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    • MrsSippi
    • By MrsSippi 4th Dec 17, 1:33 PM
    • 225Posts
    • 352Thanks
    Grocery shop revamp
    • #1
    • 4th Dec 17, 1:33 PM
    Grocery shop revamp 4th Dec 17 at 1:33 PM
    We are a family of 4 (2 adults, 6yo and 2yo). I'm a SAHM and DH works and for the last year I have been focused on clearing all our debts (should be done by Feb - hurrah!). I will admit the stress has been huge but thankfully the end is in sight. However my meal planning has become non existent so would love any advice on what meals to cook etc. New meal ideas is another issue as we seem to be having the same meals all the time (rubber chicken, minced beef stretched etc etc) and I just can't seem to get the motivation to think of new meals to try.

    I am increasing my monthly budget from £260 to £300 as I'm finding it tougher to stretch the money as the cost of everything seems to be increasing. However this must cover all food, lunch stuff for hubby (about £25 pm then bread, fruit etc is included in weekly top up shop), toiletries etc for the month.! I usually do a monthly shop at Aldi or Lidl and then a weekly shop at Lidl for all the fresh stuff (all this is included in the £300).

    A big problem I have is that if I buy the food then work meals around it I end up eating the same things for the first 2 weeks of very month then the 2nd fortnight I'm stumped for ideas but if I plan the meals then buy the food I would go over budget- where am I going wrong?

    My youngest is toilet trained but still uses pull ups at night (costs about £20 pm so not a huge expense).

    Any advice?
Page 1
    • phizzimum
    • By phizzimum 4th Dec 17, 2:08 PM
    • 1,697 Posts
    • 9,246 Thanks
    • #2
    • 4th Dec 17, 2:08 PM
    • #2
    • 4th Dec 17, 2:08 PM
    Hi MrsSippi

    You've come to the right place!

    Planning meals should save you money, but I guess it depends on what meals you choose. Thatís what I love about the Old Style board, it gives me ideas for what to cook which wont cost a fortune.

    Iím feeling a bit in a rut with what Im cooking so I am going to try one new recipe a week. Iím also trying to cook more meat free meals.

    Let us know how you get on
    weaving through the chaos...
    • Tink_04
    • By Tink_04 4th Dec 17, 7:34 PM
    • 921 Posts
    • 4,755 Thanks
    • #3
    • 4th Dec 17, 7:34 PM
    • #3
    • 4th Dec 17, 7:34 PM
    I meal plan but loosely ... I!!!8217;d say for 5 days I!!!8217;d do
    Non meat meal
    Saturday is a bit iffy and an dinner on Sunday

    So I might do
    Monday - chicken curry with LO Sunday dinner chicken
    Tuesday - mince which could be - shep pie - chilli - spag bol - lasagne etc ( double cook one for the freezer)
    Wed non meat - egg & chips - jacket potatoes omelette and wedges
    Thurs what ever other meat I got cheap - this week it is beef casserole (double cook again)
    Friday - fish

    I don!!!8217;t stick to it religiously but I know roughly what we have and what I could make but have room for offeres in the shopping! If I can freeze and extra meal that!!!8217;s great to pull out one day whey your super stressed! Also don!!!8217;t forget those nights when sausage chips and beans is a great choice! Meat is expensive I!!!8217;m trying to make it 2 meat free meals a week but DH is struggling!

    Good luck and keep posting!
    1p savings challenge 2018
    £2 savings challenge
    • suki1964
    • By suki1964 4th Dec 17, 8:32 PM
    • 11,026 Posts
    • 29,384 Thanks
    • #4
    • 4th Dec 17, 8:32 PM
    • #4
    • 4th Dec 17, 8:32 PM
    I'm also a loose meal planner

    I know how much I've got to spend and I see what I can get for that

    I always do a meat free day and I always do a cost free day ( using up what's in the house)

    So let's say it's roast chicken Sunday, I've leftovers. Lots off Left overs usually go for curry or sweet and sour or wraps

    If it's not a chicken curry week, then it's a veggie curry, chickpea and spinach is cheap as chips really

    A small gammon joint in lidl is £3-£4 , great for two meals at least, roast gammon and veg, then ham egg and chips or ( and if the joint is big enough plus) quiche and salad

