SuperScrimping – Reducing Your Grocery Budget Plus Simple Spaghetti Bolognese

Channel 4 are showing a great series at the moment called SuperScrimpers.

I’m loving that being frugal is now considered ‘on trend’! Yay! Finally!

As one of those that has been part of this growing community for 3 years plus, it’s refreshing.  What it does mean, however, that as an experienced SuperScrimper the show can’t teach me much I don’t already know.  Disclaimer ;-) – I don’t scrimp in all areas of my life. I don’t mind spending money but I hate wasting money! It’s about spending on what really is significant to you, not frittering it away here and there, but rather practicing Conscious Spending.

Those who have been following this blog for some time will know that in September 2011 I decided to reduce my grocery budget by 50% through choice.

I think now might be a good time for an update, and to share a healthy and nutritious recipe that would make any SuperScrimper proud.

It’s been 4 months since I self-enforced a £50 weekly budget to feed a family of 4.

I can confirm – it’s achievable. And without too much sacrifice. Initially the new regime was time-consuming and required additional planning (but it’s now finely-tuned, see my 2012 routine here). However since December 2011, my decision to complete the bulk of my shop in one location (rather than 4) has improved the experience. To confirm, I am still shopping at Aldi. There’s a post planned about how I now shop, but I want to ensure it’s a well-thought-out post with a benefit to those reading. One self-imposed guideline I have about my writing is to not carelessly promote any particular brand above another. My aim through this blog is to outline my experience as objectively and as constructively as possible, and share useful information.

One way I keep my grocery spend down is by avoiding ‘added value’ products, otherwise known as convenience foods. After completing my cooking from scratch experiment last Summer, I feel justified that by spending a little extra time, you can save money. In my case it was approximately 42% as outlined here in a guest post I wrote.

Let me re-introduce you to my Simple Slow-Cooked Spaghetti Bolognese. This was one of the meals I used as an example during my week-long experiment. This meal will comfortably feed 4 and costs less than £1 per person (this cost is based on 450g (1lb) of mince being used – which is quite a lot of meat, it could be halved and the tomatoes increased).

This recipe is one of the simplest in my collection.


450g (1lb) of Lean Beef Mincebrowned first in a pan for a couple of minutes

1 x Onionchopped

2 x Garlic Clovescrushed

1 x Beef Stock Cubecrumbled

400g (14floz) Can of Chopped Tomatoes

2 x Tablespoons (30ml) of Tomato Puree

1 x Tablespoon (15ml) of Mixed Herbs or Oregano

Black pepper to season

Step-by-step instructions:

Pop the ingredients (apart from the pasta) in a standard slow-cooker (3.5 litre internal capacity) on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.

15 minutes before serving, remove the lid so that the liquid reduces slightly (whilst on high).

Cook your spaghetti pasta separately as you would normally.

When the pasta is cooked and drained, stir into the slow-cooker pot ensuring the pasta is coated. You can vary the amount of pasta cooked based on how many you are feeding.

This recipe can be easily stretched to feed 6 by adding extra pasta and stores easily in the fridge for lunches the next day.

If looking to reduce the fat content use Turkey Mince. Alternatively If on a reduced carbohydrate diet you can substitute pasta for courgette strips as outlined in this recipe.

What recipe would you suggest for those looking to join the army of SuperScrimpers? Any good ones out there I can add to my collection of slow-cooked meals? Please share!


Don’t forget I’m now updating daily on Facebook. So far this week there’s been photos of my Welsh adventure (long story! Welsh hills, no phone signal, lot’s of sheep and no idea where I was headed) and yet another decoupage box. It’s official, I am addicted to making these boxes… this time it was topped with a home-made name plaque as a 1st Birthday gift – all made from recycled items and craft stuff I had in the cupboard… Why not go take a look and maybe give me a like?


  1. I’m happy to host your conscious spending guest post — now almost a year old — and I hope you’ll guest post for me again soon. I like this recipe too. I’ll be picking up the ingredients on my next visit to Aldi. Since it’s arrival in Texas a year or so ago, Aldi seems to have become quite popular.


