste good. (I once made Tinned Pilchard Madras.) I start all my curry recipes off the same way: brown your meat and remove from the frying pan then fry onion with garlic, add mushrooms, fry until the mushroom water has evaporated then stir in your meat back in. Stir over your curry spices, fry until the aroma rises (i.e. you can smell curry) then add a tin of chopped tomatoes, half the tomato tin again of water, plus any diced veg you fancy (almost always carrots and peppers in my house but frozen mixed veg works well, as do peas). Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes or until the meat is tender. A good starter curry spice mix is: 1 teaspoon ground chilli, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 2 teaspoons ground paprika and 1 teaspoon ground turmeric. I put them all into a small ramekin then add a couple of tablespoons of water and stir into a paste. (The water helps stop them burn when frying.)

    2) Beef chilli. There are a gazillion recipes on line. I use 250g of minced beef and pad mine with grated carrot and grated courgette or the pulp of an aubergine (they just dissolve into meatiness).

    3) Something for leftover chilli: Corn pone. Preheat the oven to 180c. In a flame-proof, oven-proof pan, combine leftover chilli with a tin of baked beans and a cup of frozen sweetcorn. Bring to the boil on top of the stove and switch off. Meanwhile combine 100g cornmeal with 1 teaspoon baking powder. Beat an egg together with 150ml water and 1 teaspoon of chopped chilli or 1/2 teaspoon mixed herbs or both. (You can even add grated strong cheese, if you wish.) Combine with the cornmeal mixture and season with salt and several good grinds of pepper. Pour over the hot chilli and transfer to the oven. Bake for approximately 45 minutes.

    4) Any stew you fancy with a scone cobbler top. This is a perfect solution if you've got a reasonable quantity of leftover stew. Reheat the stew and add any extra veg or some pulses to make the quantity large enough for the people you have to feed. Meanwhile heat the oven to 180c. Make a scone dough (sorry, I don't have the quantities off the top of my head), cut it into rounds and position them to form an overlapping ring around the top of the stew. Glaze with milk or beaten egg and bake until the scone top is crispy and golden (? 20 minutes).

    5) Stirfry. Use a lot of veggies and 1 large chicken breast (or 1 portion of steak or pork). Shove the meat into the freezer for an hour to firm up before slicing thinly. Cut all the veg into batons before you start. If you don't already have a favourite sauce: in a jug, mix 50ml of Chinese cooking wine (or sherry) with a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce, a teaspoon of cornflour, a pinch or two of 5-spice powder and 100ml of either orange juice or pineapple juice. Fry your meat to brown together with some crushed garlic and some ginger (use lazy). Then add your veg gradually, from thickest (carrots) and moistest (mushrooms) to thinnest (the tops of spring onion), adding the next veg as the earlier ones soften. Pour over your sauce mixture and stir until it has thickened and coats the veg/meat mixture. Serve on rice or over noodles.

    How is that for starters?

    PS: My grocery budget is £160/month for the two of us. We split it so that £40 goes into the "meat money" for spending at the butchers every 3 months or so; the rest is for general groceries. We buy our veg primarily from a farm shop and shop at Mr T's for almost everything else. (Plus the odd visit to Lidl.)
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  • Butterfly_BrainButterfly_Brain Forumite
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    DD is a vegetarian and we all have a couple of vegetarian meals once or twice a week, even DH who is a committed carnivore2651855538.gif :rotfl:

    She loves a roast dinner and has gone of quorn at the moment so I just do roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, parsnips, brussels or kale, carrots, peas etc and gravy and she loves it, I join her when the boys have pork and you really do not miss the meat,

    Soup and pudding night is a big favourite
    HM soup with HM crusty bread followed by a nice filling pudding, such as rice pudding, apple sponge and custard or peach sponge and custard, crumbles magic chocolate pudding which we all love.

    Mince can be turned into all sorts of tasty meals, lasagne, bolognaise, cottage pie, mince and veg crumble, mince and veg hotpot, keema curry, as a filling for savoury pancakes or pies and pasties, made into burgers or kofta kebabs, chilli, with a scone topping cobbler and lots of other different meals.
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  • Butterfly_BrainButterfly_Brain Forumite
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    Do you have a farmfoods nearby? You can get some great bargains in there.
    Blessed are the cracked for they are the ones that let in the light
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  • lobbyluddlobbyludd Forumite
    1.5K Posts
    I buy four of the largest chickens I can afford, plus some mince and that is basically it for meat. roast chicken on sunday, then two or three other meals from it (with less and less chicken for each successive one - this can be chicken and veg stew, risotto, chicken pasta, morrocan chicken, chicken curry, chicken + veg stir fry (ring changes with spices and veg) there are loads of recipes on the groceries challenge thread). Mince goes into the things you've mentioned above. I have home made soups for lunch. 4 tins of tuna when on offer, one for each week which can do either tuna pasta or tuna fish pie, a block of very mature cheddar to impart maximum flavour - but is used more as a condiment.

    the rest is veg and fruit and basics (eggs, milk, pasta, rice, cereal, apple juice, passata etc) I rarely buy ys as usually here it's preprepared expensive stuff that I can make cheaper than the ys price anyway. but I do find good deals on ys fresh pork and fish (apparently not popular!) and very occasionally diced stewing beef so I buy those to change it up a bit.

    this is for 1 adult and 2 kids (one of whom has school dinners the other sandwiches) but I spend less than £120 a month on us.
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  • Thanks everyone! It's just 2 adults a 3 year old and a baby here but she doesn't cost (yet!)
    Even when she does start weaning she will be baby led weaning and mostly eating bits of what we eat anyway :)
    I don't have a farm foods nearby unfortunately.
    I really like everything, I'm quite a keen cook and have some time for meal prep (unless baby has a fussy day!) as I'm a SAHM currently.
    As I said the only thing DH wouldn't eat is pork or offal but I would.
    DS is fairly fussy an like fruit,veg, gravy! And chicken most.
    Thanks for all the tips and recipes.
    Should help me mix it up a bit :D
    I'm C, Mummy to DS 29/11/2010 and DD 02/11/2013

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  • Have a look through these boards for things like rubber chicken and other tips like grating carrot into mince dishes.

