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    • Seasidegal58
    • By Seasidegal58 15th Oct 16, 2:45 PM
    • 1,922Posts
    • 11,807Thanks
    Food/Household Budgeting Advice for One Person
    • #1
    • 15th Oct 16, 2:45 PM
    Food/Household Budgeting Advice for One Person 15th Oct 16 at 2:45 PM
    Hi there

    I'm interested in how single MSE savers budget for food/ household items.

    I am one person household and budget £120 per month (and this excludes toiletries). I don't drive and am time poor due to commuting to and from work and sometimes long hours. To save on taxi fares I do a shop at beginning of month at Tescos (which always seems to work out cheapest for me on for stores that deliver) and then top up weekly for veg/ fruit, milk etc at walking distance stores i.e Aldi ( no Lidl near) or small Co-op or Spar for the odd emergency or stuff I can't get at Aldi

    I pretty much always take packed lunch into work and keep cereals there for breakfast. I nearly always cook from scratch but have one or two things things I don't comporamise on like coffee, peanut butter.

    Any advice welcome!
    Finally Debt Free! - July 2016
    Finished Emergency Fund- £10,000 April 2017

    Next Scrimpy Goal - Ad Hoc Savings - 20/05/2018: £646.59
    My diary: “Paid off the £31,0000! BUT- still scrimping!”
Page 1
    • PasturesNew
    • By PasturesNew 15th Oct 16, 2:52 PM
    • 62,515 Posts
    • 366,173 Thanks
    • #2
    • 15th Oct 16, 2:52 PM
    • #2
    • 15th Oct 16, 2:52 PM
    You've got a super-generous budget there. If your desire is to cut back then start to analyse the cost/need of everything you buy. Once you've identified something 'expensive' question yourself whether you'll need it, whether you'll eat it all, whether it's essential.

    I'm sure a hand-crafted artisan organic loaf might be tasty at, say, £2, but if you chuck half in the bin by Wednesday then that's waste ... on the other hand a 36p sliced loaf from Aldi's "bread" .... and somewhere between the two extremes, for every item you buy, is your "sweet spot" where you're content and not wasting your money or food.

    For the record .... I probably spend 1/4 of what you do and I eat very little, all cheap stuff ... and lots of toast
    • tooties
    • By tooties 15th Oct 16, 3:05 PM
    • 777 Posts
    • 7,472 Thanks
    • #3
    • 15th Oct 16, 3:05 PM
    • #3
    • 15th Oct 16, 3:05 PM
    As i am now a single person household i am also interested in this thread. I budget £80 per month for groceries, cleaning products and toileteries. i would love to others in my position are getting on in this area.
    Thanks to OP for starting this thread

    • PlymouthMaid
    • By PlymouthMaid 15th Oct 16, 3:33 PM
    • 1,456 Posts
    • 3,502 Thanks
    • #4
    • 15th Oct 16, 3:33 PM
    • #4
    • 15th Oct 16, 3:33 PM
    Around £30 per week doesn't strike me as 'super generous' at all. It sounds about right for somebody to eat quite healthily and pleasantly without cutting right to the bone. Assuming 3 meals a day it only averages £1.40 ish a meal. Some weeks you may spend less if you make big pans of soup or eat beans on toast but if buying fish/meat/other protein for main meals I don't think you will get it a lot less. You can save a fair bit by actually planning meals around the special weekly veg in places like Lidl - this week there are carrots and parsnips for 29p a bag - that would be a nice cheap meal if turned into soup.
    "'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life
    Try to make ends meet
    You're a slave to money then you die"
    • flubberyzing
    • By flubberyzing 15th Oct 16, 6:14 PM
    • 953 Posts
    • 6,597 Thanks
    • #5
    • 15th Oct 16, 6:14 PM
    • #5
    • 15th Oct 16, 6:14 PM
    I'm also a single person household and that sounds like quite a lot to me, but then I've been working to cut my expenditure for quite a while now!

    I found my best key to reducing my grocery spend was to v-carefully meal plan for the week, and make a shopping list before I went to the supermarket.
    Before I go, I look in my food cupboard and freezer, to see what's already there that I can make a good meal of. I also try to remember any events I have coming up that week, where I might be eating out, or requiring something at a funny time of day. For instance, last night I knew I was going straight from work to a show rehearsal that wouldn't see me home until 9pm. I knew I wouldn't want to cook at 9pm on a Friday night, so I made sure I had a chocolate bar to eat in the car before rehearsal started, and some milk for a bowl of cereal when I got home. For me, a lot of it is knowing your body and what you are going to want/be doing at different points in the week.

