Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Food, Glorious Food!

I am always manking about the cost of feeding my crew on this blog so I thought I'd give you some figures and see whether y'all think I'm right to moan; spending waaaay too much and we're all gannetty pigs; or if I'm doing okay under the circumstances. At the start of 2011 I changed from shopping indiscriminately at Asda (monthly), Sainsbury's (almost daily) and Tesco (infrequently - too expensive for me), to getting my monthly shop at Lidl. It's alright - nothing to tempt me away from my menu plan, unless it's one of their random houseware items -  not too expensive and they normally have what I want. Unless it's marzipan (only stocked at Christmas), suet (whenever I need it they have none, then when I don't they have plenty) or anything on their weekly newsletter that I really love (Rachel's Organic Greek Honey Yogurt for 99p).

Wants it cheap! No fair!!!

So, on Sunday I spent £85.08 on groceries which included £26 on non-food items (loo roll, kitchen roll, socks, plughole unblocker, cat food and dishwasher tablets) so £59 on food. That also included a wholly unnecessary £3 on Belgian Praline Seashells and £2 on Christmas puddings, leaving £54 on meal items. My menu plan was:

Chicken Curry with Rice and Naan Breads
Egg, Bacon and Potato Bake
Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake
Pulled Pork in Buns with Chips
Blue Cheese and Butternut Squash Risotto with HM Garlic Bread
Mixed Grill
Meatloaf, Potatoes, Veg and Gravy

I saw 'was' because we've already eaten two of the meals (the top two). I had the rice in stock, as were the naans which were 'Approved Food' specials so I spent £5.97 plus about 40p for the naans and maybe 30p for the rice.That's about £1.67 a head. By some people's standards I guess that's pretty high but for us it's good. The Egg, Bacon and Potato Bake used five big spuds from a 7.5kg sack that cost £2; four eggs from a '10 for 85p' box; one pack of bacon at £1.25; 2T of flour; 2T of cooking margarine; maybe 3/4pt of milk from a '£1 for 2l' bottle; and maybe 200g cheese at £1.48. I think it probably comes out at about £1.25 per head tops (4 of us for the curry, 3 for the potato bake).
We'll probably have the mixed grill tomorrow (because I want Red to cook) and that'll be bacon (£1.25), sausages (£1.49), eggs (cooked somehow, maybe Eggy Fried Bread, at 8.5p per egg - bread is £1 a loaf but we won't eat a whole one!) and beans (41p per tin). That's between 3 people. The pulled pork is a third of a pork loin joint I bought for £10.44, reduced from £21; the buns I have in the freezer and I also have the chips - both were from Lidl. Good quality but cheap. Blue cheese risotto will use up the last of the Stilton from Christmas, plus some reduced Gorgonzola I bought a while back; I have the risotto rice in my storecupboard, and the squash and I'll use some more Lidl frozen rolls for the garlic bread.

It's fortunate that I have well-stocked cupboards, and that I still had a bit of food left over from Christmas, otherwise I might have spent more. I will have one third of the pork joint left after this week and we also bought a half-price turkey crown (£9.50) last week that has been frozen and will make two or possibly three meals. I'm trying to have a couple meat-free meals as you can see. And though it looks like we hardly eat any vegetables it's not strictly true. We just don't eat masses of them!

I suppose some people might turn their noses up at the fact that I don't go to farmer's markets or eat organic but, call me a Philistine, I just don't notice enough difference to pay over the odds for free-range eggs or 'running in the fields all day' lamb. To me, food is food - I don't have any opinion either way about how or where it's produced....I could say 'as long as it's cheap' but that's not strictly true. I buy the best quality that is available to me where I shop. When I've paid my debts off I might go organic, then again I might decide that holidays are more important. It's all about priorities I guess.

Anyway, am I doing okay, do you think? Is food a priority for you? Have I reason to be moaning about how much I'm spending? And could I trim it down more? By the way, I am awaiting delivery of (amongst other things) 3.5kg of Yorkshire pudding mix from Approved Food. I forsee plenty of Toads-in-the Hole coming up! ;D

Pic from here - mine never looks remotely as nice as this!


