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Cutting back the cost of your weekly food shop

Updated on August 30, 2013
supermarket shop
supermarket shop | Source
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Pasta and riceNon-perishable snacksStock up the freezer
Pasta and rice
Pasta and rice
Non-perishable snacks
Non-perishable snacks
Stock up the freezer
Stock up the freezer

Save, save, save

We all try to save money in one way or another. It could be using the car less to save on fuel, switching our gas suppliers to a cheaper alternative or cancelling that gym membership we hardly make use of.

One of our biggest bills must really be our food bill. It's something we can't avoid as food is pretty essential but the prices in supermarkets seem to be high. That together with a demanding family and the need for convenience. Food is such a cost.

Food for Thought

I am quite lucky in the way that I have a small family. There are two adults and one child and we don't have pets.

Even so, we try our best to save money on food or shop around for deals. Although the other week when the cupboards were bare, we decided to go and do a 'big' shop at a well known supermarket.

We needed quite a lot (for us) as condiments were running out, the fridge was bare and we needed stuff for meals and lunches.

After filling up the trolley on food stuff only (no alcohol or other household items), we manged to spend £120.00 (in English pounds).

During the week we bought an extra loaf of bread, four pints of milk, and my partner ate out twice at lunchtime with work colleagues.

To many, that is probably below average, but to us that was a lot.

Spending a lump sum all at once makes you more aware of what is being spent rather than when you go out shopping each day. Buying bits here and there distracts you from your outgoings.

Being more conscious of things will help you in the longrun. If you're able to take a little time to do it, you will notice the difference like we have.

This week, this is what we did differently...

We went along to a budget supermarket, rather than the large well known one. We stocked up on all we needed such as non-perishables (crackers, cereal, tins, pasta) and got a few bits of fruit which tends to be cheaper here.

We then went to the local supermarket to check for half price deals on meat, yogurts and fruit juices. Then we went to a frozen food outlet for cheaper frozen vegetables, fish and sausages.

Our total for all of this came to:

  • £51.00 in the budget supermarket
  • £15.00 in the usual supermarket on a few deals
  • £18.00 in the frozen food shop

£84.00 on more food is already a saving. The fact that we bought a lot of non-perishable and frozen food means it'll last longer than the fresh food, which tends to go off.

Use your pastry for pies or pizza bases
Use your pastry for pies or pizza bases

How to cook on a budget

I am always trying to cook up a meal on what ever is left my cupboards. The fact that I buy a lot of meat and fish which is frozen, enables me to grab something out of the freezer and throw it in the pan.


If you can make pastry, you have a good base for any meal.

All you need is: 8 oz of flour (I like self-raising for a lighter texture), 2 oz butter and 2 oz of lard or a vegetable alternative, a pinch of salt and cold water to bind.

You then rub the fat into the flour and salt lightly to resemble breadcrumbs, then bind with water, a tablespoon at a time with a knife. Eventually work together to form the pastry. Keep in the refrigerator until needed.

You can then make pies, pizza (use a tablespoon of olive oil rather than butter and lard), quiche or scones (sweet or savoury).

Try this cheap recipe with your pastry:

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Pies for all the familyThrow veg into fish and parsley sauceMake cakeHomemade cake is nicer than shop bought!Put very ripe fruit into your cakes!Make use of those eggsKeep ingredients for baking in stockBuy frozenMake use of economy foodGrow your own
Pies for all the family
Pies for all the family
Throw veg into fish and parsley sauce
Throw veg into fish and parsley sauce
Make cake
Make cake
Homemade cake is nicer than shop bought!
Homemade cake is nicer than shop bought!
Put very ripe fruit into your cakes!
Put very ripe fruit into your cakes!
Make use of those eggs
Make use of those eggs
Keep ingredients for baking in stock
Keep ingredients for baking in stock
Buy frozen
Buy frozen
Make use of economy food
Make use of economy food
Grow your own
Grow your own

Meat and Potato Pie

Chop up (into small cubes) an onion, peeled carrot, large peeled potato, half a small swede (or use frozen), a handful of peas and boil them in just enough water to cover.

Add an Oxo stock cube, a teaspoon of gravy granules, Worcester sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Next add a tin of mashed up corned beef and add more boiling water if need be.

Split your pastry into two and roll out. Line a greased flan dish with the pastry, add the filling, then place the second rolled out piece on top.

