How I Meal Plan On A Reduced Grocery Budget

Since reducing our grocery spend by 50% meal planning has become even more critical.

Also important is keeping an eye on stocks in the cupboard and freezer. Not only am I spending less (considerably less) on food, our food waste is almost non-existent.

I thought I’d share how I did it this week.

Friday was No Waste Tastes Great as usual. All perishables were used up, I even entertained! The lemon drizzle cake was pretty tasty (even if I do say so myself ;)) and soon disappeared.

Then for Date Night Dinner instead of a takeaway we enjoyed a slow cooked Balti, which used up a few more items… and saved us at least £10.

That left me with a pretty empty fridge as a starting point for my meal planning…

An inventory also taken of cupboard, freezer and other items…

I sat down at my kitchen table and planned away…

Breakfasts this week will consist of cereal for the Hubby and Kids and cranberry bran loaf for me. It will be mixed up by adding in pancakes and toast to use up foodstuffs as the week progresses!

Pudding/Desserts will be after dinner, and will consist of rice-pudding, ice-cream, jelly, yogurt, fruit and madeira cake with custard.

Snacks will include, crackers, breadsticks, fruit, protein shakes (for me!), milkshake for the kids, and the remaining crisps from the week before plus any Halloween treats still to be eaten.

Saturday 

Lunch – Sausage Rolls from the local bakery

Dinner – Family Bonfire – Slow-Cooked Chilli to feed 10

Sunday

Lunch – Toad in the Hole with Vegetables and Gravy

Dinner – Cheese on Toast with Rice Pudding to follow

Monday

Lunch – Slow-cooked Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Dinner – Tuna Pasta with home-made Garlic Bread

Tuesday

Lunch – Pizza (made from left over dough from dinner last night)

Dinner – Salmon Fish Cakes with Vegetables

Wednesday

Lunch – Leftover Cauli Cheese Soup

Dinner – Slow-cooked Spaghetti Bolognese with Garlic Bread

Thursday

Lunch – Crackers, Cheese, Breadsticks and Grapes/Raisins

Dinner – My Favourite Soup with Italian Flat-bread (made from leftover dough) – The Kids will have fish fingers, mash and veggies. (It’s running night so the Hubby and I have a light dinner and then cheese and cracker as supper about 9pm)

Friday – No Waste Tastes Great plus Date Night at Chez Wright!

**************So how did the budget breakdown?*******************

£1.95 – Bakery (Sausage Rolls)

£14.17 – Home Bargain (Staple items)

£18.85 – CoolTrader (Frozen, cold and staple items that HB didn’t have)

£6.00 – Market (Fruit and Vegetables)

£1.84 – Butchers (low amount as purchased frozen minced beef from CT)

£6.14 – Asda (Had to visit to get fish, plus a couple of other things)

***********************Total Grocery Spend £48.95************************

I also spent £6 on fireworks and sparklers however this week I didn’t have to buy any wine or treats as we had some to hand so this helped! It’s likely I’ll spend just over £2 on fresh milk depending on how the week goes.

(The poppy peeking out of the groceries was made by Leah as it’s Remembrance Sunday in the UK on the 13th and she is very proud of it!)

A few readers have asked to see a fully stocked Simply Being Mum Fridge! So here goes…

Just off to blend my soup and eat! Hope you all have a lovely Monday!

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Rachel The Minimalist Mom has just launched her new e-book – please head on over and take a look! (not an affiliate link!)

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Carla November 7, 2011, 1:33 pm

    You are awesome!! I so love this idea, but dont know if I could do it… Do you ever get the “there’s no food in the house” comment from hubby & kids? Mine wouldn’t like the act that there’s not a wide variety to choose from… Did yours get over that? Or never really cared in the first place?

    • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 11:23 am

      Hi Carla – I can see where you are coming from but no I don’t get a lot of complaints. The Hubby is a born minimalist (he finds it amusing that I have ‘found’ minimalism – he’s quite happy to use stuff up or go without if required). The Kids know that there are 3 meals plus snacks. The snacks are covered as they are long life items in most cases apart from fruit. For me choice equals waste. Too much variety IMO leads to overeating. There is plenty for the week, the meals are substantial without being too large, and then if required there are additional snacks. Cheese and crackers goes down well here. Very often – like last night, I had eaten at 4pm as it is swimming lessons for the kids at 5pm. By 9pm I was hungry so had 2 Ryvita with thinly sliced cheddar and some home-made tomato chutney. I don’t want the kids helping themselves to stuff out of the fridge, I try to keep food quite structured… of course they do have treats, but it isn’t available 24/7… Communication as with much in life is key. I have a menu board in the kitchen which has the main meal for the week… I think they are all pretty used to it by now! Good Luck if you do give it a go! 🙂

      • sharron November 8, 2011, 6:32 pm

        Flaming hell Jo, i could have written that reply!! Too much choice has left me with 2 stone to shift 🙁 Everyone knows what’s for meals and if they want something it’s only polite to ask first. I tend to structure sweets in on a Friday when i’m doing shopping, so my kids (or me, tunnocks snowballs anyone?) don’t feel too deprived. This week has been thinner on the ground regarding snacks, and tbh i don’t think anyones noticed!
        Sharron
        P.s crackers and cheese go down well here too!!

        • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 8:52 pm

          The Hubby always asks before he eats something out of the fridge – he knows there’s usually a plan for it!

  • Carla November 7, 2011, 1:33 pm

    You are awesome!! I so love this idea, but dont know if I could do it… Do you ever get the “there’s no food in the house” comment from hubby & kids? Mine wouldn’t like the act that there’s not a wide variety to choose from… Did yours get over that? Or never really cared in the first place?

    • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 11:23 am

      Hi Carla – I can see where you are coming from but no I don’t get a lot of complaints. The Hubby is a born minimalist (he finds it amusing that I have ‘found’ minimalism – he’s quite happy to use stuff up or go without if required). The Kids know that there are 3 meals plus snacks. The snacks are covered as they are long life items in most cases apart from fruit. For me choice equals waste. Too much variety IMO leads to overeating. There is plenty for the week, the meals are substantial without being too large, and then if required there are additional snacks. Cheese and crackers goes down well here. Very often – like last night, I had eaten at 4pm as it is swimming lessons for the kids at 5pm. By 9pm I was hungry so had 2 Ryvita with thinly sliced cheddar and some home-made tomato chutney. I don’t want the kids helping themselves to stuff out of the fridge, I try to keep food quite structured… of course they do have treats, but it isn’t available 24/7… Communication as with much in life is key. I have a menu board in the kitchen which has the main meal for the week… I think they are all pretty used to it by now! Good Luck if you do give it a go! 🙂

      • sharron November 8, 2011, 6:32 pm

        Flaming hell Jo, i could have written that reply!! Too much choice has left me with 2 stone to shift 🙁 Everyone knows what’s for meals and if they want something it’s only polite to ask first. I tend to structure sweets in on a Friday when i’m doing shopping, so my kids (or me, tunnocks snowballs anyone?) don’t feel too deprived. This week has been thinner on the ground regarding snacks, and tbh i don’t think anyones noticed!
        Sharron
        P.s crackers and cheese go down well here too!!

        • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 8:52 pm

          The Hubby always asks before he eats something out of the fridge – he knows there’s usually a plan for it!

  • Carla November 7, 2011, 1:33 pm

    You are awesome!! I so love this idea, but dont know if I could do it… Do you ever get the “there’s no food in the house” comment from hubby & kids? Mine wouldn’t like the act that there’s not a wide variety to choose from… Did yours get over that? Or never really cared in the first place?

    • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 11:23 am

      Hi Carla – I can see where you are coming from but no I don’t get a lot of complaints. The Hubby is a born minimalist (he finds it amusing that I have ‘found’ minimalism – he’s quite happy to use stuff up or go without if required). The Kids know that there are 3 meals plus snacks. The snacks are covered as they are long life items in most cases apart from fruit. For me choice equals waste. Too much variety IMO leads to overeating. There is plenty for the week, the meals are substantial without being too large, and then if required there are additional snacks. Cheese and crackers goes down well here. Very often – like last night, I had eaten at 4pm as it is swimming lessons for the kids at 5pm. By 9pm I was hungry so had 2 Ryvita with thinly sliced cheddar and some home-made tomato chutney. I don’t want the kids helping themselves to stuff out of the fridge, I try to keep food quite structured… of course they do have treats, but it isn’t available 24/7… Communication as with much in life is key. I have a menu board in the kitchen which has the main meal for the week… I think they are all pretty used to it by now! Good Luck if you do give it a go! 🙂