  1. I don't think that's a lot of money to spend per week. Sounds to me like you're actually quite frugal.

    I don't see how you can spend less than that without really dropping the quality of your meals..to something like baked beans on spuds three times a week!

  2. Food is important to me but I'm changing how I budget, and from J's January payday onwards I've allocated £100 per month to food shopping and will be using cash only. I have 3 to feed and I'm hoping to have money left each month. I buy meat in bulk at the local butcher - I get a discount for doing that- and shop there every 8 weeks or so. I buy the rest predominantly at Asda, but occasionally Farmfoods and Lidl. I also use a discount freezer store near the butchers to buy butter and margarine - it's almost half the price of the identical stuff in the supermarkets. I buy that in bulk too and freeze it.My veg mainly comes from the allotment, and that saves me a fortune, as does eating seasonally. We only eat soft fruits, tomatoes, courgettes and salad leaves when we grow them ourselves and don't have them again until the following year.I also make all my own bread - that is one of the biggest money savers for me.Judging from other people's trolleys, I only spend a fraction of what they do, but we still eat well - all homecooked from scratch and a lot of it homegrown.It's the only way I can make sure we eat well on a limited income.

  3. I like the sound of Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake, if you've time could you post the recipe?


    Thanks. SP

  4. That seems on a par with my own spending on food really. This week however I managed an unprecedented triumph, I went to our local market (just the standard market not a farmers market) and bought 2lb of braising steak, and loads of veg for a total of £13. I used half the meat and some veg to make a stew on Sunday and we've both had stew Sunday, yesterday and will today. I estimate it's cost about £1.15 per meal each, so markets are well worth checking out. X

  5. I find a good way to bulk out chicken curry is to add chunks of potato. Peel and cube the potato, parboil for 10 mins then add to the curry. Makes it go a lot further so you can afford to use less chicken! We always have chicken curry in our meal plan the day after roast chicken. A small chicken for £2.75 from Aldi feeds us one night (2 adults and 2 children) and then the leftover chicken with some diced potato feeds us as chicken curry (with rice) the following evening!

    Best Wishes
    Frugal Wife

  6. Toad in the hole.......can't remember the last time I had that...brings back memories, used to be a regular meal my Mum cooked!

  7. I consider pork loin to be an expensive cut and to good for pulled pork. maybe slow cooked shoulder might be cheaper. Don't forget yellow label food. at the end of the day when the meat is reduced.
    mince is excellent value and £3 of pork mince when mixed with onion, mushroom and peppers will provide a base mix for 8/10 people. add some tinned tomato and tomato puree and herbs and you get spagetti sauce to serve with pasta. Add chiili, beans and rice and you get chilli con carne. 1 pack of lamb mince will make 2 shepherds pies when combined with onion, mushroom and veg. to top with gravy and then mashed potato.
    1 chicken will make 4 meals for 4 people, you just need to add stuffing and Yorkshire puddings. I could not bring myself to buy ready made yorkshire puddings or mix, they are so simple and cheap to make.
    mixed grill is a treat as it contains bacon and sausage in one meal.
    I do pay more for some of my food as chicken and eggs have to be free range and pork has to be red tractor pork. we have a £60 per week shopping budget, this is for the food and non food items. we feed 4 adults on this for 3 meals a day. I make lots of home made soups for lunch as they are very cheap and filling.
    good luck.

  8. Hi Saphy - thanks for your comment! Although I say so myself, I am the mince queen and most weeks it would be on there a couple times, but I'm trying to use what I have to hand right now. I think we must be big eaters because unless a chicken was about 15lbs in weight it wouldn't feed us four meals (we fluctuate between three adults and five adults, three of whom are men who soon tell me, in no uncertain terms, if they don't have enough to eat). So maybe we're just pigs lol! As far as Yorkshires go, you've either got it or you haven't (the knack that is!) - I haven't, never have had, never made a successful Toad in the Hole. Ergo the mix!

    K xx


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