Monday, 21 November 2016

Daily Meal Budgets?

Now I don't tend to plan very much when it comes to meals. They're all homemade, except for Friday where we have a bought pizza that's cooked at home, and normally contain a mix of store cupboard ingredients, garden produce and either meat from the freezer or butcher.

As our little family is getting bigger all the time I'm obviously having to cook more and more food. My eldest daughter, who is nearly five now, will eat nearly as much as my wife on a good day, I eat enough for two most of the time and my two smaller children are starting to have more on their plates (although they tend to waste a fair bit of theirs at the moment).

As anyone that reads this knows I buy a lot of food in bulk where I can (see the potatoes post here) and having lots growing in the garden helps as well, I'll sometimes just go out there and see what is ready and plan my meals around that, making a particular veg the star of the show. The same is true of meat as well, I'm quite often given pheasants and other game when it's in season as well as shooting some myself, all helping to keep meal costs down (pheasant fajitas are a winter staple here).
This picture is from a harvest 8 years ago! 
But when I look at the cost of an evening meal I tend to budget around the five pound mark if I have to buy things for it, some will be much more expensive (steak from the butchers but with homemade wedges) and many will be far cheaper though (leek and potato soup with home made rolls for example). But if I go into the butchers I know that I can say to him that I want roughly £5 worth of whatever and the rest of the meal is going to cost very little due to how we buy everything else.

So what do you budget per meal? Do you meal plan?

23 comments:

  1. Meal planning is something i tried and cant get o with, I cook what I fancy at the time its open the freezer and see what appeals, veg wise it more of whats in season and what is ready to harvest, the only time I meal plan is when we have company coming, with just two of us it is a lot easier.

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    1. No I'm rubbish with planning as well and decide on the day. Sometimes I want something filling and warm and sometimes not so much!

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  2. I buy dry goods in bulk & meat on sale or marked down. Luckily, I have a great Chinese market - actually 2 of them - where I live so I buy lots of veggies very cheaply. Soup, stew & stir-fry are my basic cheap survival strategies. I survived two years before retirement on very little money & limited mobility so I know about cheap meals!! I use a big cast iron pot & let things simmer all day - beans, lentils, grains, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, onions & garlic do well with tough cuts of meat, if you have them & then throw in chopped green veggies at the very end & turn off the heat. Throw in some crusty bread & Wow. Used the same method as a Uni student. I always had food when the grant money ran out - it wasn't fancy but it was good.

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    1. Cooking cheap meals is a key skill, I think if you've been taught to cook properly then you can make a meal out of anything. I love big pots of stew like that, I'm loving making lots of soup at the moment.

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  3. Weekly meal plan but don't necessarily eat what is down for any given day but usually do.

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    1. I wish I could be organised like that!

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  4. I meal plan each week. My planning is more around who will be eating with us, rarely is it just David and I.(Our granddaughter lives with us and we have the shared lives guys to consider too apart from friends and family who all gather here)I write down each day who will be here and go from there. For example, if my granddaughter is not with us, but her partner is, we have fish as she doesn't like fish over much. The fish will be that which David caught when on his sea fishing trips, usually ling or pollack, we have that with our own potatoes in some way and whatever greens we have growing (or a tin of mushy peas from Lidl- 19p!) Tonight said granddaughter is home, with her partner and our goddaughter before they go to the pictures, I now find that eldest daughter and her son and his partner are now going to the pics with them, so the slow cookers are on and the last of our pork and apples, onions and herbs from the garden will make somerset pork in one cooker with "gratin potatoes" in the other. We have some cheese sauce left over from yesterday so I'll make a cauliflower cheese to go with it.(89p for the cauli)
    Obviously I go with the flow if things change. Like you I am sometimes given/barter a couple of pheasants or a few pigeons, so the plan changes.
    Gill

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    1. It's just the five of us most days but I'd love to have more people round for tea, but at the moment our house just isn't big enough! We struggle for chairs so the best we can do is have a couple round and most of our friend have children in tow these days! When the extension is complete I'm looking forward to having more people round.

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  5. I have a monthly menu that I use over and over--I guess I'm very lucky that hubby likes (loves!) the things I cook and is not adventurous in meals. And with this menu, I know exactly how many chickens I need in a month (4), and how many pounds of ground beef (4) and every month, I buy ONE HUGE chunk of meat (ham, or turkey, or pork roast) and these get cooked, and bagged into individual portions for hubby (I'm not a real fan of meat). This wouldn't work for your growing family, but since most of what we eat is vegetables ( I grow), it helps us with grocery costs to know exactly what we'll be eating in a month.

