It’s the age old question. Can you eat healthily and save money as a family? My first thought was no. It wasn’t long ago that I hit rock bottom and had to rely on only £18 a week for food, for the four of us!
It was hard, really hard, and I just couldn’t work out how we could all eat well yet not blow our weekly budget.
It took a few trips to the discounters, and even a few of the different supermarkets for me to realize that healthy eating doesn’t have to cost more, but that our relationship with food had to change.
Eating More Veg
Meat and fish are currently pretty pricey, even at our local discounter. I now add grated vegetables to everything to try and bulk it out then freeze any leftovers for the next day.
Have a Meat Free Day
On weeks’ things are really tight, we leave meat. I make a veggie stir fry, fajitas or a spaghetti Bolognese all meat free. It still tastes lush, but costs almost half as much to make.
Know What’s in Your Kitchen
Check the cupboards and the fridge before you go shopping. Is there anything you could use for next week? Is there anything in your freezer that could go with a meal? Any leftovers that need to be used?
Incorporate all these into your meal plan to bring the price down.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as good for you as their fresh counterparts. Everything can be bought frozen, from pineapples and strawberries to peppers and mushrooms.
Try Cheaper Brands
Wherever you shop, there’s always a cheaper level of food. Start from the bottom and work your way up. If you don’t like the cheapest version, then go one up and try that. Chances are, with most products, the family won’t even be able to tell the difference.
Easier said than done with kids, but by being really strict, you can reduce what goes into the bin. Everything I buy now is allocated into a meal or snack. We also now don’t serve the kids food, but put it on a separate plate so they can pick how much they want. They can always come back for seconds, but it means we can freeze whatever isn’t eaten for another time.
Write a List
I bang on about this in almost every post, but writing a list can really save you hundreds of pounds a year.
Plan what you’re going to eat and stick to it as much as you can. You can swap and change meals around, so as long as everything is eaten, it doesn’t matter when it’s used. A list or meal plan just stops you going crazy at the supermarket!
Cook from Scratch
I know this sounds weird, but it’s so much cheaper to cook from nothing. No more tins or jars, it really is just as quick to make up a pasta bake sauce or homemade soup then opening one. Plus, it tastes so much better too!
Cut Down on Luxuries
I hate to say it, but if you want to shop for under £16, then the high price tickets have to go. No more cakes and biscuits or cola drinks. Better yet, make them yourself.
Everyone Eats the Same
Before money was tight, everyone would eat something different, meaning I was in the kitchen for an hour a night, to cook meals that no one really wanted.
Now, we all eat the same! The kids pick what they want to eat for dinner, and I fill in the gaps. Because they’ve chosen most of the meals, they tend to eat them. (Well, at least try them!)
But How Can I feed Everyone for Just £16?
By being very conservative with our shop. I start by making a weekly meal plan, something like this, but making sure that all the ingredients possible will be used: (Highlighted items are part of my kitchen staples, which you can find here. These are filled up once a month or when needed.)
I also use my £1 a Head Family Meals when i’m stuck in a rut.
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Crackers and Cheese
Egg fried Stir fry with Rice
Mince Pasta Bake
Over night porridge oats
Homemade Tomato Soup
Jacket Sweet Potato & Beans
Homemade Tomato Soup
Egg noodle stir fry
Crackers and Flapjack
That would then be converted to my shopping list:
Wraps (8 pack) 89p
Frozen peppers 1kg £1.25
Onions 1 kg 59p
Fajita seasoning 35g 88p
Bread 800g 50p
Milk 4pt 99p
Cheese 500g £2.50
Mince 500g £2.10
Eggs 15 £1.19
Chopped tomatoes 400g 90p
Crackers 300g 40p
Bananas 5 pack 87p
Sweet potatoes 1kg £1
Noodles 300g 90p
Frozen mushrooms 600g £1
Total: £15.96 (All prices are correct from Asda at time of publication)
No drinks are included here, as we would normally drink just water in our £16 or £18 shopping weeks.
Menu Planning for me is the hardest, but the most important part of eating on a budget. It gives you a plan you can use to help you buy food more wisely and stop you staring in the fridge for 5 minutes trying to think what to make for dinner tonight. This happens more then I would like… So I designed a few menu planners that work best for me and I thought I would share them. Enjoy!
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