Shopping on a budget

Hubby picked up on a headline today about a savvy mum spending £10 on food for the week in comparison to the government’s ‘£30 food parcel’ which probably only cost just over a fiver.
I couldn’t find that one, but did find this (source), and well, you know me, always on the lookout for saving a few pennies.
In this article not only does she price her shopping list, but also provides menus for the week for her and her family. Not all my cup of tea though.


Naturally, I had to do a comparison, though there are a few things I don’t buy and of course there are only two of us.
I have to take my hat off to her, as for a week, this is quite impressive in my opinion.
What she says about shopping around is true, if you have the time or the means, though frequenting the same shops regularly, you can get a ‘feel’ for when the bargains are due in store!
For us, a 400g loaf of bread lasts more than a week, as do the 12 packs of stocks cubes,
I buy 4 tins of tomatoes, chopped or peeled, a month, and neither of us like sardines.
The peppers I prepare and freeze, so they last over a month, rice we get at least 10 meals out of a pack, and I pay extra for lean minced beef, dividing the pack into five portions and freezing it, so that’s a month. Jam will definitely last more than a month (if I buy it), but then we don’t have that (or tinned fruit or chocolate spread) in our porridge, a box of which will also last us a month. Pasta is on a par, and I’m the only one who eats it, so a pack will give me at least five meals.
The soft cheese I’d buy for my cheesecakes, so not very often now, and the frozen veg will last well over a month. We get three days out of a stew pack with added onions and potatoes, though I buy a pack of 4 baking potatoes for 39p. I buy chicken breast rather than a whole bird and get four large breasts (again a month’s supply) for around £3.50.
My extra mature cheddar is the same and lasts a month, tomato puree I don’t buy any more because it’s too acidic for Hubby’s digestion, and I’m the only one who eats cherry tomatoes, so again that will last me quite a while. Bananas are good at 13p each, but we buy a 5 or 7 pack for the week as we do have them on cereal or for a dessert with yogurt.
Our eggs tend to go past their best before date before we use them, especially when Maggie went off them for breakfast, and if I buy a baguette, it’s fresh and costs 22p.

I see there is no milk, butter/margarine, yogurt, tea, coffee, baked beans or biscuits on her list, nor fizzy drinks, chocolate bars or crisps which kids tend to enjoy. There is also no mention of desserts in her menus, neither is there fresh fruit other than bananas.

This is my monthly shopping list, though obviously some items would be top ups weekly too, and stock cubes I tend to buy 4 or 5 packs at a time at 39p when I’m running low.

Our meal today is cottage pie with one pack of mince, an onion, garlic, mashed potato with cheese topping and will be served with broccoli, sprouts and carrots, so a cost of around £2.00 for the two of us.

It would appear that The Sun did a similar interview with another Mum of two in January 2020 (source), which was also picked up by The Mirror (source).
She gives recipes and menus too.

Post Script:
Readers may have noticed the absence of some basics on my shopping list such as flour, sugar, tinned stuffs, soups, instant mash (yeah, I use it a lot, but don’t knock it, at 28p a pack serves 4 or does the topping for 2 cottage pies for Hubby and I), instant custard, sultanas, etc. These are purchased when I need them, so not every month.

About pensitivity101

I am a retired number cruncher with a vivid imagination and wacky sense of humour which extends to short stories and poetry. I love to cook and am a bit of a dog whisperer as I get on better with them than people sometimes! We have recently lost our beloved dog Maggie who adopted us as a 7 week old pup in March 2005. We decided to have a photo put on canvas as we had for her predecessor Barney, and now have three pictures of our fur babies on the wall as we found a snapshot of my GSD so had hers done too. From 2014 to 2017 'Home' was a 41 foot narrow boat where we made strong friendships both on and off the water. We were close to nature enjoying swan and duck families for neighbours, and it was a fascinating chapter in our lives. We now reside in a small bungalow on the Lincolnshire coast where we have forged new friendships and interests.
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13 Responses to Shopping on a budget

  1. fransiweinstein says:

    Boy, you do well!! Kudos to you!!

  2. Lisa says:

    Her list doesn’t sound terribly nutritious for children. Or adults. As you noted, no milk for one, although one of her recipes uses milk.
    2 bananas? She has a family of four (I guess three kids have moved out). It looks her “treat” is chocolate spread on white bread. I don’t know what the prices are, being in the US, so can’t tell how low or high they are. I looked at her menus! On Saturday, today let’s say, I’d have a poached egg with toast for breakfast, a nasty sounding sardine pasta for lunch, and chicken fried rice for dinner. If you look at the family photo at the table, where are the vegetables or fruit? She’s feeding her family, but I’m surprised the media would use her as an example based on what she feeds them.

    • I have to admit I would soon get bored with her menu, though I can get 3 meals for 4 out of a chicken (did that years ago).
      We eat well, varied meals and on a budget too, but there are only the two of us. Saying that, one chicken breast will serve the both of us in a curry or sweet and sour dish, and one 200g portion of minced beef will make us a 2 day chili using tinned tomatoes, an onion and tin of kidney beans.
      £20 converts to about $27 bucks I think, so my minced beef at £4.79 is $6.51.

  3. murisopsis says:

    I think the lack of fruit and vegetables is one of the problems that people in poverty have. But even when money was tight I always made sure the boys had lots of fruit and veggies. They may not have had soda pop or sweets but we spent a huge amount on milk!

    • I was never a fruity kid. I liked the big naval oranges and satsumas, seedless grapes, bananas, strawberries, gooseberries and plums, but they were all seasonal then. Veg was OK, I liked carrots and runner beans, onions, cauliflower, cabbage and sprouts. Mum and Dad never had a lot of money, but we ate well and healthily.

  4. Carol anne says:

    that’s awesome di! You are saving a lot! I shop as I need to, so not every week, I buy milk and bread and butter and stuff on as per needed basis, the rest I buy every few weeks, when things use out I replace them. Plus, I eat a lot at my parents house, so don’t need to buy a big weekly shop each week.

  5. Lately, with shopping being more difficult to do safely, I am tending to get the types of fresh fruits and vegetables that are cheap and that keep forever in the refrigerator: cabbage, carrots, radishes, celery, apples, and oranges (now back in season) or that keep well in the pantry like potatoes, onions, and sweet potatoes. The kind of stuff–barring the oranges and radishes–that old-timers used to fill their root cellars with. Americans tend to have bigger refrigerators or I couldn’t do this. You’d need dynamite to have a root cellar where I live! I ate differently when I was a kid. More like the family in the first example. We ate a lot of canned foods. I remember my Mom filling two large grocery carts when we would go shopping at the Green Street store back in the 1960s. We would buy the dented cans and the ones without labels. Mom was pretty good at guessing what they contained, although we had a few surprises! LOL

    • I remember digging around at the bottom of the freezers for split packets of veg that were being sold cheaply. I was feeding a family of 4 plus 2 dogs on about £8 a week (around USD 11) but I worked for a vending machine company and the food coming back from site was still good so I had access to pies and pasties, cakes and rolls, which helped stretch the family budget.

  6. There were 9 of us and a couple of the teens had jobs in food service and a bakery. I remember my brother bringing home these big greasy cardboard boxes filled with coffee cakes, sweet rolls, and donuts. I don’t know how much it helped the budget, but I know where my sweet tooth originated!

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