    When I first started cooking for the family as a SAHM my biggest issue was portion control. I still struggle with it sometimes, you need to weigh out things like pasta, it won't look enough at first but you will realise it is.

    Your budget is more than do-able, and in fact could be considered quite high for a lot of people so please don't despair!

  • edited 9 February 2014 at 10:02PM
    LizlingLizling Forumite
    882 Posts
    edited 9 February 2014 at 10:02PM
    I spend a similar amount on food to you - well, half as much but just for me.

    I've been going through a phase of trying out Middle Eastern and North African dishes and found that a lot of them are very cheap because they rely on cheap pulses and vegetables.

    You could try Imam Bayildi, Koshari, Chatchouka (if you can get the peppers cheaply, like £1 a bowl at the market for example) or a vegetable tagine without needing any tricky or expensive ingredients.
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  • xmillyxxmillyx Forumite
    137 Posts
    I spend £100 a month for 1 person. I normally have the following:

    Breakfast: Toast x2 one with peanut butter one with marmite or porridge and a tsp of jam.

    Lunch: I normally make a BIG vat of soup at the start of the week last week was stilton and broccoli this week it's carrot and coriander.

    Dinner: Whatever really I only meat 2 or 3 times a week so some meal ideas are:
    Cauliflower cheese
    Pies with LO roast gammon/beef/chicken whatever you have in.
    Spag bol bulk out with mushrooms and lentils and chopped up bits of carrot.
    Jacket potatoes with various toppings.
    Quorn tacos
    smoked salmon (trimmings) carbonara
    Most of the above is served with salad and there's loads more recipes I can't remember off the top of my head!!

    Drinks are usually 2 types of value squash (lemon and orange), herbal teas or water.

    Snacks are: bananas, satsumas, apples. These are also used as puddings throughout the week.

    I think for a relatively low budget I eat reasonably healthily :)

    I make massive use of my Mr T clubcard coupons and nothing gets wasted everything gets used up or frozen for another time. I also meal plan religiously and it saves so much time!
  • Lentils are a staple in our house. We have Lentil loaf, Dahl, Lentil soup, Lentil Pate, Lentil stew, Lentil Bake-not all in the same week obviously!:rotfl:
    I have got better at working out which recipes are economical and now have a ready made list of recipes to hand!
    They sound really nice anyway I could get the recipe for lentil bake and the dahl please.
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  • edited 20 February 2014 at 6:25PM
    misermellomisermello Forumite
    5 Posts
    edited 20 February 2014 at 6:25PM
    Hi there,

    I used to spend about400 a month (on two of us!) until I lost my job and we had to learn to economize or starve. Initially it felt like we were constantly just havingvariations of the same meal.

    I've written down a mealplan that last for nine days, and you could just repeat three times for thewhole month as you could make this stretch for 10 days. It works at about £1.20 per adult a day, with food leftover at the end of the week. You could easily substitutethe protein for meat if you prefer, but I think the fish makes it a bitdifferent.

    B:Smoked fish omelette with packet mix bread (two eggs each with haddock/mackerelpoached in milk with defrosted frozenspinach mixed into eggs)
    L:Chowder with homemade bread (onion, carrot, potato veg stock, sweet corn, withhaddock fillet poached in milk , flakedthe both added to soup)
    D:Fish Curry (fish and spinach poached in curry sauce with cumin roasted potatoesand rice and garden peas)

    B:Fried egg with saut!ed potatoes
    L:Cheesy beans on toast
    D:Kedgeree (use leftover rice, sweetcorn and flaked smoked fish in pan add an eggeither hard boiled and cut up or fried)

    B: Toast with Marmalade
    L: Cheese and pickle sandwich
    D:Frittata with fresh bread and cucmber salad (parboil potatoes, fry onions mix with eggsand potatoes add any flavouring you like)

    B: Toast with Marmalade
    D: Leek and Potato Soup with Cheese Toasties

    B: Toast with Marmalade
    L:Leek and Potato Soup
    D:Roasted vegetables with a fried egg

    B: Toast with Marmalade
    L: Tuna and sweetcorn sandwich
    D:Pasta with homemade tomato sauce

    B: Toast with marmalade
    L: Tuna Pasta Salad
    D:Baked potatoes with cheese and beans

    B:scrambled eggs and toast
    L:Pea Soup
    D:Macaroni cheese and sweetcorn

    B:Beans on toast
    L.Stuffed potato skins (sweetcorn, egg and cheese)

    Go Shopping again

    Shopping List (Aldi and Green Grocers)
    Whitebread mix 65p
    Slicedbrown bread 55p
    Extramature cheddar 2 x 350g £3.90
    Spaghetti 23p
    Penne 23p
    Tinof tomatoes 25p
    15free range eggs £2.29
    Onions1 kg £1
    Potatoes2.5kg 1.30
    Sweetcorn(frozen) 89p
    Smokedhaddock (frozen) £1.99
    Smokedmackerel £1.50
    8pints of milk £2 -
    Bakedbeans (4 cans) 1.24
    Pole and line Tuna85p
    Cucumber £50p


    I've left out a couple of basics but I hopefully this will giv eyou some new ideas
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