So I was set the £2 Challenge. Feed your family for £2 per person per day.
Initially I thought this was crazy! £56 for a weekly shop was barely going to cover my cereal habit! (Those who know me will know I eat a LOT of cereal!)
Currently we are averaging £140 a week on food shopping. This seems obscene! I love food. I bake a lot and enjoy cooking new meals so food is important to me. But wine, beer or cider can also be found in our trolley most weeks, along with a lot of other non-essentials. I thought I was really going to struggle.
So firstly I set about this by understanding that I could never include toiletries, kitchen supplies like bin liners/tin foil/washing up liquid/washing powder, or nappies, wipes and cat food in this budget – it would be dead in the water.
These would have to come under some other budget. Cheating? Maybe. But I set about it as if I had nothing else food wise in the kitchen, so I included salt and pepper, oil and teabags, sugar and so on in my budget. I set out a list of breakfasts, lunches and dinners that could be made cheaply and still try to include as varied and nutritious a diet as possible. It actually wasn’t so tough!
The final menu plan was pretty impressive and I even managed to fit in a few treats and baking ingredients!
On closer inspection I found the meals were actually better than some we have been having lately as I had had to really think about the ingredients. I also found that people who think it’s cheaper to eat unhealthy food are uninformed. The price of vegetables is really low and if you shop smart you can make use of the big bags of cheap root veg. Like a kg of carrots for under 50p!
It is not something I would feel would be manageable (or enjoyable) for us on a weekly basis, but it has definitely given us all food for thought. We are obviously spending far too much some weeks and although we waste very little, I think we are guilty of over indulging a bit too frequently.
Also who wouldn’t love to be saving £84 a week. We figure that even doing a ‘cheap week’ once a month would be beneficial and would give us an extra £1000 over the course of 12 months! Don’t know about you but that kind of cash would come in very handy!
So I set off to the supermarket – oh wait, no I didn’t because I’m a lazy cow who does it online! So I logged on. It took me 27 minutes from start to finish – I did it while watching the telly after dinner!
I wrote out a list of dinners I knew I could make from scratch, and a simple selection of breakfasts and lunches.
Of course I looked to the budget brands to keep costs down and also went for frozen vegetables and meats which we’ve never used in the past. This time I got frozen sliced peppers and these were something I’d never thought of – amazing idea. Also frozen cooked chicken, so cheap and a great time saver!
The frozen sausages are something I would have walked right past. I buy Richmond sausages most weeks so I decided to have a gander at the figures. In just one Richmond sausage there is a whopping 20% saturated fat and 18% salt! But in the cheaper Everyday Value Tesco sausage there was 15% saturated fat – in TWO sausages and 17% salt – in TWO sausages. The meat quantity was the same which I was shocked at. So it is now a no brainer to buy the cheaper frozen ones for stuff like sausage casserole or pasta bakes. The flavour isn’t as good so I wouldn’t want them for a sausage bap but when you’re adding them to sauces you can’t taste the difference. Price wise it’s a home run for the frozen at £1.29 for 20 thats just 6p per sausage, compared to Richmond at 25p per sausage!!!
If you are anything like me then you head for the same brands week in, week out. But have you stopped to consider the alternatives? Things like tea bags and beans have taken great strides in quality and some folk would be hard pushed to tell the difference in a blind tasting. Also watch the fruit and veg aisle. The loose bananas can be cheaper than the pre packaged ones and there was differences of over a pound between brands of peppers and grapes. I wouldn’t notice the difference in taste.
The stuff that is on offer in the supermarkets is not always the cheapest either, have a look along the shelf and you will be suprised by the contradictory pricing. Two for £2 might seem amazing but if you only needed one and it cost £1.10 them you are spending 90p more than you need to. I also found a lot of big packs of things that cost more than two smaller packs. Do a bit of browsing.
I did the shop online with our usual supermarket Tesco – as working 48 hours a week leaves me not wanting to waste any family time in a supermarket! But I could have done this challenge a lot better if I had gone to Aldi or Lidl.
I will give a breakdown of my meal plan for the week.
Our budget meal plan!
•Pancakes (made from flour, eggs and milk)
•Toast and jam
•Homemade soup and pitta
•Cream cheese and Ham on toast
•French toast and beans
•Mac and Cheese
•Ham and Cheese Ommellete
•Chicken fried rice
•Sausage and Veg Pasta Bake
•Swiss roll and custard
Sultanas, cheese cubes, crackers and cream cheese, apples, bananas, strawberries, grapes and carrots.
Fruit scones and Crispie cakes – made with the ingredients I ordered. Cornflakes and melted chocolate – boom! Flour, sugar, butter, egg, sultanas and milk – hello lovely fresh scones!
Milk, water, diluting juice and tea
From this menu you would never even believe we were budgeting. Infact it is not so far from some normal weeks menu plans!
I was able to buy all my ingredients for £56.60 bringing my per person daily budget in at £2.02!
Did we notice? I’d be lying if I said we didn’t. There were no tasty biscuits. No cold glass of beer after work. I couldn’t just whip up whatever I liked I had to stick to the meal plan. But was it a sucess. Damn right! We all agreed that the meals were tatsy and that there was more than enough food in the fridge and cupboards for the whole week so we never felt like we were hungry. The sultana scones and crispy cakes could be made from the ingredients we had bought and they were a winner.
I will include a complete breakdown of my shopping at the bottom of the page for you.
What it has taught me …
That I buy – and we eat – far too much rubbish. I love cooking and food is a passion of mine but we really don’t need luxury dinners every week. We also dont need all the trimming everytime we have curry or a roast chicken. In fact, if we saved the extra touches they would seem more special when we did have them – my waistline would also thank me greatly.
We also drink far more than we used to. We’ve started having a bottle of wine through the week for no reason when it used to be saved for an occassion. Now, some days I do love a glass of Sauvignon to unwind so won’t be jacking it in altogether! But it’s definitely made me reconsider our intake.
It’s made me take a hard look at brands. There are certain ones I won’t stop buying because I enjoy them, there are ones I will buy because the quality is better such as the chicken, the frozen stuff is so handy but the taste cant match good quality chicken, also cheap cornflakes, jam and spread really aren’t great! I’ll stick to my Kellogs, Lurpack and nice preserves!
But this has made me really appreciate our spending and eating habits.
What do you think?
Could you manage this challenge?
If you have a go let me know how you get on and any tips you have for shopping on a budget!
If you would like any of the recipes mentioned above then please comment below and I can stick a post up!