    Tonight's free meal was using a small bit of left over Sunday beef, stir fried with onions and mushrooms ( which the most are used for other meals ) shoved in pittas with salad ( wraps if I had those, jacket spuds even )

    Fish is expensive so we have fish pie or even fish cakes made from tinned salmon

    The what are you having for dinner tonight thread is a great resource for new ideas
    if you lend someone £20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it
    • MandM90
    • By MandM90 5th Dec 17, 8:01 AM
    • 1,369 Posts
    • 7,051 Thanks
    • #5
    • 5th Dec 17, 8:01 AM
    • #5
    • 5th Dec 17, 8:01 AM
    We spend about £160-200 a month for three of us, including cleaning products, cat food (2 cats), toiletries and a bit of alcohol.

    We're vegan which probably makes it cheaper, but I'd suggest the following:

    1. Before you go grocery shopping, write a huge list of EVERYTHING you have in stock.
    2. Come up with what meals you can make with what you already have.
    3. Then, to fill the rest of the week, focus on what meals you can find that are based around better value ingredients. In our case, this is lentils, beans, root veg and grains. Blogs like Cooking on a Bootstrap and Thrifty Lesley are great for inspiration.
    4. Eat to live, not the other way round. We LOVE food, and LOVE a treat, but both work full time, so I batch cook and we always have last nights dinner for lunch the next day. It might not be as exciting than having 21 different meals a week but it gets us fed, reduces waste and we probably eat better as a result as we think of most meals as enjoyable sustenance, not a lavish treat. If you're really getting sick of the same stuff, then make double, freeze half, and eat it in a couple of weeks.
    5. Try and reduce snacking and sugary drinks. I don't buy biscuits, crisps, fizzy drinks or chocolate. We might buy dark choc on the weekend, or some fruit ice lollies once in a while, but we don't eat cr*p every day and that's great for my budget because it's SO expensive. Drinks are water, herbal teas, coffee or sometimes squash. For a treat we might bake something like Twinks hobnobs (so cheap and yummy) or buy some fancy fruit.

    I reckon if you planned every single meal, you could keep it under £260! Have a look at Thrifty Lesley if you haven't already.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Marriages & Family,
    Old Style, Mortgage Free Wannabe, Green & Ethical
    boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. Any views are mine and not the official line of Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to
    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 5th Dec 17, 1:34 PM
    • 740 Posts
    • 5,195 Thanks
    • #6
    • 5th Dec 17, 1:34 PM
    • #6
    • 5th Dec 17, 1:34 PM
    It seems to me that you shop first then try to work out what meals to have. Is that correct? Also, do you know what you have in your store cupboards before you go shopping or are you regularly buying items, only to discover you have a duplicate when you get home?

    I'm quite a loose menu-planner but that's because we utilise our freezer extensively. Virtually all fresh meat and fish get frozen at the first opportunity. We also freeze leftovers and surplus "lunch boxes". My menu planning consists of rummaging in the freezer the night before, pulling out a package of, say, mince, considering what mince-based meal we haven't had recently and deciding that will be tomorrow night's dinner.

    In my house, every shopping trip starts with a shopping list. Whenever something is used up, it is added to the list and we always check the freezer and cupboards before we go shopping, to see what we have, what needs to be utilised and where the voids are (e.g. do we have enough tinned tomatoes to last the month? What about breakfast cereal or rice?). I tend to shop to restock the pantry, but if there are any big meals coming up (Christmas dinner, anyone?) or a friend coming to stay, then we may add a few items to the list to cover that particular event. If there is anything specific that will be needed for cooking, I'll add it to the list.