    But yes, meal planning and a shopping list is vital. I aim to spend around £20 a week on my trip to the supermarket, which includes cleaning stuff and toiletries. But then that might seem like loads to some people! But by meal planning and using a list, I've basically halved my weekly bill.
    Because it's fun to have money!
    • juliesname
    • By juliesname 15th Oct 16, 7:03 PM
    • 48 Posts
    • 350 Thanks
    • #6
    • 15th Oct 16, 7:03 PM
    • #6
    • 15th Oct 16, 7:03 PM

    Something that's worked well for me is 'unit cost budgeting' - looking at the elements that I spend most on, then setting a limit for that type of purchase. Eg instead of thinking 'those are cheap blueberries' it's '50p per serving of fruit! I'll get plums instead - at 20p per serving they're within budget.' The same kind of limit for meat, snacks, loo rolls etc.

    Also buying whichever meats are best value that trip, then batch-cooking to freeze - there's always a choice of several meals in the freezer as well as bread and milk. I too do a big shop then pick up a few things weekly/10 days from where I happen to be passing.

    About £100/month including household & toiletries. Could do it for a little less but don't need to these days.
    • Seasidegal58
    • By Seasidegal58 15th Oct 16, 10:05 PM
    • 1,922 Posts
    • 11,807 Thanks
    • #7
    • 15th Oct 16, 10:05 PM
    • #7
    • 15th Oct 16, 10:05 PM
    Thanks to everyone for their useful replies. Especially like the "unit cost" budgeting!
    Finally Debt Free! - July 2016
    Finished Emergency Fund- £10,000 April 2017

    Next Scrimpy Goal - Ad Hoc Savings - 20/05/2018: £646.59
    My diary: “Paid off the £31,0000! BUT- still scrimping!”
    • scottishbrummy
    • By scottishbrummy 16th Oct 16, 7:33 PM
    • 48 Posts
    • 106 Thanks
    • #8
    • 16th Oct 16, 7:33 PM
    • #8
    • 16th Oct 16, 7:33 PM
    I find that the single biggest issue I have is waste. I found I was spending masses on food, but then that I was throwing a lot away. By trying to reduce my waste I'm finding I'm having to buy less and the bill seems to be coming down on it's own. Unfortunately the world doesn't cater for single people very well, but knowing how to use food up, in different ways so I don't get bored has helped a lot.
    I think once I'm in a bit more of a routine (terrible at planning at the moment it seems) and have got the waste problem nailed I'll start targeting what I want vs what I actually need.
    LBM - 30/3/16 - Someone save me from myself!!
    Overdraft: 1800/1800 - Credit card: 1400/1450 - Loan: 1257/4500
    Grand Total: 4457/7750
    • fiddlesticks
    • By fiddlesticks 17th Oct 16, 3:19 PM
    • 100 Posts
    • 47 Thanks
    • #9
    • 17th Oct 16, 3:19 PM
    • #9
    • 17th Oct 16, 3:19 PM
    I try and shop healthy but then I forget its there and it goes to waste- pretty much stopped buying veg now as I was fed up throwing out rotten carrots. When a Lidl ready meal is 89p its hard to keep buying food to cook from scratch when it costs so much more. Most food isn't in pack sizes for single people and buying in bulk doesn't work for me as it seems to end up eating in bulk too.
    • tallyhoh
    • By tallyhoh 17th Oct 16, 4:58 PM
    • 2,109 Posts
    • 2,167 Thanks
    OH recently been made redundant so on an even tighter budget. I have started allocating 35 pounds a week for everything, that's for 2 of us. I found splitting it into weekly made is easier because if we run out of something I can go without or use a substitute for a few days till the next week. I hardly ever seem to buy toiletries? just a bottle of shampoo & conditioner every 2 months. The shower gel etc I am given at christmas lasts the year.

    Stopped Smoking October 2000. Saved £21,840 so far!
    • mardatha
    • By mardatha 17th Oct 16, 5:03 PM
    • 14,827 Posts
    • 141,511 Thanks
    I buy tins of carrots instead, as I seem to be always throwing out tons of carrots. Sainsbugs Basics carrots are 20p.
    • room512
    • By room512 17th Oct 16, 7:59 PM
    • 1,247 Posts
    • 2,244 Thanks
    Frozen veg is good too as you can just cook what you need.
    • suki1964
    • By suki1964 17th Oct 16, 8:28 PM
    • 11,050 Posts
    • 29,460 Thanks
    Lordy I remember when I started work in sainsburys in 79 we packed
    Chops in ones and twos, mince in 4oz packets and joints just two
    Strings wide to cater to the singles and elderly.