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    1. I'm too adventurous and end up wrecking meals because I tried something different! I'm making less mistakes these days but I guess I'm becoming quite experienced. Also I tend to use whatever meat comes along. My butcher is used to me popping in there and asking him what he thinks I should have for tea!

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  6. Another favourite topic of mine. I have a meal plan. I try to stick to it. Sometimes it doesn't work out, sometimes it does. As we both work full time, I feel I need to plan, I need to get tea in the slow cooker/simmering oven at this time of the year, otherwise by the time I get home and sorted, everyone is getting grumpy/ratty as they are hungry and I feel stressed! However I don't have anything written for this week as I just haven't got round to it. I have meat stews to fall back on, I literally throw everything in the over in one pot and we eat it 2 hours or so later. Frustratingly it tastes better than many pre planned meals!
    Next year though - it will all be planned around what's available in the garden and I can't wait.
    My monthly food budget is £250 for everything - not sure how this compares to others.

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    1. £250 / 30 = £8.33 per day. That actually a lot more than I like. It includes loo roll, washing powder and so on. Toothpaste and shampoo. Hmmm....

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    2. I don't know whether it is just you two or children as well. We are an early retired couple and until recently, have managed £30 a week for food and toiletries. However, food prices have definately risen and we have had to increase that to £35 a week.Not suggesting you drop that low but even a reduction of just £50 a month would give you £600 a year for something else.

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    3. Your monthly bill doesn't sound far off of ours, in fact ours is a bit more but we're still buying baby stuff, etc.
      i do love the slow cooker and I used to use it all the time but not so much now I'm at home in the day. I might get it out again this week and do a stew with dumplings though!

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  7. hi DC that is for 4 of us. my kids are 9 and 6 and includes packed lunches. its good to see what others spend.i have reduced to 250 from a lot higher many years ago. it'll be interesting to see what next year brings with that in mind. ps well done to you!

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  8. i try to budget cooking for the after school kids but cooking for 30 is never cheap.

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    1. I bet! I bet that takes some planning as well!

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  9. Hi This is a subject I have been looking at for almost a year. How much of the cash in your pocket actually goes on food? I started looking at casual cash spending. Everything from socks to hair cuts, thread to coffee out. The biggest portion of my cash is spent on other, not food. That being said I cook everything from scratch. I have visitors once or twice a month and feed two of us and an elderly neighbour (three times a week). I live in the city so I can only grow herbs and a few flowers for the house. An allotment is probably not feasible but I forage extensively and make food gifts of chutney and jams for Christmas etc. Our daily expenditure for toiletries and food is around £11. That is breakfast lunch and dinner. I think the figures that people have been sending in reflect the average price. Although we can all spend a lot more without caution.

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    1. I think we spend far too little on food in some respects, the people that tend to moan about it have more ready made meals and finished things. We eat a lot of food and our average doesn't sound a million miles away from what you're saying, even though we grow a lot of our own. Food for thought!

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  10. I usually plan two or three days in advance. As for cost, one day it could be €20, the next nothing.

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    1. Our fluctuates massively as well! Tonights tea came in at about a pound for all five of us, as did the nights before!

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  11. I actually had this discussion about a year ago elsewhere, when someone was looking for advice when starting out for the first time, moving in with his partner. When broken down, it turns out my food bill was just 80p a day! The food isn't great and certainly has more additives than I'd like, but I was able to survive. Shockingly, this has now risen to £1.20, which may still sound like a paltry amount, but we are talking about own brand basic goods, cost have risen so much and many people are able to negate that by swapping away from expensive named brands, but when you're already surviving on the cheapest option, all you are left with is cutting something out entirely.

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    1. Sounds like you've got it sorted! One great recipe book that I found really good for budget meals is "A Girl Call Jack". I've cooked so many out of there and they all cost so little and taste so good!
      another way to buy cheaper is to buy out of date (if you're not fussy about that sort of thing). We do an order from approved foods every now and again and it works out so cheap for so many things. I bought a bag of 16kg of granary flour for £5.50 that worked out at 17p a loaf of bread!

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