    Meal wise, these are the things I consider:-

    • Nutrition. We don't use much fat and eat sufficient protein but are we eating enough vegetables? Would the chilli absorb a grated carrot or two? Can I add some frozen veg to the dhal or the pasta bake to make it more nutritious?
    • Taste. Food may be cheap but it needs to be tasty. We eat curries, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, French, Italian and Spanish food as well as traditional British fare. That's quite a range. Just think what you can do with one, large chicken breast: it could be a Thai Green Curry, a Chinese Stir-fry, Chicken Madras (padded with veggies of course), a Chicken Pot Pie (if it came from a roast and you had any suitable leftovers plus gravy) or even French-style Chicken with Peas and Bacon served over pasta.
    • Speed. Once you factor in my commute, I'm away from home for about 11 hours a day. My DH's working day was similar before he was made redundant 3 months ago. During the week, we often don't have the time or the inclination for massive amounts of food prep, so I have tubs of "base" in the freezer for those nights to cut down cooking time. ("Base" is batch fried onions with mushrooms and garlic, since virtually all my recipes start that way. When I can, I will often double up on onions and mushrooms, fry it up and then freeze half before proceeding with cooking the rest of dinner.)
    • Speed 2. I've got a few recipes which only take 5 or 10 minutes preparation and can then be left to simmer on their own. I also have several which go from "open the fridge" to "fully cooked" in less than half an hour.
    • Planning. You've got to think in advance for some things, e.g. the Base mentioned above. Also, I got fed up with finding hard beans in cans of kidney beans, so now I cook dried kidney beans from scratch. Ditto chickpeas. I'll soak a triple quantity one night, drain them, shove them into the freezer in a bag for a few days and then defrost/cook from frozen at the weekend or on a weeknight when I get home early enough. Once cooked, they'll be drained, portioned into takeaway boxes, labelled and frozen again. If I forget to defrost them, it's no big deal; it takes a minute in the microwave to defrost a box of beans sufficiently to enable it to be tipped into a chilli.
    • Lunch. For both of us, lunch during the week consists of leftovers from last night's dinner, usually dished up at the same time as we plate up the main meal. (If not, my DH would eat the entire meal plus seconds/thirds and there wouldn't be leftovers.)


    - Pip
    "Be the type of woman that when you get out of bed in the morning, the devil says 'Oh crap. She's up.' "

    C.R.A.P R.O.L.L.Z. #47 Official Brain Harvesting Body Counter
    • jackyann
    • By jackyann 5th Dec 17, 2:07 PM
    • 3,335 Posts
    • 7,901 Thanks
    • #7
    • 5th Dec 17, 2:07 PM
    • #7
    • 5th Dec 17, 2:07 PM
    We used to have lists on the fridge, and each of us could say what meal we would like next week. Adults of course needed to be thoughtful about cost, but kids mostly ask for things like sausages! It's a good way to encourage discussion about food 'what would we have with sausages to make sure that meal is healthy?' and the rule was that if you moaned, you could not have a 'choose' next week.
    This gives you a place to start.
    Have a few 'using up' meals up your sleeve, like risotto. Think about basing a meal around, say jacket potatoes. With a tin of beans, or a saucepan of mushy peas,or a 'winter salad' and plenty of cheese grated onto them that is a good meal. Using up the odd sausage or slice of cold meat adds a bit more interest.
    A cheap pot roast for Sunday can give you left-overs that are really nice. One of our favourites is belly pork cooked with a bit of soy sauce and some Chinese spices. The left overs get stir fried with veges and noodles.
    • MrsSippi
    • By MrsSippi 6th Dec 17, 9:19 AM
    • 225 Posts
    • 352 Thanks
    • #8
    • 6th Dec 17, 9:19 AM
    • #8
    • 6th Dec 17, 9:19 AM
    Thank you for all the replies, they've given me a good starting point.

    I will try breaking the week down, as suggested, into meal type (I.e. meat, fish, baked pot etc etc) and see how that works.

    PipneyJane- you're right I do buy the food first then try and work meals around what I've got. I did try doing it the other way around but found my bill was much higher and I'm not really sure why.

    I tend to break down my monthly budget into 'area's. So for example I currently have a £260 monthly budget and will spend £20 of that on meat (so could be 5 whole chickens one month (which takes me very slightly over £20 or another month it could be a mix of chicken, minced beef, burgers etc etc - just depends really). I then try and plan the meals around what I've bought so for example if I've got 4 chickens that is 4 Sunday's and Mondays sorted and any chicken left will be used for Tuesday dinner or in DH lunches. Again this is where boredom sets in as I invariably do a roast followed by a curry or risotto but this gets very boring after a while.

    I also have a part of the budget for storecupboard bits, toiletries etc etc and I aim to spend 140 on the monthly part and then have about 30 per week to spend on the fresh bits which is plenty when you consider I shop at Lidl and its only really fruit, veg, salad, yoghurt, eggs, bread and milk I buy weekly. I usually find there is always enough in the £30 too if there is a good weekend offer on meat or other food to take advantage of.
    Last edited by MrsSippi; 06-12-2017 at 10:12 AM.
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