  2. You do so well with your grocery budget! We cut back our budget this month to about $108 Cdn (£66) for a family of 6, but we also had a good amount of meat in our freezer. I’m hoping to keep our budget low this month too, and our food stash is getting considerably lower. We’ll see how this month shapes up!

  3. Hi Jo, I’ve reduced my grocery budget to £50 or less per week and am happy to report six weeks on I an managing quite nicely. You are absolutely right, cook from scratch, buy at a sensible price,meal plan and utilise veg to stretch portions.

    This week instead of a Sunday roast I made a Chicken & Veg Pie, seasoned with thyme, home made pastry ofcourse. Once the meat was casseroled I added a head of broccoli and a few carrots. Far too much for just one meal so half was used to make a chicken & veg lasagne Verdi for another day. Total cost both dishes £7 fed 4 adults handsomely on both occasions. I like less than a £1 per portion !

    • Well done on reducing your budget! It can be done – can’t it? We have pie today, minced beef, and the cost will be once again under £1 per person. Stretching with veg as you say is perfect. Not only does it save you money, it’s good for you – win win! (The lasagne sounds fab – I’m a lasagne fan :-))

  4. I always add a handful of red lentils which makes my bol go further. I use the (£1.80ish) minced beef from aldi then drain it, the steak mince you show there is (£2.50) is the one i use when making meatballs as i can’t drain them beforehand :) I usually make sure that i keep a portion back and freeze it, i then add it to the other ‘portions’ already in the freezer curry chilli etc so when i can not be bothered cooking we have our ‘ready meals’

    I love the w.i women on superscrimpers, but for me, the sweet n sour kidneys where a bridge to far, even for me :( I love the programme but i am yet to learn something!!!

    Your so right about money, i’m not tight, far from it, but i hate waste. If i remember from my childhood church days, doesn’t the bible teach us to be a good ambasador of our money?

    Sharron x

    • Hurrah for lentils! I find they are perfect for adding to soup to take it from a light lunch to a hearty meal.
      Missed the kidney bit…I turned it on a little late. I’m going to re-watch on 4OD today (so I may be back to comment ;-)
      I love the term ‘a good ambassador of our money’ – perfectly sums it up!

  5. One of our favorite super scrimper dinners is potato skins with a salad. I bake the potatoes early in the day and when they are cool, cut in half and scoop out the middle. Middle is, of course, saved for another dish ; ). Then the potato skins are lightly brushed with canola oil and baked again until getting crisp (10-15 minutes). Next comes cooked bacon on the potatos topped with thin slices of cheddar cheese.

    Definitely more labor intensive than the spaghetti sauce and more fat-filled, but totally yummy on a cold winter night. Total cost $4.00 and will feed 5.

    Can’t wait for your ebook Jo!

    • Fantastic idea Libby. I prep my mash pots ahead of time and freeze so the Kids have them to hand for dinners. They don’t like the skin so very often I end up eating it there and then, but I could easily make a dinner out of it for the Hubby and I!
      Still plodding through the recipes and photo’s for the book! Watch this space!

  6. Our cheapest meal is probably fried beans (kidney, black, butter – whatever) which I buy dried in bulk so about 20c per meal. These are soaked and cooked and then I freeze them in portions till I’m ready. I fry the beans with a stock cube and little oil. I serve in home made wholemeal tortillas – about $1 per 12 (*usually have a few left over to freeze for lunches) with salad at around $2. All up a lovely, quick and healthy, filling meal for the 4 of us for about $3.20. My children love to bite holes in their tortillas and make masks. As they are only 1 and 4 we’ve yet to institute a no playing with your food rule :). Great post as usual thanks.

    • Hi Amy! They sound really nice. I also use beans but more for a vegetarian chilli. As for playing with food, I let my Kids. I watched a programme that suggested it’s how children become comfortable with food, and experimentation should be encouraged. The theory goes that if allowed the Kids should be less fussy eaters…
      Have you tried making your tortillas, they are very easy! I’m pretty sure when I costed it out a batch of 8 came to less than 10p because all they contain is flour a little salt, water and optional oil.

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