I would like to reduce the amount of money we spend each month on food but without compromising on quality. We go for as much organic as we can afford (I especially can't bring myself to buy cheap meat), we have an organic veg box delivered and we visit the local farmers market when my dh isn't working (I don't drive). We have just moved so we shall be having a veg plot once we have got the house in a decent enough order . Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
Soup always gets my vote and growing your own herbs can add lots of variation and health properties to your food
Sprouting seeds on the windowsill
making your own bread / cakes / biscuits
Pasta and sauce is a good meal (and I'd love your recipe for lentil sauce please Helen )
And I second a casserole done in the slow cooker - you can't beat it!
The cheapest way to eat, imo, is to eat seasonally.
i definately agree with starchild that making your own cakes/biscuits from scratch is cheaper - and you can control what goes in them!
Do yuo shop in supermarkets? always check the reduced sections of the fruit and veg, and the chilled sections. most of the reduced products can go in the freezer. we buy reduced fruit and either puree it, or freeze it as it is (such as strawberries, raspberries). you can use the frozen fruit for smoothies, mix in with yogurt etc.
lentils and dried beans are very cheap, and add so much bulk and flavour to soups and casseroles.
one great tip i found was for one week a month, have a 'no shopping' week, and use up what you have in the house. we 'cheated' a bit as we had to have milk, but it made us realise how much food we have at the back of the freezer and in the cupboards!
also, have you tried planning your meals for a week, planning a shopping list based on this, and only buying whats on the list? if you are anything like me, ou can easily be swayed by a 'bargain', and having only gon in for a pint of milk, come out with bags full!!
I check the cupboards and fridge for what I have and what needs used up and factor these ingredients into the weeks menu plan, then go to the shops with a list of exactly what I need to make my meals for the week.
Have found it's knocked about a third off my shopping bills, there is so much less waste and I;m not stuck for ideas for a lunch/dinner as I just have to look at my plan.
Love the idea of a "no shopping" week. I might have to add that one in as well.
BTW I don't know why a breadmaker could be considered a cheat any more than an oven is - unless you normally bake over and open fire or in a pit in the ground that is!
Have found basing our meals around the contents of the weekly veg bag helps to keep it cheap - we had carrot and lentil soup today and baked pots for tea and will make veggie shepherds pie tomorrow to use up last 3 pots, 2 onions and 2 carrots, just add tin of toms and some lentils. Then, the excitement (gosh, is this my life ? ) of the veg bag coming tomorrow to see what we'll be making for rest of the week.
I do like the no shopping week idea, bit scared as to what we might end up eating though :D
We eat a lot of lentil dahl. We just chuck whatever veggies are left around in. and serve with jacket spuds, or rice, or pitta.
In fact pulses in general offer good value.
Oh and I've got a brilliant 70 year old recipe for rhubarb chutney which is really similar in taste to mango chutney, just without the airmiles ;D
The other thing is to shop at Aldi/Lidl which offer really good food at a reduced cost (we do but the ethics of it is admittedly a bit questionable.)
A veg plot / allotment can produce an amazing amount of amazing quality food if you've got a bit of spare time. you can go for really low maintenance stuff like spuds which take very little looking after.
I find the single biggest way that money disappears on food is buying snacks, drinks and meals when out and about. Even a sandwich. Always have a bottle of water and enough to feed you and your little ones when you go out for the morning/afternoon or day (eg sandwiches, oat cakes and fruit). It is so easy to spend a fiver on nothing special, which could have made a really nice meal as part of your planned shopping.
I often do a roast chicken at the weekend so we have one "special" meal a week, and then we get loads of leftover meals out of it through the week (so I don't have to cook much - I work 3 days a week). By having a fairly small amount of meat in each meal, we manage to get 3-4 meals out of a medium chicken (2 adults + toddler) plus the stock does a risotto at the end of the week. The usual leftover meal is brown rice and a green vegetable with cold chicken and mayonnaise sauce (homemade mayo diluted with water until it is salad dressing consistency) and parsley sprinkled over. This is almost no effort and probably works out quite cheap.
The lentil sauce recipe is almost the same that I do as lentil and tomato soup, expect I use brown lentils and use more liquid.
Breakfast cereals can be quite expensive, especially organic ones. We mostly have oats and milk (cold) for breakfast, with some raisins and ground seeds sprinkled over. You can add chopped friut to this, or eat the fruit separately.
