Food shopping on a tight budget

Food shopping on a tight budgetNow that I have resigned from teaching – see my reasons here – I’ve had to take another look at my budget.

I usually pride myself on being careful with money but in September, with less money coming in, I will have to be even more careful.

I typically spend £85 a week on a main shop – food, cleaning products, toilet roll etc – plus another £10-£15 a week to buy fresh items as needed.  I don’t feel that’s too bad for a family of six, but it is a total of £100 a week which is a large amount of my budget.  If I could save £25 a week on shopping and so do the main shop for £60 a week, it would mean an extra £100 in the bank account each month.  A big difference when you’re on a tight budget.

So, with this in mind, I set off to do my main shop today with a budget in my head of £60.

I wrote a list of meals for the week before leaving:

  1. Chilli and rice
  2. Omelettes
  3. Roast Chicken, potatoes, yorkshire puddings and vegetables
  4. Fajitas and salad
  5. Cottage pie with carrots and broccoli
  6. Pasta bake
  7. Fish, chips and peas

Then, using the meal planner, I wrote a list of ingredients that I needed plus items for lunches and breakfasts.  The aim was not to buy anything that wasn’t actually needed to see how realistic a £60 budget was.

shopping receipt

The total shop came to £56.24 and that included toilet rolls and washing powder that I don’t buy every week, although I didn’t buy tins or rice as there was enough in the cupboard.  Even if I have to spend another £19 stocking up in the week, I have still managed to do the shopping for a family of six for £75 (and that includes buying meat and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables).

I had gone to my usual shop but reduced it from my typical £85 to £56, so shopping on a tight budget isn’t easy but, I believe, it is possible.

My main tips to achieve it are:

  • planning meals ahead and buying only those ingredients
  • buying frozen vegetables as well as some fresh ones
  • not taking children with you (if possible) as they tend to see items not on the list and ask for them
  • before you put any item in the trolley, ask yourself if you really need it
  • look at the reduced sections to see if there is a bargain there – you can always freeze it
  • buy large packs of meat and split them into small bags rather than two small packs

Despite the first bullet point, I have to admit that I did succumb to a packet of chocolate digestives to satisfy my sweet tooth.  (They are safely hidden at the back of the cupboard away from the children!)

I aim to stick to the budget of £60 a week for the main shop plus £10-£15 stocking up shops, as this will save me £100 a month to put to one side over the next five months before I leave teaching.  Also, if I get into the habit of shopping on a tight budget now, it will be easier when I have to in September.

For more on managing a tight budget, see my ‘Managing Money in Three Easy Steps‘.  Hope it helps.


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14 Comments on Food shopping on a tight budget

  1. You Baby Me Mummy
    April 30, 2015 at 7:47 am (4 years ago)

    Wow you do so well to feed your numbers with that nudget. We need to be better at food budgeting. Thanks so much for linking up to #TheList x
    You Baby Me Mummy recently posted…BlogCamp Highlights Part 1 #BlogClubMy Profile

  2. Anonymous
    April 28, 2015 at 2:34 am (4 years ago)

    These are all great tips! I had 2 of my kids with my last week. Yikes, we ended up with some junk.

  3. Ashley @ When the Dust Settles
    April 26, 2015 at 9:07 am (4 years ago)

    We found meal planning the single best way to save money shopping, knowing you are only buying exactly what you need.
    Ashley @ When the Dust Settles recently posted…Booking Fees a RantMy Profile

  4. Richard
    April 26, 2015 at 8:02 am (4 years ago)

    Great post, really informative, I think I fall down by not making meal plans. Aldi is excellent value for money, sadly we haven’t got one near us but we used to and it was great. I’ve shared on twitter #PoCoLo
    Richard recently posted…Restaurant Review – The Hardwick, AbergavennyMy Profile

  5. Jenny
    April 25, 2015 at 3:10 pm (4 years ago)

    I have really been trying to make meal plans and stick to a tighter budget on our food shopping. Sometimes it’s hard to do each week but it really does help. Great tips. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted…Spray on water resistant for smartphones + GiveawayMy Profile

  6. A Little Lyrical
    April 24, 2015 at 7:38 pm (4 years ago)

    Great post, I always like to try and do a meal plan as at least then you have a list of items to buy and try not to get distracted!! #thelist
    A Little Lyrical recently posted…Easter WeekendMy Profile

  7. Lukeosaurus And Me
    April 24, 2015 at 5:44 pm (4 years ago)

    Great post with loads of useful tips. I have a budget and I seem to be so awful at sticking to a budget and getting it right so this is excellent! Thanks for sharing, I’ll be bookmarking. Ray xx #thelist

  8. Merlinda Little ( @pixiedusk)
    April 23, 2015 at 5:19 pm (4 years ago)

    I also dont have a lot of budget for things so I always am trying to squeeze my budget. Cooking in batches and just freezing then thawing on the day when needed saves me a lot of time and money. #sharewithme
    Merlinda Little ( @pixiedusk) recently posted…Through Sebastian’s EyesMy Profile

  9. Lindsay @ Newcastle Family Life
    April 22, 2015 at 8:41 pm (4 years ago)

    wow i wish i could get my shopping down to that much there is five of us but i have two under twos so have to buy lots of nappies, baby milk etc each week so we spend £100 on main shop plus top ups of milk , bread etc during the week x #sharewithme
    Lindsay @ Newcastle Family Life recently posted…Slimming World Diet Coke Chicken RecipeMy Profile

  10. aloted
    April 22, 2015 at 2:56 pm (4 years ago)

    I love Aldi! You get so much for your money’s worth.

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