    How times have changed ( not always for the better either )

    If you have a butcher, use them. They don't care how little you are buying. I often go to mine and ask for a chop or a few slices of liver or a couple of sausages or a chicken portion ( more so when cooking for one )

    I got into the habit of carp food for a long time. I turned that around by making soup. At least with soup I got veg in me. Soup and sardines and eggs. Then I started with a meat dish with real veg lol

    What I did was to forget about the traditional meat and veg meals and just put together meals with what I had and that itself took a lot of thinking.

    So let's say I wanted lettuce and tomatoes to go in my sandwich. Then I'd buy rocket cos that's scrummy used on pasta, pizza and just about anything. Same as the toms, whack them in a pasta dish instead of chucking away cos you are sick of them

    These are the rules I live by today. Every ingredient has to be multi use. Last night I had three pork chops and a tin of pineapple to feed 3. I made a kind of Chinese dish using week old scallions, a pepper, an onion, dried mushrooms,half a cabbage and a leek. The cabbage, leek and scallions had been in the fridge at least a week The rest of the pepppers will be used this week somewhere

    If you have a freezer, that's your friend. Pound shop sells tin foil dishes which are ideal for saving a portion and freezing for another day. There's no need to eat the same meal day in and out
    if you lend someone £20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it
    • Linda32
    • By Linda32 17th Oct 16, 8:42 PM
    • 4,177 Posts
    • 9,245 Thanks
    Just wanted to add that most things freeze. If you have fresh veg going soft you can cut up and freeze them. Then you only need to use one portion at a time.
    • debtnav
    • By debtnav 17th Oct 16, 9:04 PM
    • 19 Posts
    • 46 Thanks
    Hi there

    Wishing you all the best with your savings. Although I shop for 2, some pack sizes are still too big. We're not big bread eaters so I tend to freeze half a loaf on the day I buy it. I also bulk mince meals out by adding an extra tin of tomatoes. Spag bol and chilli are great to batch cook and freeze then you have lovely ready meals waiting for you when you are short of time. What about offal? Very cheap and nutritious but not everyone's cup of tea. Good luck!
    Your company gets me through the day. x
    • Ilona
    • By Ilona 17th Oct 16, 10:25 PM
    • 2,069 Posts
    • 7,095 Thanks
    I always wonder what toiletries and cleaning products people buy on a regular basis, for it to be included in a weekly shop. I only use shampoo, soap, and toothpaste, and they last ages because I use it very sparingly. A 35p bottle of shampoo will give me about 40 washes, that's hardly going to break the bank. I sometimes buy a cheap moisturizer but it lasts ages, at least six months or more.

    It is not necessary to buy all the different cleaning products, they only invent new ones to entice shoppers to spend more. I have a bottle of bleach 39p for the toilets, lasts three months, and a bottle of wash up liquid can't remember how much it was but I buy the cheapest, it lasts ages with just a tiny squirt, don't need loads of suds.

    My weekly shop for my food is £12 - £15, no meat or fish, cat food is about £5 -£7 a week. I can't understand why people allow food to go off in their homes. I eat tons of veg, and I will eat carrots every day if I need to. No bendy carrots here. I check the contents of the fridge at every meal time, and eat things before they start going off.

    I don't make a shopping list and I don't meal plan. I buy what's cheap from all the shops, search for yellow stickers and reductions everywhere, and base my meals around what I can find. Works for me.

    I love skip diving
    • fiddlesticks
    • By fiddlesticks 18th Oct 16, 4:06 PM
    • 100 Posts
    • 47 Thanks

    It is not necessary to buy all the different cleaning products, they only invent new ones to entice shoppers to spend more. I have a bottle of bleach 39p for the toilets,
    Originally posted by Ilona
    I don;t do bleach anymore- always end up splashing it on my clothes. I'm a clumsy oaf

    I can't understand why people allow food to go off in their homes.
    I'm a seefood eater, if I can see it I'll eat it but if its in a sensible place like the veg rack or the fridge I forget its there until its too late. Especially as my fridge is not eyelevel (no space in kitchen) and most days I can't bend down far enough to see into it fully.

    People keep saying that healthy eating and cooking from scratch is cheaper but I've never made it work for me. like I say 89p for a stickered ready meal in Lidl.... I can't make dinner cheaper than that.
    • lemonizer
    • By lemonizer 18th Oct 16, 4:27 PM
    • 18 Posts
    • 9 Thanks
    £120 or even £80 PM sounds like hard work but the reality is after a few weeks you'll be into your new system and you'll probably find you actually spend much less than your budget.

    Basically, if you want to eat cheap it usually means some form of planning and cooking from fresh. A good rule to help if you are time poor is that cooking for 4 takes only slightly longer than cooking for 1. So if you make a lasagne, one for tonight, three for the freezer. Want some roasted veg? Chop 4x as much, blanche them and use 1/4 for tea and the rest go in the freezer.