Large pots of natural yoghurt are cheap and healthy. I mix with homemade jam or tahini and bananas (plus maple syrup for a treat).
Bolognaise sauce can be made to go further by mixing in lots of lentils and it still tastes great. Make this in big quantities and freeze in big yoghurt pots.
We do an omlette with loads of summer veg in, eg tomatoes, courgette, peppers and spinach. This keeps quite well and can do several meals.
hi, well i was spending about £50 per week for a family of 4 but realised when i looked at bank statements that i was actually spending about double that in total as i was buying more bits during the week, popping in to supermarket for 1 thing and leaving with a basket full kind of thing! so i probably spend about £100 a week on average. Its very hard to get it to be less, but we are also vegetarian so i guess its more if you buy meat, and i do mainly buy organic where i can but on some things i just cant justify the expense but for fruit and veg i rarely buy non-organic.
I didn't think I was that much of a cheep-scate but my weekly bill is £30-£40 (including a bit of meat for Hubby) plus £8 every 2 weeks for the organic veggie box- for 4 of us (3 meals a day) (obviously more if visitors are up to visit). I think it may be regional too- my parents are always amazed when the visit (they are in Wokingham, I'm in Lincoln)and they always stock-pile on cheep stuff!
I always buy loads of bits from the discount stand, special offers (but only if we normally have it), rarely have alcohol and never buy pre-made stuff (which look cheep but are tiny portions so it soon adds up). Poor Hubby must be being deprived of something- I'll treat him to something yummy next time I'm in Asda!
£30-40 a week! I need to know how you do that!! We are a family of 5 (6 any day now!) and my teenage son eats for england. I spend around £95 a week - but must confess to shopping from asda (oh the delivery charge is included in that). In addition two of my children have school lunches so that is an extra £15 a week. I did the organic fruit and veg boxes for a while but it seemed to put my shopping costs up by about £20 a week, plus I did end up composting stuff as it would go off before I got round to using it!
I would love to get my food bill down! Maybe I should kick the kids out!
I can now see where I am going wrong. I think I need to make a decision that if I want to be able to afford to stay at home for the children then I need to make some radical changes to the way I shop and cook.
Thanks Queenie for taking the time to post this. X
We are a family of 5 and spend no more than £50 a week on groceries (including cleaning stuff etc). I buy very little from the supermarket, although there are a few things that I have to and for those we go to Co-op. We have an organic fruit and veg box every week, and the company which delivers that also sells other groceries so we get some other things from there. Meat, eggs and any other veg comes from the farmers market, cheese and ham etc from the deli, bread and milk comes from the village shop (they stock bread baked in the bakery in town) although if I have time I bake my own bread. We also have some veg in the garden. I cook everything from scratch, including cakes etc. OH and DS1 both take packed lunches to work/school, DS2, DD and I are at home for lunch every day anyway.
This week we have/will be eating:
Sat: welsh black beef burgers in buns with salad
Sun: roast chicken, new potatoes, carrots, spring greens, stuffing, gravy
Mon: leftovers from day before
Tues: aubergine and tomato lasagne with salad
Wed: cheese and leek quiche with salad and new potatoes
Thurs: spinach and cheese pizza with salad
Fri: Hot Dogs (made with wild boar sausauges from the farmers market) and salad.
Pudding is yoghurt of fruit, Breakfast is Weetabix or muesli and fruit, lunch is sandwiches or homemade soup or scrambled eggs etc.
I avoid processed food like the plague, and try and eat as much organic and locally produced as I can. I'm by no means perfect, but we seem to be doing OK! ;D
You guys are so inspirational! What I need now is a four week meal planner that I could rotate! I really think I could try harder. Our downfall in this house is the amount of biscuits and icecream my kids eat. They get in from school and eat! My 15 yr old ate a bowl of cereal and a whole pack of cookies when he got in the other day, before I had even noticed what he had done!
Willow, how much do you cook on the sunday to have left overs for monday. We never have left overs, but Im thinking maybe its because although we are a family of 5, 4 of us are eating adult sized portions, only the 9 year old is still eating less than us. My 15 yo eats twice as much as anyone else in the house (and he is still soooo skinny!But he is getting tall!)
Queenie, if you have the time and inclination I would gratefully accept any recipes! Oh,and I tried googling for the book Green Harvest but couldnt find it. Do you have an author/isbn that might help?
I used to use a book by Delia Smith called "Frugal food" in my student days, but alas I no longer know where it is in the bermuda triangle that is my home!