How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half – Week Four Report

Feed a family for less than £13 for a week

We’ve recently completed week 4 of the self-imposed ‘how to cut your grocery bill in half’ challenge – could you feed a small family on less than £13 for a week? Well, that’s what we just did! Two adults and a 2 yr old fed for £12.91 – and I’ve got food left over! I even bought 4 ‘extras’ that were not on my meal plan shopping list! This has been one of the cheapest weeks for shopping ever, even since I left home I think. I remember back in the early 2000s my budget was £15/week, but I often spent way less. Almost fifteen years later, and I am spending less than £15 and feeding 2.5 times as many people! Who said inflation was a problem?!

This is the beauty of the meal plans from Thrifty Lesley – I cannot speak highly enough of her skill and ingenuity at coming up with tasty meals on the (super) cheap.

Highlights of this week’s frugal meal plans

Gigantes Plaki - 38p per serving
A delicious meal for 38p? Don’t mind if I do!

I’m going to start towards the end, because this meal is still fresh in my mind. It’s super simple and quick to make. It originally came from Jack Monroe apparently, but Lesley modified it… and then I did too: ‘Gigantes Plaki and pitta, 38p a serving’, the name made me think WTH is that?! All will be explained if you take a quick look at the recipe. My modifications were to use half butter beans and half chickpeas, and to throw in 5 very small carrots I had leftover from several days ago. I also added some dried herbs – thyme, oregano, basil, and parsley, even though I put a veggie stock gel into the meal. I also added some finely shredded iceberg lettuce, just for colour and texture (iceberg lettuce has almost no taste, LOL).

How to Feed Yourself for less than £1 Per Day

This week, we spent less than £13 on food. Even if you count the ‘extras’ we bought, which were not on Thrifty Lesley‘s meal plan for week 4, we still spent less than £15. This is almost unbelievable, and I can only once again say a huge thank you to Lesley for coming up with some clever meal combinations. As mentioned above, some of the recipes are her own and some are modified or highlighted from other websites and books… but she is the one who has combined all this knowledge together to make the plans. So a HUGE thanks to her.

Feed a small family for a month for less than £80

We’ve done a whole month following this and it is going so well, so I really urge you to try it out if you are trying to save money on grocery shopping. We spent £51.91 over 4 weeks (2 adults plus 2 yr old so), so that is under £1 per day, person. It works out to an average of £12.98 per week. Now of course, it started off higher than that at the beginning, but it went down and down every week due to having food left over as well having bought larger packets in the earlier weeks.

The meals are balanced for calories and fruit/veg count e.g. they used to be 5+ portions per day, but now the fruit/veg count has gone up to 7+ portions per day. This is awesome, as I love veg… not so much a fan of fruit, but I can always swap what I don’t want.

You really can feed yourself on less than £1 per day by following these plans, as I have shown over the last 4 weeks. And if you’ve got enough money but are just trying to save, then you can save even more by buying the ingredients in bulk – this makes the per Kg price lower, thus averaging down the cost of your food even more to less than £13 per week. This would be awesome for a family, as you would probably be buying in larger quantities anyway.

Thus, even including our medicines, household cleaning and toiletries, as well as the non-dairy milk and other baby-related things, we have been able to spend less than £80 on total household consumption over the last month.

My 5 Top Tips for saving EVEN MORE money on groceries

I am sure there are even more ways you could stretch the budget further. Here are my top 5 tips for saving EVEN MORE on your grocery bill:

  1. Buy dried beans/pulses in bulk from an online retailer – probably cheaper than tinned beans/other pulses;
  2. Buy bulk food from Indian or Chinese shops e.g. rice, beansprouts, herbs and spices;
  3. Buy bulk amounts of vegetables from a wholesale market, then put them in the bottom of your fridge;
  4. Buy fruit and veg from the market near the end of the day – they often slash prices way down. You can always make soups and stews and freeze the portions, or blanch the veg and freeze it that way;
  5. Grow your own! You can always grow herbs and small veg (e.g. spring onions, cherry tomatoes) on the windowsill if you’ve got no adequate outdoor space.