    We have a fixed £50 PW target for all food, toiletires, nappies for a year old and 3 cats. TBH, this is a bit high and we could probably reduce it to £30 PW but with a massive increase in prep time.

    A few tips:

    Pulses 'rule' and bulk out / improve almost anything. (we even make our own baked beans!) Dried are cheaper than cheap itself!
    Most veg is cheap. Carrots, pots, broccoli, etc. Buy the offer.
    Cheaper cuts of meat taste better than expensive ones but take longer to cook. A slow cooker is your friend.
    Fruit is cheap unless you go exotic. Why have 4 perfectly similar apples when you can hae 12 in a bag for the same price.
    There is more to life than pasta. Try bulgar wheat, cous cous, pearl barley.

    It's homemade pizza for tea tonight. ~15 mins prep, 10 mins cooking. Cost ~£1.50 for the three of us.
    • JackieO
    • By JackieO 18th Oct 16, 4:52 PM
    • 15,894 Posts
    • 134,729 Thanks
    I use lots of Y/S veg to make soup, veggie curry or lasagne's or even a veggie chilli all of which can be portioned up individually and frozen the same as a 'ready-meal' Iam not a total veggie as I also enjoy meat as well,but in moderation as too much red meat isn't that good for you. a couple of chicken thighs wrapped in a rasher or two of streaky bacon then wrapped in foil and cooked is a nice 'meaty ' meal that won't break the bank. I have no waste in my house either as what isn't going to be eaten is frozen or made into a meal and portioned up for the freezer..I have cooked from scratch for most of my life at least the past 60 odd years anyway and for me its not only money saving its a darn sight nicer than processed junk food in a cardboard box.But different strokes for different folks .My monthly budget for myself is £60.00 and I am quite happy with that. I don't eat bread at all and so I only buy butter to cook shortbread with.
    I make my own cakes and biscuits and prefer them to 'shop' bought ones. Especially when if you look at the supermarket ones they are all full of preservatives .Tesco's were selling some Christmas mince pies at the beginning of October with a use by date of 31 December How long since they were made !!! I can make my own scones and fruit cakes that taste just as nice, if not nicer than something stuffed full of chemicals .

    I too don't need to spend a great deal on cleaning stuff. Aldi's liquid washing non-bio stuff does and excellent job on my clothes, I use half the amount stated and throw in a handful of washing soda (60p a bag ) and top the 'conditionin drawer up with white vinegar. washing is line dried and clean and fresh without a problem.Aldis shampoo is fine and their shower gel at 39 does the same job as anything else. My only luxury is possibly my ground coffee, but my eldest DD often treats me to a pack as we are the only two in the family who enjoy fresh coffee.I suppose about a third of my budget goes on fresh fruit and veg and I like to get what's in season, and Aldi's super six is amazing value.

    This month I have been shopping once and have only spent so far just under £18 in groceries and that is on things I had run out of. I shall be going agin by the end of this week and again it will be for mainly veg and a couple of odds and ends that are on my shopping list.

    I do menu plan every Sunday morning so I make sure things in the fridge are used up before I buy anything else. My household budget is run the same way as I would run a business and wasting cash to me is just plain daft. Today with food becoming more and more expensive why throw good money down the drain.I would rather spend it on something nice instead and my treats usually involve my grandchildren .

    I could afford to spend more if I needed to, but prefer to keep to a set budget and anything left over goes into my family holiday fund at the end of the month


    P.S. just read your post lemonizer ,spot on
    Last edited by JackieO; 18-10-2016 at 4:55 PM.
    Quot Libros,Quam Breve Tempus. 2018
    Running total for four months food only shopping =£126.24.Freezer stuff slowly going down at last May totals £31.11 freezer and tinned cupboards are going down nicely
    • alja
    • By alja 18th Oct 16, 7:18 PM
    • 763 Posts
    • 7,444 Thanks
    I now live on my own for the first time and I originally budgeted around £25 a week to spend on food. I have no idea what I'm currently really spending on food (hoping to keep a true eye on it soon!). But I'm looking to cut down as much as possible here anyways too due to increased spending around the Christmas period.
    Instead of buying more and more meals this week, I'm making sure I'm using up what I already have. So I pulled some bits out of the cupboard and have put them in a cardboard box to ensure I concentrate on using those up before buying. (Going to do the same with toiletries!)
    The main way I try to cut costs is by trying the value range products first, if I'm happy with those I'll stick to them, if not I'll try the next step up etc. I find I'm very satisfied with many value range products!
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