      • sharron November 8, 2011, 6:32 pm

        Flaming hell Jo, i could have written that reply!! Too much choice has left me with 2 stone to shift 🙁 Everyone knows what’s for meals and if they want something it’s only polite to ask first. I tend to structure sweets in on a Friday when i’m doing shopping, so my kids (or me, tunnocks snowballs anyone?) don’t feel too deprived. This week has been thinner on the ground regarding snacks, and tbh i don’t think anyones noticed!
        Sharron
        P.s crackers and cheese go down well here too!!

        • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 8:52 pm

          The Hubby always asks before he eats something out of the fridge – he knows there’s usually a plan for it!

  • sharron November 7, 2011, 2:44 pm

    Sounds lovely!! I espically like the sound of salmon fishcakes, do you make them yourself? I love that your fridge isn’t brimming with ready made food.

    I was feeling poorley yesterday and Hubs did the roast, when we were all finished he said ‘There’s enough meat left to make a pie, and for sandwiches tomorrow, so that will save opening the packet of ham’ I knew at that moment that he finally gets it!!! The roast was fab, actually better than when i make it, he may live to regret it!!

    Carla i used to get that question, but the kids soon realised that less snacks meant eat your meal ALL UP. They have adjusted and no one is going hungary, infact we all enjoy our meals so much more.

    Sharron x

    • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 11:26 am

      Sharron – do I make the cakes? Course I do! 😉 heehee!!! I’ll post the recipe at some point in case you want to give them a go. They work with most fish either fresh or canned.
      Hope you are feeling better today – I think you may have had an e-mail from someone??
      Totally agree on meals getting eaten. The most mundane dish can be extremely appetising when you are hungry! It makes you appreciate what you are eating when you don’t fill up inbetween….

      • sharron November 8, 2011, 6:54 pm

        Yes would love the recipe, apart from saving money i am trying to rely less on pre-prepared meals. Hubs and i have lived together for 19 years and honestly, with the exception of 4 meals, everything else was ready made and out the freezer!!! But times are a changin….
        Sharron x

        • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 9:08 pm

          In case I don’t post the recipe on the blog here goes…
          1 x Salmon Fillet (or one can)
          1 x Large Potato (approx 450g)
          2 x Eggs
          Approx 100g of breadcrumbs
          Seasoning – blackpepper and parsley (optional)

          Step 1- Cook the fillet or open the can 🙂 – then flake into small pieces (check for bones!)
          Step 2 – Cook and mash potato as you normally do – I microwave in skin, remove and then put through a potato ricer as there are absolutely no lumps this way!
          Step 3 – Beat one of the eggs and mix all the ingredients so far together. Add blackpepper and dried parsley (if your kids don’t mind green bits inside – mine do)
          Step 4 – Place mixture (covered) in fridge for minimum of 20 minutes, but you can leave longer

          Then…

          Step 5 – Once chilled remove and on a floured board make 4 balls from the mixture – I make 2 smaller ones for the Kids and 2 larger for the grown-ups. There is quite a lot of mixture if you use a LARGE potato (about 1lb in weight – 450g).

          Step 6 – Shape like a hamburger patty (or you could do alternative shapes if feeling adventurous)

          Step 7 – Beat another egg in a dish and dip each cake in totally covering it generously, then in another dish coat in breadcrumbs both sides and all over.

          Step 8 – Place each cake in a pre-heated medium hot pan and fry for 2 to 3 minutes each side until the cake is piping hot throughout. I use a skillet (iron pan) so no oil required. You can use a very fine layer of oil if preferred)

          So very simple, healthy and frugal! For 4 fishcakes it’s cost me in total about £2.50 to £3. All I added to the meal was lots and lots of vegetables. You could add rice to bulk it up, but I don’t think I could have eaten that amount. I added home-made spicy tomato chutney to mine to add a kick. This is a great way of adding fish to your diet without it costing a fortune and also my Kids will eat it like this but are not so keen when faced with an actual fillet!
          You can substitute the fish – Tuna works well also, but as we have Tuna pasta normally this gets a different type in the meal plan.
          If you do try it let me know how it goes?