Do you have any excuse for not trying out these meal plans? Or trying my 5 top tips? Call yourself frugal?! These plans do not mean you have to eat ramen every day for lunch like Jason did, or eat the same rice and bean tiny portion lunch every day like the Frugalwoods do. The plans are calorie balanced and offer an absolute minimum of 5 fruit/veg portions every day… so get cracking on trying them out already!

Let me know what you think about all this, leave a comment below!

16 Comments

  1. I’m impressed! I enjoy cooking and it’s amazing how some seemingly simple dishes can be really tasteful and filling. And cheap, as you are helping to demonstrate. Now winter’s coming in, I’m looking forward to making some hearty soups and curries which are easy to do in bulk and freeze. I’ll be surfing over to Thrifty Lesley’s site for some inspiration, thanks for the link.

    1. No problem – Lesley has some great ideas, adn they are truly money-saving. However, there are lots of downsides to following her meal plans exclusively, or even fairly closely. I will be writing a report on it soon.

      Cheers

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  3. presentation – scent – taste, your wife definitely got the presentation down. I can imagine how good it taste just from the look of it. I don’t eat much dried food like beans and nuts in the summer. I grow some veggies, beans and herbs. So, with my five trips that I took this summer, I’d come home with and empty fridge, but I could still go to my garden and pick something to make a meal of what I’ve already have. In the winter, then I’d load up in beans and legumes, that way, if I got snowed in, I could fix up something from dried beans, dry seafood, etc.

    1. It’s really great to be able to save your own beans for dried stores in the winter. The only thing we do like that is sauerkraut, and this year probably something like ketchup/tomato sauce might be added.

      Herbs are a must! But I’ve had a very poor success rate 🙁

    1. Absolutely! We have done that over the years, although I do find you need to plan to use what you’ve bought quite carefully, or else you end up with tons of old frozen food that you just bought because it was a bargain!

  4. Hey M

    Well done on your incredible grocery savings – very impressive!

    I’ve jotted a few more of Thrifty Lesley’s recipes down to try in the future, but she’s also reminded me that I need to cook in bulk more often, so I’ll be starting (again) from tomorrow.

    Even when I was a poor student, I didn’t survive on ramen every day – I was more of a cheese/beans on toast kinda gal!
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    1. Yeah, cooking 2+ meals at a time definitely helps with the time aspect, and importantly with having bought larger packets/tins/bags of food, you can get through a bulk of them at once.

      Totally agree on the toast front, although one meal from uni days, which I sometimes still fancy every so often, is rice with beans and cheese. It’s so comforting! Also very filling and easy to make healthier with a few side portions of veg

    2. not sure if my first attempt at commenting worked – was just saying that I had a fond memory of and desire to eat ‘rice, beans. and cheese’ from time to time. Easy to make it healthier with a few side vegetables!

      Glad you’ve got a hold of some of Lesley’s recipes – they’re pretty useful and as cheap as can be!

      Cheers

    1. Thanks! You’re lucky to have a local greengrocer – there are not so many of them around any more, although I guess local (farmers’) markets are gaining in popularity again, so hopefully they will be able to bridge the gap!

      Cheers

  5. Wow, I really like the challenge you have put together here. Grocery bills are a necessary expense and if not monitored carefully, can get out of hand quickly. That’s such a low grocery bill, I stil can’t believe it. You two have stumbled on a nice trick here. And judging by how delicious the picture looks, you aren’t sacrificing quality either. Thanks for sharing your tips! I may have to have you start consulting for us 🙂

    Bert
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    1. Thanks Bert, we’re largely enjoying it too, but it is time-consuming. However, even if you just did the breakfasts and dinners (eat lunch at work/make a simple sandwich), you’d still save tons of money!

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