Seal the edges and trim. Brush with egg, make a hole for steam to escape in the top, then bake in a hot oven until browned.

You can also try making fillings with fish in parsley sauce, chicken and mushroom or cheese and onion.

Make cake, don't buy it

If you don't know how to bake then now is the time to learn! It works out so much cheaper in the long run and you know what's actually in it.

By keeping flour, baking powder, eggs, sugar and butter in the house, whipping up a cake takes no time at all. Do it when the oven is on cooking something else to save energy.

You can make sponge cakes, chocolate muffins or even make cookies. They are a great snack for when the kids come home from school, or an after dinner treat.


You can make many meals from eggs, and you can save yourself a fortune.

By making omelette's filled with cheese, ham or vegetables, you have a light lunch or breakfast. You can even shallow fry chipped potatoes and have them on the side.

Those who are good in the kitchen may try souffles, sweet or savoury. Or you have the option to scramble, fry, boil or poach and put virtually anything with them.

Leftover Veg

Otherwise known as 'Bubble and Squeak', this saves you from throwing away that extra veg from your Sunday roast.

Simply fry together cabbage, potatoes, carrots, sprouts or any other vegetables with some seasoning. Grate on some cheese and you have a tasty supper dish. Old fashioned, but still delicious!

Stale Bread

Once bread has gone past its best there are one or two things to do with it. You can keep it for toasting only, or you can make a heartwarming bread and butter pudding with it.

Simply slice up and butter your bread. If you have croissants, panettone (left from Christmas) or brioche, these work well too. As do currant teacakes or hot cross buns.

Make up some custard. I personally cheat with powdered custard, but you can make it from scratch with egg yolks,milk, cream, vanilla, cornflour and sugar.

Assemble the bread in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with raisins and sultanas. Pour over the custard and bake until brown.

For a different bread and butter pudding, sprinkle chocolate buttons over the bread instead of raisins, or use chocolate custard instead of vanilla. Children love it.

Be self sufficient

Growing your own fruit and vegetables mean saving even more money on your food shop. Having veggies and herbs growing in your garden (or on an allotment) allows you to use the amount you need without waste.

You could even go a little further and invest in some pet chickens too! Fresh eggs everyday - if you are lucky.

Don't forget to shop around

By using farmer's markets and buying local produce, looking for 'buy one get one free's' in the supermarket, going to discount food stores and buying more non perishables and frozen food will save you money in the long run.

Stock up and buy fresh food as you need it. Keep a diary and tally up receipts. See if you notice the difference.


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    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Harvey 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Hi Jools, I think even when we can afford it, all of our money seems to go on food shopping.

      We have cracked down on our shopping bill since we bought our own house - we need to prioritize! Growing your own is great - just pick what you need as you go along. No waste!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Great hub Emma. I am on a real cutback mission at the moment since I am considering maybe making a lifestyle change soon which will mean less income. I'm quite looking forward to having time to cook more, grow more and save more (I hope!), voted up, well done.

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Harvey 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Bubble and squeak is something I must have this week - it's such a tasty dish!

      Thanks for your comment AliciaC :)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love bubble and squeak. The bread and butter pudding sounds great too, especially the chocolate version! Thanks for the ideas, Emma.

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Harvey 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Hi Simone Smith - buying in batches tends to mean shopping less often (in theory) as long as they have a long shelf life. Joining a cash and carry is another way to get bargains in bulk.

      Hi jenubouka - thank you once again for your great comments and support. I hope it does help in some way. So many families struggle with their food bills, but some things stretch further than you'd realize.

      tsmog - you're too kind. I didn't enter this really to win anything - it just gave me a great hub idea! I guess that was the point though ;) Thanks for your comment - I'd recommend trying the bread and butter pudding with chocolate brioche. Now that is tasty!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I appreciate your tip about buying things in larger batches- it really does remind one how much one is spending on food, and it additionally saves money on transportation (not to mention valuable time!).

    • profile image

      jenubouka 5 years ago

      Really intuitive and helpful saving tips Emma! I love some of the recipe ideas, and so agree with making scratch based doughs, broths, etc. this is a true cost saver and is a more natural product. They really don't take much expertise not time. Hope this does get some recognition for it is a timeless hub on an on going query.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 5 years ago from Escondido, CA

      I enjoyed reading this hub. It has a warmth while glowing with tasty ideas of how to economize. Recommended and voted up. Good luck with the contest!