My Mean Food Bill

A couple of people (online and in real life!) have asked me to go into more detail about how I keep my spending so low (average £17.88 a week over the last 6 months) – what do I actually buy?

You already know (from Husbanding my Resources) what my  rules are – use up what’s already in the cupboards, meal plan, write a shopping list, write it all down, shop at Aldi and allow yourself some treats.

This is food only, for one adult – anything else that I might buy at the supermarket (cleaning materials, toiletries etc) isn’t included, and all food (lunches out, coffee out, takeaway) is included.

Here’s my list from last week – it’s fairly typical. In no particular order

  • 2 pints of milk 79p
  • Large pot of fruit yogurt 85p.
  • Block of Red Leicester cheese £1.49
  • Butter (yes, the real stuff) £1.49
  • 1 loaf of wholemeal bread 49p
  • 1 pack dark chocolate digestives 49p (girl gotta have chocolate)
  • A tin of baked beans 22p. Enough for two meals.
  • 1 small whole chicken £2.25. I’ll get 7 meals out of it – see Rubber Chicken.
  • A bag of satsumas 99p
  • 4 bananas 52p
  • Mushrooms – 95p
  • Cucumber – 53p
  • Red pepper – 48p
  • Tin of tomatoes – 28p
  • 1 Cajun chicken pizza £1.69. I eat half and freeze half, so this will do for two meals, with a salad.
  • Sugar 64p

I also regularly buy natural yogurt, mince, sausages, Wensleydale cheese, apples, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, eggs, fish, tea and coffee and so on – I just didn’t need them this particular week.

My meals for the week (I shop on a Friday, so my meals go from Friday teatime through to the following Friday lunch) –

Breakfast is either cereal with milk, or toast with butter and marmalade, or porridge if I have time.

Lunch if I’m working is either chicken sandwiches or cheese sandwiches. If I’m at home I’ll have scrambled egg, or cheese on toast, or soup, or salad.

Dinners go like this, more or less –

  • Friday – half a pizza with salad (freeze the other half for next week).
  • Saturday – fish.
  • Sunday – roast chicken. Every week. Yes it could be boring if I let it be – but I ring the changes with different veg, different stuffings, cooking the potatoes in different ways etc etc. And it’s very economical, and also nutritious, so what’s not to love?
  • Monday – cold chicken (made into a curry or a pasta dish, or just with potatoes and veg)
  • Tuesday – chunky chicken soup. I use the chicken bones to make stock, then add any leftover chicken to it, and anything else that needs to be used up, with homemade croutons (I use the crusts from the bread). I make enough for lunch the next day as well.
  • Wednesday – something made with mince (I buy a large pack once a month or so, portion it up and freeze it) – it could be spag bol, or chilli, or savoury mince, or a burger depending on how I feel on the day.
  • Thursday – sausages. Bangers and mash, or toad in the hole. Again, I buy a pack and portion it up into 2-sausage portions.
  • Friday – back to pizza again.

For puddings I’ll have fruit yogurt, or fruit with natural yogurt – I’m enjoying free blackberries at the moment – or cheese and biscuits.

Once a month I have a take away – currently favouring curry. Takeaway portions are huge, so I eat half and freeze the other half to have the next month. For the curry and the naan it’s £9.90, but as I make that stretch to two meals, it means I spend just under £5 a month on takeaways.

I don’t really eat snacks – maybe some cheese and crackers if I’m feeling a bit nibblish on an evening. I don’t eat sweets or potato crisps – never have done really, so I don’t feel the lack, if you see what I mean. I always have fruit in the house, and just occasionally I’ll buy a bag of salted cashew nuts or veggie crisps – but not often.

Until last week I hadn’t bought any alcohol for 6 months – if I fancy a drink I have something that’s already in the house. There’s still half a bottle of gin and a fair amount of Pimms (which says a lot about how much alcohol was in the house 6 months ago…), to say nothing of the Advocaat… What even is Advocaat?

And I hate waste. In particular I hate wasting food. I have an on-again off-again relationship with bananas. I like them – but I dislke them intensely if they’re too ripe. So if I buy too many, and they ripen too quickly, I’m likely to just not eat them. And that’s no good. So once they’re past the point of no return I use them in smoothies or I make banana bread. And I’ve found that as long as I only buy about 4, I’ll get through them before they get to that stage.

So yes, this is how I’ve been shopping for the last six months. To begin with, I was using up the stores that I already had in the house, and my food shopping was closer to £15 a week – but as that’s been used up and I started to have to replace things, the food bill has slowly crept up. But still not bad!!

Now and again I feel like I really can’t face another chicken – but the plan all along was to be in control of my situation. It’s not forever – it’s just for as long as it needs to be. When I start buying wine again, it will be when I know I can afford it – knowledge is power.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. anglosvizzera says:

    Great stuff!

    I sometimes buy ‘scrag end of lamb’ and make stew in the slow-cooker, and also offal – although it isn’t to everyone’s taste of course! We do have lamb’s liver once a month or so, and grass-fed beef heart which tastes like stewed beef when done in the slow cooker.

    Regarding fish – we tend to avoid tinned tuna due to the mercury content so eat tinned wild pink salmon, sardines and frozen fish (eg Sea bass and wild salmon from Lidl or whitebait from Aldi), smoked mackerel etc which aren’t too expensive (although tinned red salmon is, hence why we get pink – not actually sure what is different other than the colour).

    We have moved to a mainly low-carb/high fat diet for weight and health reasons – bread, potatoes, pasta etc gives me instant weight gain! We also try to get organic produce/grass-fed meat where possible, which pushes up the price but I keep an eye out for special offers on and the local organic and grass-fed meat farms near us, reduced items in supermarkets etc. The chickens we get are rarely organic as they are so expensive, so we get free-range – but there was an organic chicken reduced in Sainsbury’s the other day, less than half price at £5 – but as we’d recently had a roast chicken my OH persuaded me not to get it. Now I wish I had, as I found out it could be frozen. Damn! Oh well…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like liver too!! Can’t beat liver and onions. Thursday is my ‘cheap meal’ night – so sausages, or liver, or sometimes meat free. And the stews will be coming on-stream when the weather turns cold.


  3. gosforthgirl says:

    I love your blog and eagerly await the next ` installment`!

    I find your comments very inspiring and I am very impressed at keeping your budget at a low level…all fab.

    I too like liver and like it gently cooked. I will often buy meat when it is severely reduced and portion it up. Love my slow cooker as it is very comforting to come into the house when there is a casserole ready for me. Also buying single lamb shanks and then `marrying` them up when a friend comes for dinner.


    1. I think there’s a whole other post that could be written about the perils and pitfalls of shopping and cooking for one!!! I end up batch cooking often simply because I cook enough for two by accident!!

      Liked by 1 person

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