  • sharron November 7, 2011, 2:44 pm

    Sounds lovely!! I espically like the sound of salmon fishcakes, do you make them yourself? I love that your fridge isn’t brimming with ready made food.

    I was feeling poorley yesterday and Hubs did the roast, when we were all finished he said ‘There’s enough meat left to make a pie, and for sandwiches tomorrow, so that will save opening the packet of ham’ I knew at that moment that he finally gets it!!! The roast was fab, actually better than when i make it, he may live to regret it!!

    Carla i used to get that question, but the kids soon realised that less snacks meant eat your meal ALL UP. They have adjusted and no one is going hungary, infact we all enjoy our meals so much more.

    Sharron x

    • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 11:26 am

      Sharron – do I make the cakes? Course I do! 😉 heehee!!! I’ll post the recipe at some point in case you want to give them a go. They work with most fish either fresh or canned.
      Hope you are feeling better today – I think you may have had an e-mail from someone??
      Totally agree on meals getting eaten. The most mundane dish can be extremely appetising when you are hungry! It makes you appreciate what you are eating when you don’t fill up inbetween….

      • sharron November 8, 2011, 6:54 pm

        Yes would love the recipe, apart from saving money i am trying to rely less on pre-prepared meals. Hubs and i have lived together for 19 years and honestly, with the exception of 4 meals, everything else was ready made and out the freezer!!! But times are a changin….
        Sharron x

        • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 9:08 pm

          In case I don’t post the recipe on the blog here goes…
          1 x Salmon Fillet (or one can)
          1 x Large Potato (approx 450g)
          2 x Eggs
          Approx 100g of breadcrumbs
          Seasoning – blackpepper and parsley (optional)

          Step 1- Cook the fillet or open the can 🙂 – then flake into small pieces (check for bones!)
          Step 2 – Cook and mash potato as you normally do – I microwave in skin, remove and then put through a potato ricer as there are absolutely no lumps this way!
          Step 3 – Beat one of the eggs and mix all the ingredients so far together. Add blackpepper and dried parsley (if your kids don’t mind green bits inside – mine do)
          Step 4 – Place mixture (covered) in fridge for minimum of 20 minutes, but you can leave longer

          Then…

          Step 5 – Once chilled remove and on a floured board make 4 balls from the mixture – I make 2 smaller ones for the Kids and 2 larger for the grown-ups. There is quite a lot of mixture if you use a LARGE potato (about 1lb in weight – 450g).

          Step 6 – Shape like a hamburger patty (or you could do alternative shapes if feeling adventurous)

          Step 7 – Beat another egg in a dish and dip each cake in totally covering it generously, then in another dish coat in breadcrumbs both sides and all over.

          Step 8 – Place each cake in a pre-heated medium hot pan and fry for 2 to 3 minutes each side until the cake is piping hot throughout. I use a skillet (iron pan) so no oil required. You can use a very fine layer of oil if preferred)

          So very simple, healthy and frugal! For 4 fishcakes it’s cost me in total about £2.50 to £3. All I added to the meal was lots and lots of vegetables. You could add rice to bulk it up, but I don’t think I could have eaten that amount. I added home-made spicy tomato chutney to mine to add a kick. This is a great way of adding fish to your diet without it costing a fortune and also my Kids will eat it like this but are not so keen when faced with an actual fillet!
          You can substitute the fish – Tuna works well also, but as we have Tuna pasta normally this gets a different type in the meal plan.
          If you do try it let me know how it goes?

  • sharron November 7, 2011, 2:44 pm

    Sounds lovely!! I espically like the sound of salmon fishcakes, do you make them yourself? I love that your fridge isn’t brimming with ready made food.

    I was feeling poorley yesterday and Hubs did the roast, when we were all finished he said ‘There’s enough meat left to make a pie, and for sandwiches tomorrow, so that will save opening the packet of ham’ I knew at that moment that he finally gets it!!! The roast was fab, actually better than when i make it, he may live to regret it!!

