My kids enjoying their tea
I’ve recently been watching a new TV series on BBC2 called ‘Economy Gastronomy’. If you’ve not seen it before, the idea is that these two top chefs take a family who are spending stupid money on food each week and show them how to halve their bills. One family in particular was spending £400 per week for 7 of them and they managed to get it down to £200 by using up leftovers, shopping smart and cooking from scratch.
Not bad, but I can do better. (Not sure why the beeb didn’t ask me, to be honest!) I usually spend around £75 per week, though when things have been a little tight, I’ve got it down to £35.
Last week we discovered to our horror that we only had £20 available to spend on food for the coming week.
I immediately put my ‘Super Mum’ costume on and sprang into action, racing to the supermarket only to return 45minutes later with £20 worth of food and do you know what…it lasted us for the week. Not only that, but all the family agreed that they had eaten well and didn’t feel hard done by.
This is how I did it:
To make this work, it’s important that you do/have the following:
1. Be prepared to make your own bread/cakes/biscuits/scones. As I always say, if the kids get hungry I can lob a scone at them.
2. Have a moderately well stocked cupboard containing things like basic herbs, marmite, soya sauce and flour.
3. Grab yourself a copy of The New Students Veggie Cook Book by Carolyn Humphries. I saved even more money here as I picked mine up for 50p from the second hand shop.
4. You will have to eat veggie for a week. It’s not THAT bad and can help you lose weight.
5. You have to shop at Sainsbury’s and buy their basic range. I consider myself a bit of a supermarket bargain range connoisseur and Sainsbury’s is by far the best for quality and the range of products that they do.
6. Prepare a weekly meal planner, write a list and STICK TO IT!!! No matter what, do not stray. If you have to buy toiletries etc. put them on the list too.
7. Erm…that’s it!
So, where you can, buy from the basic range. Most of the stuff is fine and I’m sure you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if it wasn’t for the packaging. You can get a big box of cornflakes for around 47p and OK, they may not be Kelloggs but hey, it’s only for a week.
This was my meal planner. I’ve only shown dinner, as breakfast was usually cornflakes or toast, lunch was toast and a scone or a biccy and then we filled up on dinner.
Monday: Pasta bake and garlic bread. (Here I buy basic half -baked baguettes, split them and spread home made garlic butter on them before baking)
Tuesday: Egg and Mushroom pie, with vegetables
Wednesday: Vegetable pie with mash
Thursday: Vegetable curry
Friday: Home made veggie burgers and salad
Saturday: Pete’s chilli with garlic bread and nachos.
Sunday: Nut roast, roast potatoes and roast veg with apple and blackberry crumble. (Blackberries from garden)
All for £20, that included nappies and baby wipes. Sainsbury’s do value nappies for about £1.75. I may not use them on a newborn but they’re fine for my toddler.
We also have milk delivered which I haven’t included in the cost of the £20.
I’m sure that for some people this all sounds like hard work. The beauty of using this particular recipe book is that its designed for students who are notorious for having no money and no inclination to do anything. The book shows how to make cheap and easy meals. I’ve been so impressed that I may just throw my other recipe books away.
Also it helps to have kids who are willing to try new food and don’t mind veggies. My middle son is the worst and will turn his nose up without hesitation, but even he had a go and ate most of it. But I guess if you’re starving you’ll eat anything!
I’d love to know what other Mums and Dads do to save money in the kitchen as I’m always on the look out for new ideas.