    Carla i used to get that question, but the kids soon realised that less snacks meant eat your meal ALL UP. They have adjusted and no one is going hungary, infact we all enjoy our meals so much more.

    Sharron x

    • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 11:26 am

      Sharron – do I make the cakes? Course I do! 😉 heehee!!! I’ll post the recipe at some point in case you want to give them a go. They work with most fish either fresh or canned.
      Hope you are feeling better today – I think you may have had an e-mail from someone??
      Totally agree on meals getting eaten. The most mundane dish can be extremely appetising when you are hungry! It makes you appreciate what you are eating when you don’t fill up inbetween….

      • sharron November 8, 2011, 6:54 pm

        Yes would love the recipe, apart from saving money i am trying to rely less on pre-prepared meals. Hubs and i have lived together for 19 years and honestly, with the exception of 4 meals, everything else was ready made and out the freezer!!! But times are a changin….
        Sharron x

        • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 9:08 pm

          In case I don’t post the recipe on the blog here goes…
          1 x Salmon Fillet (or one can)
          1 x Large Potato (approx 450g)
          2 x Eggs
          Approx 100g of breadcrumbs
          Seasoning – blackpepper and parsley (optional)

          Step 1- Cook the fillet or open the can 🙂 – then flake into small pieces (check for bones!)
          Step 2 – Cook and mash potato as you normally do – I microwave in skin, remove and then put through a potato ricer as there are absolutely no lumps this way!
          Step 3 – Beat one of the eggs and mix all the ingredients so far together. Add blackpepper and dried parsley (if your kids don’t mind green bits inside – mine do)
          Step 4 – Place mixture (covered) in fridge for minimum of 20 minutes, but you can leave longer

          Then…

          Step 5 – Once chilled remove and on a floured board make 4 balls from the mixture – I make 2 smaller ones for the Kids and 2 larger for the grown-ups. There is quite a lot of mixture if you use a LARGE potato (about 1lb in weight – 450g).

          Step 6 – Shape like a hamburger patty (or you could do alternative shapes if feeling adventurous)

          Step 7 – Beat another egg in a dish and dip each cake in totally covering it generously, then in another dish coat in breadcrumbs both sides and all over.

          Step 8 – Place each cake in a pre-heated medium hot pan and fry for 2 to 3 minutes each side until the cake is piping hot throughout. I use a skillet (iron pan) so no oil required. You can use a very fine layer of oil if preferred)

          So very simple, healthy and frugal! For 4 fishcakes it’s cost me in total about £2.50 to £3. All I added to the meal was lots and lots of vegetables. You could add rice to bulk it up, but I don’t think I could have eaten that amount. I added home-made spicy tomato chutney to mine to add a kick. This is a great way of adding fish to your diet without it costing a fortune and also my Kids will eat it like this but are not so keen when faced with an actual fillet!
          You can substitute the fish – Tuna works well also, but as we have Tuna pasta normally this gets a different type in the meal plan.
          If you do try it let me know how it goes?

  • lifeisfullofsunnydaysunny November 7, 2011, 8:45 pm

    Girl, you are incredible. Your fully ‘stocked’ fridge is still emptier than my empty fridge.

    • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 11:27 am

      Hey hey hey! Can’t remember ever being called incredible! Made my day thanks! (but I’m not…tis quite easy to reduce fridge stocks once you get in the swing :))

  • lifeisfullofsunnydaysunny November 7, 2011, 8:45 pm

    Girl, you are incredible. Your fully ‘stocked’ fridge is still emptier than my empty fridge.

    • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 11:27 am

      Hey hey hey! Can’t remember ever being called incredible! Made my day thanks! (but I’m not…tis quite easy to reduce fridge stocks once you get in the swing :))

  • lifeisfullofsunnydaysunny November 7, 2011, 8:45 pm

    Girl, you are incredible. Your fully ‘stocked’ fridge is still emptier than my empty fridge.

    • simplybeingmum November 8, 2011, 11:27 am

      Hey hey hey! Can’t remember ever being called incredible! Made my day thanks! (but I’m not…tis quite easy to reduce fridge stocks once you get in the swing :))

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